Miss Dior Parfum As You’ve Never Seen It Before

Parfums Christian Dior’s perfume creation director, Francis Kurkdjian, has travelled back in time to rethink a piece of haute couture history for a new generation. To celebrate the debut of his Miss Dior Parfum, 10 asked a new generation of artists from the Yale School of Art to reinterpret the fragrance’s legendary bottle.

When the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian took the reins at Parfums Christian Dior in October 2021, Miss Dior was at the top of his to-do list. J’adore, the famed late-Nineties musky floral, was already a well-oiled machine, its original proposition steadily articulated via a continuous roll-out of updates. But Miss Dior – the brand’s beloved first fragrance, which arrived in 1947 – was born from those “Provençal evenings, alive with fireflies, where young jasmine sings a descant to the melody of the night and the land,” as Monsieur Dior himself described it. Yet, it had a murky narrative arc. “Francis wanted to know the real history,” explains Frederic Bourdelier, who oversees the Parfums Christian Dior archive in Paris, and who Kurkdjian enlisted to unearth “the real story behind the legend”.

The initial findings provided some logistical reasons for any inconsistencies. “We noticed that every four or five years, the formula changed,” says Kurkdjian, the celebrated perfume purist whose track record for olfactory hits long precedes his arrival at the storied French house.

Factory closures and ingredient shortages meant that the fragrance’s original formula – a bouquet of floral notes (centifolia rose, Provençal jasmine, lily of the valley, peony, powdery iris) – had been interpreted and reinterpreted over the years. This was compounded by changes in perfumery production, during which the standard solvent used to distil notes from flower to bottle had evolved to meet more modern safety standards. New solvents, new olfactive profiles.

Francis Kurkdjian, perfume creation director at Parfums Christian Dior

Kurkdjian and Bourdelier pressed on, eventually contacting Dior’s ingredient suppliers and asking them to provide small amounts (no more than 100g) of the fragrance’s original 1947 ingredients – some of which are no longer in production – to truly understand its origins. The result is this month’s Miss Dior Parfum, a new twist on the fragrance Monsieur Dior once called “his only child”. Brimming with a near-exact replica of the fruity, jam-like Provençal jasmine that Miss Dior’s original perfumer, Paul Vacher, would have used nearly 80 years ago, and spiked with candied hints of wild strawberry and apricot, the formula offers what Kurkdjian describes as a statement-making “young” scent with a backstory. “Nowadays, the younger generation is all about finding meaning,” he says of the resonance of his latest creation.

They’re also not into the instant gratification of quick-to-evaporate gateway scents, the lighthearted eau de toilette and mists that covered my vanity as a teenager nearly 30 years ago. “The idea that parfum and eau de parfum are more serious than eau de toilette, I think, as a concept is outdated,” Kurkdjian reveals of the fragrance world’s highest concentrations, noting that, more and more, Gen Z is seeking out scents with staying power. Fragrance trend data certainly suggests as much, especially in the US, where #perfumetok, TikTok’s dedicated fragrance hashtag, with its seven billion views and counting, has completely disrupted the category, giving many niche scents – which have helped elevate the conversation around higher-concentration eaux – cult-like status. As Kurkdjian holds up sample vials to illustrate the difference between the transparent jasmine note that is frequently used in present-day Miss Dior concentrations and the deeper- toned jasmine he has tapped for his new Parfum, it’s easy to see the scent’s viral potential among a hyper-engaged audience that has become besotted with the alchemy of perfumery.

This appeal is somewhat par for the course. “Miss Dior has always been a story for the youth,” confirms Bourdelier, who is quick to provide background for the uninitiated. Originally intended as an accessory to Dior’s debut couture collection in February 1947, which was called Corolle (a derivative of “floral petals” in French) and dedicated to “flower women,” the fragrance was meant to launch with the same name. Runway historians – and viewers of the new Apple TV+ series The New Look – know what happened next.


“We were witnesses to a revolution in fashion,” Vogue fashion editor Bettina Ballard wrote in her 1960 memoir, In My Fashion, of the clothes – all rounded shoulders, full busts, wasp-waists and enormous skirts – paraded to a frow where formidable Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow took in the spectacle. “It’s quite a revolution,” Snow reportedly reiterated to Dior before delivering the defining review of the collection: “It’s quite the new look.”

With Snow’s important stamp of approval, Dior became a star abroad almost overnight, while his perfume co-conspirators began questioning the very French name they had given the scent that filled his couture salon, which was now poised for broad appeal. On a fortuitous autumn afternoon later that year, they received an answer. Dior’s sister Catherine, a French resistance fighter who became a flower dealer in Paris following her release from Nazi internment, arrived at his studio at 30 Avenue Montaigne. The siblings were quite close, having grown up in Normandy and then in the south, tending to their own harvest of jasmine, Grasse roses and lavender. Dior’s friend and muse Mitzah Bricard was seated in the salon and, when she saw Catherine come in, exclaimed, “Look! Here’s Miss Dior!” Just like that, the fragrance designed for flower women found its own flower woman, and its forever identity as a sceptre for the pioneering and spontaneous spirit of youth.

