Jean Paul Gaultier Classique ~ perfume review

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique fragrance advert

Jean Paul Gaultier, long known as the enfant terrible of French fashion for his irreverent approach to design — "I like to show that there is no frontier between good taste and bad taste", he told The Independent last year — launched his first fragrance in 1993. Originally known as Jean Paul Gaultier, it was later renamed Classique to distinguish it from the scents that followed. Classique was developed by perfumer Jacques Cavallier, and the notes for the musky floriental include bergamot, orange blossom, rose, mandarin, aniseed, carnation, orchid, iris, ylang ylang, ginger, vanilla, wood, amber and musk.

Gaultier was already a household name by the time Classique launched, having gained considerable media attention for the costumes he designed for Madonna's 1990 Blonde Ambition tour (including the "lethal conical bra designed to damage a retina at 10 paces"). It was not to be expected that his debut scent would be dull, and Gaultier's inspirations sounded appropriately zany:

"One part dusty loose powder, like my grandmother wore -- I think it was old Coty; one part that smell you get when you are sitting in the front row of the theater -- for me, I think of going to The Chatelet when I was 12, and the curtain goes up, and the hot lights are on the costumes, wigs and sets, and you breathe it all in. And, just to be modern, one part nail polish remover!"

Nail polish remover?

"But listen, this is not a joke. I set out to create something you really want to wear. Smells are important because they remind you of certain people. If you smell this and you think of me, I want it to be good! And there are flowers, vanilla, a lot of things." (via Women's Wear Daily, 3/12/93)

The packaging was suitably zany to match: the torso-shaped bottle with its metal corset, the tin can in lieu of a cardboard box. Reportedly, a few retailers initially refused to carry the perfume because of the can, but customers (long starved for fun at the fragrance counter) "got it" and the gamble paid off. And it is hard to imagine a bottle more perfectly designed for a long string of limited edition flankers: every year, they re-dress the torso (sometimes more than once) and sell it again.

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique fragranceAs for the fragrance, well, as Gaultier himself hinted, it was not quite so zany as the packaging and the ad copy. It has a kind of hyper-feminine, hyper-synthetic feel that is in keeping with Gaultier's design aesthetic, but there is nothing particularly audacious about it and it is perfectly wearable: a sweet, cozy blend of flowers and edible notes (lots of ambery vanilla musk), wrapped in powder. There is a hint of that nail polish remover, but it adds interest to the proceedings (mostly in the top notes) and does nothing to render Classique esoteric or hard to sell.

It is not a style of perfume that I like (even the Eau de Toilette is too powdery-girly-sweet for me), but it is nicely done and I can't help but admire the brilliant marketing. If you do like sweet, also try the Eau de Parfum, which is warmer and heavier than the Eau de Toilette, and the notes have been rearranged enough that it smells markedly different. There used to be a Parfum, but I have never tried it and I am not sure if it is still in production, do comment if you know.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have both a mini of the parfum and then was lucky enough to score a larger bottle off ebay, nearly for free. You can the mini off a discounter, though I don't remember which one.

    The parfum is rich and well blended. It's somewhat sweet, but not over the top, and almost never fails to generate compliments. I don't smell much powder in the parfum and while the edt and edp can sometimes smell sharp on me, the parfum is all boozy soft edges with a very sexy quality. It reminds me something Mae West would have worn..

  2. Anonymous says:

    R — someone (Ina?) sent me a nibble of the Classique parfum awhile back. (I don't know if it's still in production, but a cursory lookaround didn't turn any up.) It is *gorgeous.* I'd compare it to the difference between, say, Mitsouko EDT and parfum. The Classique EDT I'm not crazy for, it's almost cloying to me. The parfum gives you the expected upgrades in performance — it's rich and creamy rather than sweet and smells very, very expensive. Really, it's lovely, I would definitely wear it if I owned a bottle. Which, unfortunately, I don't. :-P

  3. Anonymous says:

    Boozy soft edges sounds nice, thanks! I'll have to look for it in parfum.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if I am the only one then to find the EdP more cloying than the EdT? But I knew I shouldn't have asked about the extrait, LOL — everyone is going to say it is the only concentration worth having. In which case, you know it will turn out to be discontinued!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is like a trace of makeup and lipstick with a gourmand twist. I love the parfum, which is not at all cloying in contrast to the EDP. I recommend trying it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The parfum really is my favorite form of this scent. However, it still is something I can stand back and admire, but not wear. God knows I wear some high femme scents w/ complete ease, but this is one that I feel wears me – I'm somehow very out of sync w/ it. But I can make it fit perfectly by layering it w/ some nice woodsy or incensey scent. :-)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ok, you're all ganging up on me…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yep — that is exactly how I feel about it — it is not in sync with me at all.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Fragile might be more in sync with you, R? Have you tried it, tuberose and orange blossom, need I say both sweeeet? Actually I was hoping you'd do a review of Fragile and so cover all the JPGs. The ads for this scent are just stunning!

