5/19/12

Eau Sauvage Parfum (Dior)


Here's how I would have done Eau Sauvage in parfum form, using the same ingredients as Francois Demachy:

The top note would have been a rich (but not piercing) bergamot, the kind found in the finest Earl Grey tea. The tart citrus would metamorphose into a bright, grassy vetiver, very bitter green, and very fresh. Within twenty minutes the vetiver would darken and become rootier, smokier, yielding its verdancy to mysterious myrrh. An hour later, this smoky vetiver would lighten, its roots giving way to sweet myrrh, touched in the end by a lick of lingering bergamot.

Had Demachy gone this route, I would be inclined to purchase a bottle. Sadly, things did not go my way. Eau Sauvage Parfum has no top notes to speak of. It careens onto skin, all ingredients accounted for, and smells blob-like: thick, sour, and brownish-green.

Within five minutes, the blob begins to resolve into peripheral renditions of myrrh and vetiver, with the vetiver rapidly taking the fore. And what a gorgeous vetiver it is, so incredibly smoky and deep, with intensification attributable to the persistent myrrh. At this stage the myrrh is not sweet, but burnt-smelling, adding to the fire. It's a very oriental feel, something perfect for a crisp autumn day.

But it doesn't last long enough - after twenty minutes, the myrrh withdraws, and leaves naked vetiver, still smelling smoky, but not quite like before. Somewhere in the shadowy cloud are hints of jasmine, very velvety smooth, and just a tiny bit sweet. It's probably Hedione, which was debuted all those years ago in the original version. Ten minutes on, the vetiver has weakened considerably, achieving a brightness that I expected to smell earlier on in this perfume. The culprit is bergamot, now stepping forward to reveal itself as a supporting note! It's a pleasantly bitter citrus, and it twinkles like a green star in the vetiver's twilight.

At the forty-five minute mark the fruit has sweetened, and suddenly the only thing radiating from my skin is a lone myrrh note. It smells a little sweet, a little spicy, a little green, and a little too little. Where's the rest of Eau Sauvage Parfum? This is it? Seventy-five minutes into its evolution, the myrrh proves to be the final straw to this scent's progression, and simply fades into a gauzy white haze.

Eau Sauvage Parfum smells more like an eau de parfum, but I'm nitpicking. In short, this scent is a smoky vetiver/myrrh accord, with just a transitional touch of bergamot lurking under its grey-green cloak. I'm sure it'll be pleasant to wear in October and November, when nature's greens are touched with campfire smoke and the smell of burning leaves, but as a summer fragrance it fails miserably. There's just no way I could wear this on a 95° day in July. I'd rather wear Guerlain Vetiver, or even Grey Vetiver.

Sephora is currently selling Eau Sauvage Parfum, but it's not flying off the shelves. I'm guessing the original will remain more popular, and that' probably for the better.









16 comments:

  1. Nice picture of Alain Delon made in 1966... Note the missing cigarette: http://sansure.over-blog.com/article-33906721.html

    I will check this one out when I have the chance.

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    1. Thanks for the link! Yeah that was one minute in Photoshop. The wonders of our digital age.

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  2. Ah, curse it! I had hopes for this one. (BTW, let me know if you want some Eau Savage Extreme. I finally picked up a bottle. I think you said you had either tried it and liked it or wanted to try it?)

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    1. Sorry to disappoint, but then again you may have a different take, or as is often said in forums, "YMMV."

      ES Extreme is on the list, I'll keep you posted when I'd like to review it. Thanks for the heads up! I understand it's one of your favorite versions.

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  3. I sniffed both Eau Sauvage and Eau Sauvage Parfum on paper last week. It's evident that Eau Sauvage Parfum draws inspiration from Eau Sauvage. Whereas Eau Sauvage slowly loses its potency Eau Sauvage Parfum goes on and on. I love the vetiver and myrrh, the resinous myrrh last long.

    Eau Sauvage is very nice and lightweight for warm weather but Eau Sauvage Parfum really brings home the bacon in cooler weather.

    The bottle looks great too, it sports a magnetic cap. Eau Sauvage Parfum is the next scent I'm gonna buy. Love it. I may even buy Eau Sauvage next year as my current warm weather scent is Dior Homme Sport.

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    1. Glad you liked it, Bert. It's a nice one, but not for me I'm afraid. I can definitely see it working wonders in cooler weather. The irony is, the weather has been unseasonably cool this spring here in Connecticut, and I've already given it a cool-weather test! So there are no surprises there for me, sadly enough. But I think I will give it another go come September/October. The bottle for ES Parfum is truly gorgeous. They did a great job there.

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  4. Did you revisit this Bryan? I was so impressed I actually bought it on the spot...very rare for me to do that for a current designer frag. Insane longevity 24+ even more on fabric.

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    1. I did sample it again and was again relatively unimpressed, although I'm not through with it by a long shot. So far though I'm not sure how it garners so much love. Agree its longevity is good. Still think the original is far superior to it.

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  5. I'm interested in hearing any developing feedback on this one too, Bryan, especially since I noticed you mention it in passing in a more recent review as an example of new things being done with existing materials.

    I feel a bit cheated because when I first got back into fragrances two summers ago, I immediately stumbled upon Eau Sauvage EDT and was unwittingly spoiled for a lot of other offerings (worse news, my teenaged years, featured the equally untouchable late 80's Grey Flannel and early 90's Fahrenheit -- both purchased because of the look of their bottles and advertising campaigns.)

