Thursday, November 5, 2015

Variations on perfume classics, part 7 (Miss Dior)

'Winter Birch'. Rose Strang 2014

This is Part 7 of a series in which I've recommended variations on a classic. Today it's Miss Dior.

 The idea is to explore perfumes which feel like modern-day versions of Miss Dior, or perfumes with similarities.

(In Part 1I explored Shalimar,  in Part 2, Joy, Part 3 was Femme, Part 4, Chanel No. 5 and Part 5 Chanel No. 19 .

This is getting a bit confusing perhaps, but in Part 6 I introduced Miss Dior and the chypre accord in perfumery, so if you want to know more about chypre and the making of Miss Dior have a look at Part 6.

Today's post though, is all about perfumes that might appeal to those who love Miss Dior and would like to try something slightly similar. It's impossible to go into all the nuances of chypre and the hundreds of perfumes to try, but this article is hopefully a good startign point.

'Wild Chamomile'. 2015
(I've illustrated this post with some of my own paintings that have a chypre-ish feel! More can be viewed here on my - arts website  )

Because chypre contains oakmoss which has been restricted, and is due to be banned in 2015, perfumes nowadays rarely contain the classic chypre notes.

Instead, what the perfume industry normally does is to simply class patchouli as the chypre note, sometimes alongside vetiver.

Patchouli is often included as part of the classic chypre accord but is far more heavy than oakmoss, and to my nose has nowhere near the sense of mystery and intrigue of chypre. I do love vetiver a lot, but again it's distinctive - more smoky and astringent than oakmoss.

They can't fool the perfumistas with their patchouli nouveau chypres! What the lover of Miss Dior is looking for is an elegant, classic perfume that's ladylike in feel, yet pretty. The fact is you won't find a classic Miss Dior these days unless you seek a vintage. (more info on that below). Or try the following perfumes...

Contemporary Perfumes similar in style to Miss Dior

As with all the classic perfumes in this series, Miss Dior is available in a series of different flankers which vary on the original. Last time I looked there were about 20!

As mentioned though, most of these new formulations contain patchouli in place of oakmoss and chypre, so if you'd like to explore vintage chypres, I recommend you log on to or (see 'hard to find perfumes' list on right). Both these websites specialise in vintages and are reliable as far as I know. I've not heard complaints about them on perfume forums, except delays in sending on rare occassions. They're both based in America, so you're going to pay around £8 for p+p if you're in the UK and Europe (I'm not sure about other countries).

'Spring Sycamore'. 2013
At this point I normally make mention of other iconic perfumes from the same era, so other famous chypres are Ma Griffe by Carven, and Sous le Vent by Guerlain. Earlier than these though, was one of the first chypres in western pefumery - Coty's Chypre (as mentioned in the Raymond Chandler novels and worn by his femme fatales!) Again you can find this on Surrender to, but all of these vintage perfumes can also be found on Ebay. Just be aware you're taking a risk, and do your homework on bottles/batches etc before buying. There were earlier chypre perfumes in western perfumery, but they weren't as well known as Coty's chypre.

Through a perfume swap recently, I received a miniature of vintage Miss Balmain which was an absolute classic. I enjoy chypres, but I don't wear them often, so I offered Miss Balmain to my mum who's a definite chypre afficionado and she was delighted with it. I've included many more fruity chypres, such as Mitsouko, in Part 3 - Femme

A great alternative to exploring vintages is to explore niche or independent perfume companies, who for various reasons can get away with adding oakmoss to perfume despite it being restricted.

*These perfumes can usually only be found online on the manufacturer's website...

'Glentress Mist'. 2015
Mousse de Chine by Ava Luxe and Green Oakmoss by Soivohle are niche chypres that are fairly green/woody and earthy, so if you'd like a more old school abstract and French style floral chypre, try Chypre Palatin by MDCI Parfums (it'll cost you mind!)

The best niche indy perfumer when it comes to original chypre though, is DSH Perfumes, which is owned by 'nose' Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (I wrote a blog post about her which you can read Here)

'River'. 2013
There are so many oakmoss or chypre perfumes here it's best if you just have an explore of her website - DSH Perfumes - to see what appeals to you. I ordered several pure oil parfum samples a year or so ago and recommend Vert Pour Madame -  a very fresh, green, springlike chypre with the distinct smoky/salty green notes of oakmoss.

If your love of chypres includes Rochas Femme, you might love DSH's fruity/spicy/chypre Mirabella.

In the UK you can't order full bottles overseas from the US where DSH is based, but I promise you the wax or pure oil samples go a long way, they're affordable, and you can have fun testing many more than just buying one bottle.

For an air of indulgent luxury, if you have the money to spare, try some of the perfumes by French/Arabian company Amouage. They commission some of the best 'noses' worldwide to compose their perfumes, and use high quality ingredients.  

'Black'. 2013
Memoir Woman is immediately recognisable as a luxuriant chypre (though far more dark and sultry than Miss Dior) with notes of leather, herbs, labdanum, oakmoss, civet, spices and white florals. It smells hyper posh (too posh for a somewhat casual dresser such as myself truth be told!) and it costs about £200 for 50mls. For another spicy, warm chypre, try Fate for Women by Amouage

For more reading on chypre, log on  to this excellent article by perfume expert Elena Vosnaki at Perfume Shrine - Chypre for newbies

'Oakmoss'. 2013


  1. While I'm still mourning the departure of my favorite Miss Dior, I do enjoy several of the chypres that you've mentioned, Memoir and Vert pour Madame in particular. I just wore Memoire yesterday and can still smell it from my hair.

  2. Hi Unidina, that's great to hear you like those, you are clearly a proper chypre connoisseur :) I forgot to mention Vert Pour Madame's violet leaf aspect, it's very distinct isn't it? Makes it different from the more earthy indy chypre perfumes. Lovely weather for chypre just now too. I imagine Memoire is very lovely as a lingering trail in dry down