Dreaming of Dior

If Danielle had been hoping I would stop filling up her blog with posts about Dior’s Miss Dior, she should not have sent me this lovely bottle of vintage EDT, complete with box. Claiming only a small decant for herself, she sent me the rest: a most overwhelmingly generous thing to do.

This stuff gives me pause. At a stroke it has shortened my perfume wish-list considerably because vintage Miss Dior shrinks other, lesser perfumes to insignificance. Many, many thanks Danielle, and okay, I will stop embarrassing you now.

When Miss Dior came out in 1947 it was apparently greeted as ‘light and delicate-fitting for the return to well-bred femininity’.* That seems odd now doesn’t it? Most reviewers mention the earthy, leathery and animalic notes at the base of Miss Dior, especially in the vintage version. I also get sweat in the vintage. Maybe it is just the way it has aged, although Danielle’s Miss Dior has sat in its box all these years (since the 1980s, I should say, judging by the bottle) and is in near-perfect condition. (And I do know what MD smells like when it is off. Vile is not the word.)

That there is no sweat in the modern Miss Dior ought to be no surprise. There’s no point blaming IFRA for this. Women who have been brought up on ‘clean and fresh’ fragrances, things like Chance Eau-No-Not-Another-One, are not going to tolerate sweat in their perfume.

Is Miss Dior feminine? Yes, I think so. There are flowers here galore: rose, jasmine, gardenia, carnation, narcissus, lily-of-the-valley. All tethered to a chypre base which is reminiscent, as so many people have said, of Christian Dior’s brilliantly structured clothes. I actually think the term ‘delicate-fitting’ is quite perfect for Miss Dior, because there is a delicacy about it, despite all that dark stuff in the base. Compare Miss Dior with Piguet’s Bandit, which came out just three years earlier, in 1944, and you start to understand why women might have welcomed Miss Dior with relief after those dark days of war.

It saddens me to think that the vast, vast majority of women in post-Liberation France could not have afforded a bottle of Miss Dior. Let’s not be over-romantic about this. Most women could not have bought so much as a bead or a button from Dior. But perhaps Dior couture and perfume gave some women something to dream about, a way of framing hopes for peace, pride and prosperity for France. If you are interested in a wonderful read on what Dior represented for women in the 1950s (in England at least) got hold of a copy of Paul Gallico’s lovely novel, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris.

Still haven’t had enough raves about this perfume? Here are a few of my favourite reviews: Perfume-Smellin’ Things; Perfume Shine; Glass Petal Smoke.

*Quote is from Alexandra Palmer, Dior: a New Look, a New Enterprise (1947-57) (London: V&A Publishing, 2009), p. 90.

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14 thoughts on “Dreaming of Dior

  1. *GASP*
    Dee is such a sweetheart!

    Miss Dior is just gorgeous. I love your descriptions. It IS earthy, leathery, sweaty – and also floral and bright.

    It’s the perfume I want to be when I grow up. 😉

  2. The ever generous and extraordinarily lovely Dee sent me a vial that came out of this bottle. Thank you for your lovely post, Annemarie, have to go…
    *scurries off to apply vintage Miss Dior stat*

  3. Wow, congrats on your bottle annemarie, courtesy of the lovely dee. That’s wonderful. I’ve never tried vintage Miss Dior but the current version didn’t make much of an impression on me – is it a total no-go for you or do you own it too?

    1. I have some modern MD, yes. I have always found it wearable, although I know other MD lovers will only wear vintage, and Luca Turin is most dismissive of the modern. The modern is drier, and does not have the skanky quality that the vintage has.

      Comparing vintage with modern Miss Dior is a lesson in how tastes in perfume have changed. We live in an era of clean and fresh, and that is quite fine in many respects. I love that fresh out of the shower feeling as much as anyone. Still, a whiff of vintage fragrance is a reminder of something we are missing out on.

  4. I haven’t read the book but I happened to watch a TV movie based on it. It was very touching.
    Love Miss Dior, hunting currently for a deal on eBay.

    1. Thanks, yes, it was filmed. I had forgotten. Must get hold of a copy. The book is a sentimental, happy ending kind of thing, but great if you are at home for a day, unwell perhaps, looking for a an easy comort read while wrapped in a rug on your favourite arm chair.

  5. **Blushing** thank you all for your kind words!

    I was really surprised how overtly sensual Miss Dior is; I was taken aback! I guess it’s a combination of sweat and the animalic hum in the base, but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I’ll be curious to try the current formula, for comparison sake—I cannot imagine how it could be “cleaned” up and still maintain the distinctive character…

    😉

    1. Exactly, how indeed? The new stuff does lose some of the distinctiveness of the original, although not all. Even the new transports me to a different place and time. When I get myself sorted out with some decancting supplies, I’ll send you some. Interestingly, the colour of the new juice is much paler. In part this would be because vintage perfume tends to darken anyway. But I suspect that the colour has been deliberately lightened to suggest a ‘cleaner’ scent.

      The way perfume houses manipulate the colour of the juice is a topic that does not get much attention, but I’m sure they do do it.

  6. Oh, Annemarie, you’re breaking my heart with this post!
    I wore Miss Dior for an entire decade when I was young and I loved it so much.
    And I was so young when I wore it for the first time. Just goes to show that young girls are programmed by nature to prefer sticky sweet.

    1. Aww … sorry … Clearly you were born with superb taste! It must be hard to cope with the vats of pink that we call ‘perfume’ these days.

  7. I got a sample of MIss Dior and Miss Dior Cherie…tried one on each arm….I swooned over MIss Dior and it brought a definite scent memory of my Aunt Nettie. No comparison. I wish I could find a vintage bottle.

    1. Ah! A testament to your good taste, and to that of your Aunt. Well done.

      You do see vintage 10 ml dab-on minis on eBay quite often. I picked up a half-full one at a junk shop for .50c. That was my first experience of vintage MD. But the notes are fairly damaged. The vintage bottle Dee sent is in much better nick, and is a spray, and that seems to make all the difference. Every time I wear it I catch different nuances. A masterpiece.

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