Eau Sauvage & Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir by Christian Dior {Perfume Short (Reviews)} {New Perfume} {Men's Cologne}

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In 1966, Christian Dior introduced a new men's fragrance that had failed consumers' tests, deciding to follow their instincts instead. Eau Sauvage (Wild Water), composed by Edmond Roudnitska, can be seen retrospectively as deserving of its name due to this initial movement of irreverence and freedom from marketing rules of caution. It owes it more particularly and evidently to its fresh aromatic notes; the perfume evokes nature and an air as bracing as if you were inhaling these notes standing by a torrent.

The eau de toilette became a classic, adopted by both men and women, reaching across gender thanks to its fresh eau departure and its floral heart, enriched by a new jasmine-scented raw material called Hedione. The floral accents were felt to be a little provocative from the mainstream masculine standpoint at the time.

Another element which might have contributed to its popularity among women we think is that despite its dynamic sport-scent-like opening suggesting the movement of a slap of aftershave on the face (rather than its smell proper), the scent retained a reference to a classic chypre, notably perceptible with the assertive oakmoss peaking through from the base and offering its contrast with the luminous top notes......

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Christian Dior - Eau Sauvage corresponds better to this picture than the new one would, due to its more retro feel.

Edmond Roudnistka later offered a variation of the scent, an Eau Sauvage Extrême circa 1982. An Eau Sauvage amusingly called 100% Glaçon (100% Ice Cube) was also launched in 2001.

This year LVMH artistic director and perfumer François Demachy is offering an Eau Sauvage inspired by the aroma of leather called Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir. There were therefore at least three points worth checking out: 1) The variation aspect on a famous perfume; 2) What kind of leather would be showcased? (the hint was that it would be fresh); 3) Did the choice of a leather theme indicate a search for originality in a market where leather perfumes are more popular this year than last year but still under-represented?

It can be a bit confusing to smell Eau Sauvage and Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir side by side as one perceives the latter differently depending on whether one is smelling it in comparison or in isolation. This is perfectly natural since one's nose will pick on different nuances "by comparison" and as relative to each other. Edmond Roudnitska took a strong stand against this practice and to a large extent he is right. This little exercise was nevertheless useful in revealing that although there exists the illusion that the opening of Fraîcheur Cuir is as bracing as that of its predecessor, that in reality it is not, compared to the original. Eau Sauvage is actually more strongly hesperidic. And Fraîcheur Cuir loses, by comparison, some of its citrus-y character to appear velvety soft. Another difference is that the oakmoss is much more present in the original, giving it that characteristic musty smell that evokes for us the completely imaginary sensation of a cavernous breath-of-the-dragon. But the significant point is that within the softer and subtle composition offered by François Demachy, the hesperidic opening remains a notable contrast, hence the illusion.

Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir is an elegant perfume that harmoniously melds the core signature impression of Eau Sauvage with a suave current of leather. The leather is slightly more animalic in the middle part, but not much so and dries down to a more predominant sensation of a clean suede-like leather. The brisker and in a way more primitive Eau Sauvage has been paradoxically toned down and made to feel even more unisex or feminine by the addition of a supple amber-y leather that is refined enough to include a floral bouquet. The floral notes are more diversified and pronounced for us in Fraîcheur Cuir than in the original although it should not be so according to the note description.

Fraîcheur Cuir is an exercise in restraint, subtlety, and elegance. The dry-down ends up by smelling like one's skin but better. It would probably be perfect for the office. Longevity is probably good but in a faint mode.

In the end, Eau Sauvage Fraîcheur Cuir is valuable as a versatile elegant leather scent. It offers a more modern feel while aiming for classicism rather than originality. The frontier between a perfume that makes one think of classicism rather than commercialism may seem tenuous, but it exists. In the first case, there is a sense of subtlety and a measure of personal interest and risk thrown in (the less mainstream leather note) as well as a harmony and balance that cannot come from a superficial copy of a fragrance idea that one does not really empathize with. In other words, it probably helps that the perfumer's own taste be challenged. In the second case, the perfume is just a formula dressed in new attires.

Top note is Sicilian lemon; heart notes are Hedione, aromatic notes, cedar wood; Base notes are a chypre accord and an amber-y note.

(Photo sources: Beauté-Addict, ....) 

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