Dior Decisions: Bois D’Argent vs. Dior Homme Intense
Much has been said in the fragrance blogosphere about the apparent must-have scent of most men’s fragrance reviewers: Dior Homme Intense. Nearly as much has been said about the original and reformulated versions of the scent, with many siding with the original formulation (barely available, difficult to find, truly the domain of collectors). When considering what seems to have quickly become nearly as iconic as Fahrenheit in the minds of many, I decided a slightly different take was in order.
Previously, I’d chosen to review two Dior Collection Privee scents, Leather Oud and Ambre Nuit, though I’d neglected to give much press to another Privee scent: Bois D’Argent (trans: Silver wood), the 2004 release to the collection. Both are suitably masculine, both woody fragrances, both make use of iris as a core note. Both are similar concentration eau de parfums. So how would they compare against one another?
A side-by-side match-up was in order.
First up was Bois D’Argent. The Collection Privee fragrances, compared to many other lines, represent good value even if they’re not widely available. Fortunately, that is changing with wider distribution on the horizon and now in outlets such as Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Bois D’Argent is a pleasant scent, though a somewhat light touch from its opening. The dominant notes open with iris florals, cypress and juniper, then transform into a more resiny yet warm base with leather added as an element. While the notion is one of a cool opening transforming into a warm dry-down, something odd happened on the way there. While a very elegant scent, it’s also a very light treatment, nearly sheer in its execution. Sillage was barely detectable, and longevity turned out to be less than expected when compared to the previous two Privees I’d reviewed. Leather Oud and Ambre Nuit set the reference point for my initial expectations, and Bois D’Argent didn’t deliver against that goal.
Next was Dior Homme Intense. Let me first share the experience, and it’s one that I shared with my wife as participant and co-reviewer. Where Bois D’Argent was the mild and sheer exploration of the common notes — iris, et al — Dior Homme Intense was as its name implies, more bombastic.
And that description is intended as a positive to the overall experience. While I won’t try to proclaim expertise on what notes bring the impression to life, many have suggested that it has a characteristic smell ascribed to lipstick. It shares a waxy texture and aroma that seems similar, but lurking beneath is a warm musky attribute that is offset by cedar and lavender. It’s warm but not cloying or enveloping.
To be fair, Dior Homme Intense gets an immense amount of praise from those who’ve reviewed and included it on numerous Top-10 lists. I view those with a healthy degree of skepticism, some of it deserved when reviewers wax poetic over the scent. How would I describe it? I’ll talk about that momentarily.
Comparing the two experiences, I gave myself the option of selecting only the one I both truly liked and would personally wear. For me, the decision was easy: Dior Homme Intense. For my wife, there was also a clearly superior fragrance in her view, and it was also Dior Homme Intense, and we agreed on the reasons:
- Quality of the end product. Side-by-side, the notes were more solid, distinguishable, and didn’t simply vanish among its own sheerness.
- Projection and longevity. Bois D’Argent had its 15 minutes of fame, almost literally. After a very short period, it was imperceptible. Dior Homme Intense stuck around for a while, fully developed, and projected within arm’s reach. It fulfilled its task.
- Price point. The 100ml of DHI was $72 (plus applicable tax). The 125ml of Bois D’Argent, $155 (plus tax). While neither is expensive compared to many other scents in the luxury/designer realm, my expectations of the Collection Privee were set slightly higher based on exclusivity and price. Bois D’Argent fell short.
Neither are poor showings, but to my own surprise, Dior Homme Intense was simply a better choice in all aspects. Our ratings were as follows:
Bois D’Argent: 2/5.
Dior Homme Intense: 4/5.
The last words: In all of the rave reviews of Dior Homme Intense, it seems to have been elevated to a lofty height, rendering it a target of its own criticism as being ‘over-hyped’ (including my own comments). It’s a good, perhaps even excellent, scent. It’s worthy of praise. I’ve noted my own skepticism in such reviews in that many seem to echo the same themes, making each subsequent review suspect. By no means is Dior Homme Intense the ‘utopian’ men’s fragrance, but it deserves much of the praise accorded it.
Will I say it’s been over-hyped? Yes. Nonetheless, it’s still brilliantly executed and a fantastic example of a luxury/designer scent worthy of recognition. There are better and much worse on the market, but Dior Homme Intense is still a laudable creative effort.