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  1. #1
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    Default Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Fair warning: this is a long post, but I've been thinking about this a bunch and I wanted to get it all down.

    I’m coming to the conclusion that Dior Sauvage is misconstrued. It presents itself as Dior’s answer to Bleu de Chanel, and it’s been a huge mainstream hit. I have no doubt it was exactly Dior’s intention to respond to Bleu de Chanel, and I have no doubt Sauvage has been calculated to be a big mainstream hit. However, I think Sauvage is at the same time actually quite a bizarre and challenging composition. I’ve seen others here and there liken it to Fahrenheit (in spirit, not smell), since both share an odd chemical effect that is nevertheless attractive to many people. We should keep in mind that bizarro Fahrenheit was a huge hit when it came out, and I remember smelling it everywhere. Like Sauvage, it was loud and effusive, and while popular, it absolutely had its detractors (and still does). I’m starting to see the “fresh and likable” opening of Sauvage as a bit of a feint, a friendly hello before it quickly moves to its real business, which is that odd, at times off-putting, sweaty-bitter-airy dry down. That dry down is WEIRD. It’s loud and scratchy and indeed sweaty, and I also think it’s Demachy rather wittily completing the brief for Sauvage, if we assume, as the marketing strongly supports, that the brief involves big wide-open dusty swaths of the American West, along with the sweaty, rough man to fit such a setting.

    To be clear, until very recently I loathed Sauvage. Not because I thought it literally smelled repulsive (I don’t know of too many fragrances that do, honestly), but due to a combination of the Ambroxan and other notes, most likely lavender, creating a “dryer sheets” effect, very reminiscent of the toiletries and laundry aisle of the drugstore — plus the fragrance being so damned loud. Not just loud, but doubtless it causes crazy anosmia to where most guys are spraying on far too much of it thinking they’re still not smelling it much at all (doubtless a high dose of Iso E Super doing its thing again). So: dryer sheets, which while not offensive, is just not a sexy smell, nor even to me particularly fresh, just functional fragrance. And then you amp that up and I’ve had several times dining out where a huge chemical cloud of Sauvage from a fellow a table or two over distracted me the whole time.

    (By the way, a European friend told me dryer sheets are far more common here in the States than in Europe, which might explain why Demachy was willing to go with this accord and not worry about the associations. Not everyone will have that particular association, and as I spend more time with the fragrance, my own link to toiletries is lessening. That’s just how olfaction tends to go.)

    The recent chatter about Sauvage Parfum, plus love-to-hate-it mention of the EDT by a fragrance YouTuber I like, piqued my curiosity in a fiendishly self-destructive way, and I dug out my old sample of Sauvage from 2015, grabbed a tester strip, and sprayed. Hoo boy.

    But, while I smelled exactly the lavender-Ambroxan puff that put me off, something else pulled me in. The opening: hey, that’s good! I never had a problem with that aspect, and it was nice to experience it again. It’s certainly in the same realm as Bleu de Chanel and Aventus, big pop hits that I’m happy to just kick back and enjoy without being pretentious about it (I still have my Quorum, Leather Oud, and Mitsouko as close friends). And yet there was something weird just behind all the sweet fruity freshness. Something peppery and sweaty, slightly nauseating, but intriguing if only because I suddenly wanted to crack the code with this one: both why it keeps selling so well and what Demachy was on about. The guy was under a specific commercial brief, no doubt, but he’s also no amateur and no fool. I suspected something more interesting at work, so I spent more time with Sauvage over the next few days, finally daring to wear it on skin, tentatively, and then for a full day. The stuff intimidated me.

    I know, that will sound hilarious to some of you, especially those who love this one as a “freshie,” but to me the heart of Sauvage, what it really has to say, is in that big crazy dry down. The fruity-fresh opening doesn’t even last all that long anyway. And that dry down, as I said above, is really weird. To me, it’s not obvious, or generic, or a commercial concession. That comes in the top notes. In the dry down we have this scratchy, peppery, sweaty, almost sour effect, plus that airy effusive Ambroxan (bolstered by Iso E). If Sauvage were just an easy commercial play it wouldn’t be as divisive as it is. This one causes love or revulsion (not just love and indifference). It also, based on what I’ve seen in threads here, causes a lot of “first I hated it then I loved it then I hated it now I love it” reactions, or “I honestly don’t know what I’m going to think each time I wear it” reactions. And yes, that makes sense, because I really think what’s being proposed with this one is more challenging than “must be a huge commercial success” would suggest.

