Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
La Collection: A Few General Observations
The Christian Dior line is not new to the idea of exclusive collections within the main range. Dior La Collection started in 2004 with three colognes: Eau Noire, Cologne Blanche and Bois d’Argent, and all three were excellent. Two years ago, Dior added Ambre Nuit to the collection, and in 2010, it grew to include 10 fragrances with the launch of Mitzah, Vétiver, Granville, Leather Oud, New Look 1947, Cologne Royale and Milly-la-Forêt (Cologne Blanche has been discontinued.) The newest fragrances for La Collection were developed by perfumer François Demachy. So far, my impressions are mixed, but despite my initial skepticism, I find that these fragrances are worth exploring.
Like Cartier and Chanel, Dior stresses vintage and classical themes in the collection. There are traditional colognes, elegant masculines, sweet ambers reminiscent of perfumery bases used at the height of Dior’s glory, and delicately rendered florals. With a couple of exceptions, the collection has a decidedly retro feel about it. It does not attempt to strike at the heart of dark niche longings, as several Cartier Les Heures de Parfum do. Like Chanel Les Exclusifs, La Collection couches classical themes in the language of modern materials. As much as I love the classics, when I smell Milly-la-Forêt, Granville, and Cologne Royale, I wonder if three conventional colognes are necessary in one collection. Is another good, but quite traditional Vétiver needed? Overall, some fragrances are more successful than others, but this is only to be expected in a multi launch collection.
Inspired by Dior muse, Mitzah Bricard, a red lipped beauty, Mitzah captured my attention immediately for its elegant, classical amber interpretation. Amber, a fantasy accord attempting to capture the elusive scent of ambergris, a precious animalic raw material, can take on many forms, but the most classical one is a sweet accord based on labdanum, with strong vanilla and sweet balsamic notes. It is the idea behind fragrances like Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Tom Ford Amber Absolute and Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche, which are inspired by Delaire Ambre 83, a classical amber specialty base. Or smell Guerlain Attrape-Coeur, Guerlain Mitsouko or Chanel Bois des Îles and notice their warm, sweet amber accords which come from Ambre 83.
If Ambre Sultan or Ambre Fétiche sit on my skin like heavy fur stoles, Mitzah is a weightless cashmere wrap. It is transparent and luminous, yet it nevertheless captures the alluring warmth of amber, from sweet to smoky, from balsamic to animalic. Mitzah unfolds in a panoramic manner, revealing all elements of its composition at once–the warm, sweet spices, the smoky-woody vanilla, the refined incense note and the velvety darkness of labdanum. A delicate fresh floralcy adds some interesting nuances to this modern ambery oriental. As I wear it, I find it to be seductive, but above all, very refined. Velvety, smooth, and polished, Mitzah is quite a well-blended fragrance, with a seamless transition between its accords. Perhaps this subtlety will turn off those who love bold, strongly accented orientals in the spirit of Serge Lutens and Tom Ford, but I love seeing traditional themes developed in such a modern manner. So far, it is the only fragrance from La Collection I am tempted to add to my own.
Mitzah (fragrance family: amber oriental) is a part of Christian Dior’s La Collection. It includes notes of coriander, cinnamon, amber, rose, patchouli, incense, vanilla, and honey. Available from Dior boutiques. I would recommend it to those seeking a lighter, easier-to-wear amber than the aforementioned Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Tom Ford Amber Absolute and Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche. Likewise, it is worth exploring for those who enjoy ambery orientals like Guerlain Attrape-Coeur, Armani Privé Ambre d’Orient and Robert Piguet Calypso. I find Mitzah much less interesting on the blotter, where its fresh note hovers far too long. On the skin, however, it blooms in the most enjoyable manner.
Sample: my own acquisition
Photo of Mitzah Bricard from lesechos.fr