Then And Now: A Buyer’s Guide to The Evolutions of Dior Homme

A comparison of Dior Homme’s three different Eau de Toilette formulations.

Originally released in 2005, the first formulation of this iconic fragrance was a creation attributed to perfumer Olivier Polge. It’s an absolute gem of a fragrance; sweet and powdery, with a beautifully prominent buttery iris accord that gives it so much character and makes it a somewhat prized addition to the collections of fragrance fans worldwide.
However, in 2011, the fragrance was reformulated by Dior’s chief perfumer Francois Demachy. This second iteration of Dior Homme still cited the same ingredient list, but something was different about it. It wasn’t bad, though. Not by any stretch.
Now, in 2020, the fragrance has undergone another reformulation.
This time, the recipe is markedly different.

The bottles have remained somewhat similar, though, which can create some confusion for buyers looking to acquire a specific formulation.

Which Bottle is Which Formula?

Before diving into the nuances of the scents, let’s take a minute to find out how each formulation’s bottle generally differs. As the overall bottle shape has remained the same, it is only in small details – and checking the batch code – that we can tell a difference visually.
Knowing these distinctions can help if you want to buy a bottle but can’t inspect it in person, perhaps because you might be buying from interstate.

Clickable gallery: click to enlarge.

As we can see in the above gallery, the bottle didn’t change much between 2005 and 2011. The most obvious visual difference is in the colour of the stem; with the earlier one being silver, and the later one being black.
When I first visited a Dior counter in a department store to sniff the new version, the attendant tried the line ‘the bottle looks better‘ in their sales pitch. I would disagree.
The bottle isn’t bad, per se, but I definitely don’t regard it as more aesthetically pleasing. If anything, it’s not quite got the same class as its predecessors. I think this stems from the more prominent branding the new design features.

The colour of the stem isn’t necessarily a foolproof method of distinguishing which formula is inside. I’ve seen and heard discussions about 2011 formulation bottles having silver stems, which would likely be a case of the company having an excess of silver stem bottles left and wanting to use them up.
If you want to be sure of the year of the fragrance, the best bet is to use the Cosmetic Calculator website. This allows you to check the manufacture year of the fragrance by entering the batch code.

The 2020 bottle is markedly more distinct compared to the two earlier ones, which is interesting, as the scent changed much more drastically in this recent reformulation.

Dior Homme 2020

Comparing the Three Scents

Both the 2005 and 2011 formulations of Dior Homme are characterised as being powdery-sweet on Parfumo.
Overall, I think the two formulas are fairly similar. However, there is one pivotal difference; the original formulation is quite heavy on the iris. It gives a wonderfully buttery, sweet floral backbone to the whole fragrance.
The 2011 reformulation may hold many similar characteristics, and cite an identical note pyramid, but the iris is notably dialed down. It’s still present, but it doesn’t characterise the fragrance the way it does in the original formula. As a result of this tweak to the formula, I also find that the longevity of the 2011 Dior Homme suffers a reduction compared to the original. It isn’t neutered, and still has good lasting power for an eau de toilette, but I would rate it as a 6.5/10 as opposed to an 8/10 for the original formula.
If you love iris, and you want Dior Homme for the presence of iris in the mix, you’ll want to hunt down an original formulation. However, if you’re not fussed on iris but you just like the overall character of Dior Homme, the 2011 formula is fine. It’s not a bad fragrance at all, and the prices aren’t extortionate like they can be for the 2005 formulation.

Dior Homme 2005

When we move on to the 2020 reformulation, we encounter an entirely different creation. We encounter a fragrance that is Dior Homme in name only.
None of the old DNA exists in this version.
None at all.

This caused quite a backlash from the fragrance community, and it’s incredibly easy to find reviews all over the web bashing the new Dior Homme. People call it all sorts of things. Bland. Boring. Characterless. A husk.
The negative descriptions and insults continue ad nauseam.
However, the reality is that the 2020 edition of Dior Homme isn’t a poorly made fragrance. Sure, it’s nothing like the other scents that have borne the name before it.
Frankly, I’m baffled that Dior released this fragrance under the Homme name, rather than retiring the marque and creating a new name. I understand why Dior would choose to reinvent their offering, as the creative direction of Dior is vastly different now, compared to what it was when Homme was originally released. It still doesn’t make sense why they wouldn’t change the name to something else; the top review of DH 2020 on Parfumo sums up the situation beautifully.

Objectively, the 2020 formulation isn’t a bad fragrance. It smells alright, if a bit lacking in character. It’s closer in character to Sauvage than its predecessors. Homme 2020 is a linear fragrance with a woody-fresh classification; the bergamot and pepper in the opening giving it the Sauvage vibe.
It does have impressive performance, with great projection from the get-go and good longevity. It’s inoffensive, and a crowd pleaser. I do wonder what the logic behind this was, though, as I can see this fragrance attracting some Sauvage buyers but Dior’s masculine line will no longer cater for the portion who like scents like Homme was until now. And, to cap it off, they might lessen the buyer base for their own existing product.
A strange business move.

I’m so glad we’re leaving the era of tiny collars and skinny ties.

Concluding Thoughts

I’m firmly in the camp of 2005 formulation fans, as I really like the strong iris presence in it. However, I know the price and scarcity will put some of you off of it, and if you want something closer to the original you might like to try the Dior Homme Intense formulation from 2011 rather than the eau de toilette from the same year.

As for Dior Homme’s 2020 reformulation, I think it’s like comparing apples and oranges, pitting it against the older formulas. I don’t think they should have released it under the Dior Homme marque.
But, they’re the owners and creators, and I’m just a bloke writing his thoughts on the internet. At the end of the day, they do what fits with their vision, regardless of whether we agree with it. They don’t force us to buy it.
They are the artists, the fragrances are the artworks, and we are the patrons.
We vote with our money.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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