Christian Dior Gris Montaigne : Perfume Review

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“These two hues remain my two favorite colors of choice in couture,” wrote Christian Dior in his Little Dictionary of Fashion. He was talking about grey and pink, the colors that inspired many of his collections and his first boutique on Rue Montaigne in Paris, where the walls, the molds, and even the Louis XVI medallion chairs were tinted soft grey. Gris Montaigne, a new perfume from the Collection Privée, is a romantic tribute to Dior’s favorite shades interpreted by in-house perfumer François Demachy.

dior-gris

I probably wouldn’t describe Gris Montaigne as grey and pink if I were to smell it blindly, but the choice of delicate rose and earthy woods makes for a polished fragrance. It’s noticeable without being loud, but it has enough character to be memorable. Gris Montaigne is a pile of wood shavings drenched in rosewater, with just enough mossy, wet soil notes to keep this pastel number from becoming too prim and proper.

Gris Montaigne unfolds into a soft, out-of-focus rose, which is mixed with so much woods and patchouli that you may not even think of it as a rose at first. The earthy, musty patchouli is made as suave and mild as possible here, but bold strokes of cedarwood and sandalwood add an exotic twist. The best way to think of Gris Montaigne is to imagine the whole thing–the rose, patchouli, woods–as an aged sepia photograph, where all tones are softened and muted.

On par with other exclusive collections (Chanel, Cartier, Tom Ford, Hermès, Armani Privé, etc.), the Collection Privée has a mix of simple, single note idea perfumes and more complex variations. I like some more than others–and I don’t understand why any collection needs three conventional colognes like Milly-la-Forêt, Granville, and Cologne Royale, but all Collection Privée fragrances, even if some are not exactly avant-garde, are made with quality materials and are technically excellent.

For instance, Gris Montaigne has an impressive radiance, and even if you wear it like I once did on the same arm as several heavy perfumes, it will surprise you by standing out above the miasma of mixed smells. I don’t advise mixing Gris Montaigne with Guerlain ShalimarBalenciaga Paris, and Sisley Eau de Campagne, but I mention it to illustrate how tenacious and diffusive it is, despite being quite well-behaved.

Intended as a new type of chypre (a mossy-woody perfume style), Gris Montaigne is less like the archetypal earthy and moody Miss Dior and more like the sheer modern variety (Perles de Lalique or Chloé’s L’Eau de Chloé).  This new pink chypre isn’t for those who love the somber darkness of classical mossy fragrances, but I enjoy its combination of austerity and sparkle. It’s more than just pretty though, and I love its velvety embrace and the seductive drydown of creamy sandalwood and rosewater, which lingers for hours. It’s elegant, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Dior Gris Montaigne includes notes of bergamot, rose, patchouli, amber, cedarwood, sandalwood and oakmoss. 125 ml/$150, 250ml/$225 , 450ml splash/330€  (approximate prices).

Sample: my own acquisition

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63 Comments

  • Connie: This perfume just went on my ‘to test’ list recently, but if it hadn’t, it would have made it now that I’ve read this review. Sounds lovely. June 25, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t think I would care for it that much, but after draining my sample and returning to the boutique every chance I could to spray on some more, I realized that it’s now firmly on my wishlist. June 25, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

  • Lucas: Sounds diving and right up my alley. I bought a decant of Gris Montaigne few weeks ago, hope it will arrive soon. June 25, 2013 at 8:19am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s not a super dramatic fragrance, but if you liked the softness of patchouli in Atelier Cologne’s Mistral Patchouli, you might enjoy Gris Montaigne. Certainly, men can wear it easily. June 25, 2013 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Penelope: I tried this when it first appeared here, and had to buy a bottle, I loved it so much. I have been wearing it fairly consistently since then, and still love it.Elegant, pretty and very wearable. Not much sillage, and sadly, on me it doesn’t last as long as you have experienced, so I have to spray again several times a day. I wish they would make a parfum. June 25, 2013 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps, I’m sensitive to something in it, but yes, it was extremely tenacious on me. It’s not a heavy, rich perfume, but I am aware of it all the time I have it on.

