I must admit I am partial to a good flanker. For me they are the equivalent of a great remix of a favourite dance music track or the remaking of a classic film. A well-made perfume flanker will take an existing idea and recontextualize it, imbuing it with new meaning. Dior Homme Cologne may not necessarily classify as a flanker. Perhaps it is better described as a different concentration of the original eau de toilette. Although there are some changes to the structure of Olivier Polge’s original masterpiece, it is common for structural changes to exist between different concentrations of a fragrance. For example the Chanel No. 19s have significant differences. The eau de toilette, eau de parfum and parfum extrait versions all have their own particularities yet they all carry the No. 19 name. A flanker on the other hand will have an altered title; Chanel’s Allure Homme. Allure Homme Sport, Allure Homme Edition Blanche and the freshly launched Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme is an example of this practice. Olivier Polge, son of Chanel perfumer Jacques Polge created Dior Homme in 2005. The original was one of a small number of fragrances that helped usher men’s tastes away from the tired theme of airy, watery eaux that had dominated men’s perfume sales for the previous decade. Dior Homme Cologne received a discreet launch in 2007 and few words exist regarding this version except that it is intended to be a lighter, fresher version of the original and Dior perfumer, Francois Demachy was responsible for remixing this modern classic. This limited edition, presented in a larger 125ml size is no longer in production and it also seems the original Dior Homme has experienced some changes after Le Monde reported last year that LVMH who controls Christian Dior Parfums was internalizing production of some of the house’s perfumes. Dior had commissioned International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) to create and produce Dior Homme. The end of this relationship meant IFF would no longer produce the perfume juice for Dior and house nose Francois Demachy would create his own Dior Homme fragrance, as IFF perfumer Olivier Polge’s formula would remain the property of IFF. These perfume politics mean the Dior Homme currently found on Dior perfume counters is a slightly different creation. Most consumers would not notice the difference, but this new version (the metal shaft that conceals the atomizer tube is now black instead of silver) could be criticized as being adapted to appeal to a wider audience- the powdery vanilla orris notes have been toned down in favour of a thinner modern wood/amber accord.
I recently recommended Dior Homme to a friend, a younger guy who has an indie sense of style. I always associate that type of style to Dior Homme, regardless of whether Dior now thinks Jude Law encapsulates what the perfume is all about. Dior Homme has this duality of rock and roll scented leather paired with baby-faced vanilla. Last year I was chatting with a colleague who told me stories of his acquaintance with Hedi Slimane, Dior’s former creative director who last week was announced to return to the house of Yves Saint Laurent. Slimane and his team would enter obscure nightclubs in the Marais district of Paris and hold impromptu castings before men’s fashion week. Slimane and his team would piece together their list of models by approaching guys in bars and clubs who had no modeling experience but they imbibed the spirit of Dior Homme. Dior Homme Cologne still has the qualities of a grungy Marais bar. The cologne has the innocent facade of a fresh-faced teen, but it develops into something dark like the angst of misguided youth. These gritty textures are what make this fragrance so enjoyable. In this cologne version Demachy has not redecorated too much. The main difference is the inclusion of an orange blossom accord towards the start of the fragrance. This orange blossom has Dior written all over it and feels familiar when you think of some of the recent Dior feminine’s that share similar orange blossom notes. Dior Homme Cologne feels like the eau de toilette that has some of its weight stripped from it and is now more transparent. The iris and vanilla notes also feel more restrained, which is something male fans of the original will prefer and others will scream murder when they compare this reworked cologne. I should say that if you are not overly analytical you could easily pass the cologne off as the original. The differences are not highly pronounced. In summary the cologne starts with a burst of white citrus that quickly disperses. A light orange blossom with jasmine references overlaps the familiar Dior Homme theme that unfolds at a lower volume in comparison to its parent eau de toilette. Notes of herbs, iris, vanilla and vetiver stand their ground whilst off in the distance earthy chocolate notes occasionally make themselves known.
If Dior wanted to make a fresher version of Dior Homme they succeeded. This feels like the rock kid who wore Dior Homme has grown up, he now has a respectable job and needs a cologne to go with his Dior Homme business suit. This is a perfect masculine scent for the office or daywear. Save the eau de toilette version for when you go out to dinner or to a bar. It is slick, clean cut but still has a rebellious attitude that will have the opposite sex mesmerized. The entire Dior Homme varieties are a great choice for today’s single man.
Perfumer: Olivier Polge (IFF)
Bottle designer: Hedi Slimane
Release date: 2007
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Soft Floral