Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Perfume Book: Dior, Les Parfums

For the first time, an official Dior perfume-centered book is set to launch this September: Dior Les Parfums (or "Dior The Perfumes"). The book reprises the history, the artistry and the description of the Christian Dior fragrances from 1947 (the year of the original Miss Dior perfume, currently circulating as L'originale; for valuable info on distinguishing Miss Dior editions consult this link) right up till 2014.

Its author, Chandler Burr, is best known to fragrance aficionados for his fascinating book on the industry, his NY Times scent critic stint, his MAD tenure and his scent dinners.
In 2013 Christian Dior Perfumes approached Burr and proposed a collaboration in which they would create a list of works Burr independently considered aesthetically and intellectually important—commercial scents like “Higher Energy”, though financial successes for Dior, were therefore not included. While writing, the author worked closely with Frédéric Bourdelier, Brand Culture & Heritage Manager of Christian Dior Parfums. The photography is by Terri Weifenbach, fine art photographer and teacher.

Dior, Les Parfums ("Dior, The Perfumes") is published by Rizzoli USA (115$) and comes out on the 24th of September. The book measures 9.75 x 13.75 and costs $76.16; you can preorder it on Amazon following this link.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Christian Dior fragrance reviews 


  1. Anonymous15:19

    Hope they're planning to shelve it in the elegy section.

    Just bought a new bottle of Fahrenheit and was REALLY disappointed. It's nothing like the tester - the oily leather and violets are gone, gone, gone.

    It's my own fault - the same department store has an old Dune tester that still smells like something somebody might want to wear. I should have known.

    Dior has become a weak, watery chemical cartoon. I doubt I'll ever buy anything new from them again.


  2. A book commissioned by the brand and then sold for real money? I wonder if the book main use will be as a gift to wealthy clothes/handbag etc buyers, perhaps to induce them to buy more perfume as well.

    As for the content, I'm sharing some of the feeling of anonymous above. Will they talk about reformulations? For many Diors, these are indeed important (even ignoring the Miss Dior multiple identities).


  3. Anon,

    I agree with your sentiments on the once great Dior perfumes losing the grip. It had been coming for some time because of all the changes concerning the allergens and the "masstige" appeal of catching a new (younger I assume) demographic.

    There are still some things that are good, but the grandeur that survived during the 80s is long gone….Some of us caught it in time. I consider us blessed.

  4. M,

    and for a pretty penny too, from what I can see. :-D

    I think Dior (like Chanel, like Guerlain) really like their cultural heritage as both a seal of greatness and as a marketing tool that perpetuates prestige, but they are in a conundrum; the average buyer isn't interested in the past, he/she is interested in the future; they more or less so in the latest commercial for J'Adore, don't they?
    And as long as they cannot uphold the past in a manner comparable to the Roudnitska/Vacher/Carles era due to several factors, the thing becomes a losing bet. They simply can't win-win, they have to cut their losses (I don't mean market share ones, those are in fine shape) and concentrate on the things they can do successfully.
    Hermes is really the clear inner in the luxury stakes in this game because:
    1.they don't have as historically formative fragrance tradition to uphold (Caleche, Doblis and Equipage despite their utter loveliness are less influential in the history of perfumery and less popular than -say- Miss Dior, Diorella and Poison)
    2.they have let their head perfumer do the thing he excels at, i.e. create a definitive style that is recognizable and very "avant garde"
    3.that style is not aspirational (contrary to some of the Dior products and some of Chanel's too), i.e. it never tries too hard, it looks totally effortless (though it's surely very hard work!)
    4.they are a saddlery house to begin with so they have a solid tangible "thing" to build upon instead of the very complex stuff that is haute couture.

    Personally I think Dior can do better sometimes (the endless flankers are too much work on Demachy's shoulders and are they really necessary? Show me the purpose of having the classic Eau Fraiche re-issued in the "patrimoine" collection at the same time as modern eaux fraiches circulating and confusing the consumer?).

    As to the pure content of the book itself, I have discussed this with Chandler several times and he doesn't believe in the distinction of vintage-modern. There was a discussion on some samples I had sent him of vintage stuff and some indeed produced a raised brow or even little shout of surprise in him (the eau de cologne version of Miss Dior is so not the animalic beast that is the old eau de toilette for instance), but he's got a point in that it isn't possible to offer an appreciation of an artifact (if perfume can be considered that) if it's dissected in several editions, each slightly different than the next and none accessible to the reader. Like we say in archaeology, you can only conduct an excavation right the first time (it's a destructive process) and I agree with Heraclitus that no man can step into the same river twice. :-)

    Not being a perfume collector himself Chandler possibly missed out on several fragrances being different in the not all too distant past. Those of us who have not are not the target demographic of the book I should gather, though ironically enough are the ones most interested in it in the first place.


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