D brought home a swag bag ‘o vintage for me the other night from a recycle shop he had been perusing for clothes and performance objets.

I was somewhat amazed.

For ¥4,000 ($29: £23), the jovial and ungreedy young owner standing among his hoards of bric a brac was quite happy to part ways with a full 100ml Chanel Nº19 lovely vintage eau de toilette splash bottle (the original dark green it was supposed to be, on top of an unopened 7ml parfum in perfect nick); a 1/5 used bottle of Revillon Detchema, a softly musk rose aldehydic; a pristine Diorissimo parfum in that oh so beautiful Parisian pink box – I must do my utmost to never let this one get grubby! – and, the only scent I had never smelled properly before, the rare cologne version of the inimitable Miss Dior.

Quite the cache!

(they go very well in the collection with my much treasured Diorella and Dioressence)

Although neither of these venerable old Diors are perfumes I can wear believably, I just love to be able to smell them and own them.

Take them out, occasionally, on a whim.

Miss Dior , in parfum, is a bone-dry green chypre; cinched, to me, almost mean, the galbanum clary saged gardenia of its pitiless top note pared with the ambered moss leather of its base quite daunting and scarifyingly chic. I associate it mentally with Wallis Simpson types, and in fact the person who wore it the most convincingly for me, a girl on the periphery of my university friendships called Marge, had a similar silhouette, even hair style, even though it was the nineties. She smelled perfect in it – radiating a measured, almost cruel aura of self assurance. On me, instead, I remember the one time I wore Miss Dior extrait for a lunchtime meetup with an old Japanese music friend, it was the epitome of a hot mess: the wrong atmospheric conditions, sweaty and vile, the base accord just oily, animalic and sick.

Sometimes you just have to face facts and accept that no matter how much you respect a scent, it won’t necessarily reciprocate.

The cologne version I am wearing today is a new beast. The proportions are different. There is less crammed in urgency (Miss Dior vintage extrait is very pointy , angled and bladed; this cologne is rangier, warmer, softer, more generous; lighter, more masculine); the beginning almost Aramis-like on me, fading to a less pressurized – Miss Dior is a perfectionist – dispersion of musky daytime mosses that feels more casually becoming.

Where I failed miserably in the extrait, with this more rounded option, I think I might now credibly become something of a late-starting Monsieur Dior.

Diorissimo , truly a timeless work of extreme olfactory beauty that should never be tinkered with but discovered, like D’s spotting of my new bottle among the detritus of a junkyard – just left forever, like Snow White in glass tomb until kissed by a handsome prince decades later, is a magical white Rodin of a muguet that I tend to pick up and pass on to women who adore it. Over the years, this has happened many times – as on the right person this trembles and hallucinates in a feminine conversion of human to flower and flower to human that can leave me feeling ecstatic. I simply cannot and could not ever pull this one off. I have the wrong blood.

Some old Diorissimos are very oily jasmine indolic. Some just faded memories. Some, very potent, which sometimes corrupts the diaphanousness – you want pistellated porcelain bells, curved; green and white and erect in their self-certainty; not some slovenly old fluid oranging in a jar.

Modern editions are gassy and useless. In fact, I tend not to like the spray versions of this scent – even if some of them do last longer than past-their-best dabs (Diorissimo is a perfume, like youth, that evaporates quickly). And yet this particular vaporisateur is fresh and wonderful, the one I have dared to wear today, coinciding with a message this morning in England from Helen telling me that she had just been walking in a whole swathe of the flowers in a forest (“Today I found a woodland glade, carpeted with lily of the valley”). The suzuran flowers, equally beloved here in Japan as they are elsewhere in the world this time of year, spring up in some front gardens, or clandestinely by the side of the road and I always stop to smell them, but I don’t know if I have ever come across whole carpets of them (except in the (made up?) memories of my childhood, those unsulliable groves….): how delightful, then; how transformative, to stare on the flowers: crystalline the living moment.

The cool breathe of leaves. The otherworldly rapture of a flower in its glory; oblivious to all else.

This Diorissimo, pure as snowdrops: all springtime corollas of lilies, amaryllis; lilac – a sheer, unruffled muguet at the centre, that really sings on the skin ……. …… even mine.

I think I am going to keep this one for myself.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Love the review! D scored a nice cache. I have both of these scents in vintage parfum and EDT (a life-long supply of Miss Dior) and this review for both is spot-on in every way, right down to Miss Dior being the embodiment of Wallis Simpson (I couldn’t stop laughing, it was so perfect) and Diorissimo being as fleeting as youth.

  2. Hanamini

    I love this post; Miss Dior, for me, was always exactly the houndstooth on the label. Precise, stern, no-nonsense. I’m going to have to revisit it. Meanwhile, I picked some LOTV in my garden yesterday. I hate doing that—it feels vandalous—but it’s such a waste to let it just wither in situ. It lives in a shady corner with forget-me-nots and bluebells. I used to wear Diorissimo until it felt too watery (sort of the opposite of your “oranging”, a great word); this was in the 1990s. What would you say is the vintage of your wonderful haul?

  3. JulienFromDijon

    Hi D! 🙂

    About the 47g atomizer, I got a similar bargain too, recently.
    (I was 99% sure yours was well-preserved too, just by seeing the photo. You were in for a treat! )
    I got the same bottle with Dior-Dior. I am still amazed to have almost 2oz of extrait of this. Just before, I never got the knack to remember its name from the other Dior-something, like Diorling and whatever. It smells like the missing link between “Diorella” and “Le parfum de Thérèse”, i.e. fizzy muguet and cantaloupe melon, with a glorious equilibrium and quality. Very Roudnitska, given free hands.

