Monday, 29 August 2022

BEAU DE PROVENCE by Fragonard

Fragonard Beau de Provence Perfume Bottle
The subject of gender in fragrance is something that is still being discussed at length, and it’s just as vocal in the niche sector as it is in the high street. The fragrances that you’ll find in the department stores are clearly split into masculine, feminine and unisex because this helps to guide customers to their “safe” choice. The more independent boutiques will split by fragrance family or style, but this does mean that the customer has to take a much bigger journey of discovery. It’s very hard for established companies to break this cycle, but that is exactly what Fragonard have done with Beau de Provence.

One of the biggest tasks when it comes to fragrance and gender is challenging the traditional idea that “flowers are for girls and woods are for boys”. I know this sounds like a very simplistic statement, but it really is the core of the problem. This stereotype has been ingrained for decades, and it’s become the accepted way of choosing a perfume, but it wasn’t always like this. Fragrance never had a gender. It was simply created to mask another odour or to champion a favourite ingredient. Napoleon loved violets and, if you think that sounds old fashioned, take a look at the ingredients in Dior’s Fahrenheit.

Fragonard is the most famous perfumery in Grasse and, in my opinion, is often dismissed unfairly as a mere “tourist perfumer”. In actual fact, because they no longer have a resident nose, they now use some of the finest perfumers in the world to create their scents. This was the case with Beau de Provence, which was created by Karine Dubreuil. With her previous clients including Guerlain and Jo Malone London, she was the perfect choice to translate the beauty of the area into scent, and contribute to a fragrance that would challenge the traditional positioning of a “masculine-leaning” perfume.

Fragonard Beau de Provence Perfume Box
Beau de Provence
is part of The Flowers of the Perfumer collection, the latest series from Fragonard, and sees the four fragrances in the range each take a city or region as their inspiration. Now, whilst the other three perfumes use the feminine “Belle” in the title rather than the masculine “Beau”, the important part is that it is classified as suitable for both male and female and sits within a collection that champions florals. This might not seem like a massive change, but it’s actually a step towards helping to break down the idea that floral categories are solely for women. So, enough talk, what does Beau de Provence have to offer?

It opens with a sun-drenched hit of bergamot and grapefruit but, just underneath, the first hints of herbaceous mint and basil also start to appear. The fig note then arrives conjuring up the textural skin of the fruit along with its fleshy centre, and is paired beautifully by a banana-esque ylang. There’s even a touch of lavender and rose in there as well, but it never overpowers the fig note. As the fragrance develops, an earthy woodiness presents itself, thanks to a generous dose of vetiver and cedarwood, before sweetened patchouli almost nods to the ancient trees that produce the fruit. My advice to you... apply liberally and wait for the compliments.

Beau de Provence is available from the Fragonard website at fragonard.com, or Cologne & Cotton in the UK, priced at €36 for 100ml. The fragrance is also available as a soap and hand cream. [Sample provided by Fragonard]

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