    First, even before I started to come around to respecting Sauvage, I began to see that it was, structurally speaking, a sound composition. It has the light-dark contrast most good or great fragrances have: the opening freshness vs. the dark sweaty base. More notably, it has a coherent through-line via pepper: from the peppery aspect of bergamot at the start, to szechuan pepper and elemi in the middle, to the peppery-scratchy texture of the woody-amber in the base (I’ve seen “tobacco” mentioned as a note and indeed the base has a rough tobacco-like texture). Sauvage unfolds in two main stages, and does so coherently.

    But what really made this weird hit suddenly comprehensible to me was seeing a few folks here mention a cactus leaf or cactus juice note in the middle and dry down. And you know what? That entirely makes sense, and while I’d like to sniff some cactus juice again to compare, this is what explained the whole weird ambience of the Sauvage signature to me. All the marketing for this stuff, across its three iterations, are about the American West: open plains, dust and sun-scorched rocks, driftwood and cacti. A sweaty Johnny Depp. The fractionated patchouli, vetiver, and “tobacco” in the base create a distinct man-sweat effect, with the cactus-like note adding to both that and an evocation of the western American desert. The Ambroxan does indeed create a big (okay: massive) arid cloud of “atmosphere,” and it’s not a stretch to think “big sky,” not to mention the sun-baked wood element of the chemical. As soon as I saw the signature Sauvage base in these terms, it made sense. I now think Dior are being quite direct in their marketing for Sauvage; I strongly suspect the brief was to create the scent of a slightly brutish man in the American west, in the dusty desert. And then clobber on top of that a big fresh opening and blue packaging hue to compete directly with Bleu de Chanel.

    By the way, though I realize they’re very different scents, Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain also uses a big woody-amber aroma chemical to create a dusty, arid desert effect, come to think of it.

    Big, slightly brutish, aggressive, desert vistas, heat, cacti, driftwood, sweat: it’s all there. It’s what’s listed on the tin, as much as the Bleu concessions. I find it evocative and often, still, sort of off-putting, but when worn lightly, it's compelling, in the same bitter man-heat way evoked by classics like Quorum or Kouros or Aramis or Leather Oud. Each of those is divisive, too, in its way. I think Sauvage is actually a calculatedly brutal (ahem: wild) composition, and decidedly weird. But because it starts with such a “hey, like me!” commercially fresh opening, plus slick blue-juice packaging, we all go in expecting (and briefly getting) something easy, generic, expected, and safe. Sauvage starts there, yes, but what it really has to say is more intelligent, I think. My sense is Demachy was working with BOTH the desert concept AND the “give Chanel Blue a run for its money” mandate, and this was the result. Our own expectations, for either a new entry in a classic-fragrance style (why isn’t this Eau Sauvage?!) or just abject commercial selling out (BdC/Fierce/Aventus clone!), distract us from taking Sauvage on its own terms. Love it or hate it, if it were merely just generic and boring, more of us would be indifferent. But Sauvage is a bigger provocation than that, and while I’m still not at all sure it’s “me,” I’m glad I’ve come around to respecting this stuff. At the very least, I find it truly fascinating.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Sauvage is indeed very weird.

    I don't find it fascinatingly weird, though.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Hmmm -- I think OP is being very generous to Sauvage

    It's just not 'Dior' imo -- it's more Abercrombie and Fitch

    For me it's a shameless and cynical attempt at vaulting oceans of money with a shoddy, cheap smelling ambrox product and I actually feel slightly sick when I smell it on others

  4. #4

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    God OP you are over thinking it

    Sauvage is what it is and it is crap.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Enjoyed your post OP, I enjoy wearing it and it does grab attention of those around you and not in a negative way. Fragheads don't like it much but the general public does, it’s a good dumb reach if you will and it just works. I agree there is a lot going on in the dry down, keeps it interesting unlike Bleu De Chanel were it’s soapy and gets boring imo.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    When it first came out I was surprised that something so generic was given the hallowed Sauvage name. The original had earned it's great reputation over the years and it seemed a shallow attempt to cash in on the name by putting the label a lot of people knew onto something new and uninspired. And then having Johnny Depp help with the marketing when he was the last person I would think who would wear such a scent. I guess it worked from a business point of view but I will not be buying this anytime soon.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    All I know is....it gives me a headache just thinking about its chemical smell. What a horrible mess of a fragrance.

