DIOR DIOR by CHRISTIAN DIOR (1976)

Rootling through the recycle box in the Inokashira neighbourhood of Tokyo yesterday afternoon I immediately recognized the houndstooth pattern. Assuming it was Diorissimo, Dioressence, Miss Dior or Diorella, all of which I know as intimately as my own body, I was about to put the 10ml bottle down when scrutinizing the label more carefully – my eyesight has seen better days – I saw the words I have never before seen: DIOR DIOR.

Pouncing (“D! Look!) , and firmly grasping this and a parfum extrait of Chanel No 22 – they both came to 1900 yen, or about fourteen dollars – on my way to the counter as a Christmas present to myself, once outside, in the cold winter night I unstoppered the bottle and applied some to the back of my hand, knowing nothing whatsoever.

It was instantly recognizable; familiar; explicitly a perfume by Edmond Roudnitska. Diorella – that superciliously easy, supremely elegant melon/decaying lemon, but here with added narcissus, lilac and a very pronounced indolic jasmine; the same civet-licked mossy base ; superb in its diabolical chic; caressingly gentle; poised; self assured: translucent as a dragonfly’s wing. I now like this beautiful rarity better than any other Dior.

Excellent reviews by Angela at Now Smell This and by Elena Vosnaki at Perfume Shrine tell us all we need to know – if you need further information – including the fact that Dior Dior was a total commercial disaster at the time and quickly withdrawn from the market, making any available bottles now extremely hard to find (the prices on ebay for a parfum – my bottle was just an eau de toilette splash- are quite astounding).

Coming at the end of the seventies, when spice, sports greens and leathers were in, it is easy to understand why an understated floral aldehydic chypre, with echoes of No 5 (so not Dior!) would just not be what the ladies wanted. It is too delicate; too Diorella; your mother already wore Diorissimo, which you can easily discern in the DNA : you were over this old template; it didn’t feel disco. Round the corner were the last dregs of the caravanserai 70’s and the new, heavier epoch (Dioressence and Jules), before the house’s subsequent complete turn around later in the 1980’s with the drastically robust iconoclasts that were Poison and Fahrenheit, creatures of an entirely new era, temperament and commercial viability.

Back in 1976 instead, Dior Dior (‘doublement Dior’, as the advert says; a double dose of that gauzier, old world-fitted nonchalance), was an anomaly; not quite there; unfashionable.

But so lovely.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “DIOR DIOR by CHRISTIAN DIOR (1976)

  1. Joan Gillies

    I was just thinking about Dior Dior this week!
    What seems like a million years ago my dad bought my mum a small bottle of all the houndstooth Diors. As a true Scot he wasn’t exactly known for his largesse, but my mum was delighted and I remember her lining them up and asking my sister and I to choose one to open. She was an everyday fragrance user but alas not a keeper of empty bottles, unlike me, so they are sadly all long gone.

    Congratulations on your fabulous find and for sharing your equally fabulous thoughts, I live vicariously reading them (and the lovely guest feature from D)

  2. I love vintage Dior.
    The glamour, sophistication, and as you so eloquently put it – the diabolical chic.
    Lucky you!

    • I must first of all point out that I didn’t actually find the bottles in these pictures – that would be very disingenuous of me : mine is just a mini houndstooth bottle – not especially stunning visually. But the scent inside definitely is, and I do think diabolically chic is the best word – Dior is not my favourite house, but NO ONE is (was) more chic. There was, as you know, just something extra – superb and sardonic and so lasciviously put together in utter style.

  3. Hanamini

    Where do you find these things! Amazing how you manage to unearth of these treasures at such a great price. From your description that is one I’d definitely like to smell. I’ve had all the others you mention, but there’s always something a little harsh/acidic in them, to me. This one sounds lush!

    • It’s only a small bottle but as I was writing this I was thinking about you actually. There is definitely something acidic in this, but it is basically a softened Diorella plus flowers, with a nicer drydown (really warm and uplifting, less sharpened teeth).

      What upsets me – first world problems! – is not being able to wear a straight off the production line bottle. I can imagine that with the original top notes, in a pristine vaporisateur, this could have been utterly to die for. The good news is though that in my experience, the Christian Dior bottles do last well – my vintage Diorella is perfection – so if you can hunt one down that looks good I would highly recommend it. Uplifting and sensual but also calming, and incredibly elegant.

  4. Robin

    Sounds quietly ravishing and right up your alley, N. And mine. Luck was a lady when you found this rarity. Glad you did. I’ve never come across it myself and sadly — especially after this description of yours — I’m bound to now be hungrily looking for it, with the odds against me. Great post!

    • I was assuming you would know this one intimately: a bit disappointed (did it really just come and go at the time without anybody noticing?).

      This perfume is definitely interesting. It was the last of Roudnitska’s for Dior I think and you can imagine the powers that be taking him aside after its failure and saying, look, you’ve had a good run, from Diorissimo to Eau Sauvage, and Diorella did well, but now it’s time for a change…..

      To me this is Diorella with a desire to be Patou Joy. Diorella is the basis, but it is softened, less sporty, more feminine, really gorgeous, but not different enough from ‘Rella to make it big.

      I think you need to smell Dior Dior (and wear it). I remember you loving Diorama, if I am not mistaken – I have never ‘memorized’ that one properly ( and have only ever smelled a modern iteration).

  5. MrsDalloway

    Goodness, I have this! I read your lovely review thinking I’d never come across it, then the picture of the little 10ml EDT houndstooth bottle in the Perfumeshrine post made me zoom upstairs and root around. I can’t even remember where I got it – probably ebay. I’ve never stopped wearing perfume but other things have distracted from reading or thinking a lot about it these last couple of years.

    It is a funny one, isn’t it, lovely but a bit of a slide show: narcissus! Diorella! oh that’s quite grubby! It’s fourth in my vintage Dior loves behind 1. Diorella 2. Diorissimo and 3. Miss Dior but think it might be a nose ahead of Diorling. But I have bottles of the first three and wear them regularly, and only a kindly-gifted sample of Diorling which I must revisit properly. Post Christmas project!

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