Fourplay: Orange Verte and Eau Sauvage

Today, as we inch toward September and the beginning of a seasonal shift, we´re revisiting two summer scent icons, Hermes Eau d´Orange Verte and Christian Dior Eau Sauvage.

First up: Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte, created in 1979, contains notes of orange, lemon, mandarin, orange blossom, mint, papaya, mango, patchouli, oakmoss.

Patty: Okay, I really like this one, and I used to wear it a lot… by a lot, I mean re-apply about four times a day because it disappears that fast. It’s a great one for wearing when you want something fresh and green and almost no lasting power. I still love it, but I don’t count on it to be my BFFformorethanaminute.

Lee: You know, I’m experiencing fragrance nostalgia with these two babies – both scents I discovered and wore a lot in my mid-teens. Does that make me weird or just a secret hespiridic lover? With this one, I think I loved the bottle as much as the juice – there was something in that colour which called to the latent sophisticate within (he is still yet to emerge). Anyway, this scent is a memento mori, an echo of existence’s evanescence, or, to stop with the fancy crap, just a smell that doesn’t last that long. Half an hour for me. It’s a sour green citrus with something almost unpleasantly sappy (maybe it’s the mint playing tricks on me) in the top notes and a skin brush of oakmoss and other Hermes sophisticated loveliness in its brief drydown. I wish it could be tenacious.

March: the fragrance notes at Basenotes are ridiculous; this does not have papaya and mango in it. I double-checked and Osmoz has almost the same list! I still don´t believe it. Anyway, whenever there´s a later “extreme” version of a scent, as there is for Verte (the Concentree from 2003 is done I think by Patty´s homeslice Jean-Claude Ellena) … where was I? Oh, yes, stronger versions of scents can be a tipoff to the original´s lack of staying power. Lasting power of a fragrance is a problem I have very rarely; if anything I wish some of them would vamoose a little faster. This thing, though – it gives “fleeting” a whole new dimension. I think it was completely out of sniffable range on me in less than 30 minutes, which is unheard of. I can´t say I was sorry. I think to many folks it´s a nice, juicy, very green orange, but to me that “green” bit is almost pure, um, boxwood. No, thanks.

Bryan: When it comes to the Garden of Hesperides, I’ll visit for a few moments, then ask, so where are the big fat white florals? How about a Rose? Something? I think they’re beautiful but easy. By easy, I mean not so difficult to throw together and market as a cologne or summer version of an existing eau. I just don’t swoon over lemon-lime. With Hermes, big shock, the cologne is Goregeous!!! I don’t nurture old-school love affairs with this scent (nor Sauvage for that matter), but I do respect the workmanship and beauty of this classical, and as March puts it, well-bred Cologne. I get a refreshing scent with a cool twist, which I am guessing is the mint. I don’t want to own this, but I wouldn’t exchange it if I received it…..though it would most definitely collect dust. Give me Amazone instead please.

Next up: Christian Dior´s Eau Sauvage, with notes of lemon, rosemary, petitgrain, basil, vetiver.

March: One sniff and I thought, yes, I remember. This is the ultra-man cologne. There is nothing original I can say about this, and that´s okay. It´s the smell of wealth, power, discretion and good breeding. Fittingly, there´s nothing particularly innovative about it. It´s not “sexy” (except to whatever degree you find wealth, power etc. sexy.) It´s too masculine, in a traditional way, for me to feel comfortable wearing it. Is any of that a complaint? No. Eau Sauvage is the sort of fragrance I´d give to an older man and count myself lucky if I got to smell it on him. It´s not dad-ly, by the way. But it´s not studly, either. The top´s very guy-cologne with all that lemon-petitgrain, but the herby-vetiver drydown is … hang on … hang on, I´m reassessing – aiyiyiyiyiyiyiiiii, that´s sexy. Must be the vetiver? Maybe I just think bankers are hot. Lasted all day on me.

Lee: I didn’t realise that at fifteen I was smelling like old Spanish gents taking their evening paseo around their home towns. I suppose that if there’s a MUA ‘old lady’ category, there’s also an ‘old fella’ one, and this baby sits in there as king of the castle. But, but, but… Just goes to show how idiotic such categorisation is. Okay, to be fair: some days ES strikes me as fusty, old-fashioned, ‘not-quite-me’. But, on other days, I recall why it was such a hit with me in my wide-eyed youth. A lemon and herbal beauty that’ll transport you immediately to the classy barber shop on the corner some time in the second half of the twentieth century. You’ve just got to hope that isn’t Kajagoogoo on the radio.

