Eau Pour le Jeune Homme: where less is more

Less is more…

Every time I sit down to review a Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier perfume I get really nervous. No matter how well I try to describe them I will always be missing hints and delicate aspects that keep revealing themselves wearing after wearing. In some inexplicable way these perfumes seem to have a living ingredient in them, a piece of the perfumer’s soul, that pops up from the composition giving each perfume a distinct character that takes over from any conventional note description.

Eau Pour le Jeune Homme is a bitter orange fragrance to me. Neroli and pertitgrain is what hits me in the opening. The petitgrain cuts down the creaminess of neroli at this stage creating a fresher, greener version of neroli. This brings Gautier Fleur du Mâle in mind but here the focus is on a bitter neroli accord and not the overly creamy bouquet of Fleur du Mâle. This opening accord lasts for quite long and is slowly joined by some spices. The main counterpart of neroli in the middle stage is coriander seed. Coriander in itself has an orange vibe but with a creamy, candied quality. The addition of coriander brings a nostalgic facet as it reminds me of sugar coated coriander seeds that I used to chew when I was little. I can pin down another spice that I recognize as mahlab (μαχλέπι), a spice used in the Middle East and Greece to flavour pastries and bread. It is the seed kernel of a cherry species that has a very creamy almond note with a slight cherry tone. It is rich in cumarin. The flavour it imparts is very delicate and a little bitter. The neroli-coriander combination is a magical one. Coriander seems to anchor neroli in a lower key scale and while it is a spice it is completely different from the classic, warm general idea of spices like cinammon, cloves or ginger. The base of the fragrance is mostly musk with woody tones.

What my description cannot capture is the general atmosphere that Eau Pour le Jeune Homme creates. The name itself, “For the Young Man”, sounds incredibly old fashioned to the point of imparting a slight irony. The use of neroli as a central ingredient for this makes the irony even more plausible because neroli is such an old fashioned note in itself. The key to making this composition special is the bitter citrus of petitgrain. And while petitgrain belongs to the citrus family of notes it has the herbal qualities of the leaf of bitter orange and is greener and more persistent than other citrus notes. The addition of spices makes this neroli very different. It doesn’t come off as a typical floral but all the notes blend seamlessly to create a fuzzy, creamy, bitter composition which, while constructed from extremely old fashioned and traditional notes, ends up smelling raw, mysterious, like a force of nature. The musk in the drydown creates a buzz like an electric spark.

Eau Pour le Jeune Homme should be a very conventional fragrance. It is and it isn’t. No strange ingredients, no dark notes. Just good old bitter orange in all its forms. However neroli here is not sweet and floral but bitter and green. It warms on the skin with delicate spices and then the musk adds this special fizzy quality that makes the drydown so unique. It opens fresh and then slowly starts singing a low key melody. It turns from fresh citrus to floral musk in a masterful way that never ceases to amaze me. Eau Pour le Jeune Homme demonstrates in a very eloquent way that a vibrant, moving, changing composition can be created using the most ordinary ingredients if used with talent and imagination. The combination of familiar notes used in a way that creates classic but different scents is a trademark of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier.

A flanker for this is also available, Eau Pour le Jeune Homme Extravagante, that adds ginger to the composition. It doesn’t add a lot to the simple beauty of the original but has a fresh tone that reminds me of watermelon. 

Notes from Fragrantica: bergamot, lemon, Brazilian orange, neroli, rosemary, nutmeg, coriander, musk, sandalwood

Notes from my nose: petitgrain, neroli, coriander, mahlab, musk, sandalwood

image of mahlab from maniceriasanjorge.blogspot.com
image of sandalwood from giatrosofia.com 

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About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.

12 comments

  1. WOW! Great review.
    Thanks,
    Portia xx

  2. C – Lovely review, I haven’t ventured into the Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier line yet (I have a sample of George Sand that is untested at this point). I have been worried that their fragrances might be a bit old fashioned and boring, but your review has made me realize that traditional packaging doesn’t necessarily mean unoriginal. I especially love your statement – “In some inexplicable way these perfumes seem to have a living ingredient in them, a piece of the perfumer’s soul, that pops up from the composition giving each perfume a distinct character that takes over from any conventional note description.” Thanks for the enlightenment! Steve

    • Hi Steve. The bottles of the line make the point of return to traditional values and structure in perfume making. Using top quality ingredients in traditional but unconventional by today’s commercial standards ways gives many MP&G fragrances slightly off-putting openings. If you follow the development of the fragrance you will find that opening completely justified. Jean Laporte, founder of MP&G was also the founder of L’Artisan Parfumeur so you will find several similarities in some releases from the two lines. I would suggest trying Santal Noble for an increddibly pale (not weak though) masculine version of sandalwood and of course Route du Vetiver, the quinetessential niche vetiver according to many (and me). And of course Jardin du Nile! If you liked Geranium pour Monsieur will love this. Beware of the opening accord of this though: parmigiano :)

  3. I really love the name of this fragrance, Christos. You’re right: it does sound old-fashioned, like it hearkens back to a time when a young man was expected to grow up and groom himself appropriately. Guess I’m both old-fashioned and getting old, because I rather like that concept. :)

    You make this sound quite fizzy and great for summer weather. Is it one of your summer scents, or do you wear it year round?

    • It is not summery in a citrusy, cologney sort of way. It is more of a musky floral that is perfect for spring but wears very comfortably in the summer. I keep making this comparison whith Fleur du Male because FdM is everything I do not like in neroli: a bit lifless and too romantic. This on the other hand is really developing and the neroli note is interesting and multifaceted

  4. The same as Steve, so far I have just one sample from this line. George Sand. Untested (on skin, I liked the scent on a blotter).
    I enjoyed your review and when/if I come across this line in a store next time I’ll try Eau Pour le Jeune Homme (and maybe some others) but these bottles just do not speak to me.

    • I know, the bottles look, to put it mildly, over the top. The older masculine bottles were more elegant. The plastic gems are a little bad taste, but they are rather in tune with the old school concept and the idiosyncratic construction of these perfumes, especially the masculine’s. Quite hard to market nowadays admittedly. I think you will enjoy Rose Muskissime and Fleur d’Iris. I haven’t tested extensively the feminine ones though.

  5. Great review! You just reminded me that I have a sample of this perfume in my drawer, got to revisit it soon!

    • Since you like neroli I think you are going to love this and this is the right time of the year to appreciate it. I hope you write your opinion either here or in your very nice blog.

      • Ah, I do like neroli, and yes, it is the right time to appreciate it, the summer is slowly coming to an end. I’ll be sure to write some words on it here :)

  6. Pingback: John Varvatos Artisan Black: neroli redemption | Memory Of Scent

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