Driving through the Sauvage ways...
This page started as a "written conversation" with a couple of perfume friends from PerFumum facebook group. We were talking about Dior Sauvage and commenting, praising and joking over "Sauvage fans". I dragged the conversation theme now to this forum because it really maybe of interest to a wide range of people.
This reflection of mine is not intended to criticize Sauvage or Sauvage fans in any way, although I have never been a fan of this Dior perfume. On the contrary, I recognize that from both a commercial and creative point of view, it's an almost perfect perfume and with a fierce legion of supporters. So why do I wrinkle my nose at this Dior perfume?
Sauvage's aromatic profile is based on three main pillars: Bergamot + Pepper + Ambroxan. The bergamot and the pepper are of impeccable quality. Although I am very fond of ambery notes, my nose cannot match the note of ambroxan used in Sauvage.
Ambroxan (the technical name is "ambroxide") can have multiple signatures and is a synthetic ingredient. It should not be confused with natural Ambergris which is rare and prohibitively expensive. There are perhaps eight different producers of ambroxide that are widely believed in the market. Just to name a couple, I may mention Firmenich and Givaudan. The aromatic impression of these various "ambroxan" are all different from each other. I am not entirely sure where the ambroxan used in Sauvage comes from, but I am not really in love with it. I have a 100ml of Sauvage EdP that has a stronger concentration of ambroxan if compared with the EdT version. As a result, the perfume even hides the pepper more ... conclusion: the ambroxan note seems to be even more bold :-(.
For this reason, Dior's Sauvage always smells to me like shower gel, giving me an impression of being uninteresting and too common. Other fresh and spicy fragrances that I like a lot more such as Versace Dylan Blue (with ambroxan) and Mauboussin Private Club (without ambroxan), are just more appealing for my nose.
When I enter a room with a dozen men smelling like Dior Sauvage, it just seems to me that "they are all washed up and disinfected". This is not necessarily bad, but it seems to me to be a herd posture. A perfume should draw attention instead of providing a hiding place among the herd. Of course, this populism is not the fault of the perfume, but if a man comes into the same room wearing a good fragrance, which may even be cheaper, for example the 1974 Givenchy Gentleman EdT, he just rules over all the Sauvage wearers.
Among the most credible and interesting Dior Sauvage satellites we encounter Prada's Luna Rossa Carbon. But it does not solve any problem because - for me - it stands for a near Sauvage dupe a bit smoother and with a little more lavender. As its price is similar to that of Sauvage, it does not even relieve the usual Dior stress on my wallet. Close to the price of the original Sauvage, we found some other interesting offers, such as Armaf Bucephalus No. IX, Coach Platinum and Été Sauvage by Alexandria Fragrance. Made by Alberto and Jeremy, we can even think of the much more expensive Office for Men by Fragrance One. But at the other end of the price scale, we may also find some reasonably appealing proposals.
When I have to write something about a perfume that is very cheap, I just go ahead and buy the perfume. Sometimes getting a decant or begging for a sample can be much more expensive and certainly more time consuming. For this reason, I have to recognize myself as an uninspiring owner of a half dozen Sauvage "clones" without any other justification for their purchase. However for me there are two groups of these "cheapies" and some of these perfumes are quite interesting, even the market only recognizes them as Dior Sauvage clones.
Example: Extreme Story by La Rive which costs 10~12 Euros.
This La Rive is a Sauvage dupe with an a pleasant aroma, and with amber + elemi notes instead of the Dior ambroxan + elemi combination. It is notoriously synthetic and very smooth due to its low concentration. This group may include the similar (or equal?) Writer by Yves de Sistelle, but which is more difficult to find. However, these two are way better than Zara's watery Aromatic Future or Ulric de Varens' UDV Star, and they cost more or less the same.
Example: L'Homme Suave by Roberto Capucci (or L'Homme Sauvage before Dior complains about the name) and which costs 18-24 Euros.
Capucci's offer is everything I would like Sauvage to be, but I mention it just as a personal opinion. It has zero ambroxan, and presents notes of petitgrain (similar to neroli) and galbanun (a green, fresh and very natural note). If I put this Capucci in one hand and the Sauvage EdP in the other, my wife always says she prefers the "Capucci hand" although she also recognizes that they are preety similar. In this group I may also include the very acceptable Armaf Ventana which has a pleasant citrus salad accord in the opening, and then proposing laudanum note to cover the space of the ambery ambroxan accord.
I could have mention at least an half a douzain more perfumes in each group. Feel free to make your own suggestions and opinions.
Note 1 - These last Group 2 options, that are less offensive to the bank account, are a bit more "natural" and potentially more pleasant than the "cheapies of Group 1. However their makers have forgotten an important ingredient existing in the original Dior Sauvage. They lack the expensive and unique Sichuan Pepper note, which is the true olfactory motor of the Dior Sauvage family. Sichuan Pepper is not a real pepper. It is a spice made from the husk of the seeds of a plant from the Rutaceae family, and which practically only exists in China. This spice is responsible for the aromatic, herbal and spicy accord with a citrusy and slightly marine touch that always differentiates Dior's Sauvage from its cloning attempts.
Note 2 - There isn't anything like the original ... but for anyone who wants to try an agreable "Sauvage like type of scent", I really recommend Capucci's Homme Suave perfume. But note that I refuse to consider it as a meer clone. It has its own identity though ... yes, it reminds me of Sauvage.
Final Note 3 - My male dog likes Sauvage and my female dog doesn't. My conclusion is that Golden Retrievers will never help you to choose a perfume :-)