Geranium pour Monsieur by Editions de Parfums

Hello all. Lee here. On a Tuesday. I know. I’m feeling a little funny too. Let’s go with it though, eh? Just kind of find out what happens. You see, I’m off to Scotland on Friday and I have to take my sporran out of storage…

Before getting to the review itself, can I first clear up the whole geranium / pelargonium thing? Because, quite frankly, they’re not the same, and dear Freddy Malle, in promoting his top end fare, is also promoting dubious botanical nomenclature. Geraniums, let me be clear, are largely herbaceous perennials, frequently called cranesbills in everyday parlance, after the beaky form and motion of their seedheads. You’ll find them in borders designed by your Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West types, used for their soft mounded forms, their interweaving manner and often pastel-hued flowers, and come highly recommended if cottage style gardening is your thing. I deliberately grow a few myself (the so-bright-it-hurts-your-eyes Ann Folkard is one of them), and one accidentally – an extraordinarily irritating and surprisingly smelly weed called Herb Robert. I pity the Robert this miserable creature was named after.

Pelargoniums, in contrast, include the pot plants we associate with whitewashed Mediterranean houses and sunny climes – vivid red flowers and evergreen foliage. The flower colours of this genus have an apparent unceasing variety, and the leaf shape too. It includes Pelargonium graveolons, the plant from which the rose-lemon geranium essential oil is most often extracted (so really, the confusion is not Freddy’s fault. I blame those essential oil extractors for this nomenclature snafu). However, virtually all pelargoniums have scented leaves, and some species and varieties have been developed explicitly for this purpose. They’re easy to grow and don’t need much looking after. Scents can range from the minty (the wonderful ‘Lady Plymouth’ and downy leaved Pelargonium tomentosum) to the balsamy (‘Royal Oak’) to the spicy (‘Old Spice’) to apple-y (P. odoratissimum) to stagnant (‘Frank Headley’ is a beauty to look at, but boy does it smell like the top notes of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s bizarrely bilgey Jardin du Nil). I recommend everyone having a few scenty leaved wonders or species pelargoniums in their homes – they’re the nicest of guests (P. sidoides is a long time fave of mine – and google the health benefits!).

Onto the perfume. A wonderful woman called Audrey sent me a hefty sample of this, with Editions de Parfums’ usual generosity and elan. And I’ve been wearing it ever since. It took me a while to like it before I even tried to understand it. And now I think I love it.

geranium pour homme

Pelargonium bicolor from

It makes me think of triangular collocations and how wrong they can be. Let me explain myself. If I were to say cool and fresh, and ask you to add the next adjective, you might say bright. Or if you didn’t know what an adjective was, you might say ‘weather’. You wouldn’t -or at least I don’t think you would – say ‘dark’, but that’s precisely the triangular collocation Geranium pour Monsieur throws into my head (I think visually, hence the triangle).

Geranium essential oil makes a strong appearance in another Malle perfume – Noir Epices – that also happens to be dark. Ropion’s darkness in Geranium pour Monsieur is a surprisingly brilliant darkness  – it is the cool of a grotto you retreat to when you’ve had too much heat, the dew before the rising sun appears, the humid twilight world of coastal tropics as the sun sets and life begins. I could go on, Harlequin romance style, though I hope you get the picture. Unlike Roudnitska’s Noir Epices, which, though a strangely transparent scent, I find solitary and angular in its beauty, Geranium pour Monsieur is affable, friendly almost bon chic bon genre in its likeability. It could be a scent for the (bourgeois, good taste) masses, this generation’s Eau Sauvage, if it weren’t so expensive or limited in availability. And that is a serious compliment.

