Christian Dior Dior Homme : Fragrance Review

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Dior_homme2

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.

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40 Comments

  • Nick: Sorry, to kick off discussion with an off topic question, but I just went to the Hermes website, and noticed that 24 Faubourg is no longer listed as available in an Eau de Parfum concentration. Can someone from France tell me if this is true! Truly mortified. December 21, 2005 at 12:30am Reply

  • MC: Loved this one initially, but on reflection more iris and less cocoa would have helped. From that wonderfully brisk iris opening to the difficult but successful balance between iris, amber and cocoa in the heart I think it’s great… but on my skin at least it collapses into a chocolately-sweet mess after a few hours.

    Like you, I prefer colder iris.

    Still, as you say a daring move and I really hope it sells. December 21, 2005 at 3:00am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Excellent review, as always! I find Dior Homme interesting, I like it a lot…but for women. Dior Homme can be sold as a masculine scent, a sophisticated and new masculine scent, but I have a bottle, I wear it a lot (although iris is not one of my favourite smells) and none of my male friends want to wear it, they think it is a fragrance for women. December 21, 2005 at 5:57am Reply

  • julien: This is such a good review and such a good suprise for perfume lovers to smell this new men fragrance.
    The only thing that disturbs my pleasure in it,its is lack of lasting power.
    But it is sweet,refined,and so beautifully made.
    It is also original…a floral for men!
    It took time,but at least,we have it now!:)
    Thanks again for the review.
    kisses
    j. December 21, 2005 at 6:03am Reply

  • Viktor Nilsson: Dear V! I have been very eager to hear your opinions on this one! I regard it as one of the absolutely best of the “warehouse fragrances”. It is definately on my shopping list! The chocolate is also very strong on me in the drydown, but it still does not spoil the composition, IMO. I sense some rather warm and spicy notes among the middle notes, are they there or is it just me? BTW, You asked which was going to be my next bottle – yesterday I recieved my order of Guerlain’s Vetiver. I loved it immediately! December 21, 2005 at 6:21am Reply

  • Marcello: An interesting case for my project on perfume and gender. Many different people have mentioned how Dior Homme could easily pass for a feminine fragrance, and it’s being confirmed here again. Thanks for your wonderful review!

    By the way, is it Dior’s own claim that they did little marketing research? December 21, 2005 at 7:43am Reply

  • Marina: Great review and the fragrance sounds very attractive. What did you think of 3 other new Diors, V (Bois d’Argent, etc.)? Though, if I understand correctly, unlike Dior Homme, those were not intended for the wide audience. December 21, 2005 at 8:52am Reply

  • Laura: Wow, another intriguing scent! I can’t imagine what I’ll think of it, but I do know I’m going to try it. Thanks for this review, V! December 21, 2005 at 9:54am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Nick, I unfortunately did not check, although I do remember seeing the EDP sold at Hermes store. It would be sad if it were discontinued. December 21, 2005 at 10:22am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mike, I can see how it can tiring after a while, although I have been wearing it on and off since it was released, and I am still happy with it. The sweetness of the base is very pronounced on me as well. However, I find iris to be a bit one-dimensional, although of course, comparing the iris here and to the beautiful expensive iris in Chanel 19 is not fair. Still, the very fact of this fragrance being released from a big fashion house is great.

    Have you tried Divine L’Homme de Coeur? I find its iris to be very nice. December 21, 2005 at 10:25am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, thank you. I think that the fragrance would work well for men too, but those who are not used to the floral element in masculine perfumes may find it too feminine. December 21, 2005 at 10:28am Reply

  • paru: It’s unfortunate that so many companies play it safe. I guess marketing dictates that the content of the advertisement is more important thant the content of the product. Reminds me a lot of beer ads and American politics! December 21, 2005 at 11:04am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Yes, V., I would like to smell Dior Homme on a boyfriend, for example, perhaps I´m simply surrounded by un-sophisticated men, ha, ha,… (Today I´m bitchy because I´m recovering from my lab´s Christmas party !). I´m wearing Flowerbomb, by the way. December 21, 2005 at 11:41am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: I forgot to mention, another good article, this time in French Elle this week, the one with Isabelle Huppert in the cover, about mix and match in perfume. I´ll write about it tomorrow. By the way, Victoria, did you visit any Frederic Malle store while you were in Paris? And the Iunx boutique? December 21, 2005 at 11:50am Reply

  • Robin: V, lovely review. Between this & Gaultier2 I would say that sweet fragrances for men are perhaps on the way in? It is actually surprising to me that Dior didn’t try to position this as a unisex. December 21, 2005 at 1:50pm Reply

  • MC: Victoria,

    Oh yes, I’m a huge fan of Divine’s iris. That’s much more my style – I like chilly scents. December 21, 2005 at 2:18pm Reply

  • cait: V,
    My gift of Homme de Coeur was a smash hit with its recipient. She also likes l’or de torrente and allure, so i’m wondering if this cocoa aspect of dior homme could be kind of up her alley too. What a strange combo of the austerity and cleanliness of the other iris scents with a mouth full of chockies. I must try it. Does it classify as a floriental? December 21, 2005 at 4:24pm Reply

  • cait: I laughed when I read that quote from Slimane that “This masculine/feminine dialectic doesn’t interest me — in my head, we’re all a little bit of both.” I think people are obsessed with this dialectic and that’s why perfume is so compelling. December 21, 2005 at 4:35pm Reply

