Dior : Eau Sauvage – then and now

Created by : Edmond Roudnitska

Date : 1966

Genre : Citrus floral (jasmine)

Concentration : eau de toilette

With all the talk of past reformulations and IFRA 43, I decided to do a comparison test of Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage when a good friend gave me a bottle of ES circa 1975.  Ghislain swears that the bottle never saw light more than a few minutes at a time… maybe even only seconds.  The bottle was kept in a cabinet for over 30 years and although the box was discarded many years ago, the eau de toilette was protected from damaging light for 99% of its life.

I knew that 2 things happen to perfumes as they age.  First, they darken in colour and second, they start with a nail polish remover opening.  Both happened with the vintage Eau Sauvage.  The colour is now medium amber and the dominant opening note was unmistakable… acetone! In comparison, my 2008 version is a bright light green and the opening exploded into a polished, luscious citrus floral at its best.

Ten minutes into the test, I had no idea where the vintage ES was going… it was dark with ever growing hints of citrus, pine and cayenne pepper.  And, I could smell what its creator Edmond Roudnitska had referred to as a “touch of chypre” (totally absent from the modern formulation).  There was even a powdery subtext.  By now, I’m figuring it’s either moving toward genius or it’s simply ruined.

Thirty minutes later, the acetone disappeared completely and a luscious jasmine-centred floral heart emerged clearly making the vintage Eau Sauvage the better juice… darker, more complex, more layered, more floral, more embellished and more baroque.  The newer ES, which I love and wear often, suddenly reminded me of a Victorian house I once visited that had suffered “minor renovations” by a previous owner.  The room proportions were still perfect but what was likely a curvaceous marble fireplace mantel was now a “modern” brick one and the dark wood bookshelves were painted over.

To resume, the newer Eau Sauvage is still a masterpiece, although when compared to its predecessor, smells more stark and less embellished.  It definitely has more throw (no doubt a remnant of an 80s update) and colleagues tend to notice it when I wear it to work.  The chypre accord is gone completely… as is the powdery character.

For fun I wore the vintage Eau Sauvage to work the next day.  With its added complexity and torque, I felt like I was cruising around in a Ford Mustang from the 60s.

Image : 1966 Ford Mustang

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