Christian Dior’s Diorella was created in 1972 by the legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, a sibling of his masterpiece Diorissimo. It is one of the fragrances awarded five stars by Turin and Sanchez in their book “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.” Although they docked one star from it in their 2009 update, they still found it excellent. I have a bottle of Diorella that I think dates to 2002, according to the guidelines described in the “Raiders of the Lost Scent” blog (a great resource).
It smells great! As is common in a vintage fragrance, the citrus top notes are diminished such that I only get a hint of citrus before the heart notes emerge; to my nose, the strongest top note is actually the melon. The heart notes I smell most are honeysuckle and jasmine, with just a hint of peach and carnation. It is interesting to me that my experience of vintage Diorella seems to align with what Neil Chapman (“The Black Narcissus“) described in his excellent 2019 book “Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent“, i.e. a “Seventies’ lemon chypre with notes of melon, jasmine, and honeysuckle.” We may have been sniffing the same vintage!
I’d like to smell more of the lemon that was important in the original version, so I may have to find a way to enhance that by layering something lemony with my Diorella. One option may be 4160 Tuesdays’ Meet Me On The Corner, which Sarah McCartney consciously created as inspired by Diorella. MMOTC has a strong lemony opening, so I’ll have to try it as a companion! (By the way, MMOTC is now available through at least one of 4160 Tuesdays’ American stockists). Another possibility is the Replica Filter Glow, though I don’t find that to be a strong lemon, more of a gentle blend of citruses and neroli. Another possibility could be a fragrance I haven’t yet tried, Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien, which supposedly has a strong lemon note, or Miller Harris’ Citron Citron. Or I could just go with one of Demeter Fragrance’s cheerful and cheap scents, like Frozen Margarita, to get a burst of lime, since Luca Turin highlights the lime in his description of Diorella.
As my vintage Diorella dries down, I smell more vetiver than oakmoss — it’s just a bit lighter, drier, grassier. The oakmoss is noticeably present, but not dominant as it often is in a chypre perfume. Neil Chapman summed up his perception of Diorella as “haughty, almost arrogant, decadent.” I don’t find it to be any of those (as always, in fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary). I can tell there’s a patchouli note somewhere but it isn’t very evident to my nose.
Luca Turin views Diorella as an extension of Roudnitska’s work on Eau Sauvage, which came out in 1966:
Diorella was intended as a feminine and was the very essence of bohemian chic, with an odd, overripe melon effect that still feels both elegant and decadent. The modern version, no doubt fully compliant with all relevant health-and-safety edicts since the fall of the Roman Empire, is drier and more masculine than of old, no bad thing since I have always seen it as a perfected Eau Sauvage and one of the best masculines money can buy.
So, gentlemen, spritz away with some vintage Diorella and let us know what you think!
I like my vintage Diorella very much and I’m glad to have it. It’s green enough to please that scent preference of mine, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a “green” fragrance, like my galbanum-heavy favorites.
Can anyone here recommend any other “citrus chypres”?