10/23/16

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. No easy task, and a solid effort from Demachy.



10 comments:

  1. I sold my 'Vintage whatever' 2007 DH and 2013 DHI not too long ago because I never reached for them. Whenever I considered wearing either I could not bring myself to pick one as IMO neither is versatile enough to wear comfortably without feeling like I'm giving off an image of a metrosexual (that's just not me). Funny thing is I tested this Eau flanker and was greeted with a pleasant smell that's more approachable to my nose and personality. Question is: do you like it?

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    1. Yeah there''s something about this fragrance line that doesn't work. But then again, there's also something about it that does - if you're the sort of person it'll work for, that is. "Manly men" who like listening to classic rock on Saturday nights while cruising with their girlfriends in the '70s Firebird, knowing they're getting laid shortly after stopping off at the 7-11 to get Marlboro Reds and a pack of Capris, are probably not wearing Dior Homme. Working stiffs like me who resort to the pragmatic and simplest options in life aren't drawn to it, either. I think you have to be a martini-sipping Manhattanite with three bartenders and two ex-wives (and about as many ex-boyfriends) dependent on you to pull it off. It's very interesting and certainly smells good, but stylistically the original DH was not my bag.

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  2. What, pray tell, is this "lipstick accord" of which you speak?
    Usually the combo of roses and violets are labelled as the dreaded & matronly lipstick accord?
    I haven't tried this particular Dior.
    Having grown up in an area with a large population of elderly Greeks and Sicilians I am familiar with the association of iris with Mediterranean fragrance. Personally, I can't stand the stuff as it reminds me of feminine hygiene & adult incontinency products.

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    1. I think you've defined it better than I ever could, Bibi. There are clear aroma chemical accents alluding to roses and violets, bready (and very powdery) iris, and perhaps a hint of neutered tuberose as well. But in the original DH these floral-sweet notes are compressed into a very dense, cloudy, downright foggy accord that feels, olfactorily speaking, like I've stepped into the movie Interview With A Vampire, the part when Lestat comes on to Luis. A bit too "goth" and oddly homoerotic, and I'm rarely in those moods, at least not at the same time. The "Eau" flanker is a clean, breezy, fresh interpretation of the fragrance structure that dispenses with the heaviness and implied eroticism, replacing those qualities with a more direct, sunny, neutral theme, mostly due to the use of citrus and perhaps one or two brighter florals than the original, perhaps freesia or something like it.

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    2. Interesting. I bought a bottle of Prada's Infusion d'Iris when it first came out. Though it is a very well done Mediterranean interpretation of iris it gave me the heaves. Instead of starched, crisp & clean it reminded me my elderly incontinent patients (and the accompanying stale urine stench they suffered) and the feminine hygiene/diaper aisle at the drugstore.
      I finally gave it away to a gay drag queen friend of mine in SF - I couldn't think who else would wear it. Bombasta Thunderfuck was his stage name I believe.

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  3. I respect Dior Homme, but find it very hard for me to wear. It just doesn't fit my personality and the idea of wearing something that smells like my wife's lipstick and makeup just adds to the challenge. I guess that is what makes this fragrance journey so interesting.

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    1. Indeed there are many curveballs in bottles out there. Once in a while we encounter one that isn't what the doctor ordered. No biggie, right? For the one that doens't work, there are a few that do. If you're on the fence with the original DH, this "Eau" version might be the one that tips you into its camp. I'd consider owning a bottle of this flanker, but not the original.

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  4. I think what made the original so popular was that it's mature and sophisticated, but that powdered cocoa note gives it a youthful sexiness. It says "pfft, One Million? That's for kids" without being as serious and austere as Grey Flannel or Eau Sauvage. It also helps that the hype train for it started off at max speed, and hasn't really slowed down that much.
    It's not my favorite from Dior, but compared to half the bottles it sits next to at Sephora, it stands out without being out of place. The only others at these designer retailers which really stand out as mature, modern, and elite, are some of Tom Ford's offerings, which are overwhelmingly dense and potent. Hermès' more interesting fragrances are probably too "old-school" for that crowd, while Voyage and Terre aren't old-school enough

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    1. I think Dior Homme plays better in Europe and in deeply urbanized regions of the USA like Manhattan, where people are sophisticated about perfume, art, life, literature, etc. But generally speaking, America doesn't "get" something like Dior Homme, and I understand why. It's "metrosexual," and most people aren't metrosexuals. That weirdly prissy, powder-poofed concept works well for some, but as wearer or bystander, you have to be tuned in to what it's doing to enjoy it.

      "Mature" is a tough concept for me in the perfume world, and one I'll address in my next post. Like "leather" as a note, or like conclusions drawn about price-to-value ratios for designer fragrances, the argument that certain fragrances are "mature," while others are "youthful" is something I entertain actively on a casual basis, but I don't think I can dig my heels into holding these polarities over people when they choose fragrances. Grey Flannel can work on a fourteen year-old boy or girl. It wouldn't smell too "mature" on anyone that age. And 1 Million could work fine on a 75 year-old man. You see where I'm going with this.

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    2. A lot of the hype I've seen for it were actually in some weightlifting subfora, though I'm not sure where most of those posters live. Mostly from the same 20-somethings who were also getting into Creed (which was how I found out about their frags).

      I don't use mature or young to refer to age when it comes to fragrances. I mean it more in terms of playfulness. As in, Grey Flannel, Aramis, Armani pour homme, and Monsieur de Givenchy were actually my earliest fragrances, and I have worn them when I was a kid and throughout high school. Despite that, I don't think of them as being playful or fun at all. They're very serious and austere. On the other hand, I also have a couple of Aquolina's frags, which I love too, but they're almost all about being playful and fun. Of course there's everything in between, and I also think of some fragrances as "neutral." Not that I think there is some objective scale. It's just the impressions I get

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