Whatever happened to Miss Dior?

1947 Miss Dior was a brown leather chypre, with an olfactory hue that set it apart from that great congener and wartime rival - Bandit.
If Bandit (1944) is a black leather handbag filled with odds and ends, belonging to a woman in occupied Paris, Miss Dior could be the perfumed saddle of Epona. She is the Celtic goddess of horses, who - in Apuleius's bawdy and picaresque novel The Golden Ass - has a shrine adorned with roses in a stable.
I chose this archaic metaphor because, like Miss Dior, she is a thing of the past.

There has been a slippage in our olfactory conventions over the last seventy years, and Miss Dior is a good example of how things have changed in a lifetime.
After World War Two, when women had to deal with shortage, death and destruction, a leather chypre would have suited the times. Perhaps women recognised that something robust like Miss Dior - or Bandit before it - would hide their raw emotions (or at least not stir them up in the way that a romantic floral might).
Let's take a look at this olfactory armour.

Brown leather chypre, with a humid undertone of stable yard and horse.
There's a liquid crystalline citrus with the tang removed, and a spicy pepper clove and coriander overtone; and this goes with a base of resins, balms, vetiver, moss and patchouli. As it unfolds, the spicy leather reveals a heart of rose-jasmin and lily, surrounded by iris, neroli, lavender, tuberose and a green accord.

It's vigourous yet subtle, with the grace of a chestnut thoroughbred. But Miss Dior is no pushover; she is – even with the soft pink heart - a commanding floral chypre with presence.

In their excellent book Perfumery, Calkin & Jellinek declared Miss Dior to be 'an extraordinary balancing act between contrasting materials, [and] one of the most admired perfumes among perfumers [at the time].

Today, Miss Dior doesn't read like the feminine it was perceived to be back in the Forties and Fifties - and even until the Seventies. But the prominent floral centrepiece means it doesn't smell masculine either. Which illustrates the problem old Miss Dior posed for the perfume market. It didn't suit the needs of modern women.

By the eighties – with changing tastes and the loss of its cultural relevance - Miss Dior had to be completely overhauled if it was to survive. Nowadays, women want (or are persuaded they want) something less confrontational and more consumable – typically a gourmand. As a result, this one-time market leader, and acclaimed masterpiece, was axed and totally reformulated. It had to fall in line with current demands or fall by the wayside.

Consequently, what was once the reference brown leather chypre - and one of the best perfumes ever - is no more: what goes by that name today is little more than a bunch of fruity florals.
 

Blog Comments

David Ruskin

Basenotes Institution
May 28, 2009
Dior (or whoever owns the fragrance section of Dior) deliberately took the name "Miss Dior" and used it for a new fruity fragrance. This is what is being advertised now. The original "Miss Dior" has been disappeared.

1947 is a key year for fashion with The New Look starting the campaign to get women back into the home and away from the factory. During the war women were encouraged to do the work that the men could not do, as they were away fighting. Rosie the Riveter was a role model. After the war, as the men came back it was necessary to give them bak their jobs, so women had to become more feminine again. Miss Dior was the fragrance of the New Look.

All forgotten by Dior now. They should be ashamed.
 

Brian Buchanan

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 26, 2013
Nice write-up - thank you!
Just one correction: the original has not been axed. It is still available as 'Miss Dior Original', though not always easy to find among the morass of pink imposters.
With the amount of moss involved, I doubt the 'original' could be as original as the Original - if you see what I mean.
 

baklavaRuzh

Super Member
Sep 3, 2022
Your concerns

Not mine. I try not to think about it. It's too distressing to even contemplate...

I feel like this story could go in multiple different directions depending on how closely related mr and miss Dior were, or perhaps in a twist of events, it turns into more of Hannah Montana type of story except it's Mr Dior and a blonde wig this time.
 

baklavaRuzh

Super Member
Sep 3, 2022
That was my take on your comment! :ROFLMAO:
Yousuf-Karsh-Christian-Dior-1954.jpg
 

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