Dior Homme Cologne (2007, Dior)

Summer is so close that I can smell its farts already. The hot asphalt/ozone smell, which gets skunky when drifts of old sand from the winter heat up on it, and all the fetid, humid vegetal odors that waft from the woods are filling the air I breathe and promising another tedious three months ahead. I'm not a fan of summer, I must confess. It is my least favorite season. There are some perks to it, but I'll take spring and autumn, and even early winter any day of the week. My biggest pet peeve is the problem of wearing fragrance during this season. There are several excellent options, but to me they all pale in comparison to their winter counterparts. Many aromatic ferns smell heavy and congested on ninety degree days, so I avoid them. Orientals are generally a big no. Even chypres seem to crap out by lunchtime. What works? On the hottest days I bite the bullet and just spray colognes with abandon. Their citrus characteristics usually provide some lift, and whatever woodiness remains in their base can sometimes carry an extra hour or two.

Dior Homme Cologne is literally a cologne-like version of the original Dior Homme EDT, a fragrance I do not like. I simply do not understand the appeal of Dior Homme. It is much loved by many a man (haven't met many women who think much of it though), and the press trends positive. I think it's in the same league as Guerlain Derby, a category of "signature" masculines from old brand names that smell dull and stodgy, yet garner endless praise for being what they are - signatures from old brand names. It's not cool to dump on Guerlain and Dior. And I get the feeling that guys think it's cool to say that they like a perfume with a "lipstick accord," which is supposedly what makes Dior Homme notable. To me, the lipstick idea isn't well borne out in any perfume, simply because I don't think lipstick has much of a smell at all. DH has a weird, rubbery, makeup-like note in it, but it just resembles iris and synthetic labdanum to my nose. Nothing to get all Manhattanny about.

Then there's François Demachy's 2007 "cologne" version, where he was surprisingly successful at buffing the boring out of the original formula, and replacing it with some old-school freshness. I believe a hint of cardamom (might be the "leather" note) and some extra neroli (likely the extended "citrus" note) are the notes to thank there. Where the original was somber and muted to a fault, the cologne idea translates as being complex but airy, possessing motion and intermittent transience along with longer-term strength and depth. There's a burliness to the Dior Homme engine, that odd mixture of iris, cacao, bone dry herbs, and woods, and every note is pristine and part of a coherent whole here. But is it worth seeking out and buying at whatever eyebrow-raising post-Dior price it's going for now? To me, not at all. Hybrid ideas seldom interest me, and fusing parts of a weird postmodern chypre to a relatively conventional citrus-cardamom cologne is predictably less captivating than either of those two parts would be on their own.

For a much better fragrance, I recommend trying Cologne du Maghreb by Andy Tauer. It smells like Heaven in a bottle, and you don't have to suffer past Dior's insufferable infatuation with slate grey synthetic iris notes to feel the sunshine. If I have to deal with summer, I'd rather skip mediocrity and only wear the best.

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