There are some people who don’t seem to understand the purpose of reviews, and in fact there is a TV show on Comedy Central, not surprisingly named “Review,” that pokes fun at various aspects of reviewing. On this show, the reviewer attempts to do things like live the life of a cult leader, usually with at least some humorous moments (some of the “reviews” are much funnier than others). The one point about the show that’s important here is that many of us would be interested in knowing what it’s like to do this or that, but we have limitations. We might not have the time, nor the money, nor the physical ability, or we might believe the risk is too great. With scents, there are perhaps 2,000 releases each year, and if you already have quite a few bottles, how would you sample even half of these, assuming you had more than enough money to do so?
You could do what many reviewers seem to do, which is to spray some on a piece of paper and come to a firm conclusion in less than a minute. Indeed you might be able to detect some aroma chemicals used and the general idea of the scent – I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few can do that with Sauvage, perhaps only missing whether the drydown is “generic woody/amber” or something at least a little more interesting. I might do this, and in fact several years ago I did, but decided it was a waste of my time, as hardly any seemed to be worth purchasing, and in the few cases that I thought there might be promise, I didn’t think it was unique enough relative to what I already possessed. Therein lies perhaps the biggest problem with a release such as Sauvage – what does it have to offer someone like me, and after looking at the list of notes, none of which is compelling to me, why wouldn’t I think that the reviews, which seem to be as uniform as I can remember for any new release, are good enough for my purposes?
As I said on a Basenotes.net thread, in response to someone who claimed that it appeared at least a few people were “coming around” to liking Sauvage:
I think what happens for many is that there are high hopes at first, and they spent $80 or more. Weeks or months later, if they didn’t get rid of the bottle and go on to other things, they lose most or all of their anger and can accept that it is “nice” and at least useful in some social situations. That’s when the reviews get more positive, and threads about versatility possess posts naming this kind of scent (from what I’ve read of it).
And another point is that some people are only concerned about how others will perceive the scent – they don’t care about how it smells, so long as it comes across as “nice: to them (since they don’t want to spray something on that will make them feel nauseous, obviously). I have often walked past someone in a store or other public place and thought to myself, “that person must be wearing a scent I have that is similar but never wear – it’s pleasant in this context, but it’s awful to wear, unless perhaps one was to do a lot of walking around during that day.” My walking ability is limited, so that is certainly a factor for me, but the key point is that if these kinds of scents were enjoyable I would wear them. A scent can be “nice,” “likable,” or “pleasant,” but not enjoyable, in my way of thinking. For one to be enjoyable, it would have to last long enough (the part I enjoy would have to last around five hours minimum) and it could not become irritating, as so many of the “fresh” scents do (assuming they possess reasonable longevity).
So, sure, I would be very surprised if I didn’t like Sauvage, but that’s not what I’m seeking, and for someone to presume to know what I’m seeking (as some seem to) is laughable, considering all that I’ve written on the subject on this blog and the major fragrance sites! I’ve got Zen for men, I really like it, but I don’t really enjoy it, for example, and I’m be more than happy to swap it off for a “vintage great” I don’t yet own, a niche scent that I could see myself come around to enjoying (such as Chergui, which I have yet to find especially compelling), or even a recent non-designer, such as Ferrari’s “oud” scent. I have no doubt Sauvage was designed to be a mish-mash/pastiche type scent meant to “tick all the boxes” for the “masses,” perhaps especially those who might be seeking a gift for their “significant others.” I have nothing against this, and in fact, as I’ve said before, I think this is great for the “hobby” in general. I might even acquire a bottle in a swap and then re-swap it for something I can enjoy! There’s no reason for negative emotions to be generated here – “it’s all good” – so long as you are realistic! For example, if you didn’t like any of the “Rocky” movies, do you need more than a few reviews to help you decide that “Rocky 82: The Geriatric Center Food Fight” is your cup of tea?
NOTE: Some have said there is a “barbershop”/fougere element to Sauvage, and all seem to agree that there is a clear fruity element. A “generic” drydown is a very common comment, and the interesting thing (for me) is that when I hear such things I am tempted to layer some of my scents in a way to see if can create such a combination with ones I already own. By contrast, the construction of Sauvage would not work for me (again, assuming the large number of reviews are anywhere near accurate), because even if I liked the first hour or so, the generic drydown would not be acceptable – I would view it as a stupid waste of money! I’ll also point out that there is a kind of “credible witness” element to how I assess reviews. Some seem clearly biased, but then there are others that I view as more likely to be accurate, such as this at BN (the member who wrote it joined the site in 2004 and has over 2500 posts):
Doesn’t seem like a chameleon to me. People are just trying too to find comparisons. I don’t think it smells like any one fragrance in particular, but its accords are just way too familiar to be even remotely interesting.
It begins with standard bergamot, which in itself is quite enjoyable. But in few minutes overload of ambroxan starts to rear its ugly head. Amber is accompanied with your standard woody base. Guess what is the 4th player I can instantly detect? That’s right, pepper it is. Base is very persistent and lacks naturalness and vibrancy, it just sits on the your skin, doing nothing and going nowhere. Eventually I did wash it off, but it’s not horrible, just very tedious affair. When the citrus fades, it is replaced by something else slightly bitter and fruity. This keeps the sweetness of the amber from becoming too much and makes it kind of nice to smell in the passing. But when you are exposed to it for a longer period, it becomes so very tiring.
Given my olfactory experiences to date, this comment seems to “nail it.”
UPDATE: On another blog someone said this about my comments on Sauvage:
The question as to what it has to offer the writer can never be answered, as long as he refuses to try it.
Who is refusing anything? Have I “refused” to sample about 2000 other scents released in the last year or so? Some people seem to be really “hard of thinking!” Send me a sample, Dior, and I’ll be happy to try it and review it here! In the meantime, I’ll likely continue my “blind buying” adventures, which have been very successful, some of the latest ones being Black Sugar, Magnet, Bronze (Ellen Tracy), Playboy London Men, Unbreakable, Truth or Dare Naked, Diesel Green for Women, Cuba Prestige, and Rebelle. I mention these because all of them combined cost me less than a new bottle of Sauvage (including shipping!), and I’m assuming the Sauvage price is $64 for 100 ml, total. By contrast, the scents I’ve acquired by swap, which I didn’t blind buy because I didn’t think I’d like them, have a much lower “success rate.” I’ll stick with my method unless and until it no longer works!
UPDATE: Sauvage seems to be picking up more positive votes now at Fragrantica.com, my guess being because those who were disappointed already “vented” and some have decided to live with the “positive” aspects of their purchase, and a review that was posted today (9/21/15) there makes this quite clear:
Women love the scent of this on their Men…
Do I like it? This isn’t the worst fragrance I’d ever smelled in my life, so yes, I do like it.
Will I buy a bottle of it? Already have!
There are a huge number of scents (including “cheapos”), for example, that I could say weren’t the worst I have ever smelled, but that I would never consider wearing. Why would I spend the retail price and buy a bottle of Sauvage if this was the case? I wouldn’t spend $3 per 100 ml on a scent that I couldn’t say anything better about than he did about Sauvage! This is exactly the kind of statement that would lead me not to buy a scent, even at a discount. Unless I could buy a bottle of this kind of scent for less than half of what it’s “street value” was (so that I should be able to swap it for something I’d like and save money on that other scent), I would not even think of a purchase.