Christian Dior Diorling, Vintage & New ~ perfume review

Christian Dior Diorling fragrance

Last night before I went out for a drink with a friend, I sprayed one Eau de Toilette on my left wrist and another on my right wrist. I went into the living room, held out my arms wrists up, and said to my friend, "What do you think of these perfumes?"

She sniffed each wrist and said, "This one smells kind of light and alcohol-y. That one is a diva. It's really strong and reminds me of something..."

"Leather?" I asked. "Yes!" she said, "Like shoes."

"Well," I told her, "They're the same perfume: Diorling by Christian Dior. This one —" Here I pointed with some disgust at the wrist with the light, fizzy scent, "Is the new version. The other one is the old one."

Paul Vacher, the nose behind the sublime Miss Dior, created Diorling in 1963. Diorling is a leather chypre with its leather front-loaded. On first spritz of the vintage Diorling, I smell strong, elegant leather, like unwrapping the tissue around a pair of new stilettos with an orange flower blossom, stem attached, stuffed in each toe. After an hour or so, a glorious white floral heart joins the leather, quieter now, and Diorling becomes much more approachable. Half a day later, Diorling fades to a close hum of oakmoss, patchouli, and — still — a little leather. I adore it.

Sometime in the past 45 years, Dior took hold of the Mona Lisa that is Diorling and started cranking out paint-by-number versions of it. The sample I have of the reformulated Diorling is from a brand new bottle. Instead of opening with unapologetic leather, it starts pale and aldehydic and quickly turns to soapy jasmine and lily of the valley. It's pretty, but not as pretty as Caron Nocturnes, which at this point seems modeled along the same lines. After a quarter of an hour, I smell leather, but it is an undercurrent so spare that it plays Melanie to the real Diorling's Scarlett O'Hara. To make things worse, all the chypre has been sucked out of it. Two hours after two full sprays and the new Diorling has disappeared completely.

For a gentle leather-floral fragrance, I prefer Hermès Kelly Caleche. Kelly Caleche is brighter than the new Diorling, and has rose where Diorling has white flowers, but in my mind it's so much more satisfying. For a grand leather scent, either get your hands on some vintage Diorling or satisfy yourself with some combination of Robert Piguet Bandit, Grès Cabochard, Caron Tabac Blond, and Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque. But while each of these leather scents is wonderful in its own way, none is the original Diorling.

The new Diorling is only sold at the flagship Christian Dior boutique in Paris, at the Bon Marché in Paris, and at the Roja Dove boutique at Harrods in London.

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29 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Melanie to the real Diorling's Scarlett O'Hara. Exactly.

    The new Diorama, however, I love.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was panicking about the new Diorama–I haven't smelled the old or the new–so I'm glad to hear you like it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Recently I found a bottle of vintage Diorling edt. Having only sniffed the reissue version, I was completely unready to experience the power of the vintage. I liked the reissue, although I needed to wait a couple of hours for the flat, soapy quality to leave (the fragrance, fortunately, lasted much longer on me than it did on you). The vintage Diorling is one of my all-time perfume loves. I never want to be without it. Stunning, sexy, and decidedly bold as the flowers flirt with the leather.
    I was lucky to try the vintage Diorama as well (although not so lucky as to obtain a bottle yet). I thought I like the reissue, but the full-blown, juicy, rich quality of the fruit in the vintage has made me forever turn my eyes away from the new version. All in all, the vintage Diorling and Diorama are so different from the newer versions that I could see a person owning all four.

  4. Anonymous says:

    hello–

    i love your stilletos/orange blossom description– i could really imagine exactly how that would smell. nice! i've recently become interested in miss dior. i sprayed it at saks the other day and sniffed my hand the whole way home. i've read that the original version is even more chewy/meaty. what are your thoughts? is the pure parfum now closer to the original?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm aching to try the vintage Diorama now! I'll have to make an offering to the Perfume Goddesses to bring a bottle my way. In the meantime, I feel really lucky to have a stock of vintage Diorling.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love Miss Dior, although I admit that the first time I tried it it was too much for me. (In Chandler Burr's new book he says that Miss Dior is “unwearable”, except maybe in France.) The parfum is deliciously rich and dense, animalic and weird, but still feminine. The EdT is good, too, although I like my bottle of vintage EdC better than the new EdT I've smelled.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was panicking about the new Diorama too! How NEW is it?
    Anyway, isn't it weird what these perfume houses do with the old scents? Or aren't WE weird and crazy that we usually find the old versions better?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think it's all about saving money on the raw ingredients. Still, it's a shame that a genius artist like Roudnitska (Diorama) or Vacher (Diorling) can create something and then have it compromised with dilution and cheap ingredients. And by a “luxury” house, no less.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just fantastically well-written, Angela. Love that “Dior took hold of the Mona Lisa that is Diorling and started cranking out paint-by-number versions of it,” and the image of those blossom-stuffed (stems attached!) stilettos. You really satisfy our fragrance-loving souls on SO many levels.

    A dear swap-mate just sent me some decades-old extrait of Je Reviens. I actually cried a little. It was the smell I remember from a teenager in love — he sniffed a bunch of testers himself before choosing JR for me on my 19th birthday — and it was profoundly moving to smell it again, so much of life-lived later. The new EdT is like Windex,compared. A tragedy.

    In an ideal world, houses would reissue the original formulas (I know there are some restrictions now, eg., oakmoss) of those iconic releases at a reasonable price. Wouldn't that be heaven?

