Fragile, a shrieking, glass-shard perfume of flowers, piercing,  (orange blossom, tubereuse artificielle): always seemed to tread a rather precarious tightrope.




Over crystal-sharp raspberry leaves, capsicum, pink pimento, and a psychological basenote of pernicious, reduced-fat cedar, a cruel, golden shower of excruciating artifice  was released each time from the leaking hole of the atomiseur – providing it hadn’t broken (it usually had) – and a tressed up manicured contessa in the wings, waiting, aloof, would then take to the ice-rink gilded stage in cigarillo-wielding readiness.









Like the bottle, a wonderful, utterly impractical creation that had a hands-on-hips diva in little snowglobe clasped by invisible, power-hungry talons (which unfortunately, as I say,  got damaged quite easily and was then, before the perfume was rendered extinct, replaced by a more pragmatic, if far less interesting flacon), the scent, released not quite at the optimum moment in time somehow (an unusually gauche faux pas from the self titled enfant terrible of fashion )- was always unsteady on its feet; resting somewhere on its red-lipped, fishnetted tightrope between perfumista artistry; whimsical wannabe, and banal, duty free seeking high street.




I used to quite like this perfume, I must admit, despite its screeching excesses and lack of any genuine fragility. There was a blinding sharpness in the blend there that had a feline, eye blinking extravagance that boded well, usually, for grand occasions.A purring, almost growling, Dita Von Teese: lacquered, pointed, a lamp-reflecting night neroli for flirtations and dressing up.




I suddenly miss it.


Filed under Flowers, wordy perfume reviews

30 responses to “HEARTLESS: : : FRAGILE by JEAN PAUL GAULTIER (1999)

  1. I still have a bottle of it and it is completely intact. I quite like the fragrance also, although now she has taken residence in my guest bathroom and I sometimes forget she is there.

    • That is her natural place, on a shelf in a guest space. We used to have parties in a now defunct club in Yokohama, and the proprietors had a bottle right there on the shelf. It never was stolen, and the volume of the perfume never went down. Only I seemed to ever spray it. But it was quite distinct, somehow. Are such archly, sharp tuberose/orange blossoms still made in commercial perfumery? I think not.

  2. I think you are correct…they are not still made.

  3. Lovely review. I wish more people would go out on the edge with their bottle design like the lovably Bonkers Monsieur Gaultier. I remember him on Eurotrash on TV and he was adorable.

  4. janeykate

    I love Fragile, down to my last quarter of a bottle unfortunately. It reminds me of the babycham my mum used to have at christmas, a sparkling fizz of a perfume!
    Jane x

  5. ninakane1

    I never tried this one, but the design is beautiful! I found myself by chance at the press opening of the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition at the barbican a couple of weeks ago! Honestly Neil, it was fantastic! I think you’d love it! They displayed the ACTUAL cone-tit corset worn by Madonna in the Blonde Ambition tour, and other gorgeously feathered, sleek and tartan concoctions worn by Kylie, Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones… It was full of bling and heavy, punky textures! They layout of the exhibition was fab – I was particularly taken by huge carousel with mannequins dressed in his divine concoctions pootling round like leftover luggage at the airport. And the blue room with the ‘Le Male’ stripey-topped sailors and kitsch virgin Mary mermaids… superb! Most of the fashion people snapping away with their mobiles wore some stripey take on this design and there was a highly self-conscious and rather sweet narcissism about the crowd! No-one was looking at anyone else – only at themselves (lots of selfie photos) and the mannequins! It was a curious but light and glitzy affair! Anyway took a load of photos which I will upload to facebook at some point. Had a spritz of ‘Le Male’ before exiting – a scent that defined the 1996-7 years for me and which still stirs a happy twinge of familiar nostalgia when I wear it. Anyway, if you get a chance to come back to London before the Autumn – do go see! C’est superbe x

    • It sounds utterly up my street, Nina, and something I know I would have great fun at. Was it as good as the Bowie ( which I also never got to see )?

      I also always had a soft spot for Gaultier and marvel that he has somehow managed to preserve his essence a quarter of a century later.

      One of my students in London bought me Le Male, and both D and I would wear it with its strange, salted musk lavender and minty weirdness. It was as distinctive as the women’s, which was so potent but kind of in ya face brilliantly direct and simple as well. Hard to imagine that Fragile was the follow-up, as it didn’t have the originality or the impact, much as I enjoy that kind of smell – gimme tuberose, gimme orange blossom. If you smelled it you would recognize the type immediately, ah I see, one of those, but the difference was that it was so BRIGHT: almost headache inducing.

