Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male

Jean Paul Gaultier, you naughty bit of crumpet, I delight in your cheeky antics. I applaud your judicious use of the juicy Crystal Renn for your modeling campaigns, and I am tickled by the sheer audacity of your fragrance, Le Male. From the torso bottle, which sports a package to rival David Bowie’s in Labyrinth, to the pretty-boy sailors in the ads, has there ever been such an openly homoerotic fragrance? Only the bravest, least heteronormative straight man would be caught dead in Le Male, and even then he’d probably hide the bottle.

I still can’t believe this is a children’s movie.

For many years I held off on Le Male, convinced that its flamboyant outer trappings must be a distraction from what was no doubt a boring, conventional cologne. I am pleased and humbled to report that Le Male is exactly as odd as I could have hoped for. Le Male is a terrifically (some would say sickeningly) sweet lavender fragrance. It reminds me of an unusual Nigella Lawson delicacy, lavender cupcakes.

The lavender mostly fades after about an hour, leaving a standard musky base. Personally, I would not wear this- despite all that sweetness, Le Male is not particularly feminine- but I appreciate JPG’s daring in pushing the limits of masculine fragrances.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Classique (EDP)

Although I prefer the term “artistically disheveled”, my roommate could tell you that my side of the room is disastrous. It looks like Tiger and Elin tried to work out their marital issues. In the midst of all this chaos, only one thing manages to stay consistently clean and organized: my perfume collection. They sit in neat little rows on my nightstand- at least, the pretty bottles do. The less aesthetically pleasing bottles (hellooo, Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Rochas, and M.A.C.) are hidden away out of vanity. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, inner beauty, etc etc. Let me tell you a story about a little cologne I like to call Rochas Man.

I used to own a bottle of Rochas Man that was one of my very favorite perfumes (it smells EXACTLY like Bond No 9 New Haarlem, for all you Maurice Roucel fans), but the bottle was rather… awkwardly shaped. And yes, gentle readers, by “awkwardly” I do indeed mean phallic. It was hideous. No matter how lovely it smelled, I could not bring myself to display it alongside the Lolita Lempickas, Chanels, and Pradas. God help me, I am a terrible person.

See??? Can you really blame me, y’all?

Anyway, my eye for a pretty bottle is how I ended up with a bottle of JPG Classique EDP. I had only the vaguest recollection of how it smelled, but who could resist those luscious curves? Not I, clearly. Fortunately, Classique is just as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside. Classique is a very sensual blend, starring the sweet warmth of orange blossom and also featuring rose, chocolate, and anise. Mr. Gaultier talked a big game with Classique (“Just to be modern, [we added] one part nail polish remover!), but truthfully Classique is nothing groundbreaking. It’s just another woody-floral, which will probably be a tad too sweet for more intense perfumistas. Still, Classique is highly pleasant, so much so that I often reject other orange blossom fragrances for not measuring up.

A word of caution: Classique comes in two formulations, EDT and EDP. The two are quite different- a fan of one may not necessarily like the other. A flanker, Classique X, was recently released. Classique is available at most department stores and at Sephora for $44 for 2/3 of an ounce (only at Sephora), $78 for 1.6 ounces, and $100 for 3.3 ounces.

Disclaimer: I purchased a bottle of Classique from Sephora.

Lolita Lempicka, L de Lolita Lempicka

If you were to ask me what the holiest site in Israel is, I wouldn’t respond with “The Western Wall” or “The Dome of the Rock”. Every woman knows that the most sacred place in our tiny, beloved country is the Michal Negrin store. Michal Negrin is primarily a jewelry store chain (although it seems to be expanding into the lifestyle business, with everything from clothing to wallpaper). The general theme appears to be wistful, old-fashioned pictures of women bedazzled by colorful rhinestones. It’s all very over the top, but somehow manages to stay on the right side of kitsch. I once spent a full hour there agonizing over whether I should buy the green version of the following 400 shekel ($100) decorative elephant. My best friend wisely dragged me away, but damned if I don’t miss that stupid elephant.

If the Michal Negrin store had a perfume line, it would undoubtedly be something like the Lolita Lempicka brand. Lolita Lempicka, with its stunning glass bottles and consistently interesting scents,  is somewhat of an oddity in the mainstream perfume world. Today I’ll be reviewing the original Lolita Lempicka, which was released in 1997 (which is freaking ancient in perfume years), and the newer L de Lolita Lempicka.

First up, Lolita Lempicka. In the wake of Angel, which was released in 1992, hundreds of copycats flooded the market, hoping to capitalize on Angel’s monstrous success. Lolita Lempicka has often been accused of being such a knockoff. I personally see no resemblance, although like Angel, Lolita seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it fragrance. I was solidly in the “hate” camp for many years. I thought it was the most disgusting thing I’d ever smelled. It was insanely sweet and smelled just like licorice (my least favorite note). I was legitimately puzzled as to how that gorgeous apple-shaped bottle could house such a revolting smell.

I finally retried it last weekend and am frankly feeling a little foolish. Lolita Lempicka is delicious and delicately pretty. It smells like sweet pastry dough and cherries. It is still very sweet, but when comparing it to L by Lolita Lempicka for this review, I was shocked to discover that Lolita Lempicka is actually less sweet and considerably softer. Luca Turin, a famous perfume critic, gave Lolita Lempicka one of his very rare five-star ratings in his “Perfumes: The Guide”. He declared it “the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses.” As a lifelong four-eyes, I agree wholeheartedly. According to Basenotes, the notes are ivy, anise seed, violet, amarise, licorice, amarena, vetiver, tonka, vanilla and musk.

Unlike its predecessor, L de Lolita Lempicka gave me no trouble whatsoever. Created in 2006 by perfumer Maurice Roucel, L is imminently lovable. It begins with citrus and cinnamon, much like Maurice Roucel’s other masterpiece, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. L is far softer than Musc Ravageur, and for the most part smells much like freshly baked Snickerdoodle cookies. L would be rather generic, albeit delicious, if it were not for a curious salty note lurking in the background. That saltiness can be attributed to the immortelle flower, a note rarely seen in perfumery.

L is not quite as intellectual as her older sister, but she’s quite a crowd pleaser. My friends often ask to borrow perfume from me before we go out. They don’t want my Prada or Classique (“too heavy”) and they certainly don’t want my Yvresse or Chinatown. Inevitably they reach for the sweet, irresistible L.

Lolita Lempicka has a new scent, Si Lolita, which was released in France last summer but has no U.S. release date beyond “2010”. However, it has been getting very good reviews on other perfume blogs such as Perfume Posse, and the bottle is nothing short of stunning. I eagerly await its arrival.

Disclaimer: I own bottles of Lolita Lempicka and L de Lolita Lempicka, both purchased at Sephora.