Patty: The quintessential guy scent. Not too Brute-ish, not too studly, nothing feminine in here, it’s all guy. Not hard to figure out why it was so popular for so long. Well-made, classic with just enough sex in it to keep it from the brink of “tailored stiff.”

Bryan: When I imagine the creation of Eau Sauvage, I picture the genius that is Roudnitska summoning his talents for the “masculine” market. I see all the insipid, silly colognes he could have done. Instead, he pushes the gender envelope and throws in some lightly floral notes and says, this is how a person (no gender required) may smell. I don’t think that this scent is “all” guy….not in today’s pathetic masculine pocket industry. (If I sound bitter, I am). This is a gorgeous, classy, timeless point of view. If a woman wears this, she smells gorgeous. If a man wears it, he is polished and beautiful as well. I understand why this is considered an early “unisex” edt. Here again I respect the composition, and while I wouldn’t want this, just as I don’t want a Magrite on my wall, I like to look at it (figuratively speaking of course) once in a while….or smell it on a passer by.
A quick note….Tom and Erin didn’t contact me….they won the tuberoses…please give my your addresses……..I do so want to share.

  • Robin says:

    …And I almost choked on my tea to read March say Eau Sauvage wasn’t sexy! So glad you came to your senses 😉

    Bryan is exactly right, the stuff is gorgeous, and still what I tend to reach for on days when I can’t decide what to wear. It always fits.

    • March says:

      Okay, you’re calling it unisex too. Fine. FINE. I’ll go respray all over and give it a full day of undivided attention. Although thanks to you I’m hankering for a bottle of Guerlain Vetiver. What took me so long?/:)

      • Flor says:

        I guess it depends on the skin. I kind of tend to agree with your first comment about it being very masculine. Maybe because I remember very manly men wearing it (beards, mustaches, etc),I dunno. I sprayed it on not too long ago and found it way too male for me. I do remember reading something from Chandler Burr where he was at a dinner party and there was a French woman wearing it and he said it was very sexy on her. So…… maybe it’s a French thing, maybe it’s a skin thing.

        • March says:

          Oh, is that the frag Chandler was referring to?

          Now I don’t know what to do. (whimpers)

          I still think it’s too masculine for me, but soaking myself in it won’t make me grow testes or anything. Better that than Blue Sugar.

          • Robin says:

            On the one hand, yes, it is the quintessential masculine scent — it reminds me of what men ought to smell like. On the other hand, to my nose anyway, it smells perfect on a woman. There is something very sexy about a woman wearing a dab of “what a man ought to smell like”. Like Guerlain Vetiver, it smells like you’ve borrowed a man’s scent and made it fit. So not a true unisex.

          • March says:

            R, since you’ve put it that way…:)>-

  • Teri says:

    Today is an excellent example of why I so enjoy reading the fragrance blogs. I’m not familiar with the scent of either of these fragrances, although I’ve been aware of their existence. By discussing them, you’ve made me curious and I will have to seek them out to try for myself. I think a healthy sense of curiousity is what keeps the mind young. Thank you for giving my sense of curiousity a ‘nudge’ this morning. :d

    • March says:

      Teri — I’d be curious what you think of these. And, yes, those nudges are always nice, even for me. Robin recommended Guerlain Vetiver to me eons ago, and I’ve just come to love it. And I’ve smelled Eau Sauvage before, too — just not with the specific attention I gave to it this time. I was surprised by the beauty and interest (and sexiness) of the base.

  • Flor says:

    Both scents of my youth – not because I wore them, but because my Dad wore them. We had tons of Eau D’Orange Vert because it used to be given away on planes and my Dad traveled a lot. I got used to it, it was the smell of my Dad coming home (he used to pass on some bottles to us kids). They were 30 ml bottles, really generous. I always have some and I use it during the very hot summers here. I reapply all day long, which is nice because it’s way refreshing and you get to do it throughout the day.

    Eau Sauvage is one I have always loved, I think quite a few people I knew wore it (when I was young, 80’s), because it is very familiar, very safe. Nowadays, I don’t know anyone who wears it. I wonder why…. it’s quite spectacular.

    • March says:

      That is a lovely story about the Verte.

