Sunday, July 20, 2008
Who Is Miss Dior?
In my exploration of the classics (try it kids) I kept coming across mention of this fragrance, over and over, each reference noting that the vintage version was best. So I bought a used bottle of the original formula Eau de Toilette on Ebay. And a little bit of the vintage perfume.
When I sprayed it on, I thought, I know this. I know it from somewhere.
Miss Dior is from a time when there was time. It reveals itself slowly, as if there was all the time needed to savor, well, anything. In the Sixties-era EDT I have, the top note of galbanum is the only fleeting one. It’s there for a few seconds, bitterness, then gone. The herbal notes arise for a few moments, longer in the extrait. Then the florals begin to appear, just beyond my reach. I think I smell gardenia, rose, something very powdery and sweet, something nearly milky, and something approaching dark. They shimmer and pulse like the Northern Lights, in no particular meter, flowing back and forth across the surface of my skin. And this goes on, and on and on, and each sniff is a little different than the last.
I woke up in the middle of the night, and sniffed and thought, here it is. The classic chypre, real oakmoss, real labdanum, had revealed itself. It had taken its time. Now, I smelled like I’d been born with chypre-scented skin. As though my pores had soaked it in and closed over it.
It could be said that “Miss Dior,” and the New Look that spawned it, marked the return of the corset; the wasp waist, the voluminous long skirt, woman-as-flower, as Dior himself said; the loose chemises of the Twenties would not return for forty years. Of course, getting Rosie the Riveter back into the kitchen after the war was more an American thing. The French were probably just glad to have enough unrationed fabric to make a flowing skirt like that, something that would rustle and twirl. After the war, that must have felt like luxury indeed.
What is luxury now? Time. The postwar Parisian ladies and their newly middle-class American counterparts could not have imagined how much stuff we have, and how much time we spend scrambling to service it.
So, for us, luxury is not unlimited yards of fabric, or wearing hats and gloves to lunch. Luxury now is having the time to sniff your own wrist, and to think about what that means.
Notes of the vintage Miss Dior include galbanum, bergamot, clary sage, gardenia, jasmine, narcissus, neroli, rose, patchouli, oakmoss, labdanum and sandalwood.