Perfumer Richard Fraysse
Troisième Homme bends the classic aromatic fougère a bit. Still floral, still bitter. But unlike the model fougère, the bitterness isn’t diminished by a lavender-herbal rinse. There’s an angular, burnt note that darkens the composition. It smells like creosote bush in southern California desert in summer.
The bitterness adds focus, and it’s a remarkable trick. It reads as dark but breezy, blending prettiness with melancholy. However it was composed, 3ème Homme leads with both the gruff and the lovely, and keep them both out front throughout the dry-down. Sort of butch and femme in one.
Since the 1980s, new takes on the fougère tend to do one of two things: 1) Brighten the composition and make it less brooding. (see YSL Jazz, Davidoff Cool Water and Penhaligon’s Sartorial) 2) Add complexity between the two defining pillars of the fougère, coumarin and lavender. (see Azzaro pour Homme and Paco Rabanne Ténéré) Both approaches have the same effect of attempting to mitigate the implicit starkness of the fougère. Troisième Homme does neither, and to my mind manages to hold true to the mission of the fougère while offering a unique perspective.
2012. Caveat. I smelled Troisieme Homme recently, and while it’s still a floral fougère, it doesn’t nearly have the juxtaposition that made it so appealing. Even a few years ago, I could have stocked up on 4.2 oz bottles for $30 a piece of the old formula. Fuck.
2014. Post-caveat. I found 2 vintage bottles of the original composition in the gorgeous glass square-in-square bottles with matching stoppers. It’s neither as bitter nor as floral as the version I got to know in 2006, but richer and more similar to the other aromatic fougères of the early 1980s and late 1970s.