    Women seem to like it because they like men to smell "fresh".

    I'll never understand the difference between male and female olfactory perception. It definitely doesn't appear to be the same.
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  8. #8
    Dependent onethinline's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    First, I have a tendency to overthink things. This makes me both interesting and insufferable, I'm sure. Fair enough. But my big post is my attempt to sort out why I went from pretty much hating this stuff to finding it fascinating, worthy of respect, and even something I now own a bottle of. It's not because Sauvage makes me smile in an easy casual way like BdC does. I've surprised myself in coming around, insofar as I have, to this one, and sorting out the "why" is itself interesting to me.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by onethinline View Post
    However, I think Sauvage is at the same time actually quite a bizarre and challenging composition.
    I agree with this. I'd also add the word creative. Many commenters here---including me---have observed how Sauvage is capable of giving quite different impressions/experiences across different wearings. I find that alone very interesting (or bizarre, to use your term). Personally, some days I love it and other days I, too, find it awful. Very odd how that works.

    Additionally, people sometimes refer to Sauvage as generic etc. As I've asked before, though...if it's generic, please tell me some of the many fragrances that preceded it which are so similar.

    Also, great analysis onethinline.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Sauvage feels "generic" even though it has distinctive character because this kind of hyper-chemical composition always feels fuzzy and vague. Folks commonly describe Sauvage as having a "shower gel" quality, which hints at this vaguely synthy-fresh clean quality.

    Yes, Sauvage is different than BdC or Montblanc Explorer or Versace Dylan Blue, but they all feel like facets of the same elusive synthetic blahness to me. I can scarcely remember what any of them actually smell like when I'm away from them.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    Hmmm -- I think OP is being very generous to Sauvage

    It's just not 'Dior' imo -- it's more Abercrombie and Fitch

    For me it's a shameless and cynical attempt at vaulting oceans of money with a shoddy, cheap smelling ambrox product and I actually feel slightly sick when I smell it on others
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    I love the cold, metallic nature of the EDT. Combined with the pepper and freshness, it has a distinct personality which fits both the name, and the marketing.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    I think it may have been more well received had not every man (women too!) from Alaska to Zimbabwe purchased a bottle. I own one of the edt and have worn it 2x, You can't deny the general public loves it and it lasts all day.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Sauvage made mr arnault a 100 billionaire

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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by cameron View Post
    Sauvage made mr arnault a 100 billionaire
    Accurate or not, it’s irrelevant to everyone except Mr. Arnault.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Always very interesting to me to read other people's thoughts on thus particular fragrance.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Have you seen Super Dacob's brilliant review of Sauvage?

    He basically says, that Sauvage is the "douchebag" scent that the masses deserve (and probably are longing for): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTZdNJwyhTw

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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    I actually tried this for the first time last night. I was expecting something like Bleu de Chanel but was punched in the head by a overly sweet frag.
    I thought Chanel Allure Homme sport eau extreme was sweet, but not even close to Sauvage sweetness. My girlfriend thought it smelled like something a teen would wear. I may give it another go, I tried the EDT and EDP and felt the EDP was better because it wasn’t so loud (it too is a powerhouse though)...

  19. #19

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    You write convincingly on it, onethinline, but try as I might, my nose just won't get there. Sauvage is iconoclastic for sure, just not a way that agrees with my nose, so far. Maybe I'll give it another go. I do like to check in with Sauvage occasionally when folks I like, like it. Your prior relationship and attempts to give it the benefit of the doubt sound a lot like me (I always liked the opening, too), but I haven't yet had "the breakthrough".

    This:

    Quote Originally Posted by onethinline View Post
    Big, slightly brutish, aggressive, desert vistas, heat, cacti, driftwood, sweat: it’s all there.
    Sounds great! I want this.

    But for me, as of now, it's "big, slightly brutish, aggressive, chemicals, shampoo-like, the absence of anything living let alone sweat, maybe some kind of faux cacti". The cactus is potentially interesting, but it's pounded into submission by that humming, throbbing, slightly alien forcefield of a foundation. I do agree it's very interesting stuff.
    Last edited by LiveJazz; 3rd September 2019 at 04:36 AM.
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  20. #20
    Dependent onethinline's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by FragFrog View Post
    Have you seen Super Dacob's brilliant review of Sauvage?

