Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Review: Mitzah, Granville, Vetiver and New Look 1947 from Christian Dior (2010)

Dior's new perfume hall is about to open in the Oxford Street branch of Selfridge's, which means now's a good time for me to follow up my review of the exceptional Leather Oud with a mention of the other La Collection Privée releases I've tried.

Mitzah will undoubtedly enjoy a fair amount of success, mainly because the popularity of ambers shows no sign of abating at the moment. I still maintain that Ambre Sultan and L'Air Du Désert Marocain take some beating in this particular category (last year's Kalimantan from Chantecaille put up an admirable fight, without really having anything new to offer), but at least Mitzah isn't a characterless clone. As one would hope, its amber note is impressively seamless, conveying a sleek air of Continental couture chic right from the fruit-and-spice opening. But it's the drydown that comes as something of a welcome surprise, replacing the usual trail of smoky labdanum with a feminine, vanillic-balsamic sweetness. It may not have the lasting power of some of its counterparts, but it deserves a thumbs up for managing to add a slight twist to a familiar story.

Tenacity appears to be something of a problem with Granville too. It begins with a cologne-like accord that's just begging to be poured into a high-quality candle or room spray, mingling May-dawn greens with effervescent citrus fruits and the lung-filling, outdoorsy force of pine, thyme and rosemary. But the first few times I wore it, the top notes rushed into a clinical, mossy drydown. And then the whole thing stopped. Just like that. Which isn't what I'd expected. From an eau de parfum. That costs more than £100. Per bottle. Anxious to give the perfumer the benefit of the doubt, I decided to give the scent another chance, and I'm pleased to be able to say that this time, its final stage lasted longer (perhaps this is best sprayed on fabric?) but once again, it hurtled away from its top and heart with excessive rapidity. And the base still had too much of the medicine cabinet about it.  

As I'm sure most of you know, vetivert fragrances tend to fall into one of two camps: those which emphasise the ingredient's dusty earthiness and those which attempt to bring out its lighter, more herbaceous aspects. Dior's Vétiver is unquestionably a member of the latter variety, pushing pale woods to the foreground, along with a suggestion of roasted, nutty bread, and, possibly, an edge of cinnamon. It doesn't display the radiance of what I consider to be the finest example of this genre (Dominique Ropion's Vétiver Extraordinaire for Frederic Malle) but it's notable - if that's the right word - for being suspiciously similar to a perfume by a genial chappie whose surname starts with a 'T' and ends with an 'auer'. If you get a chance, test it alongside Vetiver Dance and tell me what you think.

You could argue that New Look 1947 ought to be the most radical of these new releases, seeing as it's named after what turned out to be a revolutionary fashion collection. However, François Demachy clearly decided he'd focus this scent on the past, using its powdery, mild tuberose and berry accord to evoke a black-and-white vision of an elegant street in a cosmopolitan European city. Ladies in artful hats stroll along the pavement, stopping every now and then to admire a shop window. Baskets of yellow and white flowers hang from lamp posts. Awnings shade coffee drinkers from the sun. All is composed and ordered, but curiously insubstantial, as though little more than a gentle breeze would be sufficient to make the ladies lose their hats... and their decorum. But whilst it lasts, the tableau is quite endearing.

[The Maison De Parfum officially opens on 4th April; reviews based on samples of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]


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