Christian Dior Fahrenheit for men ~ fragrance review

Christian Dior Fahrenheit cologne for men

As far as perfume shopping is concerned, you will not often find me wandering in The Realms of the Well-Known (department stores). Call me a ‘niche-picker’ since you will find me scouring little boutiques (both brick-and-mortar and online) for unusual and little-known fragrances. Niche scents are usually expensive (rarely available at a discount price) and are often hard to find (and sample), so it’s always a pleasant surprise to find a ‘mainstream’ scent with a distinctive character.

In the early nineties, I bought my one and only bottle of Fahrenheit by Christian Dior. I enjoyed it but when the bottle was empty I didn’t restock the fragrance; the world was full of scents I wanted to own and there was no time for repeats. In preparing to review Fahrenheit 32 (posting tomorrow), I decided to revisit Fahrenheit. It was a happy reunion.

Fahrenheit was introduced in 1988 and became a runaway hit around the world; it had the most successful initial three-month sales of any fragrance launch up to that time. (It beat the previous champ: Poison.) According to Dior, Fahrenheit sold 1.4 million bottles in October-December of 1988 in Europe alone (Poison had sold 1.2 million bottles in the first three months of its 1985 European launch.) (via Women's Wear Daily, 2/13/1989)

Fahrenheit’s listed ingredients are bergamot, honeysuckle, hawthorn, sandalwood, nutmeg, violet, cedar, patchouli and tonka bean. Florasynth perfumer Jean Louis Sieuzac developed Fahrenheit, and at launch, Maurice Roger, the president of Parfums Christian Dior, was quoted in Women's Wear Daily (9/9/1988): "For several years the men's fragrance market has been flooded with cypress or fern extracts enhanced by cocktails of aromatic notes — compounds of lavender, rosemary, sage, etc.” Roger said Fahrenheit was “built on a rather floral concept, but not a traditional women's floral like jasmine. Honeysuckle is a rather wild, natural floral. My observation of the market was that there are a lot of very similar scents based on Mediterranean cocktails. If you test all the recent introductions, you will find very similar propositions."

What a notion: a perfume house wanting to create something original, something different from what was readily available! Monsieur Roger — je t’aime.

Fahrenheit opens with vibrant honeysuckle, bubbly bergamot and ‘subdued’ hawthorn. In anticipation of writing this review, I visited the arboretum to sniff the hawthorn trees that blossomed in late April. Hawthorn flowers smell better “on the air” than when you put your nose right on the blooms. Hawthorn is powdery, but strong; its scent reminded me of crushed seashells. If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., you’ve probably seen paths and driveways paved with shells. The scent of hawthorn blossoms reminded me of the smell of a seashell path warmed by sun (with a faint floral aroma wafting over it). I assume the hawthorn in Fahrenheit was softened considerably to better mix with the delightful honeysuckle and bergamot notes.

Fahrenheit’s scintillating, but fleeting, floral opening leads to an unusual, longer-lasting nutmeg-violet accord. This strange accord is hard to describe; to me it smells like an old wooden telephone pole coated with dried tar! In Fahrenheit’s final stage of development, ‘dusty’ cedar and sandalwood and muted patchouli produce dry and warm aromas that remind me of a place where earth, rocks and chapparal bake under a summer sun. Each stage of Fahrenheit is a pleasure to smell.

Though Fahrenheit has been around for almost 20 years, it smells “fresher” (more modern) and better than the majority of men’s scents being released today…mainstream or niche.

Tomorrow: a review of the new Christian Dior Fahrenheit 32.

Note: image via Images de Parfums.


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30 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    To say that I love Fahrenheit would be a huge understatement. I absolutely adore it. And even that is an understatement :-) I am so glad that you revisited and reviewed it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately it gives a sense of petrol on me, when first I put it on so I prefer to enjoy it on others, however it is so unique and was so iconoclastic that it makes one lament the passing of the desire to really create something different and unique. Of course with sooooo many releases a year nowadays that's almost impossible, yet we still live in hope…maybe we're too naive or too optimistic.

    I did like Fahrenheit 32 (my review of it was favourable on the whole) although I prefered Fleur du Male by Gaultier over it, which tackles a similar theme. Looking forward to your impressions.

