Before I begin, I have two announcements to make: First of all, I want to thank the generous Joanna for sharing a decant of vintage Diorella with me. This review is based on my subsequent wearings of this beautiful rendition, prior to the oakmoss banning days. My second confession is that some ten or so years ago, when Diorella was quite widely available (and before oakmoss was so ridiculously restricted) and it did not quite capture my heart. While I liked its freshness and similarity to the brilliant Eau Sauvage, here was something about it that I disliked - a combination of the heaady floral note of honeysuckle, and the soapy aldehydes at the opening. Time perhaps has been kind with Diorella, because she has aged gracefully. Or perhaps it is an even earlier formulation of the same one. But it is certainly different from the scrubbed and lathered version you’ll find on the Dior counters nowadays.

Way before its time, Roudnitska was at ease incorporating fruit salad elements in his fragrances in a most refreshing, light-weight manner... created in 1972, Roudnitska’s fruit has thankfully no affinity with the syrupy, unbearably sweet fruity-gourmand florals of the new millenia; but rather posessed a cheerful lightness paired with complex substance from more earthy and floral notes of natural raw materials. So again, these are far superior to the light, watery fruity-florals of the 90‘s, though these were strongly influenced by the asthetics that Roudnitska developed with the creation of Eau Sauvage, which introduced the concept of space and expansion to modern perfumery.

Diorella is munching on a honeydew melon (or is it a cantaloupe?). It is ripe, juicy yet somehow still crisp, as it is brilliantly paired with citrusy notes of lemon and bergamot and a touch of spicy-sweet green basil. Her peach-toned skin emanates a scent that is similar to white peach’s delicate, milky and slightly nutty aroma, due to the use of peach aldehyde and peach lactone. These unique fruity notes were both brilliantly used in a non-edible way (as Edmound Roudnitska explains beautifully in Michael Edward’s book, Perfume Legends - French Feminine Fragrances). Rather, it brings freshness and a unique texture to the jus. It is brilliantly paired with effervescent, ethereal and soapy honeysuckle, crushed basil leaves and a tad of the oily aldehydic notes backed with ionones, that simultaneously give the clean impression of triple-milled soap, and the dirty allusion to hosiery that’s been worn and sweated in for at least half a day. That dichotomy between anti-bacterial herbs and animal/human secretion seems to be at the core of Diorella.

The oily aldheyde and peach notes fades rather quickly, allowing the basil and citrus notes more breathing room. Orris butter is present yet very subtle, giving a soft-focus background to the composition, and making it somehow smell more feminine. What truly moves to the forefront is jasmine. Pure, unadulterated, indole-rich jasmine at its best. And it is that indole that will accompany Diorella throughout her strut on the skin and the surrounding air - first an ethereal jasmine, and later on a full, unabridged indolic jasmine, with its fruity, jammy peach-like and earthy and animalic character beautifully showcasing this gorgeous phenomenon. The similarity to Le Parfum de Thérèse as well as Eau Sauvage are striking; but what surprised me what the affinity I discovered with Eau d’Hermes. Also a perfume that is all about jasmine, yet from a very different point of view - more warm, sweet-earthy and spicy. It is probably the juxtaposition of jasmine with ionones that creates that olfactory connection for me.

Last but not least, it’s time to talk about the base notes, the foundation of Diorella. No matter how much Roudnitska denies any connection to Eau Sauvage, the similarity is striking, despite the differences. There is definitely oakmoss, but not nearly as much as in Eau Sauvage, which gives it more of a green, dry and woody character rather than a dense, brown-earthy and musky feel. Vetiver also supports it in this direction. Even the patchouli, which appears in both, seems to be toned down and instead of the big-warm-oily patchouli hug you get in some feminine Chypres such as Miss Dior - there is just a single brush stroke of it, done in aquarelle. Last but not least, where Eau Sauvage has a generous dose of hay, which gives it an almost-fougere quality, Diorella has a subtle sprinkle of tonka bean (or perhaps just pure synthetic coumarin - in reality there is a very small difference between the two), giving it a slightly bitter finish, but with that feminine soft-focus that reflects the orris from earlier on.

