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Friday, January 19, 2007

It's All About Miss Dior - Perfume Review à Trois

I have the hardest time reviewing perfumes I love the most. I feel that there is no way I can do them justice or can even be able to express what I feel. I have been postponing writing about Miss Dior for a long time, but I finally felt I had to declare my undying love for her. Having been introduced in 1947, Miss Dior celebrates her 60th birthday this year. To go a little over the top for my Holiest of Grails and to make the review more special, I bribed and blackmailed Tom and Mr. Colombina into writing about it with me. And thus I present to you

Miss Dior - Review à Trois



Colombina (Call Me Miss Dior):

When Dior introduced his New Look, Harper’s Bazaar related that
Dior affects mild surprise at the furore that has greeted his designs, for he considered them, as befits an introductory collection, to be simple and conservative. But to the fashion world, his long billowing skirts, high small waists, and narrow shoulders, are both revolutionary and immensely chic. (Christian Dior by Diana de Marly, page 20)



Like his New Look designs, Dior’s perfumes combine almost-austere, conservative elegance with fantastic opulence and quite shamelessly animalic undertones. The contrast is very apparent in Miss Dior, the “introductory, first” perfume to come from Maison Dior. The innovative green accord of galbanum and sage is like a tight-fitting, severely-tailored, “simple and conservative” Dior jacket, from under which billows a lavishly-full corolla skirt of heady flowers. The green sharpness and the floral sweetness declare themselves right in the top notes, where galbanum battles gardenia for domination, with aldehydes adding an extra soupçon of chic to the elegant brew. The green leitmotif continues to run through the middle stage, where the headiness of jasmine, rose and neroli appear like a luxuriant bouquet tied with a silvery-green thread of Dior’s beloved lily of the valley. The carnation is quite prominent in the heart and, to me, its dark, floral spiciness serves like a bridge to the mossy, leathery, earthy drydown, where vetiver (green again!), leather (more apparent in the vintage Miss Dior), almost-sweet patchouli, amber and velvety sandalwood form what I came to think of as the trademark Dior base. It is rather dark and it is rather blatantly dirty (again, in the “old” Miss Dior more so than in the “new” one), and I adore it.

I must add that although vintage Miss Dior is, of course, superior to the new version, the Miss Dior that is sold nowadays should not be discarded as unwearable and unattractive. Yes, it has lost some of its darkness and intensity, but it is still, recognizably, Miss Dior. I wear the contemporary Eau de Toilette almost everyday, with much pleasure. I find the added sharpness in the top notes to be actually extremely appealing.

Miss Dior is perhaps more “me” than any other perfume I love. I relax into this scent like into a perfectly-fitted Dior dress. Like that dress, it is chic but extremely wearable and always appropriate. To use Jerry Maguire’s words, I love Miss Dior; it completes me.


Tom (Memories):

When Colombina suggested this three-way review, I thought "cool, I can get away with a couple of paragraphs: V A C A T I O N!"

Then she suggested we review Miss Dior, which I had not smelled in years. It was one of my mother's stand-by scents: an important evening party meant Joy, a "date" with my father meant Bandit or Antilope, the rest of the time it was Miss Dior. My mom was what once referred to as a "difficult" woman: by 13 she had reached nearly six feet when most men didn't get that high. She was the only daughter of the Irish immigrant gardener on one of the large houses in town, and before settling down into a nice safe life with my father (who decided upon first sight of her that she would be his wife); she had a stint in an all-girl band playing the Hawaiian Guitar and as a fashion model. She married up, into a family that while it did not arrive on the Mayflower, pretty much swam in after. However, if anyone was going to think they could shame her with a shanty-Irish background, think again: she didn't take crap from John Robert Powers; she wasn't going to from some Aryan from Darien either. I can still remember being partly mortified and yet terribly proud when she slung on her mink and went into my junior high school to give my geography teacher what-for. My mother had a dinner party the night before and didn't have time to make a cover for my text book. He took the book away and told me one of my parents would have to see him to get it back. It was a short interview that ended with my mother coming out of the building in about ten minutes with the aforementioned tome, a very red-faced teacher, and a school abuzz for days. Would this stand up to memory? Are y'all still awake?

I found a beensy sized bottle of the EdT version at a discounter on Broadway in downtown LA for $7 and hoped for the best. I head read that this had been reformulated, and that on top of being EdT. I wondered.

