Miss Dior was released by Christian Dior in 1947, shortly after the success of his groundbreaking “New Look” collection. It was Dior’s first perfume, and was created by either Paul Vacher or Jean Carles (or possibly both), under the direction of Dior’s childhood friend Serge Heftler-Louiche. The fragrance notes include gardenia, galbanum, clary sage, aldehydes, jasmine, rose, neroli, narcissus, iris, carnation, lily of the valley, patchouli, labdanum, oakmoss, ambergris, sandalwood, vetiver, and leather.
Miss Dior was said to have been influenced by both Chypre de Coty and Vent Vert (see Michael Edwards, Perfume Legends). It starts strong and sharp, with gardenia and dark green undertones from the galbanum. It retains some of the green, but settles into something much softer, with well-blended floral notes and a classic chypre base with lots of oakmoss and smooth woods. The whole is muted by a dusting of light powder, which tones down the earthy notes and lends an elegant, understated touch to the composition. It is sometimes described as fresh, but to my nose, you could only call it so in comparison to other aldehydic florals of that era — it is considerably less assertive than many from the 1940s and 50s.
In an an attempt to improve its faltering sales in the United States, Dior repackaged and relaunched the fragrance in 1992. Although the juice was said to have been left untouched at that time, it is of course highly unlikely that the formula has survived intact since 1947. Whatever tinkering has been done has not erased its old-fashioned feel, and I can only assume that this year’s release of Miss Dior Chérie (which I will review tomorrow) indicates that Parfums Christian Dior has accepted that Miss Dior is not likely to appeal to modern consumers.
Miss Dior is easily found online at the major perfume discounters.
Update: in 2011, Dior began to call the newer Miss Dior Chérie simply “Miss Dior”, and to refer to the original Miss Dior as “Miss Dior Classic” or “Miss Dior Original”.