  3. Anonymous says:

    After my first date with a certain man, I had to get to the mall the very next day just to get my nose on this again. When the SA sprayed the card I just closed my nose and inhaled… it was the sexiest thing I had ever smelled. I think I smelled that card 200 more times that day, I longed to smell it on him again. Luckily for me I get to smell it every morning of my life, on my husband, when he kisses me goodbye and goes off to work. 7+ years and I still get weak when I smell it. That's a great fragrance! Now, if only I could find one that could hold my attention and keep it for THAT many years:-(

  4. Anonymous says:

    I know you love it and it WAS nice to smell it again, K

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was in San Francisco the last couple of days and Fleur du Male seems to be selling VERY well and certainly LOTS of shelf space has been devoted to it. I just saw one little display of the new Fahrenheit, K

  6. Anonymous says:

    K: Oh no, not even ONE scent for yourself that comes close to your love of Fahrenheit on your hubby? But I understand, I don't think I've ever worn a scent for seven straight years without a break before, K

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes Kevin, I am one of those tormented with the words “signature scent” or “Holy Grail”. I wish I could find one. I want people to associate a certain (hopefully good!) smell with only me, I would like to do all of my travelling with only one bottle of perfume. I have been obsessed for the past 6 or 7 years with this! And the sickest part is, the more I discover is out there, the more I am sure that it's lurking out there… somewhere! I would seriously like to end this obsession. Probably hard for anyone reading this to understand, but it's true!

  8. Anonymous says:

    K: a couple of my friends have signature scents (Coco and Aromatics Elixir) and it's true, whenever I smell those scents I think of my friends. But that does not stop me from taking each friend perfume shopping at every opportunity! Even deluging them with samples. After years of doing this they still only wear one scent — but always make pretend they are excited to look at/smell other scents with me…. I've about given up. But I guess a life with one scent would be easy and even if the scent were exorbitantly priced you'd save money in the long run. Good luck, K

  9. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to like Fahrenheit when it first came out, because it's tremendously interesting and unlike anything else on the market, but on my skin it had the persistent and STRONG smell of celery. There was nothing pleasant about it at all. I had bought the EDT and the shower gel, and I traded away the scent, but the shower gel worked well on me, which, bafflingly, is often the case. (I love Xeryus Rouge but it's impossible for me to wear: the shower gel, on the other hand, is amazing.)
    I really love Fahrenheit 32. Once again, it's like nothing else on the market (except, possibly, Fleurs de Male, which I haven't had the chance to try yet). This one sits well on my skin, unlike the original.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I hope you get to try Fleur du Male soon, esp. since you like Fahrenheit 32. In a FdM-Fah. 32 smack-down I'm curious to see which one would 'win' with you as referee. On my skin, the orange blossom in FdM is much more apparent/dominant. K

  11. Anonymous says:

    I've always hated this scent. I don't know why it's coming back in the news again other than it's recent incarnation called Fahrenheit 1000 or something like that….

  12. Anonymous says:

    Fahrenheit has always been a best seller in men's fragrance since it was introduced, but Fahrenheit 32 may not last so long (but what do I know), K

  13. Anonymous says:

    Kevin,

    Great review and a lovely scent! A lady friend of mine is seeking to replace her beloved Fahrenheit with something like it, as she is put off by too much Fahrenheit around these days. Could you recommend any similar fragrances? Thanks!

  14. Anonymous says:

    air ocean: you're in luck if you are in Europe/Canada…if you are in the U.S. you will have to wait a few months. An accord in HeWood by DSquared is very evocative of Fahrenheit…two people who love Fahrenheit noticed a similarity between the two perfumes. And HeWood IS unisex (no matter the macho name). I honestly can't think of any other scents that remind me of Fahrenheit…it is so original (a good thing of course, but a CURSE if it's popular) K

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am in Europe and have actually smelled HeWood already, but did not think it anything special. Will have to retry, apparently.

    And thank you again!

  16. Anonymous says:

    A perfumista in Paris told me that Dior is about to launch a new Vaporisateur for both Fahrenheit and Fahrenheit 32. In limited edition. Launch in end of march or april. Il someone has some details about this, I will be pleased.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I haven't seen anything about it yet, but will be on the lookout, thanks!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Caron's l'Anarchiste is a cooler scent but shares a similar oddness with Fahrenheit. I think the two scents are terrific bookends and often spritz one each on the backs of my hands.

    Your pal might also consider CdG's Garage as well, as this also boasts the petrol note of Fahrenheit. (Though I like CdG's Tar better than Garage, which has a more fragrance-like dry-down compared to Garage's chemical heart.)

