Friday, December 12, 2014

Persolaise Review: Dior Homme Parfum from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2014)


I'd love to know what the thinking is behind Dior's creation of 'parfum' versions of their classic masculines. Yes, obviously, on one level, it's related to the beep of cash registers - they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't profitable - but I'd like to believe that a few non-commercial reasons are involved too. Perhaps it points towards the arrival of heavier, more opulent compositions for men. Or maybe it's further evidence of François Demachy trying to stamp his own identity onto the brand: he daren't mess around too much with the bestsellers, but if he makes up an alternative identity for them, then he can allow his creative urges to run a little bit freer.

Speculation aside, there are two things we do know: firstly, following on from the parfum editions of Eau Sauvage and Fahrenheit, we now have Dior Homme Parfum, and secondly, this latest release relies heavily on a drydown of smoky vanilla, just like its predecessors. In itself, the latter isn't a crime. In fact, it rather neatly lends the trio a collective persona, enabling them to be taken as a set of sorts. But vanilla can be an easy sell, and its presence here creates the same effect as in the parfum version of Fahrenheit: it suggests that perhaps creativity has been pushed aside in favour of accessibility.

Olivier Polge's original Dior Homme edt was widely hailed as a masterpiece, and rightly so. It remains a superb example of a gourmand-inflected composition geared towards men and, by extension, it makes an apposite comment on masculinity in the modern era of metrosexuals and blurred gender lines. Demachy's parfum version would have us believe that guys need to revert to the past again. It still contains the iris note from the edt - it could hardly have called itself Dior Homme if it had dispensed with that - but in this case, it's harsher and more rough-edged. The foodie facet is present too, but it comes across less like baked apples and much more like bitter chocolate.

However, the most surprising element is a prominent scorched leather aspect, crackling with the burnt cinders and glowing embers present in Pierre Negrin's Interlude Man (which, incidentally, seems to be turning into a pretty influential piece of work). The decision to inject this overt carnality into the scent moves it away from the ambiguous elegance of the edt and strips it of much of its subtlety. That's not necessarily a criticism - regular readers will be well aware that I love assertive scents - but it's a bit of a shame in the particular context of Dior Homme.

Demachy had an opportunity to translate the distinctive story of the edt into extrait form, but for whatever reason, he chose not to take it, and instead focussed on traditional notions of masculinity. His new parfum is highly wearable - and its sweetly charred leather drydown will doubtless attract compliments - but it doesn't really tell us anything we haven't heard before. On the other hand, Polge's edt still continues to impress with its exacting attention to detail, its refusal to be pigeonholed and, above all, its astonishing beauty.

[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Christian Dior in 2014.]

Persolaise

2 comments:

  1. Dior Homme fans may be interested to know how this differs from the Intense version?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon,

      To me, the 'Intense' is literally a more intense, deeper version of the edt. This new parfum has a much more prominent burnt leather facet. It places less emphasis on baked fruit; it also features a bitter chocolate note.

      Delete

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