I needn't have. One whiff and I was back in the backseat of that Ninety-Eight: it opens with a sparking-bright whiff of green Aldehydes and that singular sage and gardenia opening. A lot of modern perfumes seem to come in acts: stage one, stage two and stage three. While there are definitely a top, middle and bottom to this fragrance, they are so
seamlessly done that the memory of the previous ones are never far off, the hover like the voices in a fugue. The opening is supplanted by jasmine and rose, in turn supplanted by oakmoss and labdanum. This being the EdT, I am feeling that there is something missing, I don't smell patchouli in the drydown much and I seem to remember a bit of civet in there. The EdT is light enough for a guy to get away with wearing.

Would I try? Nope. It's intrinsically tied to memories of my mother, and although I do resemble her (and I thank the genetic crapshoot I got her green eyes!) I don't really need to smell like her. I do know that this apple hasn't fallen far from that tree- were she alive she would without any compunction whatever poach my MKK.


Mr. Colombina (Conspiracy Theory):

(Perhaps to the surprise of Colombina) Even I, the Joe Numnutz of Perfume World, know that Miss Dior is a classic. A sort of Citizen Kane of smell. So when asked to comment on it, I thought I’d bring a different angle.

Colombina is more than qualified to tell you how this Chypre – Floral Animalic from Christian Dior blends notes of … what did she tell me it was … parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme?

So I will instead take you back to 1947, the year Miss Dior was launched. Harry Truman is in the White House. Joe Stalin is in the Kremlin.

Aviator, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the X-1. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and became the first African-American to play in modern major league baseball.

Also in 1947:

India and Pakistan gain independence from Britain
Newfoundland and Labrador joins Canada
Invention of the transistor at Bell Labs
The Dead Sea Scrolls are discovered at Qumran
The Marshall Plan for reconstruction in Europe begins
Tennessee Williams' play, "A Streetcar Named Desire", opens on Broadway
Howdy Doody makes its TV debut
‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is published
Britain's Princess Elizabeth marries Phillip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh
Jean Paul Sartre writes “Existentialism & Humanism”
And most importantly, Tupperware is invented! (by Earl Tupper)

Also in 1947… Dior introduces the “new look”, Dior pairs it with a new scent … Miss Dior. Meanwhile, also in 1947, a UFO crashed at Roswell, New Mexico. Coincidence? Oh sure, and I suppose you think it’s a coincidence that there are 24 hours in a day, and 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.

That’s right perfume fans; I tell you that Miss Dior was the scent brought to us by well-smelling aliens! I could prove it if it were not for the fact I am convinced my internet activity is being monitored by the department of defense. Ever wonder why perfumes are sold in “department” stores?

Later in my review you will understand why … but for now, I just want you to take a REAL close look at this photo of Mr. “so-called” Christian Dior.

In all seriousness, wouldn’t “Area 51” sound like a great name for an out-of-this-world fragrance?

And again in all seriousness … I must say I like Miss Dior. It is extremely pleasant and pleasing.

It IS a classic scent in this one sense to me … It smells like it could be worn as attractively on a sweet old grandmother and provide her an air of class … yet at the same time … could be worn as a pheromonal/hormonal awakening elixir by some hot young babe (IE Colombina) to indicate the onset of a particularly sensual evening.

How a single scent makes that transition is as classified as any Roswell information. But I would say its existence precedes essence (thank you Mr. Sartre).

And getting back to my Alien Conspiracy theory for a moment …I want NOW you to take a look at a recently declassified photo of the space alien captured at Roswell in 1947.

Any questions?

Keep it Real. Peace Out
Mr. Colombina




Image sources: art.com (Sergei Eisenstein,Marlene Dietrich and Joseph Sternberg in 1930), designmuseum.org (Dior Bar Suit), okadi.com, parfumdepub.net.

36 Comments:

Anonymous Ina said...

Marina, how can you possibly relax into a Dior dress is beyond me but I can totally see you do that, my Miss Dior. ;D

Tom, what a wonderful memory of your mother! The elegance and the character completely fit Miss Dior.

Paul, you're one imaginative dude. ;D Hilarious!! ;D

11:08 PM EST  
Anonymous Ina said...

Oh, and guess where I am right now? On eBay, looking for Miss Dior. "Thanks".

11:10 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Ina,
When a dress is so perfectly tailored, done specifically for you, it might look stiff and chic, but is comfortable..I think...I can only guess, of course, and dream. Still salivating thinking of those dresses you posted!