      We need to get someone … Ashton Kutcher? Sleeping with Demi reducing his kid cred? I dunno, who are those other kids? Jesse McCartney? Zack Efron? (the girls are feeding me these names, who ARE these people?) anyway, some young hot boy-toy to start wearing Eau Sauvage with his crew. There’s a fragrance I’d love to smell all over the mall…

  • Marina says:

    I am with March in disbelief about papaya and mango. Like…what???
    I am with Bryan on wanting big fat flowers in the Garden of Hesperides (or the Garden of Amber of Leather of anythng 🙂 )
    I am astonished that you find Eau Sauvage to be all-guy 🙂 Like Bryan, I think it is not! :d I think it is so very wearable for a woman. Not that much more masculine than Diorella, for example.
    Basically, I came to the conclusion that although I love all four of you madly, I am sharing Bryan’s wave-length 🙂

    PS. And what a great image today!

    • March says:

      M, we’ll agree to disagree about this one! I find Diorella fairly masculine…:-” but I think I intensify, in general, masculine notes, just as Tom takes the edge off the skank. I was happy to re-try it, though, because I realized for the first time how beautiful the base was.

      Further thought — I think it’s because the fragrance smells so traditional to me that it’s “too masculine.” I mean, I have no trouble wearing some nasty niche leather or tar, but they’re .. niche. They’re supposed to be weird. Eau Sauvage, on the other hand, has those cologne characteristics over that sexy base, and it feels like a well-cut suit. A men’s suit./:)

  • carmencanada says:

    Just to confirm Bryan’s take on Eau Sauvage : in his book “Le Parfum”, Edmond Roudnitska does indeed specifically write that this was a product “created for men, with the ardent and secret wish to perfume women with it as well”. In this 1988 book (now sadly out of print), he states that Eau Sauvage was a great success with the youth market. I also remember Luca Turin stating that Eau Sauvage was the first to make use of a particular molecule in such strong doses. Was it hedione? I can’t remember, but it was stated as being quite revolutionary. I think the “old guy” connotation comes from the fact that it’s been around and popular for so long that it’s now being worn by older men.

    • Lee says:

      Yep, hedione, D! Your memory is right once again.:d

    • March says:

      Carmen, what a great quote! I think that’s a lovely description. And I’d agree with hedione.

      Yes, the “old guy” connotation is the misfortune of having been worn by young guys who are now older. I’m hoping a new generation of young guys picks it up. If one celeb started wearing it…

  • Judith says:

    Just dropping in to say “hi.” :d These are too citrusy for me, so I will leave them to the guys!

  • carlene says:

    Okay, now, here is something you (or one of your readers) probably know. I have in my possession a bottle of Hermes Aroma d’Orange Verte. It is *completely* different than the Eau. I know, because I sniffed it once, craved it for a while, then couldn’t find it anywhere when I wanted to buy it. All I could find was the Eau (which I’m not a fan of, at least not on myself). But the Aroma, that I love! (I spritzed it on just to write this comment, because I am a geek).

    The Aroma d’Orange Verte is still almost impossible to find. (I don’t even know where mine is from, probably one of those online outlet type places). Do you, or anyone out there, know anything about it? Notes, is it discontinued, etc. I’d appreciate anything. Oh, and this one does last a little longer, too.

    • March says:

      Carlene — you have one called “Aroma”?!?!? Impossible to find?


      Yeah, now I remember …. they d/c’d it because it has, uh, something toxic in it. Best thing to do: contact me via email and I’ll send you my address. Ship it to me unlabeled in a sealed plastic bag, and I’ll take care of it.


      I am such a sack.

      No, seriously, I’m green with envy. Would love to try it. Have never seen/heard of it. Maybe one of my blogmates will chime in.:-?

    • March says:

      PS Orange Verte USED to be (I believe) called Eau d’Hermes or something like that. Like a brand signature. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they foofed around with different iterations over the years. Clearly they knew the original had some issues with lasting power. And I see stuff in places like duty-free shops I never, ever see anywhere else, I think there must be a separate market product.

      • Lee says:

        Eau d’Hermes is an entirely different scent March ( :-b ), and one you’d find much more interesting – hespiridic and soapy top notes but then cumin and leather and animal – and another Roudnitska I believe. First Hermes fragrance I think. happy to send you a drop if you want some – I got a bottle recently for v little dinero.