  10. Anonymous says:

    you know, I use to like this until I had to do alot of flying one year and it semmed every plane I got on was full of women who had just bought this in the duty free shop and sprayed with full abandon as soon as they got onboard… always too much for an 8 hour flight. Forget trying to wear it, I don't even want to smell it! I do respect it though.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hello Robin,
    I just got back from minneapolis so I finally had a chance to visit sephora and Perfumania ,I was in heaven!! sniffing for hours! I sprayed Jean Paul Gaultier Classique on one arm and angel Thierry Mugler on the other and walked around the mall for some time to give the middle and base note a chance to reveal itself,well I ended up going back to purchase angel,I realize they are both completely diff frangrances but was drawn to both so perhaps my next shopping trip will be JPG classique. :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dusan, Fragile is probably even less in sync to me — sweet and bubblegum-ish. Agree on the ads though! But IMHO, the best feminine scent from JPG is Fleur du Male, hands down.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good for you, and glad you found something you loved! Did you try any of the newer Angels — the Garden of Stars? I think those are pretty too, although admittedly I'm not a massive Angel fan. That is another one, like JPG Classique, that I admire but don't wear.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Nothing will ruin a scent better than smelling it in an airplane on a long flight — they really ought to outlaw testers in the duty free stores!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I did smell Garden of Stars Violet but not on me, and it did smell pretty,I was anxious to smell angel for months and that's all that I had on my mind was already set i think.*lol*

  16. Anonymous says:

    Having resniffed Fragile today, must say you were right – it *is* veeery bubblegummish even after the sweet top notes have settled. Also agree that FdM is JPG's best. It's feminine alright, but who cares, I mean, I wear Gaultier2, and that one's pretty femme as well.

    On another note, I finally got to try Prada Homme and it's really very lovely!

  17. Anonymous says:

    The FdM *is* feminine, and agree, who cares. Hope men will buy it, but not sure your average man will — and not because they've “overdosed the orange blossom”, which to my mind is not what makes it feminine at all.

    And glad you like Prada Homme, that is another of my favorites! Wonder if that one sells? I sure don't hear much about it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well then glad it turned out that you loved it! I can't remember which of the Garden of Stars ones I liked, will have to try them again.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I had forgotten that about the Shocking, thanks J!

  20. Anonymous says:

    It def isn't the orange blossom overkill that makes me don a silk slip! LOL, just kidding, I don't wear silk. LOL, can't help myself. Seriously, I *swear* there is a good dollop of tuberose ice-cream in FdM which is what makes it, to my mind anyway, not your typical Eau Sauvage type of scent.

    Don't know much about the sales figures for PH. I got my sample from Germany b/c nobody carries Prada around here. Ditto on V&Rolf, Guerlain, Acqua di Parma and… oh, I'll stop right there, it's so frustrating… Anyhows, predict Prada would sell just nicely in Belgrade, not b/c men here have impeccable taste (some of them do, LOL), but merely b/c they'll buy whichever Chanel, Dior etc. the SAs are pushing at the moment. FdM, on the other hand, I doubt will sell that well…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Yep, some kind of ice cream, anyway!

    Hoping we're both wrong on FdM and it sells like hotcakes! But suspect that if it does, many of the buyers will be women ;-)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Good fortune smiled on me the night I stepped into Macy's fragrance section as I headed to the parking lot when my time at the Mall was to end. I noticed the 'corset' bottle and was immediately intriguesd. A couple of spritzs later, I was happily sniffing my wrist and almost forgot where I parked. I had to have this stuff, but since the doors to the Mall were locked when I left, I drove back to the Bed and Breakfast I was staying at and vowed to get more of this intoxicating fragrance.

    Leaving the next morning at 6:30am did not allow me to return for my purchase and I set out trying to find Classique on Ebay. Bad mistake as my first purchase was a terrible knock off of the EDT. I contacted a fragrance house and asked for a sample of the EDP and when it arrived, ah yes, it was the EDP I was looking for all along. Warning: these two strengths are not even close, so if you are looking for the genuine article as they say, only buy the EDP. I've since found a 3.4 oz bottle of Classique plus the incredible body cream and layer them till I'm in fragrance. The aroma lasts a minimum of 8-10 hours on my skin and leaves me with the final note of amber and vanilla. This one is a keeper!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like it suits you much better than it suits me :-)

  24. Anonymous says:

    hello,my name's Hazlina and I'm from Malaysia…I've been an avid reader of this blog since last year,when I first saw it and I've been in love with it ever since!I always try to read it everyday day,as well as i can in between my classes.I'm now doing my masters in law..:)

    i especially love reading kevin's,dusan's and robin's posts..and i'm especially interested in in malaysia we have no such practice and most people here don't understand why you like perfume.they think its a waste of time and money,so i was really happy to find a blog such as this!:)

    anyways,as it is,i'm currently looking for some people to swap decanted perfumes with,i cant get much with a students salary,so please!anyone who wants to swap,just let me know,if you're not satisfied,then I'll replace it…no prblem..i'm just desperate to have someone share my love of perfumes..:)

    thanks and it was nice knowing all of you…:)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hello Hazlina, and welcome! You aren't likely to find anyone to swap with here, but I would check out the swap board at There are some international swappers there, although given the postage costs, there are many who will only swap within the US. If there are swap boards nearer to you, I'm afraid I don't know where they are. Good luck!

