Replace Alain Delon with Johnny Depp, add a generous dose of Bleu de Chanel in the mix, shorten the name–and voilà, a new bestseller in the making. Although this kind of launch often strikes me as lazy, its make a lot of marketing sense. Sauvage banks on the impressive heritage accrued by its predecessor Eau Sauvage, and what it lacks in originality it makes up with presence. If you complain that perfumes don’t last on you, then look no further. Sauvage will not leave you alone.
On the other hand, those who would like complexity and interesting stories should take to other pastures. Sauvage offers neither. It’s fresh, bright and radiant, with a pearly toothed Colgate commercial in a perfume bottle. I predict that we will smell many similar fresh-enough-to-disinfect accords in other fragrances in the coming months.
I tried my best to find something good about Sauvage. The sample has been sitting on my desk for a month, but whenever I reached for it, I could only reflect that Dior couldn’t sink any lower. Next to it, Bleu de Chanel, not the most original perfume, is avant-garde. Behold a perfume that was created by a computer, or a corporate machine. It smells like it contains bits and pieces of all the best-selling accords out there. I have no doubts about François Demachy’s imagination as a perfumer, but Dior clearly didn’t allow him to exercise it.
So, what does Sauvage smell like? Let’s just be clear about this from the start–it has no obvious relationship to Eau Sauvage, apart from loads of bergamot, and even that part feels different. Think of it not as a cologne but as a patchouli-amber blend mixed with herbal, metallic notes. The first impression is of cold, sharp citrus peels amplified by a sweet, distinctly artificial zesty effect. If some of the bergamot came from Calabria, the rest was surely made in the lab. I don’t believe in natural being better, and some of my favorite effects in perfumery are artificial (the peach note in Mitsouko, the vanilla in Shalimar, the glow of La Myrrhe), but this phase of Sauvage puts it dangerously close to a cleaning product.
Bergamot is naturally peppery, and in Sauvage the pepper is accented by elemi, a resin that reminds me of sharper, spicier frankincense. The contrast between the bright aromatic top and the woody-ambery drydown is the best part of Sauvage, but the details can get lost in the glare. Sauvage is unrelenting in its freshness, and even the lingering base with some nice vetiver and dry, crunchy amber (Ambroxan, if you care for more specifics) feels airy and radiant. While the sillage is big, the fragrance is neither sticky nor heavy.
The mineral dryness paired with strong citrus remind me of Terre d’Hermès, while other aspects of Sauvage call to mind Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce, Chanel Égoïste Platinum, or Burberry Brit Rhythm. Sauvage is wearable, presentable and board room appropriate. There is nothing remotely dark or menacing about it. It’s just dull.
Christian Dior Sauvage includes notes of bergamot, elemi, geranium, Sichuan pepper, lavender, patchouli, vetiver, and ambroxan. Available at Dior boutiques and counters.