Diorella is a very Mediterranean perfume, and truly reminds me of Grasse and the surrounding area, including the perfumer’s home and garden (which I visited in 2009). It also reminds me of a perfume that his son, Michel Roudnitska created way into the future - Eau Emotionelle - also playing on the cantaloupe-jasmine-ionone theme, but in oil-pain strokes rather than the sheer aquarelle of his father's. The culture in that area is greatly influenced by Italy and Spain, and there is something very Italian about it, especially in the opening notes. If Diorella was a woman, she would be one with a very outgoing, young spirit. A woman that loves to laugh and enjoy life’s pleasures, and just goes with the flow - but isn’t audacious or dominant by any means, and is very kind, generous and open but without ever being vulgar in the least. There is something truly carefree, open, fun, bursting with life and joie de vivre about it. In case you didn’t know already - it’s a true masterpiece. It has been relatively recently re-introduced along with the other classic retro Dior-fumes: Diorling, Dioressence, Diorama... I’m sure the new version pales in comparison but I’m nevertheless intrigued to find out what they’ve done to it to overcome the restrictions on jasmine levels and the industry’s new (low) standard of avoiding oakmoss at all costs (even though it is still allowed - the washed-down version of atranol-free absolute, and at only very low percentage).

Top notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Basil, Melon, Aldehydes, Peach
Heart notes: Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Hedione, Orris, Violet
Base notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli, Vetiver, Coumarin


Wind Painting - Death Valley National Park by Joshua Cripps

Slightly charred vinyl flowers on sand and rubber tires abandoned in the heat of the summer and splashed over by salty sea water. If you were lucky, it would cling to your clothes the way ozone does after coming in after a brisk walk in the chilly air. There’s a wind blowing and it brings forth the scent of desert flowers (is it broom ?) and perhaps even beach lilies, mingled with grassy shrubs and metal frames that were left behind and are now blooming with deep-red rust.

Dune is not often discussed or mentioned among pefumistas. I can’t think of a single person I know that loves or wears this scent. And it’s one of those cerebral, and slightly moody scents, which I was never able to connect with, but always admired for its role in the history of contemporary perfumery.

Launched in 1991, Dune has impact beyond what meets the surface. It was one of (if not the first) modern perfume to disregard the “pyramid” structure of beginning, middle and end (also known as head/top, heart/middle and foundation/base). Instead, it takes a completely linear path that fades into the horizon like a curved mass of sand.

Jean-Louis Sieuzac, Nejla Bsiri-Barbir and Dominique Ropion created Dune in 1992, and in 1993 it won FiFi awards. It is a scent that had an immense impact on perfume culture throughout the 90’s, though not too many are aware of that ozone/marine scent. If l’Eau d’Issey and Cool Water began the trend of transferring aquatics from the pool to the bottle (Aquatic/Watery Florals and Fougeres); Dune was more about the open space near the seashore, and explored the concept of “ozone” or the scent that is in the air around the ocean. It was well ahead of its time, and as it turned out - it is the father of all the "mineral" or "salty" scents that are slowly but surely gaining momentum in the new millennium.

It might have taken a while, but Dune to me is a scent that explores the movement of a vast body such as a sand dune. It comes in as a wave and fades out as one. A year later came another perfume that questioned the authority of the pyramid structure: Angel, with its linear, homogenous yet aggressive personality. But while Angel took the spirit of the 80’s and amplified it ten fold to push strong-minded fragrances to the next generation; Dune was all about refinement and subtlety, and inspired other perfumes with similar character.

In its time, Dune resembled no other scent - so much so, that it took me literally years to be able to wrap my head around it. It was so cerebral and I had difficult time connecting to it, “reading” it. It did not really “speak” to me with its very unnatural, sci-fi personality and abstract raw materials… In the meantime, Dune has influenced many similar scents – linear, woodsy and warm yet clean and cerebral: Tocade (1994), which is about as linear as any scent could ever get; Allure (1996), which supposedly has the “faceted” structure, but if you look at it closely feels and smells very much like a copycat of Dune (even the “facets” which are just different aspects of this one linear processions – are dominated by the same notes: Mandarin, Vetiver, Vanilla, with the white flowers being the only visible variant); and lastly – the salty ambergris-centred Eau de Mervelleis (2004), Bois d’Orage (2007), Dans tes Bras (2008) and Terre Hermès (2009).

