Sale Gosse by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle (2017) is a rather tongue-in-cheek self-aware fragrance from the relatively young perfumer Fanny Bal, at least compared to the usual middle-aged or older “elite” perfumers Malle pulls for his collabs and is themed after “enfants terribles”, a French expression itself a double entendre (more French) that describes embarrassingly candid children or young creatives with an usual amount of early success which is the result of doing something against the orthodoxy. I’m guessing this is the case with Fanny Bal in the perfume industry, and this is a perfume meant both to celebrate that fact by being fresh and exuberant in execution, but also to poke fun at itself and its creator by being equally child-like in theme. Say what you will about the price point and market placement of Malle fragrances, but they are nothing if not completely air-tight and spot-on when it comes to thematics, which is likely what you’re paying for if you’re a fan of the line. In essence this is a neroli fragrance, so that automatically means there are a billion cheaper options at your disposal because neroli is well-emulated with synthetics by both budget and designer fragrances that sit one or several pegs below this one in price, so don’t come at Sale Grosse for it’s display of neroli alone. The rest of the scent is laced with images of violet candies and dusty blackboards, conjuring a mental picture of a mid-century primary school classroom, and it works.
The opening neroli is not really naked anyway, and comes arm-in-arm with friends like bergamot and petitgrain, with herbal hints of rosemary and dusty mineral accords to emulate the smell of chalk. The eau de cologne style here is duly stretched into infinity with aromachemicals, something only expensive brands like this and Bond No. 9 seem to get away with in any regularity or with any perceived quality. The violet is represented by ionones as to be expected, and there is an ethyl maltol note deliberately placed to conjure a bubble gum accord, rather than just used for its sweetness and incidentally smelling of bubblegum like when it occurs in designers such as Paco Rabanne Invictus (2013). The sweetness here isn’t thickened with patchouli or other body-giving isolates so it isn’t heavy or cloying, just helping Sale Gosse stay pleasantly unisex and youthful, like yet another luxury take on the eau de cologne vibe should. After a while you do forget the whole childhood theme and just zero in on neroli, and violet over sweet ambroxan and white musks, which feels floral, summery, and has astonishing performance given the style. Best use is in summer when worn casually, and anyone can enjoy this if they can enjoy classic colognes, just so long as a bit of “bubblegum sweetness” doesn’t offend the niche-tuned nostrils. Most people shopping in this price segment abhor sweetness like it’s a sign of cheapness, so I need make mention of it.
Sale Gosse seems a bit less expensive than some other Malle entries, probably because it doesn’t have a lot of “noble” ingredients in it, or any real neroli for that matter. As an “entry level” freshie for the brand (assuming you’re paying retail), Sale Gosse may be a good starting point for someone curious about the house, even if the heavy hitters like Musc Ravageur (2000) or Portrait of a Lady (2010) tend to get more talk. Both of those are also more expensive than this and don’t even get me started on something like The Night (2014), which goes over a $1000 like some Roja Dove fragrances out there, so Sale Gosse is about as safe of a starting point both smell-wise and price-wise as you’ll likely get with Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. Now would I spend almost $300 for a neroli scent with a sense of humor, even one that lasts virtually all day somehow? Well, no I wouldn’t, but I’m also your hardcore perfume journey wacko that likes to maximize my experience-per-dollar-spent so I’m going after gently used bottles from people who got them as gifts without return receipts or the random discounter sale if at all, so my sense of value may butt up against your own. In any case, this is well done, and for the kind of person that enjoys the Tom Ford neroli fragrances or the original house-launching Eau de New York by Bond No. 9 (2004). Just watch out when wearing Sale Gosse around perfume snobs, or they may label you an enfant terrible just like they have me. Thumbs up.