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Bombay Duck London

Miss Dior Chérie

Several false fragrant starts have resulted in fewer than usual blog postings this week.  I’ve been trying fragrances I wanted to love – from the mainstream perfume world – so that this blog doesn’t just focus on niche or ‘cult’ scents. But I just couldn’t muster anything more than a mild, bored dislike for any of those I spritzed.  And since it’s not really fair to layer something I adore onto my skin over one of those indifferent distillations – well, hence radio silence.  That’s not to say that the ‘commercial’ fragrance world (the one you encounter in Duty Free, and marbled beauty halls, and even The Perfume Shop, whose Christmas event in a dangerously dark nightclub I attended yesterday) doesn’t have some delicious and very wearable scents.  It does.  And Miss Dior Chérie is one of them.

A scent in a bottle this pretty, with a baby pink juice, shouldn’t be anything but super-pretty itself – and this certainlyticks that box.  It’s also very young, very first kiss/first prom/first day at work.  (For which read:  ‘safe’.) Miss Dior Chérie kicks off with the fruit-bowl juiciness that’s so-fashionable in fragrant circles, right now.  (Fruits are the scent-note equivalent of the teeteringly high platform heels which currently dominate every glossy magazine fashion feature;  In this case, down to a petite salade de fruits of strawberry and mandarin, which kind of brings YSL’s In Love Again to mind – though in Chérie, the fruitiness is much more subtle.  It’s just a teensy bit Coco Mademoiselle, too.)

Squishy pink marshmallows and sherbert swirl into my limbic system after a minute or two:  nostalgic sweetshop notes, which is probably what Dior describe as ‘caramel popcorn’ – definitely a dusting of sugar in there, which also gives the fragrance its vibrancy, its sparkle.  The ultra-feminine floral notes languidly emerge:  violet, and a so-delicate touch of jasmine.  It is not Chéri as penned by Colette, all sexy and romp-inviting.  This is the last summer of a girl’s innocence, bottled.  (The summer before she starts to stay out beyond curfew, sulks all lovesick day and chews gum to cover up her naughty cigarette habit.)

Now, I always sniff and smell and allow a fragrance a good few hours before I read so much as a marketing tweet about what’s actually in the bottle, or the story behind it.  But I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover Miss Dior Chérie’s ‘nose’ is Christine Nagel, who’s now creating the scents for Jo Malone, and who has many beautiful creations under her cinched-in narrow Italian leather belt.  However, Dior describe this as a ‘chypre’ – and anyone expecting echoes of the original Miss Dior itself – that world-class, so-sophisticated chypre-to-end-all-chypres – will be a tad bewildered.  Personally, I’d say Miss Dior Chérie is to chypres what My Little Pony is to a real-life horse:  a step on the way, an introduction, the trigger of an obsession – but a long way off the real thing.  (Still, if it gets young noses accustomed to the elegance of that fragrance family – well, fine.  Although this is ultra-light on base notes:  for me, only a trace of patchouli comes through on the dry-down, though that note does linger pleasantly for ages and ages, along with a certain clean-pile-of-towels fluffiness.)

Compared to a lot of what’s out there (compared to a lot of what I’ve smelled in just the past few days, for heaven’s sake), Ms. Nagel’s creation is likely to have ‘legs’, and endure beyond the end of just one or two seasons – which is all that the vast majority of scent launches can muster these days before sinking without trace.  It’s soft and rounded and dreamy.  Feminine and flirty, in an eyelash-batting rather than a my-place-or-yours? way.  Pretty, pretty, pretty.  Which is a lot more than I can say for several of this week’s ho-hum non-starters, alas.  Onwards and fragrantly upwards, though.



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