Before I discovered Diorella a number of years ago, summery perfumes never seemed to quite hit the spot. Traditional colognes, fruity perfume cocktails and summer florals were too simplistic and bland. They just didn’t feel like “me”.
Then I found Diorella and it was just what I had been looking for. It was fruity and green which made it great for warmer weather but it was also interesting and intelligent. Too often, summer fragrances seem rather air-headed but Diorella had a certain depth and quirkiness about it. It was also that word my mother hates – “sexy”. I’m not sure where it comes from, but the older formulations ooze an understated animal purr.
Released in 1972, Edmond Roudnitska has been quoted saying that of all his creations, Diorella was his personal favourite. This is no small praise considering he is also the nose behind Femme, Diorissimo, Le Parfum deTherese and Eau Sauvage, among others. If you already like either of the last two but have not tried Diorella, I would particularly recommend it. Note lists vary but tend to include bergamot, lemon, basil, “green notes”, honeysuckle, peach, rose, jasmine, cyclamen, carnation, patchouli, vetiver, musk and oakmoss.
I would classify the pre-reformulation Diorella as a fruity chypre. On first spraying, the combination of orange, lemon and basil somehow give you a wonderful zingy blast of lime. This zesty brightness soon recedes and the rich scent of over-ripe fruit takes over. It is this combination of warm fleshy fruit and feminine florals which makes it so unusual. On paper, such a mélange really shouldn’t work but it does and maybe that’s what is so special about the old Diorella. It teeters on the edge, but never falls over.
The current formulation is recognisably Diorella and it is still very good but it is lighter, fresher and less floral. It is not quite as full-bodied as its former self and is missing that wonderfully odd, languid quality. It feels like it has taken a step towards the sexless cologne end of the perfume spectrum. Having said all of that, I would still highly recommend it because even in its slightly attenuated state, it’s still an awful lot better than the vast majority of mainstream fruity perfumes currently on the market. Plus with the changes afoot at LVMH, who knows what the next formulation will be like?
Diorella is currently available as a 100ml Eau de Toilette. It has only been around for a couple years, so it’s still not too hard to get hold of previous editions (in lavender blue or houndstooth packaging) if you want to seek it out.
Image source: parfumdreams.de, arcimboldo spring via fineartsamerica.com
I love E.R’s work.
Angie, he was one of the true greats. Diorella is my favourite of his. It’s a shame so many of his works have been messed with.
I need to revisit my sample of Diorella. As you know, I’ve used and enjoyed Eau Sauvage for years. I sought out a sample of Diorella upon reading several reviews saying that it is an even better ES. I’m not sure that I agree. The last time I wore Diorella there was an odd, almost mealy note that I didn’t care for. I wonder if there is something I am missing that I might “get” at some point in the future.
I don’t think you are missing something. That odd,almost nasty note is the over-ripe fruit note that I was talking about. I can quite understand why many people wouldn’t like it. For me, it’s what makes it so interesting, but it’s certainly not for everyone! I don’t think Diorella is a “perfected” Eau Sauvage as has been said, either. ES is a first rate masculine and a great fragrance its own right.
I didn’t notice that this was Tara instead of Birgit. Hello, Tara 🙂 I have commented here several times about my love of ES- don’t know if you’ve noticed. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts about these two fragrances.
That goes to show how well Tara fits in at Olfactoria’s Travels! 🙂
Made my day! 🙂
Well, that is the ultimate compliment 🙂
I had noticed from previous comments that you are a big fan of ES and I can totally understand why.
I wear and love vintage Diorella with its overrippe fruity animalic touch. it is perfect for warm and hot weather and very versatile. I find it fresh without losing elegance. I have never tried the current version, though.
Caro, nice to hear from someone who likes that fruity weirdness as much as me! I guess you are either going to love it or hate it. It’s more toned down in the current version and therefore less devisive, I imagine.
Tara, I always try to avoid current versions of anything if I can lay my hands on a former version of it : )
Wow, Caro I admire you as no doubt you are getting the best stuff that way, but it must be considerably more difficult to get hold of, not to mention expensive!
Thank you again, Tara, for writing this lovely review!
I am not completely comfortable with the overripe fruit as well. Maybe the current, “cleaned-up” version would actually suit me better. *ducks to evade the flying overripe fruit*
LOL! No over-ripe fruit coming your way, B! I can totally understand why someone would not care for that strange, verging-on-replusive note. It probably makes sense for Dior to down-play it and no doubt it will win more fans. I was just so put out the first time I realised they’d changed it, but at least (for now) not too much. I’m sure you will prefer the current formulation which definitely makes life easier!
