Why is this well-known perfume known as the “love fragrance”?
It was based on the experiences of a woman who spent a year in a concentration camp during WWII.
Christian Dior and his younger sister Catherine Dior spent most of their childhood playing in the gardens of their family’s villa in Granville, a French commune in the Normandy region, where the aroma of flowers always reminded them of a happy home.
The Dior family, however, faced difficult times when World War II broke out. Christian found work as a dressmaker in Paris and moved into a modest flat with his sister.
His sister joined the French Resistance while he dressed for the Parisian high society that looked so far removed from the historical events. Catherine was captured by the Gestapo in 1944, and her brother’s attempts to utilize his clout with some of his clients were futile.
Few people wanted to get engaged in a case that would be considered “treason” by the Germans. Christian was anxious for over a year after not hearing from her, until they finally informed him that she was free in Paris after months at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. The conflict was over.
Catherine relocated to the south of France, where the government offered her a job in exchange for her suffering. Only a year had passed, yet her face had grown ten years older. Miss Dior, on the other hand, didn’t want to waste time on resentment or revenge. She, on the other hand, set out to find the beauty that remained in the world.
She traveled to the capital frequently to see her brother. By that time, he had established his own business and was working on his first collection, which featured the most magnificent textiles.
He also wanted to develop a scent to go with his debut performance, which he would put on in 1947. What is the explanation for this? Other brands presented more stark lines. He intended to give the gift of joy, beauty, and elegance in the postwar age (with his touch of luxury). In such trying circumstances, he believed many people, like his sister, were yearning for “something more.”
“Create a perfume that smells like love,” he told his perfumers Jean Charles and Paul Vacher.
And so they did, with notes of gardenia, bergamot, roses, and jasmine… the same flowers that bloomed in the garden where the Dior family spent their most lovely summers and cherished memories.
After then, it was time to pick a name. They had a number of possibilities. Catherine stepped in the door one day while the designer was talking to Mitzah Bricard, a friend and worker, and Bricard (whose mother was English) greeted her: “Oh, Miss Dior is here.” Everything made sense to the designer at that point.
Monsieur Dior unveiled his iconic New Look by filling the entire salon on Montaigne street with this fragrance. Great actresses of the day, such as Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich, became fans of not only his couture, but also of this fragrance that “smelled like love and happiness,” owing to its floral undertones and the purpose for which it was created.
This perfume is still a big seller 70 years later, with a few minor tweaks and Natalie Portman as the face of the brand. That’s the thing about love: it never goes out of style. “Enthusiasm for life is the secret of all beauty,” Christian Dior declared.
Buy it here.