11:10 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

You are welcome :-D

11:10 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Ina-

Miss Dior is available fairly inexpensively at discounters as well.

Jusy sayin'....

11:23 PM EST  
Anonymous Maria B. said...

Marina, what a perfect description of a scent that is truly you: "Miss Dior is perhaps more 'me' than any other perfume I love. I relax into this scent like into a perfectly-fitted Dior dress." That is such a special phenomenon. I feel that way about L'Heure Bleue. Miss Dior is such an elegant, always appropriate scent. I'm so glad you brought it back to mind. It's been many years since I wore it. I'm sorry they've reformulated it to include "sharpness" in the topnote. I don't do sharpness well, but I'll try Miss Dior again anyway.

Tom, that was a wonderful recollection of your mother, especially her triumphant exit from the school, leaving a red-faced teacher behind. I'm envious.

Mr. Colombina, what can I say that will not get all my Internet communications monitored by the Klingons who forced Christian Dior to seek Terran exile? Live long and prosper.

12:50 AM EST  
Blogger Madelyn E said...

Dear Columbina,
I can hardly contain my escitement when my eyes focused on your review of a scent that I love and lonf for : Miss Dior ! v I am pleasantly surprised to discover that another fairly youthful sexy woman , such as yourself ( saw your picture ..) identifies with this carefree ,playful yet womanly fragrance . I have been wearing this classic for more than a few years , since my college years in the mid 1970s . I felt, like you, that I could always turn to Miss Dior whose top note would inspire and later chypre drydown soothe and comfort. I loved tge vintage black and white checked packaging that adorned the bottle. It was so classic and modern. While reading your 3 part revews ( all were differnt. all were great) I started to seriously consider running to Saks tomorrow and snatching the familiat zesty Eau de Toilette . I noticed the Eau de Parfum (again at Saks 5th Ave ) and tested it .. it has more punch -- Yet the EDT is nostalgia in a bottle and in a word .. fabulous ! I may have to succumb to its rosey charms --

2:38 AM EST  
Anonymous timam said...

what a lovely menage-a-trois :-D! I enjoyed every word of it, from your spot-on review, Marina, through Tom's real and live memories (Tom, you're really good at writing about your life and memories!) to Mr. C's entertaining and (as usually) conspirational attribute.
as for Miss Dior, I can totaly imagine and understand it being your HG ;). I do like and appreciate it, but for now, I feel more comfortable in Diorella (and I'm actually contemplating buying it in the summer).

5:04 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Brilliant reviews and brilliant decision to do a Review a Trois for this perfect scent, especially since the year of its release, 1947, reduces to 3...I blame Paul for my mind going along these lines. :-) I'm w/ you - this scent completes me and is the only scent I've worn continuously since my father first got it for my mother when I was 6. I love it beyond words and do agree that even the new version is extremely wearable.
Tom, your mother sounds amazing. A Hawaiian Guitar? :-) Love that! She probably would have been an ideal model for Miss Dior.
Paul - you're genius! Roswell! How did that not occur to me?? If perfumes like Miss Dior are being produced on other planets, we need to seriously increase NASA's budget. Now.

7:55 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

All three reviews are spectacular, in different ways! You guys are great! And, of course, I love Miss Dior--I have the parfum in both vintage and new forms; I haven't smelled the EdT for awhile (I am such a concentration snob), but after reading the reviews, I will do so again soon!

7:59 AM EST  
Anonymous newproducts said...

What lovely reviews, adding three different dimensions that are mirrored in how I imagine one feels when wearing Miss Dior: elegant, nostalgic, and playful.

8:13 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Maria,
"Live long and prosper" - that made me laugh out loud. At 8am. That does not happen often if ever :-)
Perhaps the new EDT won't be sharp on you, fingers crossed. It is overall is softer scent that the "old" Miss on me, the sharpness is only in the top notes.

8:15 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Madelyn,
My fellow Miss Dior! :-) Do you know, I have not tried EDP. I must find it and compare! I wish Dior people did not change the packaging. Didi they think the houndstooth was too old-fashioned for the new generation? :-(

8:18 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Tina,
I wondered if anyone would notice my little joke with a trois, and you did, thank you! :-) I am so glad you found a Dior to love! For some reason I thought you would love Dioressence above all, don't know why. Diorella is fantastic though and one of my absolute favorites.

