A very rare find, my eyes almost popped out on stalks of amazement when I saw Diorling standing there impassively and forlorn, neglected by perfume-blind passersby at the Sunday Shinagawa flea market. Didn’t the seller standing obliviously at his stand know that bids for this perfume start at extortionate prices on e-bay? Did he not know that some perfumistas would be clawing each other’s eyes out to get their hands on a bottle of this rare and rarified creature?..
The feeling of discovering these long forgotten treasures is, as you know, one of the most constantly nerve-crackling moments of my life. One that never fails to send my red blood cells, anaemic from a week of too much reality, writhing and thickening with adrenaline. Perfume REVIVES me, like a vampire right after a feed.
In the past, during my expeditions among the various recycle shops and fleamarkets here, I have come across countless vintage Carons; a Guerlain Ode extrait; oodles of Chanel parfums, and things I had never even known the existence of, such as Quiproquo de Grès (a lemon-leaf reinterpretation of Cabochard) and the exquisite Michelle by Balenziaga ,my avaricious thrill of clutching my Diorling (‘Mine! Mine!! ! MINE !!’! !) being childishly tempered, only slightly, upon then 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. It was thus not quite as precious or as exclusive a find as I initially thought. However, debate has raged over how tame the recent Dior reformulations have been: this edition is definitely the original, dirty-elegant dissipation from 1963. And 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 designed for a woman. Like Cabochard, this type of chypre is a category of scent that in dry down is irrevocably bi-sexed: suave, nonplussed and wordly on a man as it is on a woman.
A shrewd creature dressed in tweed and satin and wearing Diorling could have a room in the palm of their hand.
Luca Turin once wrote of ‘parfums fatigués’, those sly, ironic scents with hints of overripe melon and 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, Guerlain included – that regally supercilious Parisian paradox of chic and 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 of course possessed of similarly exquisite taste; restrained, low-registered, composed, but, if required, quite ready to pounce. I see it on the incestuous matriarch of Visconti’s ‘The Damned’, contemptuously lowering her lacquered eyelids, her half-forgotten, 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, and ice-hearted 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, wood-bedded scent laced with tobacco and patchouli that then softens 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.