“I wanted to create Miss Dior so I could see my dresses float out of the bottle one after the other, dressing women in a trail of desire.” – Christian Dior
In 1947, Christian Dior created Miss Dior—his first-ever fragrance. It was inspired by Catherine Dior, his younger sister, a passionate young woman full of life and desire, with a heart that lives for freedom and adventure. More than just a fragrance, the original Miss Dior ignited the olfactory senses with fresh, sophisticated green and floral notes. It was a scent that embodies the charm of sparkling youth; the perfume of freedom. Today, Miss Dior is as charming as ever, with a multi-faceted personality in tow.
Evidently, Miss Dior is of a rich and telling heritage, and we were fortunate enough to experience the couture fragrance at the 'Let Miss Dior Bloom' exhibition in Singapore. A fragrance savoir-faire dedicated to the iconic perfume, the exhibition offered a fascinating display of heritage photographs and drawings, as well as the precious amphora bottle—the signature bottle of the House of Dior. And the distinctive star of 'Let Miss Dior Bloom'? The beautiful floor-to-ceiling installation of 300,000 myriad paper flowers designed to look like jasmines, a stunning structure inspired by the petal-adorned Miss Dior Haute Couture dress.
A rather rare sight: guests were able to see the Dames D'Atelier—French craftsmen from the Dior Fragrance Atelier—perform the art of baudruchage (a traditional way of sealing the bottle) and the perfumer bow. Also in attendance was Dior International Fragrance Training Manager Cendrine Fournier, who was there to take us through Miss Dior's interesting history. Here, we speak to Cendrine, to discover more about the emblematic Dior fragrance:
What does Miss Dior mean to you?
I would say it is very "Miss", very "Dior"—one is about femininity and the other is about elegance. It is a very symbolic fragrance for the brand. When you think about Dior, not only the fragrance comes to mind, but also couture, while "Miss" also symbolises modernity and young age.
What aspects of the fragrance or Christian Dior himself, inspired the original amphora-shaped bottle?
The amphora was originally used in traditional bottles for perfumes in the antiquity, even in Greece or in Italy, and Christian Dior was really fond of traditional shapes. He was also inspired by the balustrade at the Trianon Palace in Versailles, which has the shape of the amphora as well. To him this shape was something that was extremely feminine, and from the start, he always had this strong vision of femininity. So, to him it was quite obvious to choose amphora as a mythical first bottle for Miss Dior.
What are the qualities that embody Miss Dior?
As far as the image, we talk about a young, modern and feminine woman. We like to talk about audacity, we like to talk about seduction as well, you know, in the story (of the Miss Dior short film starring Natalie Portman), it's really about seduction—seducing men, of course, and being free, joyful and happy.
Could you tell us about the meaning behind the iconic couture bow?
The bow, like the amphora, is traditional in France. There is a story behind it: King Louis XIV went hunting with his mistress one day. They were horseback riding, so the mistress's hair went from being prim and proper to becoming a huge mess. And what she did was, she took off her garter and used it to tie her hair. It made a bow that was quite nice, and the king thought she looked beautiful with it. That particular style became known as the Fontanges bow, and it is the original inspiration for the bow that we have around the neck of Miss Dior and also in one of the first logos for Christian Dior.
And the houndstooth motif?
Before Christian Dior opened his House of Dior, he was working as a modelist in Paris and had the opportunity to create designs. He loved the houndstooth motif, which was inspired by the masculine, British style. His first dress design was created in houndstooth fabric, making him the first couturier to use the motif for women. Thus, when he started Dior, he wanted to keep this as a trademark for himself and his brand. It then became important for us to use the motif, which provides an interesting and modern visual for the fragrance.
In the process of creating a new fragrance, how do you ensure that it has a universal appeal?
The thing is, when you create a fragrance, even when you believe it is going to be the best fragrance ever created—you never know. But how François Demachy (Dior's Perfume-Creator) does it is that he likes to run blind tests, whether by wearing the fragrance himself or letting other women try it, and see how people react to it.
Christian Dior himself said this about the first Miss Dior fragrance: "I don't care if people like it or love it, I want people to remember it". Thus I think it's very important for a fragrance to have its signature, something that people remember it by, or something that brings emotions to you—then you know it's going to be a success. Ultimately, time will tell.
Where are the best spots on the body to apply perfume?
There are no rules in fragrance; it is really the choice and freedom of the woman to use the fragrance the way she wants. One can choose to focus on pulse points, which could be the wrists, the neck or behind the knees, specifically when using perfumes with high concentrations of fragrance, like Elixir or J'Adore. (Editor's note: pulse points are where your heart rate can be felt. The warmth of the blood at these points helps activate the perfume). The fragrance is a living product, it changes on the skin—spritzing perfume at the pulse points allows the scent to grow and evolve. Well-moisturised skin and layering, too, help the scent last longer.