I’ve seen people mention these two scents in the same paragraph. The point is usually one of two possibilities, along the lines of, “if you don’t like Sauvage, go ahead and wear Leather Oud and watch people run away from you,” or, “how could a house that released Leather Oud release Sauvage not long thereafter?” The obvious thought here is that Sauvage was targeted at the masses, especially younger guys who think a scent will help them in their romantic quests, whereas LO is only for those who want something unique and don’t care what others think of the scent they are wearing. One point I have made is that if Dior (or whatever corporate entity makes the decisions) is willing to release a scent like LO but has to also release a scent like Sauvage, why shouldn’t we all embrace this? Sure, you might work in an office where one guys bathes in Sauvage, but that would likely be some other scent you don’t like (if Sauvage was never released)!
As of this writing, the last two reviews of Sauvage on Fragrantica.com do a good job of summing up the “two sides:”
in this non-innovative competitive market, being a market leader is a pretty difficult job and for this reason I admire this creation from Dior and the contemporary absolute genius perfumer Monsieur Demachy. Agree or Disagree this creation is a super crowd pleasing perfume around the world, making lots of money for Dior and changed the market rules and trends, brought up Ambroxan as a key ingredient to the industry as well. Dior Sauvage is not an easy forgettable perfume. It is a revolutionary product that won’t leave the scene for years.
How could the man who penned Leather Oud and the house behind a modern classic like Dior Homme and a portfolio of legends commit such a crime against humanity?
Sauvage is the scourge of this age, tailored to fit the shallow and self-absorbed trend of the time. Grace, manners, style, respect, balance, wisdom, and art? Out with all that, now all that matters is who is the loudest for the longest time. And Sauvage is loud. I long thought, that Paco Rabanne’s Evil Million was the ultimate olfactory WMD, but somehow Demachy and Dior trumped it by several lengths!
The ambrox overload puts everyone on the vicinity of the “wearer” in a death grip, that would make even Darth Julius Vader himself give a respectful tip of the helmet. Usually ambrox is a great material to work with, as it enhances everything with an organic, soft and exalting glow, but its beauty and purpose has been corrupted, transforming it into a piercing weapon from which there is no escape.
The reviewer in the first passage quoted is outright wrong. Adventurer II by Eddie Bauer also has an intolerable (to my nose) dose of ambroxan, and I would be surprised if there wasn’t another scent that also has such a dose, but was released before Adventurer II. No matter; if you like it, you like it – that’s fine with me. What I do find strange is how so many who seem to think of themselves as aficionados (or at least very knowledgeable about scents) are so quick to think Sauvage is unique or special. Instead, they should say something like, “I only really sample the major releases, and compared to the others this is quite different, at least in terms of the use of ambroxan.” Even when people like myself point out that this is not a new idea, they keep saying the same thing, as if that will make it true (perhaps this is appropriate in this new age of “fake facts,” where a recent poll found that a clear majority of Republicans, for example, thought that the nation’s colleges/universities are doing more harm than good)!
But I don’t want to pursue this further; instead I want to talk about why I enjoy LO so much (note that I am referring to a 2011 formulation). Fragrantica has the following notes for it:
…leather and civet with noble agar and other woody nuances (patchouli, sandalwood, birch, cedar and vetiver). There are also ingredients of cardamom, cloves, amyris, beeswax, amber and labdanum, which complement this warm composition.
So there’s a lot that can “go wrong” here, such as the usual ‘chemical oud” note, but what I get here is what I want in a designer scent, which is excellent balance among the notes, along with naturalness (the opposite of Sauvage, to my nose). Over time, it gets better, and my “mind’s nose” is able to appreciate the nuances that such a scent possesses. Just as I think one note might be a bit too strong, another note comes forward, which is what I think of as great dynamism. Like Sauvage, a little goes a long way. I have sampled so many oud, leather, etc. scents, but there simply is no comparison. LO packs all kinds of “heavy” notes (no tobacco, though) together and makes it work exactly the way I want it to.
Of course, LO is more expensive than Sauvage, but there is a similar scent, One Man Show Oud Edition, by Jacques Bogart, that is selling for very low prices at the moment. It’s goes on similarly, but after a while the chemicals become obvious to me (iso e super in particular). However, it might work just as well for you! For me this is an excellent example of why an aficionado (who isn’t poor, obviously) would pay more for a scent that is similar to a cheap one (I obtained some LO in a swap). By contrast, I have so often thought to myself that a “cheapo” was just as good as an expensive niche scent. And this is not a new phenomenon, for instance I enjoy Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur more than Bois du Portugal (at least the Aladdin or older formulations of PCPM). There’s another example of niche being much better (to me) than designer or below, and that is Cheat Day, by Haught Perfumes, which possesses powerful notes of waffle cone, chocolate, and coffee. Rebelle by Rihanna has similar notes (no waffle cone but both have strawberry and the other two notes), but I have to strain to detect the notes I enjoy most in Rebelle.
What I get from Sauvage is a scent like Wings for Men by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, that is a “chemical nightmare” (though one that many think of as pleasant, fresh, etc.) that is very strong – it’s what I think of as a “drug store scent” (that, or an older scent that used to be quite good but has been reformulated and/or weakened significantly, is what I tend to think of as “drug store”). As some have argued, the brains of many “youngsters” today seem to have been “wired” to appreciate chemicals like ambroxan and “laundry musks” in large amounts, so it’s really not fair to tell them they have bad taste (as some have), and olfactory fatigue can also play a major role (for those who nearly bathe in such scents). Just like popular music today is often said to be awful by the older crowd, young adults need time to sort things out. Many will say things like, “I can’t believe I ever enjoyed wearing that scent” (or listening to that music) when they get older, but others will persist with their preferences (as many wear Cool Water still, which seems to be loaded with dihyromyrcenol, at least in my “vintage” bottle). Arguments can be made about why a scent is tasteful while another is not, but if you are going to say this to someone who can’t even comprehend your case, I would say you are wasting your time. Just enjoy what you enjoy!