So it starts with a vibrant minty geranium, toothpaste- or chewing gum-like perhaps, but beautiful. There is an animal purr in there somewhere too, though I have no idea how that’s achieved. There’s also a touch of citronella, declaring ‘no flies on me’ or something. I like the suggestion of a repellent in amongst the beauty – it adds to the charm of the whole. And then the other, non-minty geranium facets kick in, oscillating between floral, anisic, spicy and citrus, but never losing that cool, dark allure. A hide and seek perfume, it seems to fade before returning with a delicate incense trail and some musks which I’m not sure I’m actually smelling or imagining I’ smelling. And the geranium itself, something I thought was a highly volatile oil, hangs around for most of the journey. I have a gaping hole for a fresh floral green perfume (if that’s what this is – and it is so different to what I normally enjoy, I have no idea) – this has just filled. It’s rare I sniff a perfume that has no immediate smellalike, and that in itself makes this fascinating. Its immediate and most obvious bedfellow is Miller Harris’ Geranium Bourbon. But that perfume’s all giggle and play in a summer dress. The two might have sex as a one-off ‘feeling fresh and frisky’ thing, but they’re never going to get close. Different worlds, you see.

So, a fresh ‘man’s’ scent in the Malle line up. Though this isn’t a ‘hang out on the beach and crack open the beers’ fresh masculine. Rather, like Chanel pour Monsieur, Monsieur Balmain or even Eau Sauvage, three classics that also draw upon fresh appeal, it’s a smartly turned out chap oozing charm and savoir faire. I may well wear it in beach shorts and nothing else, but it’ll be happier with a linen suit and a bone dry Sauternes.

You’ll find reported elsewhere that this perfume fuses ‘the beauty of nature’ (essential oils) with ‘the precision of the digital era’ (molecular distillation). And that it uses Chinese geranium (which might just mean geranium oil imported from China as far as I’m aware). All I know is that geranium oil is extremely cheap, yet I’ll be more than happy to fork out for this atomically spliced and diced natural wonder. It is that damn good.

  • Tara says:

    Great review, sounds very intriguing. I know better than to buy unsniffed despite the temptation, so will wait for a test run. Off to ring Barney’s and see when they will have it on hand. Bon voyage!

  • carmencanada says:

    Lee, you used “collocation” in your post… Sounds like I’m at work teaching English to French execs!
    I am so discombobulated (was going to use a word describing kidney function) at the new guy manning the Frédéric Malle boutique on the rue de Grenelle, who lied through his teeth, I’m sure, to deny me a sniff of the tester I’m sure he had stashed in a closet…
    After the weirdness of Dans Tes Bras, it seems FM is again looking for very novel accords. And mint seems to be very in these days, what with the success of Cartier Roadster. Not sure this is what I’d wear, sultry me, but I’m sure I’ll be interested.

  • March says:

    Lee, this was so interesting, thanks. I had no idea about the pelargoniums, which I’ve always heard called “scented geraniums.” They’re wonderful in the house, I love the way they smell and they’re cheerful in the winter, provided they get enough light.

    You’re making this fragrance sound pretty darn delicious!

    • Lee says:

      I need my geek emoticon.

      Scented geraniums! *chortles and scoffs*

      Yeah, they like a bit of light. Mine hog all the south facing windows in winter. Matt moans, but tough luck buddy. Your means mean nothing to this nerd of horticulture.

      And it is pretty darn delicious…

  • JAntoinette says:

    Thanks for the lovely review, Lee. I am always rubbing my fingers through those velvety geranium leaves(or pelargonium leaves for that matter) whenever I come upon them. It’s no surprise that I love Geranium Bourbon and now I may have another geranium to add to my “garden”. Your review has bumped this to the top of my sample list.

    • Lee says:

      Mine have all been root and stem pruned and repotted. They were getting leggy. Already, the leaves are growing back in full force.

      I think you’ll enjoy this.

  • Nava says:

    And it just so happens that a Barneys catalog was in my mailbox yesterday with this latest Malle on the back cover. OK, a bottle of this, Rosine Rose Praline and Le Labo Poivre…or, paying the rent? Which would you choose? It has warmed up quite a bit here, so me, the cat and my bottles could happily pitch a tent in a Civil War battlefield for the next 6 months or so. 😀

    • Lee says:

      Hell, what a pricy list. I just compiled one earlier, but was pretty unsuccessful (okay, there’s Timbuktu, as always – I MUST BUY THIS AND SOON, poor thing, Dia pour Homme, which is pricy and Geranium pour Monsieur). I have learned to wait…

      I’m not sure any perfume is worth six months in a tent…

      • Nava says:

        It’s tough having champagne taste on a shoestring budget. And I am so not the type to go without indoor plumbing for any length of time!

