The Modern Fougere: Kurkdjian, Malle, Penhaligon’s

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Post by Liam

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Howdy Hum Salubrious Scentophiles.

Of the entire gamut of fragrances, I am most cautious of the Fougere.

Why? Do this for me- play a game of covert ops (if you are a man, this is easy. If you are a woman, pretend you are buying a gift for a boyfriend). Head on down to your local department store and ask the question: “I am looking for a safe fragrance at around the one-hundred dollar mark”. Tell them he doesn’t often wear scent, perhaps only for special occasions.

I am willing and happy to wager that if they do not offer you an aquatic to try, they will then offer you either a fragrance in the wood category or the Aromatic Fougere.

The Modern Fougere: Kurkdjian, Malle, Penhaligon’s

What’s wrong with the mass market Fougere? The structure of a Fougere is largely complex, richly layered with a harmonious topdown structure from a vibrant citrus top note, an aromatic hum in the middle, and a weighty wooded base at the bottom. When perfumes mess with these transitions, with cloying drydowns and/or linalool and ambroxan driven facets, piercing top notes, and imperceptible accords – the Fougere has been tarnished.

Jean-Paul Guerlain made a statement that I am inclined to adhere to. He believed that apart from Guerlain’s two Fougere scents – Jicky and Mouchoir de Monsieur, any other Fougere is for truck drivers. Given my current and (of course) personal perspective of the market, I am inclined to say the same.

However! The Fougere begins to shine a pulsating, welcoming, and soft glow when we begin to look at a few more ‘uppermarket’ scents. Here are my favourite Fougeres for a contemporary market.

Sartorial Penhaligon`s FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Sartorial by Penhaligon’s

A superstar in the fragrance community (and when you have the confidence, fragcom is the appropriate blend word to use), I personally really admire Sartorial for its classicism.

I get what I want from Sartorial: a lavender, amber, and sandalwood structure that alloys down a citrus impression at the opening. But Duchaufour takes it a step further. He places the scent in context. In a Saville Row tailor’s workroom. Beeswax, metallic notes, steam-iron notes, and a linen fabric accord intermingle with the classic structure giving depth, definition, and clarity. A wonderful scent.

Masculin Pluriel Maison Francis Kurkdjian FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

This is the antidote to my woes. I am saddened by a lack of clarity in Fougere scents – with these instead presenting a musty static that I cannot bare. Much like Sartorial, the name suggests a throwback to what makes a masculine fragrance – a Fougere! Lavender is a must, along with red cedar, leather, and patchouli. A fragrance representing a quest for the ‘eternal masculine’, a ‘timeless scent’, this comes pretty close. It it predicable and forward, like a good gentleman.

GeraniumPourMonsieur FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Geranium Pour Monsieur – Frederic Malle

A minty wildcard, I am currently really liking this one. It is tenacious. It opens with a smooth abrasiveness from Chinese geranium – giving a floral potency lifted with nose tingling mint, anise, and ouzo notes. Combined with the spice of clove, cinnamon and then swept with crystalline musk – Geranium Pour Monsieur omits the toothpaste impression but retains its menthol-like freshness. It is precise; a well-tuned creation that plays on cool and hot. Creating a sophisticated, refreshing and tonic-like fragrance, Geranium Pour Monsieur is probably the best mint-driven scent on the market, and a superb quasi-fougere.

Be kind, and rethink your labelling of the (otherwise almighty) Fougere.
What’s a modern Fougere to you?

-Liam

P.S I’m away for a while, Yr12 exams! See you soon!

10 thoughts on “The Modern Fougere: Kurkdjian, Malle, Penhaligon’s

  1. Hey there Liam,
    I would never have though of Geranium pour Monsieur as a fougere. You make me want to go spritz and live the whole extravaganza. This was my first ever Frederic Malle bottle.
    Portia xx

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    • Hi Portia – see my comment in reply to Fazal to understand why I call this a fougere.

      My first Freddy Malle was Dans Tes Bras. Mmmmm concrete mushrooms. I have six at the moment, and I want them all!

      -Liam xoxo

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  2. i have sartorial and masculin pluriel but i have been hesitant to try geranium since it is often called minty…even i would not have guessed its lavendary

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    • Hi Fazal.
      The idea behind GPM is best described as “same structure, different components”.
      What I mean is, a fougere from my understanding doesn’t have to be lavender. It has to be a floral component. And so, Geranium fits the bill.
      Then of course comes the woody backbone which we expect, some white musk and amber for body and a rush of aromatics in the form of anise and mint in place of citrus.

      And so, GPM has everything a fougere should have: Aromatic top notes, floral heart, warm base. Wonderful!

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      • thanks Liam..very very detailed response and has improved my understanding of fougere creations. you know, even more than lavendar, i associate fern with fougere category so it seems the def. of fougere has continued to evolve over time

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  3. Thank you for another great post, Liam! Ace your exams and return to us soon.

    Of the three fragrances mentioned above I have only tried the GpM and like it a lot. I imagine a modern fougere using geranium, nasturtium and some leafy, wet thing. What does a fern smell like, anyway? I guess I’ll just go out to the garden and find out!

    Azar xx

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