Birgit, if you like Cristalle (especially in its former incarnation) you will most likely love vintage Diorella. The overripe fruit is more notorious in the parfum version.
Not too long ago Undina sent me a decant of Diorella, and WOW, what a surprise! I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was astounded by how lovely this is. I guess maybe I had the “perfumey” 70’s image in mind, but the bright, cologne-like vibe layered over a fruity chypre base was a nice surprise.
I’m surprised that this fragrance isn’t more popular— it’s the sort of thing I feel like I should be smelling all over the place!
dee, so true! It’s much more bohemian chic than old-fashioned “perfumey”, for sure. A lot of perfumes from that 70s era smell very dated now, but Diorella feels timeless to me and I’d love more people to give it a go. Unforunately the tester was kept in a drawer when I asked to try it at a Dior counter recently so I don’t know how committed they are to introducing it to people, which is a shame. Glad it surprised you though and you thought it lovely!
I like Diorella. It’s connected to warm memories from my childhood. Recently I started an eBay hunt for a vintage bottle of Diorella. Not because I do not like the current version but because I want to compare them and see if I think that the old one smells even closer to my memory of the scent.
Hi Undina, nice to hear that Diorella brings back warm childhood memories for you. I’d be happy to send you some from my vintage bottle to see if that helps before you buy a full bottle.
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Big fan of Diorella! It recalls Summer and drinking Pimms and Lemonade in big, floppy hats!
What a great image, I totally agree, catcardamom!
Just found your excellent blog and thought I might ramble on for a bit about Diorella… As a teenager, I loved Eau Sauvage – until Diorella came on the scene, and it became my signature fragrance for many years ( I am excessively ancient!) – and don’t I wish I’d stashed a few bottles away…Marriage, mortgage kids and suchlike meant that such luxuries went by the board for a while but about 5 years ago I tried to recapture the joy of wearing Diorella (my husband started it by saying “what was that lovely perfume you used to wear?” And I knew I had to try it again. I was a tad disappointed butIdidnt knowquite why had I remembered it wrongly? So I started to read up on these things, baulked at the cost of a vintage version and discovered Frederic Malle and ER’s PdeT ( yes, I know, just as expensive), which I have been wearing for a couple of years. I like it and it reminds me of Diorella but …. It’s that agressive melon opening, I just can’t wait for it to fade… So , I am now widowed and have been trying to use up my husband’s scent collection – but finding it difficult as it is somehow both too intimate and not quite right at the same time. Time to try that vintage Diorella? I also like Amouage’s Jubilation XXV, it feels similar but don’t ask me if I prefer the men’s or women’s version because I always reel out of the shop (Les Sentuers in Pimlico) in a dazed and confused state. And yes, I know, that would be even more expensive! Sorry for rambling but I did warn you…
I can completely understand how you feel. Having your favourite perfume reformulated for the worse gives you an awful dilemma. Do you go vintage or find a replacement?
It seems to me that you’ve done a great job of researching the alternatives. The women’s Jubilation 25 is the one which resembles Diorella. Yes, it is comparable with vintage prices but at least you don’t have the risk involved in buying an old perfume that might have turned.
The vintage versions in the houndstooth boxes are costly but those like the one pictured above weren’t too bad last time I checked.
Thanks, Tara. I will keep an eye on eBay to see if a vintage Diorella comes up, at a price I can justify, but, as you say, it’s not possible to know if the perfume has been well kept… Might have to resort to overly-broad hints about a Christmas Jubilation XXV. Not confident, though. It’s never worked before…
Great reviews and great comments about a perfume that I discovered a few weeks ago (I’m becoming a Roudnitska-made fragrance lover) : thanks !
A tip (given by a french forumer) : the perfume that is most similar to the vintage Diorella is another Roudnistka creation… I’s the current version of Diorama, with this “ripe fruits” note that has disappeared from the current Diorella version. I tested it last week-end and it’s true : Diorama is more similar to the vintage Diorella than the currend Diorella version !!!
Only one problem : in France, Diorama is difficult to find, because it’s only sold at the Dior boutique in Paris (avenue Montaigne)… I hope it’s easier to find in the US !
Greetings from Paris, France
Thanks for such a great tip. It proves that the modern Diorama doesn’t smell much like the old Diorama though! I honestly don’t know what Dior are up to with their classics.
Diorama is at least available at major department stores in London but not sure what it’s like in the rest of the country or the US. I hope you manage to get your hands on a bottle.
Le Parfum de Therese by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum is also worth trying if you do get to Paris or can obtain a sample. Check out Birgit’s take on it under “Perfume Reviews” above.
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