By  on December 15, 2006

PARIS — Jean Paul Gaultier keeps gender-bending and revisiting past icons — most recently with his new fragrance, called Fleur du Male, due out this spring.

The scent breaks conventional codes of men's scent. Most radical is its juice, containing notes of white, orange blossom flowers instead of geranium and lavender, staples in a traditional fougère men's fragrance. Second, Fleur du Male's bottle is completely white — a rarity for the fragrance industry, particularly in a marketplace awash with black fragrance flacons for men.

Created with Gaultier's beauty-license holder Beauté Prestige International, Fleur du Male comes more than a decade after the 1995 launch of perennial bestseller Le Male (a fougère) and less than a year following Gaultier to the Power of Two scent (with notes of ambergris, musk and vanilla) for men and women. Gaultier's Tout Beau Tout Propre makeup line for men was introduced in fall 2003.

"Jean Paul firmly believed that he should say something new about men," said Remy Gomez, president of BPI.

"Over the past 12 years, many barriers have been lifted for men," continued Lea Vignal-Kenedi, head of the fragrance division for Jean Paul Gaultier, referring to men's ability to more easily express themselves through fashion and beauty, for instance. "He wanted to speak of this blooming of today's masculinity, of joie de vivre, of happiness."

Although company executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources said they expected Fleur du Male would generate $26 million at wholesale in its first 12 months.

Its "revisited fern accord," with notes of petigrain leaf and coumarin, was created by Takasago's Francis Kurkdjian, also Le Male's perfumer. For Fleur du Male, he used a healthy dose of orange flower notes, generally found in women's fragrances and in colognes. BPI claims it to be the first time orange flower has been used in a men's scent.

"There is a new dimension to the Jean Paul Gaultier man," said Kurkdjian.

"Orange flower is an ingredient that sticks in the memory more easily than most other top notes available," continued Gomez, who explained the white flowers are historically used in crowns for French brides, for instance.Added Kurkdjian, orange flower scent also evokes memories of childhood and innocence. "It is a flower Jean Paul adores," he said.

So, too, was Gaultier intent on giving a nod to Le Male's iconic bottle, which comes in the form of a bust. However, the Fleur du Male flacon is of white porcelain. "Jean Paul wanted the bust to be the emblem of his statement," explained Gomez.

Cultural references abound in the new project. Take the scent's name, which is a word play on "La Fleur du Mal," a book of poetry by Charles Baudelaire. Then there is the advertising visual.

Gaultier adores movies, explained Vignal-Kenedi. She said that for Fleur du Male, he had in his mind the image from the film "American Beauty," in which actress Mena Suvari soaks in a bath full of roses. So, he signed photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino to shoot model Andres Valencoso in a milky bath chockablock with white flowers. Print visuals will appear as single pages. "He wanted to show a happy man, like a pasha, something as simple, with a certain pleasure," she said. Sampling will include Sophisticates, among other formats.

Fleur du Male is to be sold exclusively in Jean Paul Gaultier boutiques starting in March. It will be rolled out in worldwide distribution beginning in April.

The 125-ml. eau de toilette spray will retail for 69 euros, or $91 at current exchange rates; the 75-ml. size, for 51 euros, or $67; the 40-ml. limited-edition eau de toilette spray, for 39 euros, or $51, and the 75-g. stick deodorant, for 22 euros, or $29.

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