Sunday, January 13, 2008

Christian Dior Diorissimo

Diorissimo was one of my mother's first signature perfumes, and I believe she wore it for at least a decade of her young life. I'm not sure how long after the launch in 1956 it reached Japan (it took awhile for things to reach overseas back then), but she was a trendy girl in her '60s short hair and tailored threads, and Diorissimo complemented her style well. These days, she finds it too simple and boring, and wouldn't wear it again. After having moved onto Oriental and Chypre, nowadays she opts for headier white florals (Michael is her most recent favorite). However, her-story wouldn't be complete without Diorissimo, a bonafide classic recognized the world over, generation after generation. It's hard not to be taken by the sheer beauty of this fragrance--it's clean, light and pure, like you might spin around arms open wide and break into the song, "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music, upon smelling it. Then you might want to untwirl your skirt and sit like a lady because Diorissimo is oh-so-well-mannered--almost painstakingly so.

It's been said that Diorissimo, a Green Floral, was a rebellion against the trend of the time to cover up synthetics with gourmand notes, but ironically, lily of the valley, the key note in Diorissimo, is a created note because the natural oil is neither commercially available nor usable by perfumers (read more here). I've read lily of the valley is made with indoles which are known to smell fecal when strong but diluted and altered can smell flowery (indoles can produce bluebell, rose geranium, synthetic jasmine & civet, etc). I don't use lily of the valley in my perfumes and I don't know which aldehydes are involved, but I know the beauty of Diorissimo is the combination of this lily of the valley accord, a green, high-pitched note, and the glorious heart of jasmine, a most prized ingredient in perfumery, richly dazzling like a jewel within the composition. Some say the scent is animalic and musky but I don't find it so--I find it more fresh and clean like an old-fashioned floral soap. Diorissimo is a soliflore to me because the overall seems focused on lily of the valley, but it's a more complex blend than the simplicity of the scent suggests.

I strongly recommend the vintage parfum or Esprit de Parfum (which I believe is stronger than eau de parfum and is more like parfum strength). However, even the vintage eau de cologne is powerful (for such a delicate scent) and rich with quality ingredients compared to the version available today which is still nice and recognizably Diorissimo but seems a bit flat to me. Maybe someone who's been wearing this scent longer than I have could tell me I'm wrong about this, and that I'm being influenced by the richer yellow-brown tone of the vintage juice (real jasmine changes color over time). Of course, I totally understand if you'd rather wear new juice (I like fresh perfume, too). Even if pearls are too preppy for you, do try Diorissimo, the olfactive equivalent of a no-nonsense set of pearls. It'll withstand any overbearing scrutiny or criticism, and keep you fresh as a daisy during interviews and such.

(Image Sources: Christian Dior Diorissimo illustrations by René Gruau found at, and Les Tuileries blog)