  10. Anonymous says:

    That would be a dream come true! Perfume is already so expensive, given the cost of the raw materials, that you'd think a company could produce a high-quality version of an original, even if they couldn't use as much oakmoss, for example. Maybe not enough people have held Dior's feet to the fire on this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Exactly! It COULD be done, with economic viability. And, just in terms of developing loyalty, just think how priceless a move it would be for houses such as Dior. Most of all, think how deliriously happy it would make all of US!! ;-D

  12. Anonymous says:

    Oh Robin, I too wore Je Reviens for years. Back in the 70's-80's it was ALL I wore. I hoard a lovely bottle of pure perfume from the old days and use it still. I have smelled the new version and it does not compare at all. So sad that formulas change but I hate the trend of just plain old changing the perfume completely!! If it's a new scent, give it a new name and bring in new customers, companies just tick off their loyal clients when they change a vintage scent completely. I wish I could find Je Reviens bath products in the US, I used to adore the spray oil.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I know I'd sure be happy!

  14. Anonymous says:

    R and K–FYI, I've found vintage Je Reviens fairly easily–once at an estate sale and once at an antiques store–so don't give up! It really is a wonderful fragrance.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thanks KR and Angela!! I'll be looking.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Good luck!

  17. Anonymous says:

    If they cannot for legal reasons keep the formulas the same then please, for gods sake just kill off the name. Really. Don't hand me chopped tofu dyed red and try to tell it's steak tartare…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Here! Here! Couldn't agree more.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Haha, so well expressed Tom :-D

  20. Anonymous says:

    I couldn't agree more about the difference between vintage and reissued Diorling. But it's not entirely due to the avarice of accountants deciding to have it made with cheap ingredients and thinking no one will notice because no one remembers them well enough… It's not only oakmoss-type regulations.

    It's also a side-effect of a decades-old practice in perfumery: the company that employs the perfumer and manufactures the oils for, say, a couture house, is the only one to have the actual formula: Dior never saw the formula for Miss Dior, Diorissimo, etc.

    Why was that? Because there was no contract between the couture house and the perfume company, so the only way the perfume company could ensure their profits is by hanging on for dear life to the formulas.

    Say Edmond Roudnitska made Diorama and Diorissimo: it was actually fabricated in his factory near Grasse, but as he had rather small facilities, he subcontracted this and that bit of the formula to other Grasse labs. Now if one of those labs shuts down, the particular base that they made is lost forever. So even if Roudnitska's estate has the formula, they can't make Diorissimo or Diorama exactly like the man composed it.

    In some cases, like Diorling maybe, they may not even have access to the formula at all, so they knock together a simile based on what they can do with analysis of the original. The companies that actually made it, or bits of it, may be long-gone.

    This is even more striking when brands change hands — maybe this is the case of Je Reviens, which went steadily downmarket from being a scent from the first couture house in history. The current owners are manufacturing a reproduction from an imitation from an approximation, using cheaper and cheaper ingredients at every reformulation.

    So add cheapness + regulations + the tradition of secrecy in perfumery, and there you go.

    All this info comes from an impeccable source, by the way: Mr Jean Kerléo, founder of the Osmothèque, whom I met last month.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Kelly Caleche – I read more and more praise for this scent. Maybe this is a scent that one day can become a famous thing.

  22. Anonymous says:

    You know, I own all 4 of the perfumes mentioned in comments–new and vintage Diorling and new and vintage Diorama, and I have to say–I love all four. No, the new ones are not a match for the amazing originals, but I find them lovely in their own right. And when I wore the new Diorling during the sniffa in Paris, I got MANY complimets from the other perfumistas–and I smelled plenty leathery, we all thought (not floral at all). My secrets:

    1) I think my often skin brings out leather (in a good way) in perfume. But maybe not–cause I couldn't even smell the leather in the Hermes, and the new Diorling, it is clearly there. I FAR prefer this to the H.

    2) I really DRENCHED myself in it (if I didn't, no one could smell anything at all).

    Since all my fellow “sniffers” agreed with me, I guess it was not just a matter of taste. Chemistry is everything!

  23. Anonymous says:

    You expressed it so beautifully.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Fascinating! Thank you for this information–and from Kerleo, no less! It makes me treasure my vintage Diorling even more when I think about its components, maybe never to be made again.

    I still can't help but think that if Dior really wanted to, they could take vintage Diorling, run in through a machine to analyze its formula, and even without being able to procure the same bases that they could have forty years ago, come up with a fragrance that is closer to the original than the current Diorling. Of course, maybe they didn't want to, and not from being cheap, either. Maybe Dior decided that the new Diorling would be more marketable. It's certainly not as extreme as the old Diorling.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I think when Kelly Caleche came out a lot of people were expecting something with more leather. Now that people are ready to take it for what it is–a lovely, subtle, spare leather rose–it's getting the respect it deserves.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't be surprised if skin chemistry really does play a role here. For me the leather in Kelly Caleche is subtle, but it's definitely there and you don't have to look hard for it. But in the new Diorling it takes it's time showing up and then vanishes, presto! I wish you could smell them side by side on me, and you'd see what a sorry show the new Diorling makes on me.

    I still haven't smelled either of the Dioramas. I'm going to make a point of it, though, so many people like them both.

  27. Anonymous says:

    They're not exactly rushing to market this anyway. As for as I know, it's only available at the Dior boutique on the avenue Montaigne, at Le Bon Marché department store and chez Roja Dove's in Harrods. But I agree, they could've made more of an effort. Possibly they don't feel it's worth it.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Good point. It may not be worth the effort or money for them to do it. I'm sure Diorling isn't a tiny, tiny portion of what they make from, say, J'Adore. But I sure like it!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Carmen, that's truly enlightening. THANK you!! That puts so much in perspective for us. . .

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