So now after exploring these scents and observing its influence, coming back to Dune seems on one had to finally make sense; but in the other hand – lost a bit of its novelty for me.

Dune by default fits in my gestalt with the Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel bearing the same name. And just like that novel, which walks between modern mythology and political commentary – Dune questioned our paradigm of how perfume should behave, and at the same time has become such an iconic perfume on several levels: the choice of raw materials (and the inclusion of helionial to create very realistic ocean-side nuances), the linear structure linear as linear could be – as and far as I know the first of its kind (followed only a year later by another modern icon – Angel).

Even the bottle is brilliant – reflecting the curvature of the dunes, their pale golden and glowing colour, at the same time flowing yet set in its own ways – just like the jus within it.

Dune is singular, unusual and very out of the way from my comfort zone or natural leaning. Although it is, as mentioned and emphasized earlier about 10 times, a linear scent – there is a certain progression, and in the beginning you would smell pale, transparent hit of green abstract notes, which are mingled with mandarin and resemble citrus leaves (only cleaner and not in the least eau-de-cologne like). Fairly quickly these just fade to become part of the greater picture – abstract flowers, sand and mineral notes mingled with salty air (yet not in the least algae-like) and revealing slowly an undercurrent of vetiver, amber, musky woods and vanilla. And it also lasts and lasts and lasts – easily for 10 or 12 hours; though not in a menacing or overpowering way. It’s just present.

And if you really "need" to see more specific notes of succession of Dune's aspects, you might like this part (the flowers are very unoticeable though, in my humble opinion):

Fresh & Airy – Broom, Wallflower, Bergamot, Mandarin

Flowery – Lily, Peony, Jasmine, Rose

Rich & Velvety – Amber, Lichen, Musk, Sandalwood, Vanilla

Eau Sauvage

From the moment I met Eau Sauvage, it was steaming passion. It’s sparkling clarity and bold sensuality are seductively well-mannered. Eau Sauvage is what I would want to immediately splash onto a man’s chest and than bury my head into... This would probably be my one recommendation, aside from necessary precautions, for a blind-date gadget (whether if you are a man or a woman)… It radiates good taste and vibrates with a lively charm. Eau Sauvage has the sensuality of clean, freshly showered skin, smooth just-shaved cheekbones, the sweater of a lover left behind for further cuddling and sniffing, permeated with the impeccable scents of sweat sweet hay.

As a side note I may ad: I wasn’t exposed to the Eau Sauvage ads featuring showers and mysterious men just about to take off their black sweater – and was pleasantly surprised to find them fitting to my own internal image of the scent (which is quite unusual in the world of perfume ads).

It wasn’t until I became a perfumer that I learned that the magic charm here lies with the oakmoss. Oakmoss has the power to add a rich, complex underlining base to what otherwise would be just another one of the many fleeting eaux de citrus & herbs. And so while Eau Sauvage is unmistakably sparkling with citrus, it is also one of the first Chypre for men, and actually a revolutionary fragrance in its time.

Eau Sauvage was one of the very few significantly different fragrances for men. The fragrant history around the world (Arabia, India, Ancient Greece and Rome) tells us that men indulged shamelessly in a diverse selection of aromatics: from sweet and indolic flowers (rose and jasmine) to heavily sweet balsams, incense, musk and ambergris. Contrary to that, the modern Western man, since perhaps the days of Napoleon or even earlier, submitted themselves to a painfully limited palette of aromas: citrus, aromatic herbs, woods and some musk. Anything sweeter, heavier or more floral was reserved for women. Of course – there were a handful of significant and unusual scents for men prior to Eau Sauvage: Jicky (Guerlain, 1889, considered the first modern perfume but also one that dared to question the gender boundaries of perfume), Mouchoir de Monsieur (Guerlain, 1904), Pour Un Homme (Caron, 1934), Old Spice (originally released by Shultan in 1937 and was actually marketed for women but happily adopted by men).

