Eau Sauvage, considered by Luca Turin to be the stepping stone to its perfected form Diorella, is brightness in a bottle. It starts off with wonderfully crisp lemon and basil top notes enhanced by bergamot and what my Haarman & Reimer guide mysteriously designates as a "fruit note." (Maybe peach or melon?)
Subtle spice and woody notes from patchouli, sandalwood, and oakmoss add dimension to the radiant citrus notes, and coriander and cumin contribute subtle, disquieting funkiness. (I could've sworn I could smell my beloved civet, but it's nowhere to be found in the H&R guide's breakdown of notes.)
These subliminal funk notes evoke the olfactory impression of a freshly showered man who nevertheless retains a whiff of body odor he can't wash off completely. Clean mixed in with a stubborn, human scent. It's a sexy combination, particularly striking in a scent so clean and fresh.
Top notes: Bergamot, lemon, basil, cumin, fruit note
Heart notes: Jasmine, patchouli, carnation, coriander, orris, sandalwood
Base notes: Oakmoss, amber, musk
As in Diorella, Eau Sauvage's notes also recall Southeast Asian cuisine with their spice/herb notes. Citrus, basil, coriander and cumin give it an ever-so-faintly dipping sauce quality, which might not be for everyone, but you'd really have to look for this accord. It's that subliminal.(With its lemongrass note, Monsieur Balmain, composed by Germaine Cellier, creates a similar sense of freshness combined with a whiff of the exotic.)
Although Eau Sauvage has the occasional "not so fresh" feeling, it is missing Diorella's rotting fruit/garbage funkiness. For some, this is a bonus, for others, a loss. Diorella is in my top 10 best perfumes of all time list so of course I love those funk notes, but Eau Sauvage's virtue is its ability to be both crystalline fresh and still interesting — like Chanel's Cristalle, which it actually reminds me of a lot.
Eau Sauvage is considered masculine and Diorella feminine — but really, they're both unisex fragrances, especially Eau Sauvage. I'd be happy to smell Eau Sauvage on a man — or, as I am now, maniacally smelling it on myself. A timeless masterpiece.