    • carter says:

      Hey! I didn’t get mine! Does Barney’s have it now?

      • carter says:

        It’s not online…Nava, does the catalog have it for purchase? Oh hell, I hate going to Barney’s, but between this and the SL foundation, I’m screwed. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

        • Nava says:

          No idea, Carter. The catalog showed up in yesterday’s mail. Generally, I think their catalogs reflect items they have in stock.

  • Melissa says:

    Linen suit, pearls and heels for me with this one! (Must buy one, I suppose). The notes sound fabulous, even though I normally don’t like some of them individually. But mint, as in “minty geranium (pelargonium)” is surely different from the blasts of mint that I detest in some scents.

    Noir Epices goes pretty sour on me, but I don’t believe that it is the geranium oil, or at least the geranium oil alone. In my mind, it is something about the spice notes that turn on me in that scent. And from your description of Geranium pour Monsieur, the two sound entirely different. Thanks for a marvelous review!

    • Lee says:

      It’s certainly not the mouthwash minty that you find elsewhere, nor the murray mint minty (a creamy edged mint?) of Cartier’s Roadster. It’s herbal minty alright.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  • Elle says:

    Whoa! Want! I will happily go into androgynous mode for this one and if I am required to break out the linen suit and tie, then that I shall.
    Hope you have a fantastic time in Scotland!

  • chayaruchama says:

    I DO love a good sporran in the morning, with my coffee…
    So, will Mama love it, mon petit princeling ?

    Glad Jarvis likes your prose- he ,too, is a prince-
    But you got there FIRST.

    Kiss the moors for me, won’t you ?
    I miss you awfully, you lyrical ninny.

    • Lee says:

      Doesn’t the fur lodge between your teeth and get in the way of the good brown stuff?

      I’m not sure how you’ll take it, I. It avoids the aquatic trend, but is, I think, a pretty safe scent really. In a totally good way.

      And I’m forever your ninny.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Beautiful review, Lee, thank you (how could I not love a review which mention Vita?) but I am afraid of the toothpaste note, too. At least you have shed light on the whole geranium/pelargonium thing which is something which is always misinterpreted here in the UK.

    I will sniff it to see whether The Beloved would like a bottle, but I suspect not. Phew, that’s £100 saved then.

    Have a nice time in Scotland nd remember to take your thermals. It is very chilly this morning in London, even.

    • Lee says:

      What’s happened to the warm sunshine? My tomato and cucumber seedling are fair shivering in the flimsy greenhouse, let alone all the tender annuals, poor things.

      It’s too natural to be like toothpaste really, but I guess the olfactory shock of mint is unavoidably going to make most of us think of dental hygiene, at least at first.

  • Solander says:

    The scent sounds positively scary (geranium? mint? waaaah!) but your writing is exquisite as always!
    On the fresh and green garden theme, I recently tried Humiecki & Graef’s Eau Radieuse, which upon application smells exactly like tart, sour rhubarb stalks being broken. Not the sweetened, pink rhubarb of CdG Sherbet Rhubarb, but green rhubarb growing in the shade, 100% “masculine”. I’m such a sucker for rhubarb notes I’m prepared to put up with the extremely dull, generic “fresh”, vaguely aquatic, drydown.

    • Lee says:

      Thanks S. I’ve been overdosing on rhubarb in a culinary sense so I must try that H&G – I think March rated it too. It’s rhubarb glut time here in East Anglia – my plants are haywire.

  • Louise says:

    Dear, how nice for you to pop up mid-week:)

    Thanks for the clarification on the Geranium/Pelargonium classification. Somehow, while it may be inaccurate, I think Malle did well to be a bit off in nomenclature, since “Pelargonium for Him” just doesn’t have the same ring to it….

    This perfume sounds lovely, and it’s so nice to hear you enthusiastic about a new scent. I am a wee bit frightened, though, by two associations you made. Noir Epices opens in a beautiful manner on my skin, and quickly turns to rotten flesh. Really. Carnal in the charnel way. This has been verified by several disgusted witnesses. Here’s to hoping it’s not the Geranium oil causing this effect (where’s my skull emoticon when I need it?). The other fear factor is Geranium Bourbon-also a very bad thing on me. But you say the resemblance is only slight. So I need to shut up and try this Malle, already.

