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