  19. Anonymous says:

    airocean: A PS: while HeWood has a floral aspect of Fahrenheit, I just noticed the tar/fuel note of Fahrenheit in Bvlgari's 2005 Aqva Pour Homme (NOT the new Aqva Pour Homme Marine). You may want to sniff that one.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The new “Vaporisateur de Voyage” 40 ml Fahrenheit and Fahrenheit 32 can be seen on Marionnaud's website.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I bought this socalled common parfume at Douglas, although I dislike this store and therefore prefer to buy those character-performing goods at little boutiques, but well, what should I say, it was a nice scent which normally wont be found in those stores where more and more pre-prepared average-scents are offered at comparingly high prices….I often think that those parfum cartel's like P&G Prestige only support a lack of creativity because they are to much afraid of flops…..but Fahrenheit was a good invention.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This is my first and only bottle of aftershave thus far. I picked it out in Belk's last Christmas because I wanted to spend some of my cash on something like this. I sniffed about 20 different ones before I got to Fahrenheit and it really stood out to me, plus I wanted to go old school so I didn't want a cream. As a neophyte olfactor, I had no idea what I was looking for in a scent, but after reading this I must have been on the right track. Everyone around me likes it and no one has ever said anything negative. I am also glad that I found such a unique scent. All of the other ones smelled really moist (if that makes any sense). I really liked the harsh beginning (someone above said something about tarred pine logs and I agree) and I have now found the subsequent notes since reading this review. After a year I think it is time to branch out, so any suggestions or starting places? Also, can you wear cologne and aftershave (I really hate having too much scent)?

  23. cyprus1 says:

    I know that I am late to this discussion, but I have been trying to replace my favourite fragrance Ultima II Sheer Scent for Her by Revlon. It has been discontinued for a couple of years now and I have found it impossible to buy anywhere on the planet. What I have been told though, is that Fahrenheit has very similar notes, so I tried it out. On first sniff, I was excited, but within seconds the excitement was gone, it’s just not Ultima II Sheer Scent. Close, but just not quite there. So Kevin, I think that your lady friend would love this, if she could manage to find a bottle.

    • Kevin says:

      Cyprus1: sorry for the confusion in the long ANONYMOUS section since we switched from Blogharbor. .. but I hope the person whose lady friend was searching for a Fahrenheit replacement finds you comment!

  24. Dzingnut says:

    Hi Kevin: I too get that “telephone pole coated with tar” feeling, though my brain translates it into creosote. I can’t decide if I like it, or hate it .. but it certainly sticks in my mind (that old commercial “I can’t seem to forget you/Your Wind Song stays on my mind”, I am dating myself!!!). I know what this “do I or don’t I” really means … I’m gonna buy a bottle! Thanks for leading me to another intriguing scent!

  25. afraafra says:

    Fahrenheit has only a slight family resemlence to Fahrenheit 32, the latter is VERY similar to JPG Fleur du Male IMO.

  26. I adore Fahrenheit – the first time I smelled it I thought no other man’s perfume had the appeal or personality that Fahrenheit has.Too bad almost everyone seems to wear it lately, it’s ruining the charm.

  27. Subhuman says:

    After reading all the raves of Fahrenheit, I tried a whiff at a department store a few months back. My initial reaction was…”oh my God, it’s old man stink.” I couldn’t believe how peppery, smoky, and…well, STANKY it struck me. I kept sniffing my wrist as I walked through the mall and each time was freshly amazed that Fahrenheit was such a huge seller. And yet…like so many women who smell Angel for the first time, are turned off, but oddly compelled to go back and try it again, I want to give Fahrenheit another go. I’m really jonesing for an earthy, dark, smoky fragrance as of late, what with the cold weather and my own expanded fragrance experience in the past year. (Plus, I feel that sort of scent fits my personality more than the ultra-clean, sporty, marine godawfulness omnipresent in the men’s fragrance market.) The IDEA of Fahrenheit appeals to me immensely, I’m just split on the real-life incarnation. But if I go back to the store and experience a revelation, I’ll be sure to report back.

  28. MatteoMateo says:

    There is no need for any other fragrance. This is what I smell like.

  29. myson says:

    Recently been away and I purchased 2 bottles of Fahrenheit as u luv the smell but Hav noticed it is now weak in strength and not as strong as I hav had before is this right or hav I got a bad bottle can u help

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