    He basically says, that Sauvage is the "douchebag" scent that the masses deserve (and probably are longing for): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTZdNJwyhTw
    Yep! In fact Super Dacob is the YouTuber I refer to in my original post above. There's another video where he's laying out the scents for a day (I think it's his July Scents video?) and Sauvage is one of them. He explains that it's the one which acts as a purposeful punishment, because sometimes you want to hurt yourself. That spurred me on to inflict it upon myself again, too.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Conceptually you hit the mark, and despite detracting statements from others, you're not overthinking or 'round the bend. Sauvage is indeed savage stuff in sheep's clothing on purpose. Some people (also read: hobbyists who are fixtures within certain circles like niche, vintage, artisanal or luxury) will have their sniffers calibrated to appreciate only what they've discovered to be their own truth and therefore will always find abstract synthetics like Sauvage in poor form.

    It's why Calvin Klein gets so much hate here: they've made their career in fragrance with fantasy accords and synthetic fragrances. Maybe in 10-15 more years once the hype dies down and Sauvage becomes yesteryear's Drakkar or Fahrenheit, people will be able to approach more analytically like you because it won't be in their face 24/7, but it will still be fraghead enemy #1 until then.
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  22. #22
    Dependent onethinline's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post
    But for me, as of now, it's "big, slightly brutish, aggressive, chemicals, shampoo-like, the absence of anything living let alone sweat, maybe some kind of faux cacti". The cactus is potentially interesting, but it's pounded into submission by that humming, throbbing, slightly alien forcefield of a foundation. I do agree it's very interesting stuff.
    I know exactly what you mean. And please don't get me wrong, everyone: I'm not defending Sauvage as being actually this suave, elegant thing. I still find it loud, abstract, not obviously sexy (though I find more sexy or sensual elements in it now than I did before). But its big, honking, synthetic weirdness isn't SAFE. By contrast, something like Bleu de Chanel or Allure Homme Sport, while both intelligent and high-quality for the genre they're playing in, stay within very safe, legible bounds. Sauvage could have gone that way. But the base of Sauvage isn't just Ambroxan on its own, nor just a big woody-amber on its own, both of which would be common enough (and I hate big piercing woody ambers, by the way). The base has this dirty, sweaty, patchouli-lavender-woody-amber-pepper-scratch accord which so many of us rightly call out as chemical, off-putting, etc. But I guess my whole point is that I'm starting to think this wasn't Demachy just cheaping out or throwing in the towel, but a clever creative choice. Because as weird as it is, the base strikes me as thought-through. And when I smell it in the context of a creative brief involving the American west and sweaty men, it suddenly makes sense.

    I do know what you mean about the base having a humming, throbbing, forcefield effect, though. When I finally tried Sauvage on skin a few nights ago I was kind of astonished by exactly this effect in the dry down. It was like a shimmering, even blinding, pepper force-field. But something must've already been shifting for me because rather than rush to scrub it off, I had this "it's ugly but I want to keep experiencing it" reaction, and that's probably the point where this pivoted from recoil to respect and fascination.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by onethinline View Post
    In the dry down we have this scratchy, peppery, sweaty, almost sour effect, plus that airy effusive Ambroxan (bolstered by Iso E).
    I spent quite a bit of time making an estimate of the notes in this dry down:

    Sweaty B.O. vibe = Southwestern Cactus, Musk, Black Pepper

    Floral layer that spares it from totally offending.

    Grapefruit, black currant and Woody layer, ie, Ambroxan that ties the "pleasant" and "odd" notes together (this is the ripoff portion borrowed from Bleu de Chanel, IMO).

    What this total combination imparts is some nice smelling components with a very masculine smell that grabs attention. Women (I 'think') like it because of these very properties. It smells pleasing while at the same time is about as far from feminine as one can imagine.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zealot Crusader View Post
    Conceptually you hit the mark, and despite detracting statements from others, you're not overthinking or 'round the bend. Sauvage is indeed savage stuff in sheep's clothing on purpose. Some people (also read: hobbyists who are fixtures within certain circles like niche, vintage, artisanal or luxury) will have their sniffers calibrated to appreciate only what they've discovered to be their own truth and therefore will always find abstract synthetics like Sauvage in poor form.

    It's why Calvin Klein gets so much hate here: they've made their career in fragrance with fantasy accords and synthetic fragrances. Maybe in 10-15 more years once the hype dies down and Sauvage becomes yesteryear's Drakkar or Fahrenheit, people will be able to approach more analytically like you because it won't be in their face 24/7, but it will still be fraghead enemy #1 until then.
    Perhaps so.

