Try A Little Tenderness With The Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Summer Fragrance
Cultural references tend to abound in Jean Paul Gaultier’s ready-to-wear and haute couture shows, whether through the mandarin collars and dragon-embroidered motifs of his ancient China-inspired Fall 2001 Haute Couture collection; the intricate Maasai-influenced beading, lavish head scarves and wax-print cloths in his Africa-themed Spring 2015 Couture collection; or the Sari-inspired skirts, patchwork gowns, stacked bangles, and off-the-shoulder tops and gowns in his SS13 Haute Couture collection, a Bohemian affair steeped in Indian culture and folklore. Since fashion and beauty go hand-in-hand for the oft-cheeky designer — hence why his iconic Classique fragrance is packaged in a bottle resembling a woman’s torso that, moreover, features pointy breasts nodding to the iconic conical bra he designed for Madonna — Gaultier went through his couture archives to discover the inspiration for his new Classique Summer fragrance, ultimately returning to the Indian cultural landscape he explored in his Spring 2013 couture collection. The Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Summer 2015 fragrance ($71 at LordandTaylor.com and fine retail stores nationwide), then, features the same voluptuous bottle we’ve come to associate with the Classique scent but, this time, the skin is tattooed (so to speak) with a fascinating print incorporating wild animals (primarily a leopard and a golden eagle), sari-clad dancers with jingling anklet bracelets clutching dandiya sticks, a stretch of river (presumably the Ganges, which is considered sacred in Hinduism), lush palm trees, water lilies, and Indian deities like the baby Krishna, and what appear to be Lakshmi and the baby Balrama. The print, meanwhile, incorporates deep plum, persimmon, and saffron shades that recall an Indian spice market.
Given the inspiration behind the scent, one might expect Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Summer to incorporate spicy nutmeg, clove, myrrh or even incense notes that would make it belong within the oriental fragrance family. But Gaultier would never be quite so literal! Though Indian motifs abound within the bottle’s packaging, these are simply meant to evoke a mood. Truth be told, there’s nothing within the aromatic composition that specifically references India. There is, however, a purity and a magic to the scent that could very well be a nod to the gods and goddesses adorning its bottle.
As opposed to the original Classique EDP, which contains top notes of rose, star anise, mandarin, and pear liqueur, this iteration nixes the anise and pear liqueur, instead combining the rose note with a romantic orange blossom note and then infusing a lively energy to the composition via the addition of Sicilian clementine zest. The middle notes also veer slightly from those of the original aromatic composition. In its original form, Classique boasted middle notes of iris, orchid, plum, ginger, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang. The Classique Summer fragrance, meanwhile, features a purely floral heart that combines sambac jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, and white iris. The choice of floral notes is itself telling since they’re all associated with romance, purity, and love. The base notes, meanwhile, remind virtually unchanged, consisting of vanilla, fresh musk and vegetal amber (though, in this iteration, the vanilla plays more of a central role).
The original Jean Paul Gaultier Classique scent was, and continues to be, well-received due to its timeless nature — after all, the scent was inspired by memories of childhood and so evokes a femininity that isn’t tied to any specific era, with notes like star anise and ginger adding that requisite bit of edge we associate with Gaultier. The Classique Summer fragrance, on the other hand, lacks those gourmand notes and the citrus notes are practically imperceptible. In fact, this edition is arguably even more classic than the original scent because of its primarily floral composition. It’s not necessarily an exciting, dynamic, groundbreaking aroma — in fact, its shock factor is non-existent. And yet that’s precisely what I enjoy about the scent: its innocence.
This isn’t the type of perfume that will make heads turn when you walk into a room. It isn’t an aroma that screams, “Look at me!” It isn’t an olfactory power suit that you don when you want to command an audience. This is the type of fragrance that makes you imagine wood nymphs, Bohemian brides donning lily of the valley wreaths, and fanciful strolls through forest expanses. It’s a sweet, bashful but undeniably pretty, soft, powdery, tender scent. In this case, then, the feline creature on the bottle may have made for a bold and aggressive exterior, but what awaited behind that fierce façade was demure, romantic, and almost cherubic.