        According to basenotes, the Aroma was a summer LE…

        • March says:

          Hey, look! I don’t know anything!:o:-” Huh. And if Aroma’s a summer LE of the original, I’d think it would be scentless, more or less. Like spraying yourself with canned air.\:d/

      • donanicola says:

        Hello, something was snagging at my memeory and I checked on Escentual. They have Aroma d’Orange Verte but only in exfoliating gel and rest up massage stuff !!!! um, dunno why. Anyway, as a general comment – love Eau Savuage and its feminine counterpart Diorella. Don’t know the Hermes but the comments on its lack of longevity ring true for me on Eau d’Hermes another Roudnitska masterpiece which is a shame. On the other hand, spritz spritz spritz away!

  • Elle says:

    Always thought the Hermes was pleasant enough, but only that – not enough to ever bother buying. Just didn’t work w/ my skin chemistry.
    Eau Sauvage is what a professor I had a serious crush on wore, so I’m unable to be objective about it. I know, however, that I could never wear it myself. I love and wear many men’s scents, but this one really does seem to require the potential for having a five o’clock shadow.

    • March says:

      “Just didn’t work with my skin chemistry.” Vindication.

      Off the top of my head, it’s the only Hermes I really haven’t liked. 24, Faubourg I have to be in precisely the right mood for, or it morphs into something that clubs me over the head like Baiser du Dragon.

      Oh, no — you can NEVER be objective about scents on those you loved. Some time I think I should do a post on those scents.@};- I wonder, can you ever move on? If you met a man who wore it, would you transfer your affections? Or would it seem wrong?

  • Lee says:

    As a footnote – Rita, you won the Mona di Orio drawing. You have mail.:d

  • tmp00 says:

    Lee- I hope you like Hermes, you are getting some in your package..

    Eau Sauvage, the scent of my yoof. Wonder if I can pull it off…

    I don’t think I am ready for Eau Dotage yet. One hopes..

    • March says:

      T — per my response to Maria: how to get all the college boys to start wearing it? The longer I think about it, the happier it makes me. Wait, how about HIGH SCHOOL BOYS? We could teach them to bathe, use deodorant and Eau Sauvage in place of Axe…

      of course I am not supposed to be thinking of high school boys, except hiring them to mow my lawn.[-( Stopping right now.

      • tmp00 says:


        I was at my high-school age godchild yesterday for her birthday and she was with her (male) BFF. They are babies!

        I think they have to hit college at least before I could possibly get Humbert Humbert on them :d

  • Maria says:

    I nearly choked when I thought I’d read March say that there was nothing original about Eau Sauvage. But, of course, she actually said: “There is nothing original I can say about this.” Okay, my blood pressure is down and the other vital signs are normal. Whew! It really was innovative when Roudnitska created it. Sorry, my misreading. At this point I must confess that an old Cuban guy of my close acquaintance did splash it on his handkerchiefs because my mother and I gave it to him for Father’s Day or some such occasion. He also wore Guerlain’s bee bottle Eau Imperiale.

    Shifting to a Sephora in early June: My husband tried on Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte, and it vanished. He put on the Concentree version, and, oh, how nice and smellable it was. He asked an SA for a sample, and she tried to talk him into the regular version because, she said, that one was the eau de parfum and the Concentree was only eau de toilette. How do these people keep their jobs?

    Speaking of jobs, Patty, you asked what job I’d gotten. At the local branch of the state university, I’m going to be teaching three sections of reading and writing to students who need to have their skills brought up to college level. I’m thrilled (though not about how many hours are actually going to be devoted to this task).

    • March says:

      Maria — glad I didn’t kill you! (and you didn’t have to come throttle me). You understood my first comment correctly. Re: innovative, I suppose I mean it in a more modern sense. It’s not wowing me with an effort to be “current,” which is a comment, not a criticism. (I have no doubt it was innovative when Roudnitska did it.)

      The pleasure for me was, after smelling those oh-so-familiar top notes, really paying attention to the drydown for the first time and realizing how elegant it is. The old, in this case, is new. I would LOVE all the college boys to throw off the yoke of Cool Water and Ralph Lauren and embrace Eau Sauvage in an act of defiance. How yummy would that be?

      Your Concentree story: typical. (I always like to time how many seconds it will take a young, flustered SA to point out to me the ladies’ scents are OVER THERE, I’m in the MEN’S.) BTW Concentree lasted longer on me, but not that much longer, and it’s pretty different IMHO.

      Congrats on your job!