My expectations for Sauvage weren’t extremely low, but neither that high for sure. I was convinced it was probably better than the undeserved skepticism it seems getting here and there from fragrance snobs, but nothing groundbreaking for sure. Now that I’ve finally snatched a sample, I must say it quite reflects the idea I had about it – and actually, it is slightly better than I expected. First of all, in broad terms, it is probably right to consider this the first “Dior’s Bleu de Chanel” (or name another fragrance like that), as the league is more or less the same; but contrary to Bleu de Chanel (and most of similar scents), besides showing a clearly better quality, Sauvage avoids any boring, pretentious, preppy middle-class mannerism and adds a subtle touch of pungent vibrancy, of “rawness” as the name suggests. It is in fact a compelling contemporary take on a classic green fougère theme, opening with a bracing, peppery, crisp green-bergamot accord with a peculiar sort of “cedrat” heart, something bitter and earthy that provides a really nice sort of musky-sour shade to the crisp, fresh leafiness of the main accord. And then there’s a subtle, yet deep base of synthetic ambergris enhanced by some generic woods – “generic” means here nothing smelling overly cheap, but surely not the greatest woody notes around.
So imagine a quite classic and apparently mannered green masculine scent centered on pepper, citrus notes and dry ambery woods with some mossy patchouli lingering below, and give it a modern shape with an exotic, and slightly sombre touch halfway “organic” and “futuristic” (thanks to the cleverly-fitting warm and “grey” note of ambroxan). I must note that Sauvage feels quite much dry throughout its evolution, which I guess may be taken as a “masculine” added value, and also shows a pleasantly nondescript sort of dark, bitter-fizzy feel with a Mediterranean vibe, which reminds me of the balmy smell of air on a cloudy day in some woodland by the sea. Quite some interesting contrasts, overall: dryness, bitterness, warmth. So, again: an office-safe scent for sure, but in no way cheap or uncreative. Nothing exciting, but nothing bad to say the least. It just offers the right tiny amount of creativity within a “pop”, crowdpleasing frame. I think Demachy did quite a nice job in creating a deceptively generic fragrance with some sparkles of dark rawness. And I also appreciate the fact Sauvage smells really simple overall, almost minimalistic composition-wise, and with no overly cheap nuances. Simply put, it smells nice and it isn’t boring at all. As hours pass the ambroxan-woody-patchouli base takes the main stage, making Sauvage smell darker, warmer, dustier, more (again, “generically” ) classy and less bitter, with also some (good!) vetiver popping out. Still quite dry but at the same time quite comforting and sophisticated.
To cut it short, I think this is a good fragrance, quite more peculiar than it may seem at a first rushed test, and I think it is fully justified for Dior to have something like this among their range. Not everything has to be creative, or flashy, or (more or less faithfully) luxury or make some “statement”. Sauvage is a quality, discreet everyday scent with a seducing dark-organic twist and a nice evolution, smooth enough to appeal classic wearers but quality enough to be worthy a sniff for everybody else, including niche-heads. And it would surely be a mistake to dismiss this too early labelling it mediocre or cheap, since it isn’t either of the two. I probably wouldn’t buy this, but I’m glad Dior introduced it.