Earlier tonight my husband caught a whiff of Le Mâle- I was wearing it once again just before typing this review (I always do this. Somehow I can't write about Dreck du Jour while marinating in MKK or Shalimar. The adjective don't flow right). All he said was: "What's that? It's very familiar". Of course it is. Just about everyone and their brother-in-law have had a bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier's first masculine perfume, Le Mâle, at some point in the last 15 years, and most of them still do. You smell it everywhere- stores, subway cars, clubs. And why not? Le Male is such a friendly and easy to wear scent.
One of the secrets to the popularity of this Jean Paul Gaultier and Francis Kurkdjian creation is that it smells so clean while being one of those loud high voltage masculines you just can't ignore. It has a strong lavender-herbal-neroli opening that takes you right back to traditional barbershops and to well-groomed men of yore who had Yardley products and Brilliantine in their bathroom cabinets. On his Le Male review for NST, Kevin suggest the origin and true nature of Gaultier's fantasy sailors. He's probably right, considering the designer's aesthetics and other work. But my personal association with the image has always been the singing and dancing sailors from the 1949 Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra movie On The Town.
But Le Male is not just a clean herbal cologne. It dries down to a sweet wood and amber snuggly base. That's probably the part that prompts men and women to get closer, sniff and linger there, right at neck level. It's sexy, but despite the tattooed sailors, it's more of an All-American wholesome kind of sexy. Or maybe I just got confused by the dancing sailors.
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle ($42, 1.3oz EDT) is available from many department stores as well as from Sephora.
1996 Le Male ad featuring model David Fumero- couleurparfum.com
Photos from the On The Town set by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1949 - life.com