How do you think Johnny Depp smells? I only ask because the mercurial character actor, now in his early Fifties, has a new starring role as the face of Dior’s latest men’s fragrance Sauvage. Mostly known for his Keith Richards-channelling, campy pirate Captain Jack Sparrow it might be Rum, Sodomy, and chewing Tobacco, or a sugary-sweet confection of Vanilla, Caramel and Chocolate, like one of Willy Wonka’s creations?
Well, if you believe Dior, Depp is as fresh and clean as the ocean spray.
Let’s start with what François Demachy’s Sauvage isn’t. It’s not a flanker to Eau Sauvage, Dior’s perennial gent’s classic born in the Sixties (rather like Johnny Depp himself). Sauvage is not as wild and untamed as the name, and the presence of Mr. Depp, suggests. Depp doesn’t appear to be wearing Dior Homme in the advert, sticking to his standard red carpet uniform of black jacket, open-necked white shirt and ethnic necklace. So what is Sauvage?
Other commentators have been quick to make comparisons to Bleu de Chanel or Montblanc’s Legend, but my first thought was Blue Stratos, a scent which sank in the Eighties, another victim of a poor reformulation. A quick glance at the notes exonerates this; Sauvage reads like a more streamlined version of Blue Stratos, even down to the unannounced Cedar in the stern. But what’s a bit of wood between friends? It’s the dusty, aromatic base in which Sauvage matures from a young and dumb aquatic into a more distinguished and masculine proposal.
This isn’t the first time a brand, or Dior even, has thrown us a curveball. I’ve already written about the Paco Rabanne/Iggy Pop mismatch, but who expected Rihanna, the face of just about every brand who’ll sign her, to show up fronting Dior’s quixotic Secret Garden campaign, a world away from creative director Raf Simons’ more intellectualised approach to the house’s heritage. YSL Beauty’s elegant gilt livery, compared to Hedi Slimane’s ominous Saint Laurent obsidian, or even Valentino’s Rockstud phenomenon, as far from the chaste piety of the couture catwalk as you can get, and soon to be lensed by walking hard-on Terry Richardson.
So Sauvage is a product composed of contradictions, and if Sebastian Sauve had shown up in the ads in Kris Van Assche’s modernist minimalism I might’ve relented, for Johnny Depp has been woefully miscast in this feature.
Review written by Lee Clatworthy (@bombfashion)