Frederic Malle asked JC Ellena for a stronger and more intense version of Angelique Sous La Pluie. JCE worked on the formula for several months and he almost finished it - however at the time he signed the contract to be the exclusive nose for Hermes. So he was not allowed to give his formula to Frederic or to work with Frederic anymore.
Malle called JCE and asked him if he could advise him on who could do the job instead of him and JCE recommended Malle's longtime family friend - Pierre Bourdon. Malle asked JCE to share the initial idea and concept of the formula with Bourdon so that he could complete it and put his “final touch”. And here we are... we've got the French Lover.
It's not a secret that French Lover was kind of a collaboration and that the inspiration was ASLP. The story is verified from a Frederic Malle book I bought in Paris.
If you are in the USA, you will find French Lover under the name "Bois D'Orage".
Another interesting fact is that this is the last perfume that Pierre Bourdon created.
French Lover might be one of the safest picks from the house.
Woody, slightly spicy, wet and cold smell of the forest after the rain - when the aromas start to evaporate from the soil. It is quite green and vegetal. It’s not a classic woody perfume you'd expect to smell when you see the notes.
Very natural scent of cedar wood.
Quality should not be mentioned when it comes to Frederic Malle. It's always top notch.
Projection and longevity are probably one of the weakest from the house.
It projects for an hour or two, very moderate...
Longevity is solid, definitely over 10-12h. But just slightly stronger than a skin scent.
But if you want your perfume to "dominate" from you - then you might need to skip this perfume.
An entirely pleasant surprise. For me, it's about the gossamer interplay between the vetiver, iris, and incense, but the patchouli manages to impart a delicately sweet vibrance without adding significant weight. I chanced this sample for the Friday Summer Solstice sync, and it couldn't have been more perfect. Bourdon at his best.
I love it... and then I can't smell it anymore. I was told a certain synthetic ingredient in it causes anosmia. Whether or not that's the case, after about 15 minutes I can't smell this on myself. A shame, because it's stunning.
Wow! If I were to commission my own scent it would end up very much like this (which I suppose is the whole point of the Malle Line). Classy but not too try-hard, fresh yet unique. Masculine and effortlessly stylish.
Opening with a bracing G&T accord. U get the Angelica and other green, clean botanicals such as juniper. This is a very fresh, green, leafy G&T. The green feel becomes gradually more damp and very slightly dirtied (musk) and darker (woods, Vetiver) - like foraging in a lush green woodland, precipitation in the air. It's not so much the woodland floor but more the leafy layers around eye level. It's quite herbal and borders on medicinal, almost bringing to mind notes of lovage, dill and the piquant pimento. Some ultra-Clean incense adds to the development.
If you want to 'picture' the smell look up images of Angelica because this smells exactly what that looks like!
This really shines in all seasons. When worn in Spring it feels made for Spring: ditto Summer, Autumn etc. There is some family resemblance to Coolwater, GIT and Malle's GPM - this one almost has a minty freshness without the overdose of mint found in GPM. Surely one of Bourdon's very best.
90/100 (and no I didn't deduct marks for the silly name - there's nothing particularly French here. If it must be placed geographically how about Nordic Lover).
The opening is a nice, natural woody floral with plenty of cedar and earthy vetiver. The earthy vetiver is the star of the opening, smelling like damp, freshly shoveled dirt. The woodiness is there too so the idea of planting trees or working around a tree root in the ground while digging is what comes to mind.
The dry down is very refined and pleasing, casting off a musky, dry woody scent. There's a sweet and fruity ambroxan that reveals itself at the end of the scent.
He may look like a Belgian accountant but Pierre Bourdon is a perfume genius. With French Lover he's done something that few have tried and fewer have achieved, the Minimalist Perfume. A pale blend of galbanum and assonant naturals : incense, juniper and the natural exaltolide found in Angelica root. They create an indistinct foggy thing which seems to be all surface and no depth. Like a Mark Rothko canvas, there's no image to pick out here but plenty to feed the unconscious.
French Lover doesn't pronounce - like many perfumes do, it suggests. It hints - at things you think you know; the humid sous-bois of the forest floor, decaying leaves, green and sappy stems peeled of their bark...
Or, if you are more inclined to culture than the natural world there is the Homme Chic : silver grey suit, cardamom coffee, potted plants and pale decor. Both are possible; both have their adherents. By giving the same work two different names in different parts of the world Frederic Malle doesn't rule out either interpretation; it is he who names the juice, not the perfumer; ambiguity is all.
The scent works because Pierre Bourdon appears to have grasped a Zen kind of minimalism, which doesn't lie in a pale featureless thing with no movement, or soul.
Maybe he's got one of those Japanese teapots - with purely functional shape but subtle blends of colouration. At their highest, Zen ceramics show us that form and content are not separate qualities - and, as Susan Sontag has argued - it's more a case of Yang form and Yin content melding together in permissive alliance.
Likewise, in French Lover / Stormwood, the very formlessness of the structure focusses the attention on the subtleties of natural content. The effect is, of course, entirely dependent on Frederic Malle furnishing top quality materials. Without them the work would be little more than the pencil-shaving things that often pass for minimalism.
Although it is not weak or wan (in fact the juice is very strong) French Lover isn't inclined to shout. It does not, like many perfumes, clamour for attention. Instead it murmurs, enigmatically, making you lean in to hear what it's saying. It's a brillant conceit which turns current perfume wisdom on it's head.
But of course, French Lover is not perfect, and like a Zen teapot there will always be a flaw; and thus, in ithis way, it's almost a perfect masterpiece.