  26. Anonymous says:


  27. Anonymous says:

    Boozy is right. According to my sources at work ( I work in a perfume store) the classique has bourbon in it.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Sephora lists the notes for the EdP as “rum essence”, but they don't carry the parfum.

  29. Anonymous says:

    While on vacation last week in Texas, I went to a Sephora and they did have the EDP. I asked if it was very popular in North Dallas, and the SA said, “Not really, probably because it's not trendy right now.” Classique will always be a mainstay fragrance, but I love venturing out to try the new and unusual as well. I was fortunate enough to purchase a legit bottle from an Ebayer. From the reviews of others, there are many immitations being sold of JPG and they are usually listing the EDT,so be careful. You might want to check ebay for Keegan's Korner. I just scanned ebay and they have some carded samples from the manufacturer of the EDP. Good luck in your search.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I may not have been clear above — I have the EdP, but not the Parfum — not sure the Parfum is in production any longer.

  31. Anonymous says:

    oh, mea culpa…sorry, I didn't see that Parfum. I'd love to find that as well. I'll do some scouting and let you know if I have any luck.


  32. Anonymous says:

    Is there a marked difference between the Classique and it's Summer version? Or is it just to sell the new bottle designs every year?

  33. Anonymous says:

    You know, I've never smelled the summer version although I always stop to admire the bottles. I understand it is lighter and softer, and that some people prefer it to the regular, but it isn't as long lasting. And IIRC, it is alcohol-free.

  34. Anonymous says:

    “There used to be a Parfum, but I have never tried it and I am not sure if it is still in production, do comment if you know.” actually has a 1oz Parfum listed as a “limited edition,” but it's mighty expensive.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, don't think it was around when I wrote this!

  36. Anonymous says:

    One of mine and my boyfriend's favorite scents! It first caught my eye I must admit when I saw the unique bottle (being a vintage perfume bottle collector I notice bottles always) and then I smelled it, so wonderful with esscences of vanilla and cocoa in it plus a hint of floral as well. It's sensual and casual and fun and I adore it!


  37. Anonymous says:

    That bottle is definitely eye-catching :-)

  38. Anonymous says:

    im with you, R!

    i cant wear the EDP…its headache inducing for me…

    tried the EDT and its better for me

  39. Anonymous says:

    Actually, a Classique “light” would be nice too! But I guess that's what the summer versions are.

  40. popshera says:

    Classique: simply the best.

  41. Dizzy Dazzy says:

    Love this perfume. It never fails to please me and make me feel happy. Definitely an “ooooooooh” perfume. When I wear this I want to get up, get out and have fun. I found ‘Armani Code’ to be quite similar to ‘Classique’ but without the “ooomph”.

  42. GraceyJackson says:

    Oh wow.Ive tried so many different perfumes and this has GOT to be IT for me. I had a small roll on bottle the 1st time i tried it and instantly fell in love with it. And my boyfriend at the time always said i smelt So good. It really is an emotional scent for me and brings back so many good fond memories. But even now im still wearing it and will always carry on doing so. You go through a time when you try so hard trying to find that perfect scent that that one just clicks with you and, i myself , think it takes a while to get to that point and its one thats just got “something” about it and its meant for you and you just have to have it as YOUR scent. Anyway. An amazing scent for any woman.

  43. noush says:

    I loved this perfume when I was younger, and it was my signature fragrance. I then had a break of about a decade from it, and this is what I think now.

    Compared to frangrances I have been into in the last few years (Le Tome by Zadig and Voltaire and Miller Harris’ Coeur de Fleur) it smells somehow superficial, like it does not have the depth of the perfumes I love now. I still love the peppery smell, and I am still a sucker for the ads and packaging (I know, I know), but it smells more synthetic than Tome and Coeur de Fleur. I can’t help wondering if my taste has matured somehow? At the same time, my sense of smell is less good now, so I could be missing elements now which consequently are giving that effect. Also, it is an old bottle (my left over from before my break from it) and may be this is the reason.

    What I do notice, though, is the lack of staying power. When I use Tome and Coeur de Fleur I can still smell them on me when I wake up the next morning – which I love. La Classique seems to be gone after a few hours.

    Still, I am glad to be revisiting it. It reminds me of when I was in my late teens/early twenties. Before the ex who gave me a bottle of my long-term favourite perfume later cheated on me and thus, ruined it for me for years. Getting back to it feels like getting something back something of myself.

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