    Scent is very tied to association for me (and others here, based on testimony). I like to be transported to an aromatic destination I can interpret and connect to image/sensation. More abstract synthy stuff leaves me struggling to find my bearings.
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  25. #25

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    I think, that many people in fragcom are talking about Ambroxan all the time but don't know exactly how it smells and confuse it with some other notes, which are typically used in many Ambroxan "shower gel"-style scents, too.

    And I'm really surprised how many people struggle even to smell Molecule 02, which contains almost only Ambroxan (same with the Iso-E-Super in M01), because they are kind of anosmic to it. I have even seen many complaints in the reviews at certain Escentric Molecules sellers, where people assume they got a fake bottle because the scent isn't there and/or doesn't last.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Thank you for the very extensive description of this fragrance in many of its details and aspects.

    Would second the opinion (s) describing this as an a more or less even mix of both.
    As it does combine its fair share of both notes likely be described as generic but also as a less understood contemporary/current style release, with ambroxan and other notes that could be very one dimensional and instead have their fair share of less common but still fairly popular/likable outcomes.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    I love designers. I don’t mind mainstream either because 90% of people I hang out with don’t wear cologne and know nothing of it ....this is not a joke..my neighbors, siblings, in-laws, coworkers, etc just don’t. I usually enjoy a new popular release too. With that said I just haven’t taken to the Bleus or Savauges! BdC EDP would be my favorite of 6 versions. Today I tested Sauvage Parfum on one arm...I had Fahrenheit on a another. I guess all I can say is it is pleasant. My daughter liked it. It’s nice. I don’t dislike it. I have no hate. BUT I have no love either. I can see this being cool for the office. I’d just get bored quickly and start looking again. I’m not labeling it generic either. I just don’t get the nuances discussed. To me I just don’t see a distinction to make it a buy. I honestly have felt this way about many lately. Blah.

    BTW OP, I appreciate you took that much time to write. It shows an appreciation and I like that vs clickbait
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  28. #28
    Basenotes Institution dougczar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by mfinz8 View Post
    Sauvage is what it is and it is crap.
    Quote Originally Posted by RedRaider430 View Post
    All I know is....it gives me a headache just thinking about its chemical smell. What a horrible mess of a fragrance.

    Agree.


    Personally, I think it is the worst thing I have smelled since the 2nd round of nu_be releases. Ghastly chemical mess. Insta-scrubber.
    Current Summer Favorites:

    1. Xerjoff - Nio
    2. Tom Ford - Rive d’Ambre
    3. Dior - Homme Cologne 2013
    4. The Different Company - De Bachmakov
    5. Armani - Code Sport Athlete
    6. Montale - Aoud Legacy
    7. Dior - Homme Sport 2008
    8. by Kilian - Straight to Heaven
    9. Ermenegildo Zegna - Sicilian Mandarin
    10. Creed - Pure White Cologne

  29. #29
    The Devil in the Details
    Zealot Crusader's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brooks Otterlake View Post
    Perhaps so.

    Scent is very tied to association for me (and others here, based on testimony). I like to be transported to an aromatic destination I can interpret and connect to image/sensation. More abstract synthy stuff leaves me struggling to find my bearings.
    It's like trying to dive head-first into dubstep or trance EDM after surrounding yourself with bluegrass or jazz fusion for years. It's oil and water, and sometimes also comes down to being a generational thing too depending on what you've been exposed to during formative years in the hobby. I see it all the time with folks stuck on aromatic chypres, powerhouse fougères, or really rich gourmands (70's, 80's, and 90's respectively), and it's hard to get outside that walled garden once you've spent that time curating it.

    I myself had the hardest time getting away from sweet and fresh shower gel scents when I first dove in because the 2000's were my time of big discovery, and thought bone-dry scents or stinky animalics were yuck, but I wanted to get a "taste" for things I didn't understand. Granted, you like what you like and Sauvage is by no means anything extraordinary, but the synthetic = bad argument really rubs me the same way people thought keyboards = bad when added to rock groups back in the 80's.
    oh look, I have a signature
    Currently wearing: Green Irish Tweed by Creed

  30. #30

    Default Re: Dior Sauvage: generic freshie... or misunderstood prickly pear weirdo?

    I think you're on to something. Thanks for sharing. I'm one of the users here who unapologetically likes Sauvage in all of its forms and agree that it's misunderstood by many.




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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000