Christian Dior Eau Sauvage ~ fragrance review

Christian Dior Eau Sauvage advert

Christian Dior Eau Sauvage, the classic men’s fragrance by perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, was launched in 1966. Like Diorissimo, it was inspired by Roudnitska’s desire to simplify his approach to perfumery. Eau Sauvage is classified as a citrus chypre, and has notes of lemon, rosemary, petitgrain, basil, jasmine, rose, iris, oakmoss, vetiver, and musk.

Eau Sauvage is, to my mind, the quintessential masculine citrus fragrance. The top notes are a bit perfume-y, but it quickly resolves into a wonderful blend of citrus, jasmine, oakmoss and vetiver. The basil and rosemary are muted, but lend a aromatic touch, and it has a wonderful earthy-grassy smell over very sheer florals and a light, dry, woody chypre base. It is clean, crisp, and elegant, and personally, I find it very sexy.

Despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity, Eau Sauvage was considered an innovative fragrance when it was released in the 1960s. Michael Edwards, in an interview with Basenotes, selected it as one of the "movers and shakers" of the men’s fragrance industry. It was one of the first fragrances to use appreciable amounts of hedione, a synthetic molecule said to have a diffusive jasmine odor with a hint of an aquatic note.

I suppose it smells old-fashioned, even conservative today, but to my nose, it is old-fashioned and conservative in the best possible sense: it smells like something that was made in an era when more time and care was taken with fragrance development, less with fragrance advertising. I hesitate to call Eau Sauvage a unisex fragrance, as there is something rather obviously masculine about it, but women have been wearing it since it was released, just as Roudnitska predicted they would (see Perfume Legends by Michael Edwards, p. 159). It is certainly a regular in my own summer rotation.

Eau Sauvage is readily available online at a reasonable price. Christian Dior also makes an Eau Sauvage Extreme version, but I have never tried it.

Note: image via Parfum de Pub.

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17 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi R! My father has been with a bottle of this for years (as long as I can remember!) and one of my closest friend (woman) wears this.

    I also believe my DH wore it at some point before we met – hence some important people in my life love this fragrance. Personally I do not wear it ever but like it a lot because I think of my Dad when I catch a whiff.

    I think it is rather popular because I was in Printemps today and I got a whiff on my way there. :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi N, It is a definitely a classic. I revere Edmond Roudnitska, in case you can't already tell! I have tried without success to get my husband to wear Eau Sauvage, but he doesn't care for it.

    You didn't happen to smell that Printemps-exclusive by L'Artisan??

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes I did today – was meeting a friend for lunch there – the counter was too busy – so I helped myself – it smells of cucumber (a real put off for me – I adore cucumber sandwiches or just on their own).

    About getting DH to wear perfumes – mine is too particular – only wears things he loves – so now his favs are Nostalgia by SMN and Cefiro by Floris. Believe me I did not have to introduce him to these – he sprayed whenever we visited these boutiques – made a quick decision and stuck by it.

    ;D

  4. Anonymous says:

    N, I am sad to report that my dh wears *whispering: Nautica*. Furthermore, he leaves the bottle in the glove compartment of his car, where it freezes all winter and boils all summer. It is not a happy situation. He does love Hermes Vetiver Tonka as well, but I've hidden the bottle from him because I only have the tiny 1/2 oz and I am rationing it for my own use.

    Thanks for the report on the L'Artisan: cucumber does not sound like something I need!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think Nautica is nice but not sure about the frozen or boiled versions! Good you hide the Vetiver Tonka! ;D

  6. Anonymous says:

    The “extreme” version of this is too medicinal for my taste — it has a “solid” smell…like you've applied a pomade or paste to the skin (no 'sparkle' compared to the original). Have you seen the 34 oz! bottles of Eau Sauvage? They are quite beautiful but WHO could use so much of one scent?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for letting me know, I won't go looking for the Extreme.

    34 oz: I guess then you really can bathe in it! You'd just about have to in order to use it up before it went bad.

  8. Anonymous says:

    HEHE— I buy it in 34 oz size. I keep it in the fridge. It is soooo amazingly delicious on the hottest day to refresh and rejuvenate. Both my husband and I adore it in the summertime straight out of fridge. Its a classic. We do use a 34 oz of it every summer! Heavens Robin — you didn't put Eau de Givenchy on your list. That is the other summer time scent I use and its getting harder to find.

  9. Anonymous says:

    34 oz a summer — well I am impressed! That is a lot of Eau Sauvage :-)

    Love Eau de Givenchy, but my list was very much influenced by the amazing heat & humidity we've had this August. Even Eau de Givenchy was more floral than I could take. An early summer list would have been very different :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Eau Sauvage is a masculine take on the classic eau de cologne. It is simple, citrus-green and has good longevity. It was one of my first scents and it is as good today as it ever was! The Extreme version is not citrusy at all, and is, in my opinion, quite obnoxious.

  11. it_does_wonders says:

    i hear it does wonders for graham!… even more than chance.

    ah, au sauvage!

  12. Na says:

    Robin,

    I tried this one recently. I though it was interesting- it’s fresh but not screechy clean fresh.

    Do you think the hedione is very noticeable?

    • Robin says:

      I do think so, but I haven’t smelled a new bottle recently — it is almost certainly been reformulated.

      • mjcr says:

        I agree about it being reformulated. I have a 50ml bottle which was bought in the summer of 2004 which came in a marbled brown box and has been kept away form light in a cabinet ever since. As its getting pretty low now I recently bought a 100ml bottle in the most recent white packaging.
        To my nose there is a definite difference. The old Eau Sauvage I have is definitely stronger and the heart and base notes have considerable prominence. Its quite possible to see the link with Eau Sauvage Extreme. And I’m taking in to account the age as well.
        The new bottle I have, while still utterly sublime and most definitely Eau Sauvage in all its glory, seems somehow lighter and fresher than my ‘old’ bottle ever was. In fact I detect a very faint powdery note that was never there in Eau Sauvage 5 or 6 years back. Its a very subtle change indeed. I tried to convince myself that its merely the difference in the age of the two bottles or that my nose is not what it used. But it has changed. I still love it but I have that uneasy feeling that when my old bottle runs out I will feel a faint sense of loss.

        • Robin says:

          I have a huge bottle, luckily, and as I have so much perfume, it will be ages before it runs out. Hopefully by then my bottle will be too aged to make any comparisons & I’ll be none the wiser.

          • 50_Roses says:

            I have never smelled a “vintage” Eau Sauvage, so I can’t make comparisons. I did buy my husband a bottle of it in about August 2008, and I love it on him. I find it very sexy on him, but in an understated way.

  13. Jared P says:

    This was the first perfume I bought myself that I truly loved. A classic, and I love the dry-down. My bottle’s run out and I have to get another soon!

    I didn’t like extreme at all. Like one of the other posters said, there was nothing citrusy in it, and it was much too strong.

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