These Bold Scents Will Be The Ice Breaker At Your Next Holiday Party

Written by Parizaad Khan Sethi

The classics endure for a reason. Everything couturier Jean Paul Gaultier touches is a case in point. Much like his haute couture, his fragrances have managed to subvert the status quo, and entered a league that deserves icon status. They all shine in multi-faceted ways: from their design, packaging and memorable imagery, to the noses that created them and dreamed up their imaginative ingredient pairings. They easily will have people wondering what you’re wearing, serving as the perfect ice breaker at your next holiday party. No matter what subculture you belong to, a Gaultier fragrance has something that will appeal to every type of enthusiast, and gives you an in when the conversation is at a lull. Ahead, everything you need to know about the bold scents that will appeal to all different sensibilities.

The Fashionphile

Every fashion house has a set of codes or standout design elements that is used as shorthand to represent the designer’s sensibilities. For instance, the blue hue and stripes on Le Male, Gaultier’s iconic masculine scent, represent one of the most important codes of his house—nautical iconography. In contrast, La Belle, with its hourglass shape and angular bust explores more of the designer’s enduring emblems: corsetry and a conical bra. Fashion fiends love looking at a piece of fashion history every time they spritz on it on. Both fragrances also come in exclusive holiday sets with a single set and a travel one you can keep in your purse when you’re on the go.

The Elevated Gourmet

Food and perfume seem worlds apart, but the same motivations drive both these creative fields. Both are obsessed with the past and constantly trying to recreate tastes and smells that create nostalgia in an effort to recreate smells and tastes people associate with childhood or other precious memories. At the same time, they’re also constantly pushing boundaries in the present, to create surprising new experiences. Our sense of scent and taste are also so intimately connected, that one seems half as good without the other.

So, don’t be surprised if you can chat with a foodie about perfumery ingredients forever, especially the food-forward ones in Le Male and La Belle. The freshness of lavender and mint in Le Male cut through the rich headiness of vanilla which provides the effervescent herbs with a warm grounding. La Belle is metaphorically a smorgasbord for anyone with an elevated sense of smell. It starts out with a one-two punch of pear and bergamot, a juicy fruit and citrus melody. It evolves into aromatic florals before settling into a warm, moody vanilla and amber base. It’s a blend that no fragrance-loving soul could resist.*

The Design Hound

For design enthusiasts, Gaultier’s perfumery offers endless inspiration. The shape of the bottles themselves were pathbreaking when they were released in the 1990s. A disembodied torso might not sound like much on paper, but the beautiful glassware manages to defy all expectations. The curvy female form was the first to be born as a vehicle for the Classique scent, followed by the ripped V-shaped torso of Le Male. The bottles have kept their design grammar intact while changing slightly with each new Gaultier fragrance. They’re universally associated with the Gaultier brand today, and even design plebs can ID the designer when they see that bottle. That kind of brand recognition is marketing gold, a rare unicorn in the branding world. For the holiday, they even offer a Holiday Collector complete with a red puffer jacket that is a conversation piece in itself.

But there’s more. Instead of cardboard cartons, the bottles are housed in tin cans. Gaultier once revealed that he was inspired to create these after seeing cans of cat food at the supermarket. The can motif was first used by him as a design for a bracelet and then made their way into his perfumery. The cans have become collectors’ items in themselves and they’re as fresh, whimsical and chic today as they were when they first launched.

The Fragrance Nerd

If you really want to impress a fine fragrance lover, toss out the name Francis Kurkdjian in casual conversation. Kurkdjian, one of the most beloved perfumers of our times, is the nose behind Le Male. As per usual, he was way ahead of his time with that fragrance. Le Male has cologne-like ingredients like mint and lavender, that have been deepened with vanilla. With those three hero ingredients he managed to make worlds collide. The fragrance combined fresh and sweet, vert and gourmand, male and female, in an effortless, timeless way that still surprises new and seasoned Le Male fans.

La Belle’s perfumers Quentin Bisch and Sonia Constant are also celebrated perfumers. The duo have worked on several Gaultier perfumes individually and together. For this one, they chose notes of bergamot, green pear and vanilla pod, making it a citrusy, verdant juice with surprising depth and reach.

It’s fair to say that no matter which Gaultier fragrance is your scent of choice, there’ll be no shortage of conversation it inspires.

Photography: Ian Loring Shiver; Prop Stylist: Kelsi Windmiller; Makeup: Becca Low; Art Direction: Angela Poccia & Julie Vaccaro/BDG; Designer: Alexis Apollonio/BDG; Branded Beauty Lead: Shyema Azam/BDG; Production: Nancy Valev/BDG

*Disclaimer: Perfumes are not edible and should not be swallowed