Friday, August 24, 2012

Persolaise Review: Eau Sauvage parfum + Addict Eau Sensuelle from Christian Dior (2012) + Premiere from Gucci (2012) + Eau Dynamisante from Clarins (1987/2012)


Most of Dior's recent alterations to their main fragrance range (fiddling around with the names of the various Miss Diors, tinkering with the Addicts etc) have been baffling, to say the least. But I confess even I experienced a moment of excitement when I heard that one of their new ideas was an extrait formulation of Edmond Roudnitska's iconic Eau Sauvage. As is well known, the fragrance had already been the subject of several updates over the decades, but this sounded like a much more serious proposition than a mere flanker. After all, it isn't every day that a major brand decides to release a parfum for men, let alone a parfum based on one of the most successful masculines of all time.

So, what's it like? Well, in an ideal world, I'd assess it in relation to the eau de toilette, but the problem with a comparative evaluation is that the current edt is, by most accounts, far removed from the 1966 original, which I never had the pleasure of smelling. So it's difficult to say if François Demachy has remained faithful to the spirit of Roudnistka's work. However, taken on its own terms, the parfum is a joy to wear. At its core lies the relaxed, dewy, citrusy accord that's formed the centre of ES for at least the last 15 years, but here it's accompanied by a leather facet (a touch too pronounced?) that's been brushed by the faintest whiff of cigar smoke. It's almost as though the edt has decided to dress up for the evening by taking a few wardrobe tips from Antaeus, minus the latter's insistence on oversized 80s brashness. Indeed, understatement seems to be the key here: the fragrance lasts for several hours, but it remains within about an inch of the wearer's body for the duration of its development, hardly ever announcing its existence to causal passersby.

Some will no doubt cry foul and say that Demachy's decision to turn the volume knob right down was ill-advised. But strictly speaking, extraits were never meant to be louder edts: they were simply supposed to favour the heavier aspects of a fragrance's structure and thereby become more long-lasting and skin-focussed. In this sense, the new ES is comparable with Jean-Claude Ellena's parfum versions of Terre D'Hermès and Voyage D'Hermès: it doesn't offer megawatt projection, but it makes up for this with steadfastness, dependability and just the right amount of that incomparable Alain Delon cool.

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In brief... The new Addict Eau Sensuelle (or is it an old Addict under a different name?) is the latest in what seems to have become a trend for shampoo-like, musky florals. Like Gucci's Premiere, it pumps out pleasant - if somewhat forgettable - jasmine-ish notes before settling on a soft, unobtrusive base of fabric softener synthetics. Of the two, the Dior feels marginally more sophisticated. The drydown of the Gucci is on the harsh side, in keeping with the scent's Hollywood inspiration: all the best bits are in the trailer.

Whilst we're on the subject of revisiting the past, it's worth mentioning Eau Dynamisante, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Clarins have released a limited edition glitter-encrusted bottle of the scent. Marketing gimmicks notwithstanding, the juice remains one of the best citrus chypres on the market, a perfectly balanced expression of mandarin, bergamot, petitgrain and patchouli. It never fails to raise one's spirits and it never outstays its welcome. What's more, it remains one of the most reasonably priced fragrances you could hope to find. Here's to the next quarter century!

[Review of Eau Sauvage based on a sample of parfum provided by Christian Dior; review of Addict Eau Sensuelle based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Christian Dior; review of Premiere based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Gucci; review of Eau Dynamisante based on a sample provided by Clarins; all samples provided in 2012.]

Persolaise.

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