Le Beau by Jean Paul Gaultier (2019)

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Personally, this “Le Beau” is a big “Le No”, and there isn’t much I’d call “handsome” or “boyfriend” material out of it either, but it tries. Jean-Paul Gaultier Le Beau (2019) is another youthful, playful, bubblegum sweet flanker to join the pantheon of beefy torso and bulge bottles that consist of the main money-maker line on the male side of the brand’s perfume catalog, ever since the original gay club sensation Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle (1995) hit the scene. That game-changing proto-clubber fougère had the added benefit of being composed by a young and earnest Francis Kurkdjian, but this one is another creation by Quentin Bisch, who seems to serve up flankers sometimes in the company of another perfumer when Mr. Kurkdjian is unavailable. No DNA from the original Le Mâle is anywhere to be found here, and the main theme is supposed to be coconut, but more on that in a bit. Methinks the point of Le Beau is not only to be younger, but maybe a bit safer for casual use as denoted by the tongue-in-cheek leaf over the crotch, as if to signify innocence. The tropical overtones and the cranked-up sweetness make this the perfect kind of innocious but gimmicky scent that all the teens would douse themselves in before going to a movie or the mall, so bravo on knowing you target audience.

The opening is massive ethyl maltol blast of sweetened citrus that Gaultier marketing team calls bergamot, but I get very little actual bergamot feeling from this. Closest thing to that is maybe a hint of something like lime, but it’s more like sugared limeade at this point than fresh squeezed juice. A coconut note does show up, alongside something that feels like a generic woody amber molecule in the heart instead of the middle, but it’s more sugar tonight in my coffee, more sugar tonight in my tea, more sugar to stand beside me, and more sugar to run with me, because like The Guess Who, that’s what I get here. The coconut really could have been a star player too if it wasn’t buried in synthetic sugary mess and the massive tonka base that finishes this off, but at least Le Beau has the decency to not be too cloying or long-legged, as it fades in about six hours on skin. Yeah, it’s uncommon for a Le Mâle flanker to be this mediocre in performance, but I think the idea was kinder, gentler, and younger as I said above, so it makes sense. If anything, this is a more-casual coconut-twisted Ultra Mâle (2015), which isn’t something much to be proud of, but again makes sense given the attempt at modernizing the line to carry the torch for the aging original. Best use is in all seasons save summer (which is weird for something with coconut), due to the massive sweetness. and worn among friends especially if you’re under 21 and Applebees is your idea of a night out.

I first thought Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau to be a reintroduction of the limited edition Le Beau Mâle (2013) flanker produced by Kurkdjian for the house, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Granted, those flankers were basically taking the mint aspect of Le Mâle and cranking it up to 11, so they didn’t have a lot of fans per se, but I liked them better than most things made under the banner of Le Mâle since Ultra Mâle set the new syrupy standard for the line. Instead, we get something that feels like dropping a few milliliters of Creed Virgin Island Water (2007) into some cheap tonka soup designer clone base, shaking it up, and putting it in a cool bottle that is the only real reason for collectors to pick this up. Le Beau is going to have its fans, and I don’t knock any of them for loving this, because I have some pretty dubious choices in my wardrobe too (we all need guilty pleasures), but I don’t see this particular flanker really standing the test of time like some others. I kind of feel like this should be limited edition like the marginally better previous ones carrying “Le Beau” in their name, but we wouldn’t be so lucky. If sweet and short-lived fragrances with a card up their sleeve sound like fun for you, go ahead and test Le Beau, just don’t walk into this thinking it will be a piña colada housed in glass pectorals. Thumbs down.

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