Tuesday, 20 July 2010

No Formula Changes Permitted

I recently decided to celebrate my return to the real world by popping out for some pre-holiday shopping, an activity which is always accompanied by a certain amount of perfume sniffing. As the advertising for Armani's Acqua Di Gioia was unavoidable in all the shops I entered, I thought I'd better give the juice a try. I expect it'll end up being as successful as Gio, but I certainly won't be recommending it to anyone: I think there are enough people in the western hemisphere who smell of aquatic melons.

I was equally disappointed - but more intrigued - by the Terrible version of Jean Paul Gaultier's Le Male. On paper, this was so soft as to make me wonder if its name is an ironic joke, but a skin test revealed that, sure enough, it does pack a spicier punch at the start. However, by the time it gets to its drydown, it's almost indistinguishable from the original, so even though the little razor blade around the slightly redesigned bottle is pretty cool, this is another flanker that's probably best avoided.

A quick stop at a Chanel stand confirmed that Bleu will be released on the 16th of August, but by far the most memorable moment of the day's olfactory explorations took place at the Dior counter of a high-end department store. Eager to give my nose a whiff of a classic, I asked the sales assistant if she'd spray some Diorissimo on a blotter for me. As soon as I saw the tester, I knew I was about to be treated to the substandard, new version of the scent, but 'never mind,' I told myself, 'at least it won't smell like Acqua Di Fruit Salad.'

I passed the strip under my nose and couldn't stop a frown from crossing my features for a moment. "This is the new one, isn't it?" I said with a sigh.

"The new one? Do you mean the repackaged one?"

"Yes, the one they've messed around with."

From a few feet away, her male colleague suddenly perked up and walked towards us. "It's exactly the same as the old one," he said, raising his eyebrows.

I shook my head and smiled. "You wouldn't happen to have any stock left of the old one, would you?"

He was about to say No, but the woman beat him to it and opened a drawer behind her. "Actually, we've got an old tester. It's been sitting here for ages." She placed the bottle on the counter.

"Great," I said, "we'll spray this one too and compare them."

Monsieur Dior was getting more agitated. "But it's exactly the same as the old one."

"It definitely isn't, you know."

His voice went up a notch. "But it has to be the same. They're not allowed to change it!"

And at this point, the serene look on my face must have slipped for a moment, because he scuttled away faster than I could shout "IFRA!"

Thankfully, his colleague seemed genuinely interested in my little experiment, so I sprayed a blotter with the older formulation and passed it to her. "Have a smell of this one," I said, "and don't feel you have to agree with me."

She smelled both blotters and, sure enough, the older one drew a much bigger smile from her.

"It's smoother, isn't it?" I said. "Or perhaps I shouldn't ask you that. You can't really comment, can you?"

"No, that's all right. And yes, it's definitely much smoother... much more natural. But maybe that's because..."

"Maybe that's because the new one's eau de parfum and the old one's eau de toilette? Is that what you were going to say?"

She nodded.

"Trust me: that's not the reason. My wife's got some of the old parfum, and it's perfectly, beautifully smooth. This new one..." I took in another whiff of what now seemed a woefully abrasive concoction compared to the veteran mix, "is just pretending to be Diorissimo." At which point, I picked up my tester strips, thanked her for her time and walked away as she replaced the tester in the drawer.



  1. Good morning, Persolaise
    Your comment reminded me in two things: I haven't been shopping for a while. And I have this milliliter of Diorissimo, perfume, from my mother, the head notes gone off, but as soon as the rose breaks through: Wonderful. A masterpiece, it was.

  2. It's always great to see you on these pages, Andy.

    Your Diorissimo must be one of the most precious millilitres in Europe!

    And as for shopping... I think it's great fun as long as you manage not to spend any money...

  3. hotlanta linda22 July 2010 at 01:20

    AMEN to the power of 10!!! :-)

  4. I am now determined to try some of this Diorissimo ;) Have to track down some old stuff...I haven't smelled this, but I need to - my local perfume counters are sadly lacking when it comes to Dior, with only some Addict, multiple Poison varieties, and obscene amounts of Miss Dior Cherie. *gags*

    Linda, I may have to enlist your help ;)

  5. Linda, the only thing I can possibly say in response is: Hallelujah.

  6. GG: vintage Diorissimo is well worth tracking down. As far as I'm aware, lots of bottles come up on eBay, and many of them are reasonably priced.

    Let me know what you think of the scent when you've tried it...

    ... and thanks very much for leaving a comment.

  7. I stumbled upon your post late but ugh, this reminds me again of how absolutely GUTTED I was when I realised (much too late) that Dior had reformulated Diorissimo. I searched high and low but it seems I was much to late to obtain any old bottles and testers from my usual suppliers.
    I actually bought one of the new bottles so I could use it while saving my half-used vintage bottle for special occasions, but I just never use it because it smells like a different fragrance altogether.
    That incredible oily-green chypre edge that made the old Diorissimo smell like a living bouquet is no longer there.

    1. Candice, it's never too late to write :-)

      The case of Diorissimo is quite strange, because I suspect that Francois Demachy may still be tinkering with the formula. A couple of years ago, when I tried the EDT, my heart sank. But more recently, when I smelt a tester at a shop, I wondered if I'd been a bit harsh in my assessment. Was I just in a particularly forgiving mood? Or is Diorissimo still changing and evolving?


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