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.