This trio of Diors corresponds to each other very well. Not only through smell but through the names as well, something comme Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria. Like three characters from the same chapter from the book of Dior Parfums.
Our tale begins with Diorella, a fresh floral chypre launched in 1972. Created by Edmond Roudnitska, he has called this his best creation, besides Eau Sauvage. The contradiction I find in this incredibly light yet heady fragrance is how it balances along the cologne lines of citruses and the boundaries of woody with oakmoss and woody notes. Diorella was launched at a time when perfumes like Charlie came into being and the hoity-toity appeal of a fragrance was being brought down to appeal to the mainstream. Diorella, I believe was the one of those fragrances which was keeping the elegance and prestige of perfume alive. It smelled divine and it felt divine.
Upon first inspection, you are hit with this citrusy wave of lime. But you can detect the woods underneath it, along with the florals. It stays very fresh on the skin for a while. Then it turns and twists and starts to unravel the oakmoss and honeysuckle. That’s where Diorella defines itself as an extraordinary perfume. A perfume you don’t witness often. It’s a fleeting sensation but if you experience it, you know it’s special.
Diorella’s advert made by the master Gruau is one of my favorite illustrations, drawings or whatever one wants to call it. It’s this yellow poster full of joy, happiness and the need to live life because you have Diorella to smell great with.
Dior-Dior or ‘doublement Dior’ came in ’76. Well, the confusion I very happily slipped into was whether the bottle I was smelling was a mislabled Diorella or was it really a different perfume? What I smelled was the same citrus and floral from Diorella but a bit toned down, a bit tamed. Only differences which seemed prominent were the woodiness which was more pronounced as well as the floral notes. This is when I detected the pattern – these three are like keys, going lower and lower becoming more dense, less pitchy, more husky.
Lastly, we arrive at Dioressence which is the final one from this trio, released in 1979. I have read Dioressence brings this image to mind of a woman lying on her oppulent sofa in her furs and jewels. She’s a ‘woman’ and she’s mysterious, luxurious and well, she’s high maintainence. Dioressence is ladden in oakmoss. It’s drunk on it, easily put. It’s syrupy thick and can crowd the air if doused in copious amounts. But a dab of it will make sense if you try to. But deep down, somewhere you can see Diorella and Dior-Dior living in it’s depths. Happily and peacefully.
Dioressence seems like it came a decade or two late or early. I feel it belongs to the ranks of Femme by Rochas or Ma Griffe by Caron. Those explosive yet mysterious perfumes which were evocative of smoke screens and spotlights yet it could belong to the 80s amongst the monsters such as Knowing by Estée Lauder or Paloma Picasso.
If you’re interested in trying these, you should know that Diorella and Dioressence are still being produced. Diorella continues to be sold but sadly, the earthy, woody-ness has left the beautiful bottle and all that remains is sharp citrus with a bit of florals and a shameful reconstruction of what used to be it’s woody notes. As for Dioressence, one can imagine what the Oakmoss restrictions did to it. Dior-Dior didn’t really live for long. But you should know you can only witness the true spectacular-ness of these beauties in true vintage form. On eBay, a decant is easily found. You might even have fun bidding on a larger houndstooth bottle.
If you ever come to Paris, rush to the flea markets in the 18th district up north. Make your way to ‘Marche Vernaison‘ (exact location: 48.902350, 2.343951) and you’ll discover a beautiful shop where a lady sells just vintage perfume. From pebble bottles the size of your pinky nail to huge factice display bottles, everything goes. The prices, you must deal with although.