If you are avid users of email and FacePlace I am sure you have noticed the scary way that we are being tracked these days. Well mildly scary. Mostly silly. You notice how if you go to a website or enter search data and for days afterward sponsored FacePlace posts will pop up or the right rail on your Yahoo! Mail page will be populated by ads- usually for the thing you just bought? For instance If I go an replace my Erno Lazzlo black soap I will be inundated with ads to purchase.. more black soap. Invasive, and frightening in it’s implications, but in a way reassuring: yes, they are spying on you, but they’re just as much dolts as everyone else who do these things by committee, fairly bumbling and ineffective.
I must have recently looked for something Dior since I have been getting ads all over the place enticing me to try the joy that is the “New” Dior. No thanks, said I. I didn’t fall for Crystal Pepsi or New Coke, so I will stick to the “Old” Dior.
Sadly, the “Old” Dior has been displaced by the new and the thing that passes for Miss Dior (or Miss Dior Cherie or Blooming or Cheerios) is not the same. I do see that there is an “Original” available and I haven’t smelled it- if you have please chime in. Is it the original, really? Or is it, like conspiracy theorists thought about Coke Classic, something that they held back to make us forget what the original was like and that the new high-fructose corn syrup version was not at all the same thing? (Cue X-Files conspiracy music)
Luckily, I was able to turn to Surrender to Chance and get a decant to refresh my memory about Miss Dior and her later siblings, Diorissimo and Poison.
Miss Dior was launched in 1947 and was part of the “New Look” which took the world by storm. The war was over, rationing was starting to fall away and at least in the US things were looking way up economically. The wartime fashions of severely tailored clothing (due in part to fabric rationing) and militaristic shoulder pads for women gave way to soft. feminine silhouettes that emphasized the bustline and a woman’s curves. They were probably about as comfortable as Scarlett O’Hara’s picnic outfit, but they looked fabulous. And the innocent Miss Dior, with it’s youthful green galbanum and sage opening and winsome flowers in the heart was a perfect perfume for that look. Miss Dior is powdery, but the thoroughgoing tartness of that sage keeps an edge to it. It’s a picnic on a sunny day with the spring flowers, but on the edge of a dark woods. The kind Grace Kelly would have for Cary Grant, enticing him with her cold chicken and warm.. personality. It’s hardly what I would call manly, but I love this incarnation of it and if it indeed is back them kudos to Dior for doing it.
Diorissimo is even more innocently lovely. Created in 1956 it features lilly of the valley (muguet) which is one of my favorite things. Back in New England between my parents house and the one next door was a large side yard, shaded by maple trees. Lotv would grow in the little valley between them in the dappled shade and it was an unspoken agreement that neither one of us would mow there until it’s time was up, so lovely was the delicate fragrance. Unlike the roses or the lilacs that grew there. Lotv didn’t do well cut, and I have been told that it’s not possible to distill the actual flower- what we smell in scents is a simulacrum. Diorissimo is such a good one that (this version anyway) takes me right back to a blameless New England spring, seemingly coming overnight with the trees going from buds to leaves and the spring flowers peeping out after a long, grey winter. If Miss Dior is Grace Kelly, then Diorissimo seems like Audrey Hepburn: youthful and with a ballerina’s grace. I love lotv and hate to admit that I don’t have this one. I will have to see if the new holds a candle to the old.
Which brings us to the third one I sampled: Poison. I actually remember when this came out and that I didn’t like it at all. Hated it in fact. I had a run in with a snooty pants SA at a now defunct department store who, when I asked for Eau Sauvage sniffed “We don’t carry THAT” as if I had asked for a can of gas soaked rags then tried to sell my friend on Poison (or as he pronounced it “Pwah-ssoh.”) which she loathed. He was so pushy and so jerky that I finally just said that we were not interested in it, and that it’s pronounced “Pwah-zhohn” unless he’s selling dead fish, which would smell better. Which is likely why I am going to hell.
Anyway, if Miss Dior and Diorissimo were emblematic of the fifties, where Johnny was marching home from war and Rosie needed to stop riveting and get herself in crinolines and her all-electric kitchen then Poison was the 80’s: Shoulder pads were back and America if not the world was rife with TV vixens like Alexis Carrington or Abby Ewing- big shouldered, big haired ladies who were no longer kids and weren’t about to lay down for any man unless it was on their terms. They had names that let you know what you were in for: Opium, Diva, or Magie Noir while ones like Giorgio were content to just throttle you.
Revisiting Poison I find that, when not applied by an aggressive SA like a factory worker applying paint to the side of a Trans Am on the assembly line I don’t recoil from it. Much. It’s sweet, fruity opening is like being slapped across the chops with a full on wedding (or perhaps funeral) bower dipped in honey. This may not be the only scent that got workplaces to start banning them, but it sure helped.
When applied by the pinprick I can appreciate the scent: it’s beautifully blended and when the initial “beaten by candied flowers” opening is done I can see the balance between fruits and spices with the flowers and the woods. It’s not Lutens-like, unless there was an evil twin of Uncle Serge’s out there. But in minuscule doses it’s actually quite pretty. Hey, arsenic had medicinal uses, but you wouldn’t want to get the dosage wrong. I won’t be wearing it, but I survived it. I even “gasp” sort of liked it.
All of these are (somewhat) available at Dior: Miss Dior Original is $220 for .5 of extrait or $95 for 1/7 ounce of “originale” EDT spray. I can’t vouch for it being like the real original, nor can I state that Poison ($220 for .5 extrait or $72 for 1oz of EDT) is the same. Diorissimo is listed as $118 for 1.7oz EDP and $125 for 3.4oz EDT and might be the closest looking at the site to the original, but if you’ve smelled them let us know in the comments. My samples were (mostly) vintage and from Surrender to Chance.
Photos: Mine, Pixels.