Oh, 'eck. It's THAT one, isn't it? The one HE advertises. I'll try and keep this short, as my personal notes on Sauvage are becoming rather long. This is certainly the most controversial male release since I became interested in fragrance: "the scent that launched a thousand MBA theses". A few comments before the review proper, and they are all about marketing in some way (please note all I know about marketing is what common sense tells me).
First, the comments show the sheer number of factors that can be brought into play when reviewing a fragrance - it's not just as simple as how it smells; there are myriad factors involved in establishing the 'meaning' of a scent. Marketing is paramount among them. The place, the time, the people: they're all important. As many have noted, if Sauvage had been the product of, say, a small indepedent perfumery in 2005, it might well have escaped both the hype and the vitriol. There are some here that by their own account have a lifetime connection to Dior, and feel let down by Sauvage. These things are relevant.
Second, there seems to be a definite difference between the popular and critical views of Sauvage. Until recently, Boots was advertising Sauvage as the "best selling men's fragrance in the UK". Certainly it is selling hand over fist and in my inexpert view has been marketed extremely well. The critical views are mixed, to understate the case. Without wishing to go into any detail here, respective accusations of susceptibility to fashion and marketing, and snobbery, are at play. Without going all Frankfurt School, do we assume the rational consumer, or the unthinking consumer blinded by the manipulative tendencies of popular culture? And so what if you swallow the marketing and enjoy the product? (Sample comment BTL from the marketing video on Youtube - young female avatar, no apparent deployment of irony - "I just buy Dior Sauvage to show Johnny Depp that I was cool" - it does make you wonder.)
A third point concerns the backlash from fragrance aficionados, and the connection to Dior's Eau Sauvage. The problem here is the verbal reasoning capacity of the fragrance community. Dior say that Sauvage isn't a flanker of Eau Sauvage. Observers and critics say it must be. Verbal reasoning supports the latter. Put simply, Sauvage is to Eau Sauvage as D&G Intenso is to D&G Pour Homme, as Armani Acqua di Gio Profumo is to Acqua di Gio, as Prada Luna Rossa Extreme is to Luna Rossa... shall I go on? The formula is something like: take an existing male fragrance, preferably one that is popular for summer or warm weather usage, and "bolster" it through the introduction of notes such as pepper, incense, labdanum, and tonka. Put it into an analogous new bottle with darker tones to give off the message that the new one is somehow "stronger". Voila, you have your new, market-ready fragrance. Essentially, people don't like being told that black is white, and will react against it.
On to the review: I tried this many times on paper before trying it on skin. It is also easy to detect on other men as they pass. I cannot say I enjoyed either of those media. Having tried it at last on skin, I can confidently say it's just as bad as I feared it might be. It opens quite pleasantly, with something approaching bergamot, but the ambroxan takes over quickly and thereafter never lets go. I cannot understand any talk of the development of Sauvage - it's a one-trick pony to my nose, extremely linear.
Worse, it creates an almost suffocating miasma. Here is the blurb from the Dior web site: "Sauvage is an act of creation inspired by wide-open spaces. An ozone blue sky sprawled above a rocky landscape, white-hot beneath the desert sun." OK. If you've ever spent any time on a rocky landscape beneath the white-hot desert sun, you will know that you quickly want to escape, and find some fresh air to gulp. Eventually, the heat will induce a dizzying nausia. If this is the effect that Dior was after, they've succeeded admirably.
I have to say, a few of my favoured scents are not too far away from this concept and/or execution, but the difference is that they tend to have better development, and leave more olfactory space. Sauvage has stellar performance, true, but it invades space and leaves behind occupying forces. In all senses, there is no room to breathe.
Mrs Funwithfrags was not at all impressed. I'm just looking forward to the next day, when I can wear something else.