Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage is arguably one of the most important 20th century fragrances in men’s perfumery. Created by perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska in 1966, Eau Sauvage is an innovation of its time and the string of copycat fragrances, which followed, can be used as a measure of its importance. Dior continued to shape men’s perfumery through successes such as Fahrenheit (1988) and Dior Homme (2005). Although the brand’s recent focus has been its exclusive Couturier Collection as well as some olfactory renovations to its existing lines, it is exciting to see a new men’s edition, a 2012 reinterpretation of Dior’s 1966 classic. Even if it is a reinterpretation or flanker, as the online perfume community refers to this type of fragrance addition, Eau Sauvage Parfum has an individual voice that deserves appreciation away from the shadow of its infamous parent. This is the third time Christian Dior has reworked Eau Sauvage. The first was during the 1980s; an extreme version was created that boosted the original’s aromatic and mossy aspects. Dior’s master perfumer, Francois Demachy created a fresh leathery version in 2007, soon after he joined Dior, having spent most of his professional life at Chanel with Jacques Polge. Now Demachy is responsible for directing Dior’s olfactory signature and his choice of direction for Eau Sauvage Parfum is one of sophisticated elegance. It has a mature soul if you compare this work to Olivier Polge’s Dior Homme; created at the crescendo of Dior’s Hedi Slimane era. Slimane bought rock and roll to the men’s side of the brand, subsequently Dior Homme has a soft powdery accent and a plush leathery finish that mimics youthful male skin, like the models Slimane sent down his runway, clad in the designer’s leather biker jackets. Dior Homme’s current artistic director, Kris Van Assche is much more of a minimalist, obsessed with form and function. Van Assche has maintained Slimane’s narrow design silhouette with a focus on sartorial detail and modernity. Translating this vision into odour, it could be said that Demachy has taken the heart of Eau Sauvage, respecting the traditional codes of the house. His use of natural raw materials; jasmine, vetiver and myrrh show the house’s appreciation of quality and Demachy’s undeniable skill as a master perfumer is a testimony to craftsmanship; these are all qualities you can find in the house’s prêt a porter and haute couture collections.
First impressions may lead fans of the original Eau Sauvage to wonder what happened to their beloved jasmine chypre. It is there but you have to smell very carefully as the original’s subtle charm is easily overshadowed by the other materials in this new composition. Anyway, making an olfactory connection with the original seems slightly redundant, as the Parfum’s main reliance on the original Eau Sauvage is simply the marketing value of the name. A more rewarding point of exploration is an analysis of how this Parfum relates to the greater collection. For me it reads like a genealogy of Dior perfumes. At the start you can appreciate the Roudnitska era Dior once enjoyed, with an opening of bitter citrus notes and the pastel portrait of a jasmine flower. The flower blooms and it is overcome with intensity. J’Adore. At this point lies a fork in the road. One path leads to sensuality and warmth, a wonderful second skin, an embrace of amber and vanilla. This is Addict and elements of Dior Homme. The other path leads to more recent works, Francois Demachy’s Vetiver, part of Dior’s Couturier Collection. The real star of Eau Sauvage Parfum as far as ingredients go is myrrh. The African shrub, cultivated for its oleoresin gives this reinterpretation a unique characteristic, seldom seen in mass-market perfumery.
I think it is surprisingly luxurious considering you can leave a department store with a bottle for less than $100. If you are enamoured by some of the luxury perfume industry’s exclusive lines but unable to agree on the $300+ price tag that comes with them, I highly recommend a bottle of this as a more than adequate substitute. I listed Eau Sauvage Parfum as one of my top 4 fragrance purchases for 2012 so I was surprised it did not receive more attention than it did. I am really enjoying wearing it! Since I purchased my bottle, I have been wearing it for almost all occasions. Christian Dior describe it on their website as a black tie fragrance. Even for daywear, it pairs nicely with a business suit and a crisp white shirt, preferably Dior!
Perfumer: Francois Demachy
Bottle Designer: Dior Studio, Pierre Camin
Release Date: 2012
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Citrus