Dior Homme Eau (Dior)

I never understood the appeal of the original Dior Homme. Its powdery and bittersweet iris pastiche never felt convincingly dimensional, lacked the fundamental warmth of classical orientals and chypres, and Dior created flankers for it, which seemed akin to flanking liver and onions with tripe. If ever there was a challenging, "stand-alone" composition, it's Dior Homme. Although I'm not sure what makes it popular, I appreciate it as a mature, competently crafted work that I do envision as acceptable fare to a funeral, or perhaps a brit milah. It says plainly, "I'm not smiling today."

I approached the "Eau" flanker with trepidation, but I needn't have, because it's lovely, a crisp, Mediterranean interpretation of the original. Where the first employed a strange, almost waxy iris note, Dior Homme Eau lets the heaviness go to the breeze, allowing iris' inherently cool and powdery freshness to shine. It still evokes the makeup counter at Dillard's, yet also brings me to the beach with splashes of pert citrus, smelling at once nondescript and unfamiliar. Here the alien strangeness of its progenitor touches down on friendlier terrain, yielding a fragrance not as challenging as the original, but quite interesting in its own right, and much easier to wear.

The unusual "lipstick" aspect of this line is not an outlier in masculine fragrance, or fragrance in general, with parts of Mitsouko and Miglin's Pheromone for Men employing a similar quality during various stages of their drydowns. Refined chypres aim to soften their balance of otherwise harsh components (bergamot, oakmoss, labdanum) via sweet florals, precious woods, and musks. What sets Eau apart is its ability to meld an ambitiously classical and dated chypre idea with an unexciting and contemporary woody-amber drydown, while always smelling cheerful and original. A solid effort from Demachy.


The Musky Orientals Of The Nineties

I have been wearing Witness by Jacques Bogart lately, and just wanted to comment on a few things that have come to mind.

This fragrance smells more and more like Balenciaga Pour Homme to me. Its central chord of artemisia, woods, fruity esters, and musk are almost identical to Balenciaga, with the main difference being that these notes are sweeter and less animalic in Bogart's scent. (It also contains noticeable cinnamon, which is absent from Balenciaga.) There are heady terpenes in Witness that evoke pine, juniper, and evergreen woods, and in this regard it resembles Aubusson Pour Homme, another musky gem from the same era. And though it generally smells different, Bogart's Furyo contains a louder, civet-laden version of Balenciaga's and Witness' musk. Can you guess what connects them?

I read a very interesting review of Balenciaga PH on Fragrantica the other day, posted by member "Michel Vaillant," which, if true, explains everything in one sentence:

"As far as I know, the house of Balenciaga was owned by the Bogart Group at the launch of this fragrance in 1990."

When I read that, it made sense. These spicy beauties were a very distinct style between 1989 and 1994, but their stylistic roots can be traced back to Kouros in 1981, YSL's epic fougere and landmark masculine musk bomb. Whenever people dismiss the importance of tracing fragrance genealogy, I nod to Kouros. From Bourdon's scent springs a generation of "powerhouses" and classical late 20th century masculines, but without this historical context people get confused. From Kouros to Witness, one follows the breadcrumbs to Giorgio, Zino, Boss No. 1, Dali Pour Homme, Lapidus PH, Sung Homme, Ungaro Pour L'Homme, Ungaro Pour L'Homme II, Balenciaga PH, and Joint. Witness is one of Kouros' logical end points.

In any case, I'm wearing it again today. Jacques Bogart is one of perfumery's most underrated houses, and Witness and Furyo are among the best in my collection.


I Bought Mesmerize For Men Years Ago And Never Wore It. The Weirdest Thing Happened.

The new bottle design, with a curlicue under the name.

Here's something that never happens. I blind buy a cheap fragrance, and by a stroke of luck discover I like it. It smells like a friendlier, fruitier version of Zino, with a pert apple top note followed by a dusky woods accord, rather like a gentle rosewood, sandalwood, and cedar melange, and surprisingly well balanced for the price.

It's right up my alley, I really like it, and inexplicably never, ever wear it. I'm drawn to its charm and recognize its value, but I snob up. It's Avon. I have Green Irish Tweed and Balenciaga Pour Homme in my wardrobe. Why the fuck would I ever wear an Avon?

So it finds its place amongst the other bottles and remains there, gathering dust for so long that I've lost count of the years. Yes, I wear it a few times, and get around to reviewing it, blog about it, etc. But is it in the rotation? No. Just no.

The other day, after my ponderous reacquaintance with Sex Appeal, I realized it was time to give Mesmerize another whirl. Extracting the bottle from its near-final resting place is like a scene from Indiana Jones. Then I crack open the Ark and whuh huuuuh-huh huh??? What. The fuck. Happened?

The crisp little citrus apple ditty of top notes is now a weird, purple violet thing, no longer edible. It slowly and painfully unfurls itself amid a howl of raw alcohol, revealing a twisted, garbled mangling of wood-like husks, the shocking remnants of what used to be a staid, coherent, remarkably conservative hue. Incredibly, the fragrance now strongly resembles my also-spoiled vintage Cool Water, with the unbridled ionones that once served the apple notes becoming a stark and abstract "fresh" scent.

A weird, messy saltiness also pervades the drydown, which I believe is how the anchoring musk note met its end. Where once it smelled clean and a bit drab, the musk now attempts an ambergris effect on a ten dollar budget. How does that work out, you ask? I won't mince words - it smells awful.

Though it is somewhat interesting, I am appalled by how this fragrance smells now. It is completely unwearable. The base does not emerge unscathed from the wreckage of the top and heart accords. No stage of the wearing experience is salvageable. My barely-used bottle of Mesmerize for Men (a now discontinued scent) is spoiled.

If anyone, including our friend at Wordpress, doubts the veracity of my claim, I will gladly send my bottle to you so you can experience it for yourself. But since I doubt anyone will care that much, I'm happy to just share this unfortunate experience with you here, and leave it at that. Mesmerize deserved better from me. I should have wore it and enjoyed it while it was still good. Rather than throw it away, I'll hold on to the bottle as physical proof that a good fragrance, not abused or misplaced in any way, can absolutely spoil with nothing more than the passage of time.