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