8:22 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

L,
Maria is quoting Mr Spock, you are being very Robert Langdon...I blame Mr Colombina for all that :-) I just hope the Great Dior forgives me for including Mr C in this little project and allowing him to defame his picture :-)

8:26 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

J,
The new EDT is not bad. Not that you need it, when you have perfume, but it is not bad. It has lost some of its finesse and became more robust, but it's still nice.

8:27 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Minsun,
"mirrored in how I imagine one feels when wearing Miss Dior: elegant, nostalgic, and playful" - what a wonderful thing to say and what a great way to sum up this scent in one sentence! I bow to you!!
We did not mean it to come out that way, we had no plan really, but I am now going to pretend that it is how we intended it to be from the start :-D

8:31 AM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

(digging around it special box for vintage sample of parfum).

Yup, definitely on all three reviews.

Tom, your mom sounds like someone it would have been a pure delight to know.

8:49 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Patty,
Can I come visit and play with you special boxes of samples, vintage and new? I'll be no trouble...:-)

8:53 AM EST  
Blogger donanicola said...

The reviews do total justice to this wonderful scent - thank you all! I have my grandmother's old bottle (sadly no juice left in it) and her dioressence bottle - they bring her back to me. She was naughty as a young woman but then her father used to insist she take a hip flask out with her when she went to balls dressed only in a bit of silk, bias cut.so it wasn't her fault. When I look at those photos of the New Look and smell Miss Dior I sense I was born too late.

9:33 AM EST  
Anonymous Flor said...

Oh that was great! I used Miss Dior during the 3 years I lived in Argentina and I can say that it brings back fond memories. I think I'm going to buy a bottle right now.Thank you for the wonderful reviews, all three.
Columbina, always a pleasure to read. You never let us down.
Tom, when I grow up I want to be just like your mother. She sounds wonderful!
Mr. Columbina, very funny! Entertaining as always.

9:34 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Donanicola,
I know what you mean. I want to live in that time too, and wear the New Look dresses...At least we still have the scents.

9:38 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Flor,
Thank you very much for your kind words! I guess if made you want to purchase Miss Dior again, our work here is done :-)

9:39 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Marina -- your post was wonderful, got me thinking about which of the many is the most "me." I would have picked one of the Diors for you (possibly Diorella).

Tom -- Your mom sounds like a total stitch. (I loved Aryan from Darien) I want to go out to dinner with her.

Mr. C -- you laugh but I've been to Roswell and they take their stuff veeeery seriously.

3:55 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

March,
Thank you. I love all Diors that came before 1997. Having said that, I love the men's fragrance that were recently created, like the colognes and Dior Homme.
For you, I would pick Jil Sander 4 :-D

4:00 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

March:

Full disclosure: "Aryan for Darien" was lifted from Patrick Dennis and "Auntie Mame"

Waaay off topic, if anyone wants a hugely funny read, his "Little Me" is available at Amazon. Hilarious.

4:09 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

three great reviews for a great scent. well-done. especially loved the link between aliens and this wonderful perfume. thank you for that fragrant bit of "history." keep up the wonderful blogging, you guys - you brighten my day. peace, out, minette

4:23 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Minette,
Thank you very much. LOL at "peace out". Mr C is a bad influence. :-)

4:42 PM EST  
Anonymous Tamara said...

Brilliant!! So creative and well done!! Thank you!

6:35 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you so much, Tamara!

7:07 PM EST  
Blogger The non-blonde said...

What a lovely review! It was lovely to read the three perspectives and see how they magically reflect each other and come together. A great tribute to a lovely scent.

Also, Marina- I know exactly what you mean about the difficulty of writing about a long and dearly loved fragrance. It's hard even to see the notes, because it's no longer about accords and levels. It's about something that is a big part of you.

12:10 AM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Wonderful! I loved the photo. You actually do look like Marlene Dietrich (or rather, she looks like you in that photo).

12:54 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

The Non-Blonde,
Thank you! And yes, exactly. It takes an effort to actually be able to smell separate notes after a while, because one perceives a beloved scent as one wonderful whole. :-)

8:15 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Vika,
Thank you so much. That is the most wonderful thing I heard in...ever :-D

8:15 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! thank you! But still I'm really interested in Dior sunglasses and other accessories! I would discuss that with you with great pleasure!

10:15 AM EDT  
Anonymous Emma said...

I must say, I really like this one!

6:19 PM EST  

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