What reserves Eau Sauvage such a special place in perfume history are two things: its composition, of course, but also it’s timing. It was released in 1966, a time when men were perhaps ready to start breaking out of the strict olfactory boundaries that locked them in a clean prison of citrus and herbs. Other scents released around this era are Tabac Original (1959), Chanel’s Pour Monsieur (1955), Pino Silvestre (1955), Monsieur de Givenchy (1959) and Creed’s Cuir de Russie (1953). These paved the path to the revolution of men’s scents, a quiet revolution that is still happening and morphing quietly into a rebel against the exact same things that restricted Western men, olfactory-wise, for the past two centuries. Eau Sauvage was a milestone in breaking out of the norm – starting with the use of substantial amounts of oakmoss and patchouli at the base, and hedione and jasmine in the heart. Only few people at the time knew that the Maestro had an even more revolutionary scent in stock – the one reserved for his wife Therese (designed for her earlier, in 1960). In Eau Sauvage, Roudniska used only a bare amount of the hedione comparing to his masterpiece for his wife, and none of the aquatic melony notes used in Le Parfum de Therese. But the use of citrus and basil and an expanding jasmine heart created a very similar effect, yet one that was be more easily acceptable by his audience.

Another departure from the norm was its mass appeal to both men and women. Since the release of Jicky, there wasn’t as much olfactory “gender-confusion”, and everybody felt comfortable stealing each other’s cologne, as long as it was Eau Sauvage. Diorella was sooon to follow, perhaps to shut down the cologne-kidnapping complaints and cologne-custody court battles that followed Eau Sauvage and threatened to break too many marriages… Diorella was a toned down version of Le Parfum de Therese, and a floraler version of Eau Sauvage (more hedione, and more jasmine, with the addition of melon). Where Diorella failed (marketing wise), other houses gained and started releasing many more unisex scents ever since – O de Lancome (1969), Diptyque’s l’Eau (1968), Santa Mari Novella’s Melograno (1965), Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien (1981) – and than the explosion (or shall we say inflation?) in unisex fragrance in the 90’s, accompanying and/or following Calvin Klein’s One (1994).

The use of basil, citrus and oakmoss is genius, and along with the jasmine, considering it’s time, it is also daring. To me it will always stay at the top – the epitome of masculine fragrances, and fragrances at large.

Top notes: Lemon, Pine, Lime

Heart notes: Basil, Jasmine, Carnation

Base notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli, Musk, Hay

Image credits:
Posters from
Bottle image from Dior.com


Diorissimo is the essence of spring, and as it’s genius creator Roudniska has said, it captures the scent of the flowers as well as the natural atomsphere where the little modest flowers grow - green foliage and damp and chilly forest floor.

Diorissimo evokes an instantly cheerful mood and a happy and positive attitude as soon as it delights with its presence. It radiates a certain pure and youthfully innocent quality that makes it a perfect scent for initiating young girls into the world of perfumery, and perhaps even seducing them into a premature wedding with its intoxicating and euphoric scent.

As an Eau de Toilette, Diorissimo is a soliflore lily of the valley, in fact – the only one that I smelled so far that captures the scent of the crisp little white bells without smelling headily synthetic and develop into a flat, shallow nuisance on the skin.

In the Eau de Toilette I can smell mostly the galbanum, boronia and jasmine, all in a supporting role to the heady scent of freshly picked lily of the valley.

The pure parfum, however, has a more deep and less single-floral feel to it. The rose and jasmine are more dominant and the boronia works really well in accentuating the green and fresh spring qualities. I have also detected certain amount of oakmoss in the base. It is very subtle - but I think it does what it needs to do. I used to like the EDT much better, abut now I prefer the parfum.

Top notes: Green Glabanum notes
Heart notes: Lilly of the Valley, Boronia, Calyx, Rose
Base notes: Jasmine, Sandalwood, Civet
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