Monsieur. by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle

Year: 2016

Notes: mandarin, rum, patchouli, frankincense, cedar, suede, amber, vanilla, musk
Meant as the masculine counterpart to Portrait of a Lady, Monsieur. boasts an unusual dosage of over 50% of molecular distilled patchouli. As a result, Monsieur. is to patchouli what Carnal Flower is to tuberose (and what Geranium pour Monsieur is to geranium, Vétiver Extraordinaire is to vetiver, The Night is to oud, blah blah blah blah blah).

But, with this French niche house now owned by Estée Lauder, is there really anything to be concerned about, regarding the quality and creativity of future releases? After sampling Monsieur., one is forced to admit that the answer is yes.

Opening with a boozy cascade of mandarin and rum, the patchouli makes its presence known almost straight away. But, within less than 30 seconds, its initial boisterous introduction quickly turns into a soapy skin scent. The patchouli is still evident but only just, as some frankincense, cedar and amber meekly join the fray.

With leathery nuances, the composite effect is very similar to a budget-priced oud offering, which heavily relies on cedar and leathery-musk accords to (unconvincingly) mimic the aroma of agarwood oil. With gentle swirls of frankincense and vanilla, the rest of its evolution is both banal and underwhelming. And although it's supposed to be about patchouli, it's mostly a derivative and cheap-smelling cedar-frankincense affair.

Created by Bruno Jovanovic, who was also responsible for Dries van Noten, Monsieur. is a real disappointment and totally at odds with this house's usual high standards. Based on this alone, one can only say that Frédéric Malle's future releases under Estée Lauder could be potentially disastrous. But, then again, the unsatisfactory Cologne Indélébile should have been viewed as a possible forewarning.

Woefully thin and insubstantial, its development is unusually rapid, with low sillage and poor longevity.