Dior’s new Sauvage, many have argued, is a fragrance that was created to be Dior’s equivalent to Acqua di Gio or Bleu de Chanel. Some call it generic, others find it to be derivative. To some extent, it is both. This is a fragrance that smells as if the resident genius at Dior, Francois Demachy, was ordered to produce a fragrance that will fly off the shelves. Time will tell if it will see the kind of commercial success of its competition, but one thing is for sure: It has managed to capture my attention, which is a rare feat for a designer fragrance.
It all started with a stroll into Saks Fifth Avenue, where a very
rabid eager sales assistant introduced me to this fragrance. Nearly frothing at the mouth dropping the bottle, she spritzed Sauvage onto a tester strip for me to experience. I did not like it. At all. “Generic trash” was my initial impression – the fragrance seemed totally unworthy of the standards of Dior. Nevertheless, being a fair man of unrivaled charm and intellect, and since I wanted to see why the fragrance community is so divided, I gave myself a spray on the wrist.
I was wrong. What comes across as generic and derivative on paper really blooms on my skin. I have seen the opening being compared to Creed’s Aventus; it smells nothing like Creed’s Aventus. Instead, Dior’s Sauvage opens with a blast of fruity notes and peppered bergamot. As the ambroxan base begins to blend with the skin, the peppered bergamot produces an effect that is reminiscent of Bleu de Chanel, but with an edge. It’s better than Bleu, however, and has more depth and interest due to the combination of deep ambroxan and a bright and textured bergamot. Sauvage also has a slight soapiness in the dry down that adds a sense of refinement to what would otherwise be an overly youthful scent.
Performance is excellent overall – Sauvage lasts until the next day on my skin and it projects slightly above average. Two sprays is more than enough, and I certainly wouldn’t go more than three.
A few words are warranted on presentation. This is by far the best presentation I have ever seen in a designer fragrance, and it demolishes many niche options too. The cap is magnetic and can support the weight of the bottle, but the best aspect of the presentation is the sprayer. Dior is known for using excellent spray mechanisms, and Sauvage bottles have an even better spray nozzle than the Dior Homme line. The nozzles disperse a generous amount of the fragrance in a very fine and controlled mist. Fantastic!
Sauvage won me over after a few wears. It isn’t especially groundbreaking, and it isn’t something that is likely to stop anyone in their tracks. To its credit, it’s simply an exceedingly wearable and pleasant fragrance. Since buying a bottle, I have received quite a few generous compliments on Sauvage, much to my surprise. I am told that it comes across as “fresh, youthful and attractive”, probably because it combines hyper-modern synthetics with an old fashioned soapiness. Either way, I enjoy it, and it is one of only two designer fragrances that I have found worthy of adding to my collection.
While Sauvage does give a nod of respect to a number of masculine fragrances that came before it, it treads new ground in successfully combining old-fashioned soapy elements with modern synthetics. It smells great, and though it wasn’t what many were expecting from the house, Dior needs its own bestseller. Sometimes a fragrance doesn’t need to have gobs of civet or castoreum to smell good. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be challenging, or especially innovative, or mind-blowing. Sometimes it just needs to be
wildly successful in funding corporate bonuses wild and wearable.
Don’t knock it till you try it.