    So I’m sharing your feeling of surprise in front of such a bargain.
    By comparison, it usually takes so much efforts and money to get 15ml of anything vintage, and in good shape.
    You’ve seen, the spray is nice, it’s a natural spray. In opposite, with the somewhat ~22ml extrait vintage bottles, whose sprays are dodgy. They hold pressured gas, and the good preservation is a one in third chance.

    Also, you’ve got the best “Diorella” version that I know of.
    These hounds-tooth EDT version have an extra tiny bit of real jasmin and even teensier bit of tuberose. Their effect is perfect on the axis of their spotless clear fresh chypre. It’s maddening.
    The somewhat greasy waxy effect of natural compounds is giving an equilibrium to the synthetic -yet exhilarating- effect of the hesperidic and fruity notes. In short, the gardenia effect gives a counterpart to the cantaloupe melon.

    The best extraits from “Miss Dior” that I own are from mid-1990.
    Luca Turin wrote that “Miss Dior” has had a LOT of reformulations, even before the dreaded years. I can rely when he writes, that friends of his were enamored with some 90s version on which they fell in love.
    My bad ones :
    My old houndstooth EDT splash bottles, and bad extrait partial bottles, are grim. They have a greenness reminiscent of cow dung (or of some tea), with some light cistus * and frankincense in the bottom.
    The good one :
    The 1990 extrait version is easy to like, even love. It’s the one that I recommend to hunt for.
    I see it as a variation on shades of white, more precisely off-whites, sometimes with clean connotations sometimes with dirty connotations.
    . fizzy muguet (and coca-cola tinge), on a Nile river smell ;
    . jasmine and iris absolute, on the sound of tulle layers hissing ;
    . soft powdery notes like white hard candies, rice, but also hard-boiled eggs ;
    . yellow vanilla flower on a light ambery base and musks, but also slightly soiled white panties (urine) (animalic ingredients).
    In all its weirdness, it can fit for a bride, but also for your daily commute. It’s very pleasing, comforting and rich, yet soft-spoken in appearance.
    It’s fearsomely falsely apologetic. (And a huge improvement on my “cow dung” experience, from my previous purchases).

    I only have Diorissimo extrait in a partial tiny amphora bottle.
    The verdancy and somewhat narcissus effect is intimidating in it.
    I really truly think there is narcissus inside, for the extra hay note and narcotic effect. (It sits along with the usual Diorissimo clarity).
    It feels like a clearing amidst a forest, in summer. Thigh-high grass and wild crops, that has turned yellow, some trees in bloom in the far, the whole warmed by sun, carried by winds, and cooled by some water downwards… all is wafting at you.
    (It’s a feeling that I also get in “IV L’heure fougueuse”, with some red natural berries in the mix).
    I rarely touch my bottle. As a male, I think I could make it work on the fabric of my sleeves (for example, cotton shirts). But this extrait is somewhat to stunning to be worn as a mere piece of accessories. Or so I think.

    The EDT are good up to around 2000, but they demand 15 minutes to starts smelling like it should.
    It’s because the real thing starts smelling of nothing, like snow on a black cathodic screen. After 15 minutes, the curtain is lifted, and you have a rosy ylang-ylang on top of a lily-of-the valley scenery. This section has an odd strength, given that it smelled like nothing just before.

    Those are all my very subjective opinions, gathered after times and expenditures. But I hope it might help other readers, when they put their bet on risky second-hand bottles.

  4. What a haul!
    Miss Dior always seemed more Ms Dior with a touch of Nurse Ratchet to me. A female pharmacist I worked with wore it, she was a very stern Wallis Simpson/Ratchet managerial type – it was barely detectable over her horrific body odor. Still retching recalling the stench.
    My mom’s Diorrissimo from the 50s is the rippled rectangular bottle with a white cap. It hasn’t been stored well and is only a bit of brown goo. Civet and indole are very present though, unlike the modern interpretation.

    • Lord yes I know that EXACT brown goo and it is very dirty indeed

      I think the genius of a fresh Diorissimo is the way it keeps that animalic touch very under the membrane of floral freshness : you SENSE it but can’t quite smell it

      I LOVE your horrendous Miss Dior memory : can so easily see the perfume going like that – goaty underarms really wouldn’t do it any favours – but the snappy chic chypre greenness can be q sexy on some – I love this perfume’s confidence

  5. Robin

    So much to say, dear N., but no time and must to bed! But must tell you that before I do, and you already know, that this post of yours was a massive treat to read. Concur with everything. Have a lifetime supply of Miss Dior (but of course). Much bottle variation. The best are divine, a very comfy wear for me. The galbanum sings. You: decidedly non, non, non! I can picture you in Dioressence very easily, somehow. Mmm. That is such a shapeshifter, enigmatic and a little odd, in a good way. Good night, my dear.

    • Dior Dior for me!

      Tell me more about Miss though – your interpretation and how it works on you.

      • Robin

        I couldn’t describe it better than you did. That is exactly what Miss Dior is to me. That’s the magic of your particular way of perceiving things.

        And I’m so not a Wallis Simpson, more a tree-hugging Blundstone-wearing British Columbian, so it wears a touch ironic, a bit cheekily. I like to think. Quite a contrast from the patchouli oil I smell everywhere here in the forested hamlets on the coast.

        But as you know, Diorama is my Dior holy grail. And Diorling.

      • Diorama: I still don’t know it!

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