What reverberates within any generation’s youth culture is constantly evolving. “Today’s audience is different than it was in 1947,”Kurkdjian says with a laugh. “But so is the relationship between youth and couture and fashion,”he continues, comparing his Miss Dior Parfum in its familiar geometric glass flacon, now reduced in size to emphasise the intensity of the formula, to the re- rendering of other house codes by Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. “There’s the Bar suit from 1947 and the Bar suit by Maria Grazia,” he says of the timeless nipped-waist blazer and full-skirt design. “You still have the shape somehow, but the fabric is different, the way it’s built is different. Even when to wear it is different.” Those differences are telling – a reminder that styles evolve and times change. But it’s the foundational similarities that inform the essential throughline. Adds Kurkdjian, “Once you know where you are from, it’s much easier to know where you can go.”

Miss Dior artwork by ALIX VERNET

Marcelline Mandeng Nken

Cameroon-born sculptor and performance artist Marcelline Mandeng Nken has always been inspired by the power of women. “Growing up around my mother and grandmothers, I witnessed how they were able to elicit emotions from people who frequented their homes, how eating their cooking or smelling their perfume created strong emotions,” says Mandeng Nken, who distinctly remembers tracking her mum’s movements by chasing after her fragrance trail. The Connecticut- based artist frequently recalls these “blueprints of femininity” in her practice, which explores the idea of domestic labour as a form of social technology that was invented by Black women and has shaped our ideas around beauty, vanity, intimacy and economies of care. “It is a foundational aspect of culture that our society overlooks because of capitalism,” she suggests, singling out homemaking, a skill she interprets as an inherited birthright “similar to how honey bees are born with the inherent knowledge of how to build hives”. For this project, Mandeng Nken tapped into this connection to nature, which she describes as less about a physical representation of home and more of a dedication to the power of softness and femininity that is necessary to curate the experience of a place.“The use of flowers here represents that soft power,” she says, before returning to the previous analogy: “Bees are necessary to the survival and preservation of our ecosystem, a home that is shared across species.”

Alix Vernet

Fascinated by the bygone grandeur of some of New York’s oldest buildings, the artist Alix Vernet crawls through the city’s windows and down its fire escapes to capture long-forgotten decorative architectural details using a combination of materials such as latex, clay and cheesecloth to create direct reliefs.“I’m interested in how neighbourhoods have multi-layered stories,” says Vernet, whose middle name is ‘Delancey’ after the Lower East Side street her mother lived on while she was pregnant. The downtown neighbourhood is of particular interest to Vernet, who is intrigued by its history as a bastion for new immigrants, like her own relatives, who arrived in the United States from Germany, and as the epicentre of the Nineties art scene that her mum was a part of. This project touched on a similar piece of personal history. “My mum’s grandparents actually sold perfume bottles before immigrating to the States,” Vernet says, explaining that she found herself drawn to the simplicity of Miss Dior Parfum’s design. “It’s not trying too hard,” she says of the rectangular flacon, explaining that she used a scanner to capture its considered details – the bright pink juice, the houndstooth texture embossed in glass, the silver bow affixed to its neck – and to showcase its stripped-back allure.“Smell is such a powerful sense,” she says, adding that there is no other sense that can immediately conjure a memory, place or attraction. In this way, she continues, having a distinct perfume is like having an ephemeral signature for your body – not unlike the fleeting ornamentation she tries to preserve with her practice.

Miss Dior artwork by ALIX VERNET


Fulanita, the collaborative project from artists Paloma Izquierdo and Kyle Richardson, came about through dissent according to its creators. A surrogate for she/ her, Fulanita is “a city girl from the Caribbean” – an anonymous woman who examines techno-sociality through infrastructures, object animism and disrupting social spaces. For this project, the duo wanted to disarm the perception of feminised objects to subvert expectations and find new affordances. In the context of luxury perfumery, this manifested in a focus on the fragrance dupe, an increasingly buzzy topic in beauty circles. Intrigued by a smudged-label sample stock bottle of an earlier iteration of Miss Dior and inspired by the designer knock-offs that regularly line New York’s Canal Street, Fulanita investigated the downmarket copies of prestige scents that have recently been flooding the market (and TikTok) in contrast to the singularity of the handmade and the high end; in another image, a make-up table is covered in all sorts of products, and only through an encrypted magnifying glass do we see the new Miss Dior Parfum bottle in its final form. In this way, Fulanita is attempting to “challenge the concept of authenticity within invisible economies and word-of-mouth networks,” she says. At its core, fragrance is “an invisible signal, a seductive tool” – one that taps into the ambivalence that compels Fulanita to continue pursuing her practice, that is “the tension between wanting to be hot and not wanting to be perceived”.

Taken from 10 Magazine Issue 72 – DARE TO DREAM – out now! Order your copy here.


from left: Miss Dior artworks by FULANITA


Photographer THOMAS CHENE for Parfums Christian Dior

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping