Vintages Miss Dior – Decoding a Bottle of Love

Miss Dior – Decoding a Bottle of Love

09/18/13 17:13:01 (39 comments)

by: Miguel Matos

Some say love is out of fashion. Some say love is lost. It sure is for the ones that do not know what love is after all. For Christian Dior, love was something so evident he could even smell it. That's why he specifically asked for “a fragrance that smells of love” when designing his first perfume. Today, love smells sixteen different ways, judging by all the versions Miss Dior has known since 1947.

As the perfume industry gets more and more massified, and as traditional codes for elegance change from the desire of being unique to just being trendy, it becomes more important to know some of the stepping stones in the history of scent. Miss Dior is one of the biggest icons in perfumery in the 20th century, and even this fragrance is no longer the glorious chypre of its golden days. After its reformulation, some of the charm is gone, although it continues to be beautiful. But with the invasion of numerous flankers, we all seem to be a little lost from the original Miss Dior. So, here's a reminder of the first love.

When Christian Dior was preparing for the launch of his first perfume, to accompany the first show of his collection, the name for the fragrance had yet to be invented. That's when his sister Catherine Dior walked into the salon at 30 Avenue Montaigne. As she came down the stairs, Dior's muse Mitzah Bricard said: “Here's Miss Dior!” What a perfect name, Christian Dior thought. He pictured Miss Dior as the very soul of his dresses. His dream became reality at the birthplace of Dior Couture and on the day of the runway show, the place was impregnated with this bewitching perfume. Clients and journalists left the place with the scent of Miss Dior attached to their clothes and skin. The perfume became associated with Parisian high fashion. In fact, more than a liter of pure fragrance was sprayed around every week at the house of Dior in Paris.

“Women are suddenly allowed to be elegant and colorful once again and to emphasize feminine curves. With Miss Dior, the fashion designer even invents a fragrance classic on top of that,” said Till Schröder and Martin Simons, authors of the book Douglas, The Era of Beauty 1910-2010. Miss Dior hit the shelves on December 1, nine months after the Miss Dior fashion show. The first bottle for Miss Dior was designed to mirror the silhouette Christian dreamed for the modern and elegant woman. An amphora: feminine, curvaceous, timeless. The ringed amphora is a symbol of something that contains a precious liquid, and that's what Miss Dior was. The amphora, a shape that resembles something between an hourglass and a flower, speaks of classic beauty and youth. Dior's New Look ended the era of frugalty in fashion and cosmetics forced by the wartime.  

The bottle evolved in 1949, and while the amphora still boasted feminine curves in a figure eight, its rings were gone and the glass came in three colors—blue, white and red, like an homage to French women. "I created a perfume to wrap every woman in glorious femininity, as though each of my dresses was emerging from the bottle, one by one," stated Christian Dior. In 1950, the designer created his “vertical line,” and a new Miss Dior bottle to go with it. The new image was a more achitectural one, geometric with straight lines, much more sober, a bit austere, but softened with a bow tie and houndstooth pattern engraved in the heavy square glass. This object was “cut like a suit.” It embodied couture spirit and precise tailoring. These codes for Dior elegance still endure in Miss Dior's bottle, with minor changes to this day. If only we could say the same regarding the scent ...

This iconic bottle, like any cult object, is made of several key elements. Houndstooth, bow and ribbon, English typography—these are codes that have dressed Miss Dior perfume since its inception. Let's take a trip to the past and up through today, evoking Miss Dior's visual designs.

HOUNDSTOOTH
 
In 1939 Christian Dior made his first houndstooth dress, while working for Robert Piguet. He was very fond of British culture for its uses, sense of tradition and politeness. The Prince-of-Wales pattern was a symbol of British aristocracy in masculine clothing around the 1920s, popularized by the Duke of Windsor. Monsieur Dior's childhood was spent by the coast in Granville, and that provided him with several opportunities to mingle with Anglo-Saxon tourists. He became very influenced by all things British and even gave his “British touch” to his first fragrance, Miss Dior. A prerogative of elegant men, the houndstooth (in French, pied-de-poule or "cock's foot"), checkered and irregular, gave an impression of a grey fabric, by stylishly pairing black and white in small scale. On the other side, the pink and gray diptych, a distinctive house code, combines a feminine color with a masculine one. This way, the houndstooth is a variation of a purely masculine fabric in favor of female models. Later on in 1950, when the bottle of Miss Dior was redesigned into the square shape we now know, a houndstooth print was engraved in the glass.
 
 
ENGLISH TYPOGRAPHY
 
Besides having the english name “Miss” instead of “Mademoiselle,” and adding to the reference to British clothing, the letters chosen for the name of this perfume were also reminiscent of English culture. Edwardian calligraphy was given to Miss Dior, and after that, this letters became part of the brand's visual DNA. Diorissimo (1956) and Diorling (1963) were also given this sober and elegant typography recalling the cards used to invite friends for tea or dinner.

RIBBONS AND BOW TIES
 
The ribbon is another visual landmark for Miss Dior, most visible in the recent Miss Dior Le Parfum advertising images. The ribbon symbolizes a gift; it wraps something precious that will be given to someone we love. The bow at Christian Dior appears for the first time in visual advertising signed by René Gruau in 1947 for Miss Dior.

In this illustration a swan wore a bow-tie around its neck. This small knot became a symbol of Miss Dior. The neck of the bottle was adorned with a knot of black or white silk, depending on the concentration of the perfume. The bow-tie also evokes male tailoring, once again recalling Christian Dior's interest in crossing elements from the feminine and masculine universes like he did with the houndstooth pattern. 

On the cardboard boxes, another kind of bow appears: le nœud Fontanges, taking inspiration from the 18th century embellishments at the Palais de Versailles. The Fontanges bow was named after the Duchess Marie-Angélique Fontanges, mistress of Louis XIV, who, at the time, popularized a hairstyle that got her name. The bow with the oval shape bearing the name "Miss Dior" became an iconic structure for numerous Dior products.
 
 
These are the style codes for a legend born in 1947. So, choose the Miss you want to love, but be sure she is dressed for the occasion.
 
 
Miguel Matos is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with art and perfume. He is the editor of the art section at Time Out Lisbon, directs his own cultural magazine, Umbigo, and has a perfume blog, besides contributing with texts for museums and art galleries. He collects perfume and is especially fond of vintages. He is a Fragrantica writer, translator and editor of Fragrantica.com.br

 



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irisjetaime
irisjetaime

"Dans Dior il y a Dieu et il y a Or"
Jean Cocteau

Sep
05
2016
TillyWave
TillyWave

I love Dior's old hand-drawn ads.

Sep
05
2016
kateridelisle
kateridelisle

I own the vintage Miss Dior. It was a family favorite fragrance from grandmother to mother to daughter. The new reformulated Miss Dior doesn't compare. It doesn't have the same dry leather vintage scent. So now my daughter won't be able to experience what a true classic fragrance Miss Dior was. Well written article though.

Sep
05
2016
Odenir De Faria
Odenir De Faria

Caro Miguel;

Gosto muito de teus artigos. Este é mais um magnífico. Eu te felicito.

Lembro-me de quando era criança e minha mãe guardava um pequeno frasco de perfume (que hoje reconheço como Miss Dior) no fundo do guarda-roupas. Vez por outra eu ia até lá e, com minhas mãozinhas, buscava aquele fresquinho e cheirava o conteúdo. Era mágico. Um aroma lindo, sofisticado e que rescindia a uma mamãe que eu raramente via, pois era usado só em ocasiões especiais.

Cresci apaixonado por perfumes e hoje tenho minha própria, ainda que pequena, coleção. E ainda conservo o hábito de cheirar perfumes todos os dias para ter um, ou vários, momentos de prazer.

Miss Dior é um dos perfumes que adoro. Traz-me boas lembranças.

Odenir De Faria

Apr
22
2015
migueldematos
migueldematos

I just discovered that the new reformulation, called Miss Dior Original is amazing and very much like the vintage. :D

Apr
22
2015
nexangelus
nexangelus

I love and own a vintage Miss Dior. Love the woody, leathery dry down and the real old vintage scent. I have not tried the modern one yet. Will put it on my to test list. I loved the pics and the article on one of my favourites.

Feb
28
2015
diego.lesgart
diego.lesgart

Miss Dior in 1996-98- 2000 was like Timeless by Avon

Feb
28
2015
Annemarie
Annemarie

Im interested in the Schroder and Simons book you mention but cant find any trace of it. Can you provide any more bibliographic detail?

Mar
05
2014
Afonso
Afonso

Very well done Miguel. I appreciate the article. Fortunately I've a few antique bottles that shows the beauty and the glamour of the past.
Afonso

Jan
21
2014
SorceressOfTheDark
SorceressOfTheDark

Thank you for researching and presenting more on the art of perfumery. It seems to be on its way to a lost art today amongst producers and manufacturers who worship the dollar. There are really many who appreciate the beauty of the scent along with the construction of the bottle. Both are important and if created and designed well, equally beautiful.

Jan
09
2014
migueldematos
migueldematos

@juicysweet24, IFRA regulations impose restrictions on some ingredients and thats why most of the classics are changed in their formulation. But if you find an original, please tell me where! :D

Oct
13
2013
juicysweet24
juicysweet24

Why would they want to change it? I would love to find an original.

Oct
13
2013
DivotDiva
DivotDiva

This was rather fascinating, Miguel, and I have enjoyed reading your past few articles. As you alluded in the narrative, the scent has changed. Can you write an article regarding those changes and the various revisions to Miss Dior and Miss Dior Cherie to the presently available fragrances?

Oct
06
2013
migueldematos
migueldematos

Despite all reformulations, I still think that modern Miss Dior is beautiful and very classy. And it is still an unusual scent, considering all of the latest releases in mainstream perfumery.

Oct
06
2013
Jomoves
Jomoves

All this art and effort, and now it all comes down to thinner glass, plastic caps, nozzles that spray less and ingredient substitution, all rounded off with a higher price tag. Welcome to the modern world of the "creative" bean counter.

Sep
22
2013
Jahzara
Jahzara

This is a great article! Thank you!

Sep
21
2013
Jahzara
Jahzara

This is a great article! Thank you!

Sep
21
2013
migueldematos
migueldematos

@cybernoir, thank you so much for what you said. I'm glad you find this interesting and pleasurable to read. Regarding the images, they were all provided by Christian Dior Parfums PR office.

Sep
21
2013
maximova
maximova

Miss Dior is my fav perfume I don't think that I will ever find something like this!!

Sep
21
2013
Cybernoir
Cybernoir

A beautifully illustrated, carefully researched, and well written article. I especially love the detailed bottle design graphics and photographs. I hope Fragrantica continues to publish articles with this kind of depth. Nicely written as well, a pleasure to read, and well structured.
My only request: it would be great if you cited the sources of your illustrations and graphics.
And one more request: More, please!

Sep
21
2013
TakaBeata
TakaBeata

I Love this photo !!
Yes, Lovesmells I love this travel too :)

Sep
20
2013
Lovesmells
Lovesmells

Like traveling in time. Well done article. Thank you

Sep
19
2013
fragaholic79
fragaholic79

Thank you for this delightfully graphic walk down the memory lane. Beautifully written.

Sep
19
2013
smauricius
smauricius

It's so beautifully written! Love your articles Miguel! Congrats.

Sep
19
2013
migueldematos
migueldematos

@fazalcheema the bottle you mention, left one in the first image is from 1950.

Sep
19
2013
dmaw
dmaw

My teenage daughter is a newbie to Miss Dior (Cherie, in particular, of course), but also the original. She plans to major in fashion merchandising, so I have forwarded this article to her for her "portfolio".

Sep
19
2013
sweetiepea161616
sweetiepea161616

Love it!!! Thank you!! I really appreciated that article. I think the masculine and feminine elements are genius!

And yes, Miguel's hair is fab ;)

Sep
19
2013
krmarich
krmarich

I have always had my eye on a bottle of Miss Dior. I had no idea of its evolution since its creation. I have seen many vintages ranging in price and style. This article helps narrow down my search. I am sure I will not be disappointed when I find a sample from before the 1980s.

Sep
19
2013
SakuyaJemJem
SakuyaJemJem

Great article.
It makes me love Miss Dior even more. Such a classic fragrance.

Sep
19
2013
bluepistachio
bluepistachio

Awesome!

Sep
19
2013
kejtibi93
kejtibi93

My favourite perfume! It smells perfectly, just the way I'd love to smell :-)

Sep
19
2013
*sophi*
*sophi*

Great stuff :)

Sep
19
2013
tommy_girl
tommy_girl

one of the best articles I've ever read in fragrantica!very useful. not I understand better every signle sign,symbol in miss dior bottles.

Sep
18
2013
smile4thecamera
smile4thecamera

Very interesting article. Thank you.

Sep
18
2013
sherryberry
sherryberry

Great Article!!

Sep
18
2013
dannysmom
dannysmom

Thank you for this article.

Sep
18
2013
fazalcheema
fazalcheema

Miguel, the Miss Dior parfum bottle in the very first picture on the left with white bow, when was it produced..i have one like it but i feel like the formula had changed drastically by the time it came in that bottle..if it helps. the size is .5 oz parfum and came in a white square box with grey label in which miss dior is etched..

Sep
18
2013
jeca
jeca

René Gruau's ads for Dior are the best! Thank you, Miguel!

My mom had a travel size EDParfum, she didn't use it, but I did when I was in college. I remember it smelled so sharp cutting and very feminine at the same time. I do want it in parfum.

Sep
18
2013
Lee79
Lee79

Great article!!

Sep
18
2013

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