  • Marcello: Tania, thanks for the link! December 21, 2005 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Tania: This conversation about whether the Dior Homme fragrance is masculine or feminine is proof that Hedi Slimane knows exactly what he’s doing. Look at these quotes from eLUXURY’s interview with him:
    ….
    As for my clothes being branded “feminine,” I think it’s all a state of mind. Who cares whether a guy or a girl wears the garments? This masculine/feminine dialectic doesn’t interest me — in my head, we’re all a little bit of both.
    ….
    I’d like men to think about evolving into something more sophisticated, more seductive for a change. I’m not a militant, but what I’m really interested in is exploring the possibility of an entirely new kind of masculinity.
    ….
    Having smelled Dior Homme (both on myself and on Will), I say Slimane is succeeding. December 21, 2005 at 1:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, it is a very interesting composition, and when I woke up this morning and went into the library, I noticed the smell of iris in the air (from the strip I left there). It seems to last well on me, however I agree that it is probably on the light side. December 22, 2005 at 12:33am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Viktor, I notice those notes as well, although the sweetness of the base overtakes the gentle warmth. The chocolate does not bother me either, and in fact, it seems like an interesting element.

    Congratulations on Vetiver! It is a beautiful fragrance. No doubt, I would say it is among my favourite masculines. December 22, 2005 at 12:44am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marcello, yes, from what I hear, it was not market researched that much. I think that it is good thing for the designers to go with their intuition. The market tests are hardly a fool-proof method anyway. December 22, 2005 at 12:46am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you. It is a very interesting composition, although the time will tell how successful it will be in the long run. The Dior Cologne Trio is excellent, and I love Cologne Blanche and Eau Noire especially. Bois d’Argent is nice too, for its beautiful musks and woods combination. December 22, 2005 at 12:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I wonder what you might think of it. It is not the conventional masculine fragrance, and it is quite fascinating from that perspective. December 22, 2005 at 12:49am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, beer ads is a story of its own. I so agree. As for American politics, I better say nothing. December 22, 2005 at 12:55am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, your mention of Flowerbomb reminds me that it is one of the fragrances I smell most frequently these days, both in the States and in Europe. It smelled very nice on a friend. December 22, 2005 at 3:56am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, yes, I have been to Iunx boutique, which I like very much. The place is wonderfully serene, and the scents are gorgeous. I did not want to leave. I did not have a chance to visit the Malle boutique, since I have already tried everything, and the time was of essence. December 22, 2005 at 3:58am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, thank you for the link! This is a very interesting interview. I cannot agree more. I think that if Slimane has a new idea of masculinity, it is definitely coming across in the Dior masculine division. December 22, 2005 at 4:00am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I think that it makes it much more daring in the end, because as a unisex fragrance, it would not have been that interesting. Hmm, more food for thought for Marcello’s project… December 22, 2005 at 4:13am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mike, I love iris chilly as well. Today I was sampling Hermes Caleche and was struck by how much I like its iris. Something about that note is simply enchanting. December 22, 2005 at 4:13am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, I am glad to hear that it was a hit. Sounds like Dior Homme might be something she would like, although it is not overly sweet on me. In general, most women I spoke to did not find Dior Homme too sweet, while many men did. According to Michael Edwards classification, it might actually be considered a floral (like Caron Pour Un Homme is a rich floral, with its lavender, vanilla and amber). December 22, 2005 at 4:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Oh, the dialectic is fascinating, although on one level, I agree with Slimane. The line between the two can be blurred easily or made me pronounced depending on the endgoal. December 22, 2005 at 4:15am Reply

  • linda: Wonderful review as always! You really made me curious about Dior Homme. Sounds like it is worth a try. December 22, 2005 at 10:37am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, yes, it definitely worth trying. I wonder how you might like it. December 22, 2005 at 2:39pm Reply

  • yann: Dior Homme is certainly the most daring of the big fragrance launches of the year !
    less skinny than the runway models ! it`s definitely reassuring about the future of the industry, richness, signature, difference are back! December 22, 2005 at 10:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Yann, I must say that the first time I smelled Dior Homme I could not believe that it was a masculine fragrance made by a large fashion house. I am looking forward to observing what happens next and whether it is going to be successful. December 23, 2005 at 12:39am Reply

  • Triinu: I absolutely love Dior Homme, I’ve been trying to find something similar, that would be for women entirely, but haven’t quite succeeded. Does anyone have an idea which fragrance for women would correspond to Dior Homme?? I’d appreciate a tip :) October 22, 2006 at 11:07am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Triinu, then you are looking for an iris on a leather base. How about Cuir de Russie by Chanel? Recently, they seem to have amplified iris notes in it dramatically. October 25, 2006 at 12:02am Reply

  • jimmyfresno: So late with my opinion on this one, but I just tried this one. I scratched my head all the way home trying to figure out what the bewitching, immediate top note is. Then it dawned on me. No, it is not iris, although there is definitely a good bit of beta ionone in the heartnote. The topnote though. Starchy-sweet….

    CARROT.

    If you revisit this fragrance, it will hit you like a cinder block between the eyebrows. Very nice. Truly different. Better than celery. But it’s carrot. November 28, 2007 at 12:51am Reply

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