With his enfant terrible fashion reputation well established in the 1980s, Jean Paul Gaultier had to make a spectacular perfume entrance.
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And his male fragrance debut, Le Male (the female Classique was launched two years earlier), did exactly that. More than 25 years and 50+ flankers/limited editions later, it’s still hugely popular.
We can thank the French designer for bringing camp playfulness to the mainstream. Although he announced his official retirement in 2020, there’s no doubt his lucrative perfume biz with Spanish company Puig will keep him in the lifestyle he’s accustomed to.
There are several discontinued fragrances in this best Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances round-up. Perhaps that’s why the brand is not as daring as it used to be.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is listed in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Shortlist for Best Jean Paul Gaultier Fragrances
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male EDT (Francis Kurkdjian)
When a fragrance becomes a runaway best-seller, it’s easy to forget what made it special in the first place.
If 1980s male fragrances were defined by their potent, uncompromising masculinity, this 1995 debut heralded a blurring of the lines between the genders and a move to sweeter fragrances for men.
Its creator, Francis Kurkdjian, said in an interview on Everfumed: “It changed the way men use perfume and it brought something different to the perfume industry.” We couldn’t agree more.
Inspired by the designer’s penchant for the sailor, Le Male opens with the distinctive fresh spiciness of mint. Notes of cardamom and bergamot enhance the mood.
The clean aromatics of lavender, with hints of powdery cinnamon in the background, meets the warm sweetness of vanilla in the drydown.
Traditional and modern at the same time, it’s aged better than many of its contemporaries from the 1990s. If ever a bottle was designed to be displayed, it’s this one.
Jean Paul Gaultier Gaultier2 EDP (Francis Kurkdjian)
Perhaps this unisex 2005 release was too ahead of its time and that’s why it was discontinued. It’s certainly polarizing and not crowd-pleasing like Le Male.
The result is beautifully and powerfully sensual.
It’s going for ridiculous prices, so you’ll need to shop around to enjoy this beauty.
Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur Du Male (Francis Kurkdjian)
The Le Male franchise went in a different direction with this 2007 release. Its name was inspired by French poet Baudelaire’s volume of poetry Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil).
Don’t worry, there’s nothing malevolent about this scent, but it’s big on the florals and not your average designer.
A large dose of bitter petitgrain gives the intro citrus-green oomph.
There’s sunny interplay between notes of citrus neroli and honeyed orange blossom.
The florals don’t stop there. Herbal chamomile mingles with the powdery, grassy hues of the synthetic coumarin and a tinge of aromatic basil.
We dare you to try this discontinued floral. But please don’t pay top dollar for it.
Jean Paul Gaultier Kocorico EDT (Olivier Cresp & Annick Menardo)
The name alone of this 2011 release (the French sound for a rooster’s cry – “cock-a-doodle-doo” in English) will tell you that it’s statement-making, look-at-me-stuff.
The scent itself confirms its attention-seeking intentions. All in a good way, of course.
With fig leaf at the fore, the opening is gorgeously green.
Raw cacao, with its warm and spicy properties, builds on the slight bitterness of the intro, while earthy patchouli balances it all with a sweet earthiness.
The drydown is woody, with notes of cedar and vetiver.
Despite its continued popularity, this gem was discontinued. The sweeter Kokorico By Night EDT is also worth seeking out.
Jean Paul Gaultier Ultra Male EDT Intense (Francis Kurkdjian)
One of the flankers not to get the chop over the years, this 2015 take is spicier and fruitier than the original, while keeping elements that made it such a hit in the first place.
It gets going with lots of sweet and juicy pear. Its aquatic freshness is accentuated by citrus notes of bergamot and lemon. Mint adds a touch of crisp greenery, while lavender brings its clean aromatics.
Warm cinnamon leads the way to the vanilla-dominant drydown. Rich, woody and powdery, its complemented by earthy patchouli.
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Essence De Parfum EDP Intense (Quentin Bisch)
Undoubtedly, one of our favourite Le Male flankers, this 2016 release is a treat from start to finish.
The opening balances contrasts of warm (cardamom, black pepper) and fresh notes (bergamot, artemisia).
A smooth and creamy leather accord blends perfectly with aromatic lavender and spicy cinnamon.
The drydown has the vanilla of the original, but is more sensual and muskier, partly due to the inclusion of costus, a herb with earthy, animalic traits.
Sophisticated and intriguing stuff – just the way we love it!
Although officially not available anymore, you’ll still be able to find it in many retailers. Grab it now!
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau EDT (Quentin Bisch & Sonia Constant)
The KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) could apply to the composition of this 2019 release. The bottle design is classic JPG: bold, theatrical and risqué.
Apparently inspired by the designer’s garden, it opens with the crisp citrus freshness of bergamot.
It gets warmly tropical with coconut wood, its nutty and milky aspects on show.
Its creators maximise the vanilla attributes of tonka bean in the drydown.
Sweet, but not in a cloying way, it’s escapist fun.
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Le Parfum EDP Intense (Quentin Bisch)
Le Male went on to become one of the best-selling fragrances of all time. Le Mâle Le Parfum was released in 2020 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. More streamlined than the original, one might even call him mature.
This EDP (the parfum bit must be for marketing purposes) opens with the sweet spice of cardamom.
Aromatic lavender is given a powdery vibe thanks to iris, while vanilla cosies up with woody notes in the drydown.
Staying true to the original with its prominent accents of lavender and vanilla, it’s very likeable in a warm and sensual oriental style.
Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal Pour Homme EDT (Quentin Bisch, Christophe Raynaud & Nathalie Gracia-Cetto)
As much as we love Le Male and all the flankers/limited editions that followed, it was time for something new.
Scandal Pour Homme arrived on the market in 2021. Okay, so it’s not entirely new (the female range was launched in 2017), but we’ll take it for now.
It begins with the barely-there fresh sweetness of clary sage and mandarin orange notes.
And then lashings of creamy caramel partnered with vanilla-toned tonka bean.
After all that candy, there’s a smattering of earthy vetiver in the drydown.
It’s unashamedly sweet, so it will probably only appeal to those who enjoy gourmand overload.
What we do know, though, judging from the trajectory of its sister line, is that there will be many flankers and limited editions to follow this decade.