While this is not inherently bad-smelling, there is nothing about it that draws me in for a second wearing. The cactus fades into a powderyness that comes off a bit dated and "old-mannish". And the pimento isn't quite as spicy or distinct as I was hoping. Maybe it needs amber or something a bit heavier to hold it together.
Givenchy's Xeryus Rouge is a masterpiece if you're prepared to accept a few caveats.
It's not for everybody. Xeryus Rouge has one of the sharpest, most pungent openings of any fragrance I've encountered. It's likely to offend those with olfactory sensitivities in way quite similar to Fahrenheit. Cactus and tarragon dominate the top notes.
It's fickle. Applied sparingly, Xeryus Rouge is a luxurious and unique scent that possesses a round, synthetic, fruity opening that quickly dries down to sandalwood-dominated base notes with an occasional waft of cedar. Applied generously, it turns into a mess of synthetic geranium with very little of the red pepper accords. It can get very cloying very quickly. This is a two-spray-max sort of fragrance.
I cannot detect the citrus or musk notes that some other reviewers do: they're simply not part of the formulation.
I procured a sample of Xeryus Rouge as a teenager in the mid-90s. I remember it being magical and I often wore it to bed for comfort while reading on rainy nights. It's certainly capable of eliciting wonderful memories and associations; it's not a scent that you'll easily forget. While I give Xeryus Rouge an unequivocal thumbs up, be aware that you must apply it judiciously and it is definitely NOT a safe blind buy. However - perhaps due to a certain degree of nostalgia - this strong, fruity, flowery, and woody fragrance holds a special place in my collection.
This scent has delighted me for years, and is still a go-to for me. Xeryus Rouge is a tangy, woody fragrance that has a youthful character (read: may not suit all ages), but for me in my 40's I still enjoy it.
And you can't go wrong with kumquat and cactus! ;^>
In this review I am going to do a head to head comparison of Ouragan and Xeryus Rouge because they are so similar.
The departures are essentially the same, Orange Tango; pimento, thin exotic fruit and citrus in XR, and OU has bergamot, mandarin and orange, and some sharpness, but here its more restrained.
There is the same formica-like, clear sour woody-plastic off note in both of them.
They both also have an aromatic herbal component but Xeryus Rouge is dryer, more acidic and spare and has better definition. Ouragan leans more towards the aromatic and then gets sweeter and more floral as time goes on, spreading wider, getting softer and becoming warmer with spice.
OU evolves in the direction of sweetened geranium. This makes for a decent transition which moves the profile through from citrus down to the sweet ambery powdery base.
By contrast there's a problem with the central section of XR. Its a version of Xeryus, but the woody musky heart is far back in the mix and reads only as a weak floral element. Although its detectable on paper, in practice the heart stays very much in the background and as a consequence the profile feels hollow. There is only this recessive mild floral and sweet woody musk accord to connect the pimento top with the powdery vanillin and balsamic base.
The two works very much prioritise opposite ends of the formula. XR spins out the long lasting trim head, pulling it down over the sweet fluffy woody core, and there's really no base to speak of.
OU inevitably diverges from this pattern because its a regular three part structure with a fully worked out base. The base is where OU reaches its climax, a dark woody sandal and amber overlay accompanied by a strengthening warm spicy note. There's also possibly vetiver to give an extra demerara sugar fullness to what is a comparatively much richer and more successful drydown.
The heads are different in detail but broadly similar in outline, piquant orange citrus. From below the top and down to the base the central core of both works is very similar, except that OU has been given some extra padding. Its only in the base that they really diverge.
So, it seems likely that OU was, shall we say, inspired by XR. One is more powerful, piquant and spare, the other a sweeter, bland and fuller version of the same subgenre or species, namely woody citrus (powdery).
One point of criticism; the off note is present in both formulae but in XR its more intrusive, stronger and longer lasting. There's no place for the off note to hide in the compact profile of XR, but the broader and more fluffy body of OU manages to cover it up sooner. And so, to be consistent I've had to mark XR down.
Another point; Ouragan is available in supermarkets and costs a third of what Xeryus Rouge was selling for in the perfume shops.
In summary; OU is the more mainstream, safe, fuller and more natural smelling of the two, while XR is more adventurous, more aggressive, more spare and definitely more synthetic.
Today XR could be read as a signpost saying Sauvage this way ---> 11 (years).
Xeryus Rouge - Givenchy 1995 **
Ouragan - Masculin by Bourjois 1997 ***
BLUF: Raucous, highly original, not safe for most. Try while at home, not work, because you'll smell strongly of it until you shower. Great for a collection, far less likely as a signature/daily wear for most. I'm honestly not that comfortable wearing it.
Xeryus Rouge and I got off to a bad start. I bought it blind and tried it for the first time while hung-over, immediate dry heaves ensued…yet, XR still gets an unflinching thumbs-up from me, mainly for originality. To echo past reviews, it is one of the best for longevity and sillage in my relatively small collection. The artificially sweet/cactus/tarragon opening is loud and very unique and then something like cedar follows within 15-20 seconds. In the drydown, the sweetness morphs a little but stays prominent. For me, the drydown is a (somehow) pleasant saccharine/vanilla-ish sweetness, pimento, and a hint of what I can only describe as synthetic floral woods from the future. I hate to admit it, but I kind of understand other reviewers suggesting that it might be a club scent, but only because of its bold character. I just don't like the idea of a fragrance I admire being lumped into a category with something like One Million.
Every now and then I get a slight hint one of the original wave of Axe/Lynx products, but I can't (and refuse to take the time to) figure out which one. However, most of the time this offering from Givenchy smells like nothing else I've encountered. I almost immediately put it up for swap that first day, but glad I didn't because this one really grew on me, despite my rarely wearing it.
Big, bold, unique, memorable, probably not for everyone, not even sure it's for me really, but I admire it.