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February 01, 2007

Christian Dior Miss Dior : Perfume Review

Dior_1950s

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars--outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars--very good, 3 stars--adequate, 2 stars--disappointing, 1 star--poor.

Who is Miss Dior? I think that she is half Anna Karenina, half Brett Ashley. Created for Christian Dior Parfums, Miss Dior appears to be lady-like and soigné, and yet it hints at the worn darkness of leather saddles and the smoke of slender cigarettes. Although one can enjoy Miss Dior for what it is—a gorgeous classical chypre with a unique green freshness, I find that understanding its context heightens my appreciation for its heartbreaking beauty. Born in 1947, the fragrance carries connotations of the hunger for glamour, the austerity of war and the hopes for future. …

The birth of Miss Dior coincides with Christian Dior’s first fashion show held in a salon on the avenue Montaigne in Paris on February 12th, 1947. In a rebellious move against the austerity imposed by the cloth rations and the angular lines of wartime fashions, Dior showcased the strikingly feminine collection of cinched waists, softly rounded shoulders and voluminous ankle length skirts. “It's quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look,” remarked Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. New Look became a phrase that would symbolize this collection, which resuscitated the French fashion industry and led tp Dior receiving the Legion of Honor from the French government.

Miss Dior fragrance complimented the freshness, exuberance and elegance of Dior’s fashion line. It was the synergy of haute couture and perfume at its best. The fragrance was created by Paul Vacher based on a formula composed by Jean Carles (who also composed Carven Ma Griffe, Dana Tabu and Myrurgia Maja.) Michael Edwards’s French Perfume Legends tells that Dior was fascinated by the roughhewn appeal of Chypre de Coty (1917) and the vivid verdancy of Balmain’s Vent Vert (1947). These two accords are fused in Miss Dior, their contrasting elements harmonized by the opulent floral heart.

Miss Dior does not reveal her charms upon the first encounter, requiring a longer and patient acquaintance, especially for those who are used to the eager-to-please modern fragrances. The green pepper sharpness of galbanum is underpinned by a classical gardenia note, which is bright, dry and intriguingly metallic. These effervescent notes slowly melt into the floral heart of Miss Dior, and yet the animalic darkness is never far behind. Soon the chypre base that supports the refinement of floral notes takes center stage. The composition becomes veiled in duskiness, which is punctuated by the gilded warmth of patchouli. The woman who wears Miss Dior projects the most exquisite elegance paired with confidence and resolve of character—a truly alluring combination.

Like many classical fragrances, Miss Dior has not reached us in its original state. The changes to the formula led to the attenuated base and limpid floralcy, to the unbecoming pallor of its chypre accord and the disappointing softness of its top notes. To think that something so strong, so assertive and so distinctive was to be turned into a wallflower!

Christian Dior Miss Dior contains notes of gardenia, galbanum, bergamot, clary sage, jasmine, narcissus, neroli, rose, patchouli, oakmoss, labdanum, sandalwood. It is available from Saks5thAvenue, Neiman Marcus and other Dior retailer locations.

Dress from Christian Dior’s Haute couture collection, autumn/winter 1953. From Design Museum.

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