Dior’s new men’s fragrance, Sauvage, illustrates that sometimes there can be a difference between originality and salability. The fragrance was the retail hit of the fall season, according to The NPD Group, but it didn’t fare so well under the scrutiny of our panel. While some judges gave high marks for being a “fresh” and “clean” scent, and one even predicted its subsequent sales success, others knocked it for being too conventional — even dull — with a lack of “memory” and “personality.”
“Marine, juicy mandarin, loaded with patchouli. Good use of natural materials.”
“The top note has a yummy toasted almond note that is wrapped beautifully in an herbal and bright citrus accord. The feeling is sophisticated.”
“Strong stuff! The result is a potent Fougère, in the line of Cool Water and Bleu de Chanel, transformed into a powerful force…shall be surprised if it isn’t a hit.”
“Brutal, functional, cheap, nasty. Toothache in sprayable form.”
“Occasionally, one finds an interesting element, but overall, it’s conventional and dull.”
“Well-balanced, clean and fresh enough…technically OK, but very mainstream.
“Smells clean and summerlike, but without any memory and personality.”
“I don’t fancy smelling like a forest, but I like that the scent is non-gender specific, and it would make an inspired home fragrance collection.”
“Linear odor of a chemical, pinewood-y ambrox formula has sadly the technical talent to be long-lasting on the blotter.”
“Rather old-fashioned woody-tar mossy Fougère body…long-lasting, with projection, though.”
ABOUT THE TEST AND JUDGES: This is a blind test, panelists are given vials of unidentified scent to judge impartially. Each of them gives a score ranging from 1 (forgettable) to 10 (unforgettable) and the numbers are computed into a final grade. The judges, led by chairman Michael Edwards, also make critiques, which are unattributed to encourage candor. The most promising scents are picked for judging in an effort to find and showcase excellence. WWD buys the products at retail, like any other consumer. The esteemed judges are: Michael Edwards, author of “Fragrances of the World” and “Perfume Legends”; Paul Austin, chief executive officer of sensory storytelling agency Austin Advisory Group; Jean-Claude Delville, senior perfumer at Drom; Karen Dubin, founder and ceo of Sniffapalooza; Victoria Frolova, fragrance industry analyst and Bois de Jasmin editor; Christophe Laudamiel, master perfumer at DreamAir; Nathalie Pichard, owner of training and evaluation agency Topnotes; Chantal Roos, cocreator of Roos & Roos Co.; Luca Turin, biophysicist and perfume critic for arabia.style.com, and Kevin Verspoor, founder of PerfumeKev LLC.