    Make sure your sporran keeps you warm in the important ways, and have a lovely holiday.

    • Lee says:

      It (?) was predicting nice weather for Scotland earlier in the week, though who knows now. We have unpredictability as part of our core here in the UK…

      I’m not sure whether this’ll ring your bell, though it shouldn’t have the turn to hell (I hope) of the other two we both mention. Though I always think herbally numbers have that potential to go green like a mowed grass pile turning to goo and gunk. Maybe you run high on nitrogen, my love?

  • Joe says:

    Oh! Lee! I’m still a bit afraid of the mint… but cool, fresh AND dark?! Sign me up! The geranium-based Noir Epices is already one of my favorites and I really can’t wait for this GPM.

    Of course, it will screw up my accounts. How is one supposed to do perfume budgeting when there are always new launches to potentially foul things up? I guess the key is to leave a blank line item each month with a large amount for “unexpected” purchases? I’m going to have to put Margaret at Barneys Beverly Hills on speed dial.

    • Lee says:

      It’s a very herbaceous mint, if that helps at all.

      Like all perfumistas, don’t you have a few thou set aside for unexpected purchases?


      • NancyN says:

        This is the first thrill I’ve had today– the thought of a “few thou set aside for unexpected purchases” (perfume wise) Wow.
        Thanks for the lift.

  • Jarvis says:

    Hullo, Lee. I’m not sure what pleases me more — the prospect of a few “cool,” “fresh,” and “dark” Freddy Malle, or your utterly beguiling prose. I thoroughly enjoyed that review, and can’t wait to test the Géranium Pour Monsieur. Now, how can I possibly wait until June?

    • Lee says:

      Beguiling? Oh my! Thank you. Well, I like to play with words. And I know you’ll find something to say about GpM.

  • Roxana says:

    Ah, lovely review and I so appreciate the clarification with the Geraniums. I look forward to experiencing this fragrance based on your review. The essential oil from China is less expensive and is not quite as sweet as a true “Bourbon” Geranium from the Reunion Islands.
    Happy travels to beautiful Scotland, lucky you!

    • Lee says:

      Thanks R. I thought that might be the case about the Chinese geranium, though I wasn’t fully sure…

  • tmp00 says:

    Oooh, I should hate you for the fact that you are so ahead of the curve that you get a generous sample of this while me, me. me Norma Desmond with my vaunted zip code will have to wait until practically June. But then you make that Vita Sackville-West reference and tell me it’s the new Eau Sauvage? Kiss me you fool!

  • violetnoir says:

    Babe, you are so persuasive, I feel I just have to get me some of this!


    • March says:

      Hey! You’re on here! Commenting! Does this mean it’s letting you on again? I blew up my browser accidentally yesterday and had to reinstall IE and then Firefox, and things look a bit different…

      • violetnoir says:

        I posted from my home computer, as I am doing now. I can read your posts from my office computer, but replying is still a bit dicey, and I still can’t switch from the Dirty Girls (ooh, how I love me some of that dirt!) to Arsenic and Old Lace.

        Will keep trying!


    • Lee says:

      I think you’ll enjoy it, and I love being called babe!

  • carter says:

    Noooooooooo! You were supposed to hate it. For my sake. You could have lied, you know. For my sake. Shit.

    • Lee says:

      If it’s any salve/balm/ease to your duress, I didn’t immediately like it. But I swear that mintiness is more herby now than it was when I first sprayed…

      • carter says:

        The only relief would be if you were to finance the purchase. Freddy is killing me, or I should say that when I buy another bottle the DH is going to kill me. Guess I’ll have to let him think it’s for him 😉

      • carter says:

        Plus, in honor of your post today I broke out my beloved Carnal Flower and it’s working its magic on this hot as hell day, but as a result I now have an even stronger craving for the $200 CF body creme. Thanks ever so, Lee. And have yourself a lovely time frolicking in the heather with the pixies, or whatever else suits your fancy 😉