A very rare find (my eyes almost popped out on stalks of amazement when I saw it standing there impassively, neglected by passersby at the Sunday Shinagawa fleamarket; didn’t the seller know that bids for this start at extortionate prices on e-bay? Do they not know that some perfumistas would be clawing each other’s eyes out to get their hands on this bottle?), the feeling of discovering these rare treasures one of the most constantly nerve-crackling moments of my life, one that never fails to send my red blood cells writhing and thickening with adrenaline. Perfume REVIVES me.
In the past I have come across countless vintage Carons; a Guerlain Ode extrait; and things I had never even known the existence of, such as Quiproquo de Grès (a lemon-leaf reinterpretation of Cabochard). My avaricious thrill of clutching my Diorling (‘Mine! MINE!!’) was childishly tempered only slightly upon finding that the perfume had, at Roja Dove’s request, been made available again at the Harrod’s Haute Parfumerie, along with the legendary Diorama. Thus not quite as precious or or exclusive a find as I thought. However, debate has raged over how tame the Dior reformulations have been: this is definitely the original, softly dirty-elegant animal-hide from 1963. While the top notes may have deteriorated slightly ( I am not getting much of the muguet/rose said to be in the blend), you would hardly know it; you would also hardly imagine it to be necessarily designed for a woman. Like Cabochard, this type of chypre is a category of scent that in dry down is irrevocably bi-sexed: suave and wordly on a man as it is on a woman. A shrewd creature dressed up in tweed and this could have a room in the palm of their hand.
Luca Turin writes of ‘les parfums fatigués’, those sly, ironic scents with a hint of overripe melon, a whiff of decay; scents that reek, basically, of decadence, even death. Diorella (1972) is one such scent – a brilliant mix of fresh/stale; clean/dirty, at once citric and animalic. Dior somehow mastered this type of scent better than anyone else, that supercilious French fromage. Even the angelic Diorissimo has that corrupted aspect somewhere in the heart of its innocence; that depth and knowing. These scents have such style; a true fuck-you grace that can be almost daunting. And Diorling is possessed of similarly exquisite taste; restrained, low-registered, composed, but ready to pounce if required. I see it on the incestuous matriarch of Visconti’s ‘The Damned’, contemptuously lowering her lacquered eyelids, her ever-present cigarette…….; invincible, magnificent. That is, before her destruction at the hands (and body) of her son, played with malevolent disdain by the beautiful Helmut Berger.
The cruel vulnerability of a scent that tries to reason with your emotions even while dominating them. The laconic orange blossom, peach-tinted flowers layering a subtlely spiced, woody scent laced with tobacco and patchouli that soften to a complex, secretive series of moments (who was the Japanese woman that owned this perfume? Why did she discard such a treasure at a flea market?); gives nothing away, titillates you with visions of times forever gone.