Pour Monsieur (Pierre Cardin)

The 1970s must have smelled amazing. That's what I think whenever I sniff a fragrance from that decade. The air was thick with citrus and leather, musks, flowers, spices, dense woods, and decadent fruits. Guys walked around trailing heavily-spiced chypres behind them, and women were mossy gardens on legs. It all led up to . . . behold, . . . the "fragrance-free zone." Thanks to the '70s, I am now asked to refrain from personal fragrance whenever visiting doctor's offices, hospitals, and restaurants. As you can see, the magic of yesteryear is a double-edged sword.

Not all of those classic scents are monsters, though. Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur is the perfect example of a polite, understated scent. I'm wearing it as I write this, and struck by how timeless the composition seems. It's also interesting how differently it smells on skin compared to paper. One is a warm, woody glow; The other drydown is cool, herbal, and spicy.

The juice opens into a brilliantly-blended array of notes, including lavender, lemon, orange, pepper, and basil. The notes pirouette and interchange roles - first the lemon and lavender explode forth, tinged by spiced orange zest, then the orange and basil roil forward, flanked by lemon and lavender. Eventually it settles into a smooth basil-spiced orange, with reminiscences of lavender. After a few minutes a massive sandalwood note steps in, and the basil transitions into the greener spice of carnation. The sandalwood is creamy, dense, and moderately deepened by patchouli. Within an hour, the base reveals itself as every note melds into an inedible vanilla, smoked with benzoin and leather. The whole affair is a rapid transformation, but with every dynamic stage brilliantly executed. It leaves an impression of something warm, woody, and a little sweet.

On paper, the geranium and basil come alive. The initial burst of lemon and lavender (not much orange) quickly becomes a somewhat-minty and spicy combo. Sandalwood hangs back, never truly becoming a central player, and the geranium leaf, very fragrant and lemony, dominates. I have no idea why this happens on paper and not skin, but can only guess that the lack of natural oils keeps the warmer elements from showing up.

That's the fragrance - now let's talk about the bottle. Oh, the bottle. Subtle, isn't it? Yeah, about as subtle as a truck. Let's face it, Pour Monsieur competes with Le Male for the title of Most Homoerotic Flask. I guess the big round head on the end of that graded pillar could be construed as a shift stick for a truck, or perhaps as a microphone for some lounge crooner. It wins points for flamboyance and postmodern design, but I fear it's a little too "bad" '70s. Fortunately, the juice it holds is very much a product of "good" '70s, something that every guy should consider wearing. A Pour Monsieur guy is a polite guy, a mature guy, very solid, self-assured, knows what he's wearing the day before, dependable, unshakable. He might not be very adventurous, but at least he knows himself. Hey, for $15, you could be that guy too.


  1. The bottle is supposed to represent a keyhole, with all of the connotations that go with it.

  2. I think that the design of the bottle is a great part of the legend.. I see Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur as the perfect fragrance for a dandy, a poet, someone who doesn't really care what trendy pricks may say about him..

    1. thanks for this great review, I wore this back in 1986, after being seduced by the Platonic charms of the intellectual Greeks, who are the masters of seduction. I wanted to be like him, and smell like him, so I asked him what he was wearing. I guess it must have been the original Tsumura formula, I agree with dandy and poet, always felt like i could woo the world with this on, made me feel like someone i wanted to aspire to being. If anyone knows where i can get a bottle of the Tsumura formula, I'd really appreciate it. Just ordered an 8 oz bottle of the Aladdin formula, hope Im not too disappointed,

    2. Hi Joe, you're welcome, thanks for reading. That's great that you have a familiarity with PCPM in its heyday. I wonder though if Tsumura was really the original manufacturer of PCPM? The Tsumura formula itself was reformulated a couple of times, but as I say, i was PC's "most faithful licensee."

      The biggest thing to remember with the Aladdin formula is the top notes are not quite as nice, but the rest of the formula is the same, only stronger. Between Aladdin/Fivestar and Tsumura, I prefer Aladdin by a hair, simply due to longevity and the briskness of the lavender note compared to the older version.


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