Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
There are a few conventional wisdoms that one can cite in regards to fragrance, and the one that comes to mind immediately is the oversaturation of the market. The releases are becoming more and more frequent, with the shelf life growing shorter and shorter. Each release entails significant sunk costs, therefore it is not surprising that most of the big companies choose to play safe, researching the fragrances through focus groups and other market testing methods. Safe choices indeed abound, and it is difficult to say anything of interest on them. In the masculine market, it is even more difficult to be daring, because there are more rules of what defines a commercial masculine fragrance. Therefore, encountering Christian Dior Dior Homme, a fragrance intended for the wide audience rather than the niche fragrance consumers and introduced with little market research, is rather heartening.
Created by Olivier Polge in 2005, Dior Homme is an embodiment of the sleek and sophisticated style that marks the Dior masculine division under the direction of Hedi Slimane. From the interesting scent to the beautiful packaging, Dior Homme is easily one of the most daring fragrances released from the large fashion house this year. One can only hope that the trend will gather momentum.
The iris shimmers under the transparent top accord that is sweetly herbaceous and crisp, touched lightly by citrus. Soon the iris unfolds fully with its metallic violets and cold roots tonality overtaking the composition like an opalescent mist. The dissonance between the chilly orris and the ambered leathery base is at first disconcerting, especially since the arrangement moves rapidly from the hazy coldness into the powdery sweetness accented by cocoa. Nevertheless, the supple leather underpinning the base of the composition provides an elegant backdrop against which the woody chilliness of iris is extended by the cold earthiness of vetiver. Ornamented by the sweet wooded amber, the composition retains the dissonance, yet as it develops, the facet actually becomes interesting as it maintains the element of surprise.
While Dior Homme is intended as a masculine fragrance, its lack of obviously masculine traits would make the composition perfectly suitable for women. The very fact of its being daring as a masculine fragrance is that Dior Homme does not shy away from folding floral notes into the arrangement and embellishing them with sweet accents. As far as iris fragrances go, it cannot rival my beloved Chanel No. 19, which also uses a large quantity of iris in the composition, as opposed to retaining it as an accent note. In Dior Homme, the iris strikes me as far less nuanced than what I would have liked. For other excellent iris fragrances that would be suitable for both men and women, I would recommend Divine L’Homme de Coeur (sparkling, bright iris), Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist (cold, icy petals and earthy roots), and Three As Four Parfum (scintillating iris and ginger pairing).
Available at Dior boutiques, Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue, as well as other retail venues and online discount stores carrying Christian Dior perfumes.