      To have seen THE cone dress, incidentally.,…did it not feel a bit like a religious reliquary.,..?

      That time in Madonna’s career trajectory was incredible.

  6. Cath

    I loved Fragile. I started with Classique, bought several bottles, then when they released Fragile in this wonderful snow globe bottle, and the box that is like a crate, I had to have it. I admit the bottle is very unpractical, but the lush floral smell made up for it. I still have a partial bottle, with its box. Even though I’m not using it now, I like to look at it and sniff it. It’s too beautiful to part with.

    • It’s definitely a scent that left its mark on the few people who ‘got’ it, but there is nothing else quite the same somehow. The nearest I can think of is Serge Lutens Fleurs D’Oranger.

  7. Oooh, I adore Fragile – in EDT. Ive gone through a few bottles. My skin pulls a slight green tea/jasmine tea note out of it. I bought a bottle again a couple years ago on eBay because missed It, but it just isn’t me anymore. I used to be a tuberose freak (and a party girl!), but I’ve moved on to what I feel are more sophisticated tastes.

    Interestingly: Fragile, Juicy Couture, and Burberry Brit are uncannily similar.

    • Veritas

      When it first came out I wanted to purchase it just for the bottle alone but never got around to it….now I regret that…especially if it smells like Brit..,.which I have a soft spot for as it is one of my loves namesake….

  8. Lilybelle

    I bought a bottle in CDG duty free for my mother. I loved the bottle, and the scent was nice on her – not as great as the bottle. I think I read that the figure in the bottle is based on the Tattinger champagne ad, whose model was supposed to have been Grace Kelly. Or maybe I decided that myself. Can’t remember. At any rate, who wouldn’t want that bottle on a shelf somewhere? 🙂

  9. That is a fabulous bottle! I don’t remember the scent, but the snow globe bottle is irresistible!


      What the hell has happened in the meantime?

    • With an open heart and mind I sprayed on ‘Balenciaga Paris’ or whatever it is called with a view to reviewing it, but jesus, what shit! Such total f****** shit! A brief whiff of violets, and then some nasty, seminal smelling musk. Fragile, which would have cost the same when ‘adjusted for inflation’, was WAY WAY better.

  10. jennyredhen

    What about Classique… I quite like it for every day wear.Its not too light seems to lasts better on clothes than on the skin. They smell of it the next day I believe It was very popular at one time..

    • Extraordinarily so. I like it (have you tried Vivienne Boudoir? That is my scent of the week. In a way similar to the JPG but more raucous and rich)

      • jennyredhen

        Thanx 4 the tip I will look out for it

      • jennyredhen

        I did get some samples of that. I dont like the peppery opening much but then it does settle down to something nice and quite complex. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    Because sometimes you must take refuge in whatever the hell you can.

  12. Lilybelle

    I loved the snow globe bottle. I brought my mother back one (she wears tuberose very well) from CDG duty free. Did you know the little figure inside is inspired by an old Tattinger Champagne ad, for whom Grace Kelly was the model? I love that little tidbit. You’re right, though- the fragrance was a shrieker. I can’t even wear Fracas anymore, let alone that one. I still covet the bottle. I wish I’d kept the one I bought my mother for myself.

  13. To my nose, N., the differences between Fragile in EdT and EdP formulas are significant, so please confirm: you’re talking about the EdP, I gather? It’s got that loud and proud personality, front-loaded with faked tuberose, almost oily in personality, languid, corpulent. The EdT is a different dame; I first smelled her on a colleague, or rather, smelled the air she’d walked through, all sparkling sugar-sweet flowers and greenery, magically white-lime-champagne-gold, almost visible in the air yet weightless in the nostrils. The artificiality was perfectly done. One of the most intense and positive first impressions ever.
    Always good to read you.

    • Excellent information. Reading this, I am definitely talking about the EdP. I never knew they were so different. The sound of the EdT here is absolutely sublime!

      • If anyone can find a bottle at a flea market for a dollar or two, it is you, Sir.

        By the way, every time I think of your preposterously good luck, I feel crummy. In a good way. You’ve brought us all so much pleasure, you deserve it.

      • But recently there really hasn’t been much. Accumulatively, there has – I mean that picture post I did on the Carons, all but one of those were picked up at the fleas, but recently it has been slim pickings. In truth there actually WAS a bottle of Fragile the other day, but it was a hundred dollars or something!

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