    Anyway, at that time, I also tried Eau Sauvage Parfum, and my impression was that, while it was less finely crafted/blended that the EDT, it was still complex and interesting to observe in its unfolding. Given that it was late summer, I sat on the fence for a long time before throwing my limited resources behind the EDT, and subsequently not looking back. I've tried the parfum (notice the incidental pun, "by smoke") only once since and seemed to notice, as you remark here, not much in the way of a top notes, but I also notice that it seems very dependent on heavy or light application. Too light and I just get a kind of unguent myrrh impression... Too heavy and I get gingerbread (helichrysum?)/medicinal vibe that makes me feel like I'm being soaked in some kind of preservative fluid. Just right seems pretty suave in a backhanded way - a little chalky, a little resinous, a little medicinal, with a whiff of jasmine and a touch of root beer in the mix. Anyway, I'm curious to hear a more educated take because I sometimes wonder if trying the parfum alongside the EDT threw my perspective in the first place. The current EDT is so much a product of its top notes that I'm not sure that the contrast was helpful. But then, I've never had any luck with comparisons in this game anyway -- things are what they are, as they say.

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    1. Hedione was the key to the original ES. That chemical is beautiful even in isolation. Blended with hesperidic green/citrus accords, it just sings.

      The EDP (likely not a true parfum) is a good fragrance in its own right, but I have felt all wearings subsequent to the first to be identical. Which is to say "good" but far short of the EDT. It simply lacks the aerodynamic approach of its progenitor, and feels bogged down in both concentration and composition, especially with its unbalanced myrrh note.

      I would say your experience is lucid. Again, not a bad fragrance, but undeserving of the praise it receives.

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  6. Thanks, that is very useful. If you ever get the chance to try CB's Where We Are There Is No Here (have you made that pilgrimage to Brooklyn to look at his olfactory library? Awfully fun), I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on it, as I'm sure hedione makes an appearance there.

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    1. Never been there but it sounds great. I've smelled alpha isomethyl ionone, coumarin, civetone, synthetic ouds, costus, cis-3 hydroxycitronellol, hedione, and a few other chems in isolation, but would love to try others.

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  7. Just an update: I got a bottle of this and having been wearing it to work, and my perspective has shifted: I'm now no longer comparing this to the original EDT, but to other winter fragrances that bear up to daily wear. In this league, it's doing remarkably well. I agree that the myrrh takes some getting used to, but it seems better balanced to me than before. In general, the whole composition seems to hold together more reliably than when I first tried this (I think reformulation may have been involved, for the better): it is rounder, smoother and a tad soapier than I remember, with very moderate projection but good tenacity. I applied it the other day right out of the shower and was was surprised at how green it smelled when rubbed into the skin (not something I do with all scents, but definitely with the original Eau Sauvage, "bruised molecules" be damned!) The drydown is quite balmy, offset by a white musk that, while kind of cheap, seems to work here in generating something in the neighbourhood of a friendly, old school sandalwood effect. If I think of this as a winter amber with green & oriental accents, I realize that it holds its own very ably against most of what is available in this category.

    Anyway, what to wear in winter has always been a bit of a quandary for me (most of the things I love seem to be spring or summer compositions and I don't really 'get' leather accords for some reason), and a work scent really has to 'work' for me. I teach at a boarding school and am on my feet and in a suit for much of the day (some are 10-12+ hours!), whether lecturing or instructing in an art studio, or on duty in one of the houses. This has also been good for dates, dinners, snow-shoveling, and whatever else, and actually meshes respectably with a splash of Pinaud Clubman. Who knew?

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    1. Lately I've been thinking of Eau Sauvage Parfum as being remotely related to Vetiver Extraordinaire by Malle. They're not really similar in smell, but both have proportionately equal measures of nondescript, resinous "green" accords mixed with darker, spicier notes, with relatively inexpensive musks and "soapy" characteristics. Between the two, I prefer the Malle, but as you point out, ESP is a good one also. Glad you're warming to it! Always keep a bottle of the original Eau on hand for those warmer spring days ahead.

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  8. I agree with your point about ESP... Another reviewer said it made them think of an intense version of the older (ribbed bottle) Guerlain Vetiver, which, like the Malle, has myrrh represented in the pyramid. As for the original Eau Sauvage, no persuasion needed there... I still have about 25ml of it left in a bottle in my medicine cabinet that doubles as an advertisement for the existence of summer (there are about 14 inches of snow outside), and get weird physiological cravings for it every time the sun peaks out. I'll probably hunt up a bottle of Guerlain Vetiver this spring first, as I've been meaning to acquire one since late summer.

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    1. I'd like to re-acquire Guerlain Vetiver this spring also, as I haven't used it in a few years now. I had the ribbed bottle, and although I liked it, I also felt it smelled a bit too sharp and functional for my taste, almost like a spare soap smell, or even a high-class insect repellent. Can't put my finger on exactly what disagreed with me, but I recall reading many reviews by people who claimed the ribbed version smelled like "bug spray," but that previous versions in the vertical rectangular bottle were deeper, richer, earthier, and altogether better. The general consensus seemed to hold that subsequent to the ribbed bottle, Vetiver returned to its classical glory, and I inferred from these collective sentiments that the ribbed bottle was a fallow period for this fragrance. I question my inference, though. The rub is in other vetivers - for example, Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver is a bit drier and earthier than Guerlain's, but surprisingly enough, this didn't make me feel that those differences put it above Guerlain's scent. Malle's is brighter and fresher (without smelling cheap), and isn't similar to the Guerlain. Encre Noire is starker, darker, inkier, and altogether more profound in how it delivers the note, yet seems far less organic than anything else I've smelled in this category. Ironically enough, I think Habanita excels beyond most as a vetiver scent, one with an incredibly unique spin on the theme.

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