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Bombay Duck London

Dior Eau Fraîche

In this picture you can see a photo of my father Peter Fairley, ITN's former science editor and 'moon landing' presenter, and his book

I like to think of myself as pretty tough.  I don’t often wilt.  Or blub.  But unstoppering a bottle of Dior Eau Fraîche, from a new Les Créations de Monsieur Dior edition issued a few months ago, I burst into tears.  And I realised in a flash:  this is the fragrance that kick-started my fragrance obsession.  Sure, I got a whiff of my mother’s Femme de Rochas or No. 5, from an early age, but it was my father’s gift of a bottle of duty free Eau Fraîche – when I was about 13 – that truly made me fall in love with scent.  And smelling the first joyful, nose-tingling gust of lemon sherbet as I sprayed it on my skin this time, I got such a strong sense of my father (who died a dozen years ago) that I found myself wet-cheeked and very wistful.  Such is perfume’s legendary power to Tardis us through time and space.

Although a classic ‘cologne’-style scent, Eau Fraîche was a pretty sophisticated choice for a 13-year-old, though.  Created in 1953 by Edmond Roudnitska (one of the greatest ‘noses’ of all time), it was a forerunner of my other favourite teen scent (Eau Sauvage, another Dior masterpiece).  But despite the presence of sharp bigarade (from Seville orange blossom) and a bucket-load of those Sicilian lemons this is softer, with powdery nuances.

Once the effervescent freshness has dispersed, it actually morphs into a chypre – actually, my favourite scent family, which sensual spans everything from Miss Dior to Aromatics Elixir, Mitsouko to Cuir de Russie (all of which, in my time, I have owned, worn and loved). I have an inkling that Dior have tweaked the formula for this since I first developed my teen-crush on it, but it’s still divine.  Stealthily, the patchouli creeps in, which may be the moment I love this best;  there’s a sort of purring sensuality which if I close my eyes, reminds me of nothing so much as the old lion house at London zoo – a little bit of sexy, dangerous Big Cat, bottled.  (And yes, I do think that’s a good thing in a fragrance.  If I wanted something safe, I’d be wearing Philosophy’s Baby Grace, for heaven’s sake.)

I do kind of miss the classic, ridged glass bottle that Eau Fraîche came in – oh, such a grown-up trophy on my dressing table – but this is more than elegant enough to make up for it, actually:  crystal-hefty and with its gold thread wound tight around the neck, baudruchage-style.  Above all, it serves as a wonderful reminder than when we buy a fragrance for someone, we’re buying a little bit of immortality – because every time that person smells it, in future, they’ll remember you.  Always and forever.  So:  merçi, Daddy…



3 comments to Dior Eau Fraîche

  • I cannot get over this coincidence. My father gave me Eau Fraiche when I was 13 for Christmas, and I thought I had opened the wrong present. Lovely that it is available again. I am going upstairs to sniff the empty bottle now.

  • Elizabeth Green

    This was also my first real perfume – bought when on a trip to France, as recommended by a friend’s very soignée friend. I wore it from age 16 to my early 30s, despite it hardly ever being in stock in the UK. I found some at the John Lewis Partnership store in Sheffield one winter, went back the following year and they had stopped stocking it as they had only sold that one bottle all year.

    Delighted to find it was available again, I bought a bottle in April. The first time I wore it my 18 year old daughter commented on how good it smelt, and unbelievably she clearly recognised it although the last time I had any was when she was 20 months old.

    I don’t understand the lack of publicity, this is a fabulous perfume. But then I don’t want to smell like everyone else!

  • Hello
    I came across this by accident. Your father was an inspiration to all of us who were raised on the Space Program. He was a regualr on Magpie when I was a child and very informative and as I remember always very well presented. Famous for his Apollo presentations. I have his autograph and two books by him one signed by him too!
    I always wondered what had become of him and was saddened to learn of his passing. Please take comfort from the fact that he is always remembered in my thoughts as I’m sure he will be by thousands of others he inspired.

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