French Lover / Bois d'Orage (2007)
by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle


French Lover / Bois d'Orage information

Year of Launch2007
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 414 votes)

People and companies

HouseEditions de Parfums Frederic Malle
PerfumerPierre Bourdon
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About French Lover / Bois d'Orage

French Lover / Bois d'Orage is a masculine fragrance by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. The scent was launched in 2007 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Pierre Bourdon

French Lover / Bois d'Orage fragrance notes

Reviews of French Lover / Bois d'Orage

Although he may look like a Belgian accountant Pierre Bourdon is in fact a creative genius. With French Lover he has done something that few have tried and even fewer have succeeded in, the Minimalist Perfume. A pale blend of galbanum with assonant naturals: incense, juniper and a kind of natural Exaltolide found in Angelica root which together make a rather indistinct foggy thing that seems to be all shallow surface and no depth of structure.

Like a pale Mark Rothko canvas there's no image to pick out here but plenty for the unconscious to feed on. FL doesn't make didactic statements like many perfumes do, it suggests. It hints at things you think you already know; the humid sous-bois of the forest floor, green and decaying vegetation, sappy stems peeled of their young bark. Or, if you are more inclined to culture than the natural world there is the Homme Chic; silver grey suit, cardamom coffee, potted plants and pale decor. Both are possible, and both visions have their adherents. Frederic Malle certainly doesn't rule out either interpretation with their alternative names French Lover and Stormwood.

This perfume works because Pierre Bourdon seems to have grasped something of the Zen nature of minimalism, which doesn't lie in a featureless pale woody thing with no movement or soul, and ditto ionones. Maybe he has one of those oriental teapots with purely functional shape and subtle gradations of colour. Form and content are not separate qualities - as Susan Sontag has argued - and in this case it's more like Yang form and Yin content melding together in permissive alliance. French Lover's lack of form allows the subtle gradations of natural-material content to show through. This is, of course, entirely dependent on Frederic Malle coming up with top quality materials. Without them this would be little more than the type of plain pencil-shavings thing that sometimes passes as woody minimalism.

While not being weak or wan (in fact the juice is very strong) French Lover doesn't feel the need to shout. It is not, like many perfumes clamouring for your attention but instead murmurs enigmatically - making you want to lean in to hear what it's saying. It's a work based on a brillant conceit that successfully turns a certain received idea about perfume on its head. Like a zen teapot, it's not perfect, there will always (by design) be a flaw somewhere; likewise, French Lover is almost a masterpiece.

07th June, 2019
Opens green, bitter and spicy followed by a clear cedar note. The best way to describe it is that is smells of freshly cut woods in a forest on a rainy day. Earthy and moist at first progresses to dry woods with spicy undertones. A nice rooty vetiver envelops the woody heart and transparent clouds of incense straightens the earthy character. Very nice balance of notes and composition, great manly scent.
04th January, 2019
A crisp white oxford shirt in a greenhouse that has opened its windows.

French Lover blends lighter notes of brisk, aromatic woods and peppery angelica with the heft of grassy, smoky vetiver and a slug of vegetal, earthy galbanum. It manages to simultaneously convey both clean, confident contours with plenty of breathing room and a dark, rich, if not murky foundation.

Decent longevity, excellent for humid days. The fragrance reads as masculine but I like to pair it with minimalist and monochromatic looks. Would be great with pressed slacks and black patent leather stilettos.
19th June, 2018
Top marks for being realistic!!

I mean this smells like you just juiced a green leaf and stalk and then rubbed it all over your body. Not my cup of tea but if you are that way inclined then could be ideal.
12th May, 2018
Best perfume ever created. Period. For Me. Unfortunately there was a slight reformulation since the Lauder takeover and it has changed. I'd say it's about 85%-90% the same so it's not a bad reform, but still, the original is a complete masterpiece. Pierre Bourdon will forever hold a place in my heart for creating this.
24th March, 2018
Most people seem to be agreed that French Lover is a misleading epiphet for this creation, and the alternative name of Bois d'Orage or Stormwood suits it much better.

It's a nice angelica roots note. If you don't know what angelica roots oil smells like, you do now. There is a rank "methylated spirits" aspect, which may be what Katie Puckrik was referring to when she described her association to her father in his dirty overalls. Luca Turin describes a similar impression. Whether the perfume actually contains pyridine seems unlikely, but it certainly smells like it does.

All the same, Bois d'Orage - I can't think of it as French Lover - is a great fragrance, dry, daring, and different. It has more character than its close cousin, Angeliques sous la Pluie, and I like that one well enough, but Bourdon's creation just caps it. There is a peppery aspect too, very similar to that found in the fragrance Laurel from Comme des Garcons.

The drydown is a woody-amber odour characteristic of materials (timberol, karanal, amber xtreme etc) which are as powerful as they are ubiquitous. This warm and pungent smell with its slightly sweaty aspect may underlie Bourdon's comment that he was aiming for a fragrance which acts as a skin enhancer, amplifying the natural odour of manliness.

Here, at last, may be our French Lover. The dosage is restrained, which is fortunate since these materials are very tenacious and in regular use will accumulate on clothing.

20th January, 2018 (last edited: 01st July, 2019)

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