      But I like you, I would love the parfum version, and especially for New Look 1947. June 25, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

  • Dubaiscents: I keep wanting to love this one because the color of the juice is so beautiful but, sadly, it is just not enough for me…. Pretty but, not spectacular. June 25, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, the color of the juice would not be enough for me either. Oh well, one less fragrance on your wishlist to worry about, right? June 25, 2013 at 12:35pm Reply

  • nikki: Christian Dior was so interesting…I just saw the movie “L’Amour Fou” about YSL and Pierre Berge and the beginning starts with Christian Dior…
    Gray and Pink: lovely combination! June 25, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

    • Victoria: I love the shade of grey Dior uses, which is not too dark, not too warm, and not too cool. Most greys are sad, but this one is very soothing. June 25, 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

      • solanace: Colours are so interesting! June 25, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: There must be lots of studies on the effects of different colors! June 25, 2013 at 2:39pm Reply

          • Solanace: I’ve been wanting to read Goethe’s book for ages! June 26, 2013 at 5:36am Reply

            • Victoria: Me too! I haven’t around to it yet. June 27, 2013 at 10:05am Reply

  • Natalia: I am dying to try this! A well-behaved rose chypre! Sounds like a fragrance made for me 🙂 June 25, 2013 at 10:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Another comparison is Agent Provocateur, but imagine it tinted in pale tones! June 25, 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

      • Natalia: I just tried it today. I think it’s amazing! The rose is dominant on my skin yet it’s still calm and understated. Towards the base, it does get more smoky and a bit creamy but not overtly so (I was afraid the woods and the amber would be too overwhelming, but no). In terms of color, I do think the combination of pink and green describes it perfectly. It seems a very warm fragrance, very comforting and “friednly” (although I think it’s suitable for any occasion including a grand ball in Winter palace). It doesn’t quite remind me of Agent Provocateur, I think it has more of the Perles de Lalique’s vibe. But the latter didn’t work for me at all because of its overdose of pepper. Gris Montaigne, however, is something I already desire. June 26, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

        • Natalia: Sorry, I meant to say the combination of pink and grey 🙂 June 26, 2013 at 2:01pm Reply

        • Victoria: You’ve pointed out exactly why I don’t feel quite at ease with Perles de Lalique, even though I like it very much. It’s the overly peppery, sharp start. On some days, it’s perfect, but on others, it can’t be suffocating. So, I wear it, but not that often. Very happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed Gris Montaigne too! June 27, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

      • Ariadne: OK, I’m sold 200% now that you mention Agent P which I adore but need something a bit more dressed for office wear. Gris Montaigne sounds like just the the thing.
        I am appreciating the discussion on color too. Grey and pink were the colors of my college. Imagine when it finally went co-ed and the men’s soccer team had to contemplate jerseys. HAHAHAAAAAA! June 26, 2013 at 7:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m chuckling as I think about their reaction! That must have been something else. 🙂 June 27, 2013 at 11:16am Reply

  • Leah: How thrilling! I have been on a rose-kick lately but had not expected much from this one – I will have to seek this out! June 25, 2013 at 10:12am Reply

    • Victoria: I had very low expectations, but it was such a nice discovery. On the other hand, the Dior perfumes I’ve owned like Mitzah and Eau Noire I wore very loyally. They are very well-crafted and have some interesting twists. June 25, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

  • rosarita: This sounds lovely, stylish and elegant. Onto the sample list it goes. June 25, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

    • Victoria: It is! I will definitely warn not to expect a femme fatale, pure seduction perfume out of Gris Montaigne, but if you like your chypre with some subtlety, then it will be a great choice. June 25, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Martha: I need to try this one. A new chypre! June 25, 2013 at 10:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I would love to hear what you think when you try, especially if you love chypre. This new modern chypre can be polarizing. Some people find it too tame. June 25, 2013 at 12:40pm Reply

  • Tora: This sounds so very lovely. Is it any relation to Cologne Pour le Soir? I seem to have a liking for a well behaved rose, as many other flowers do not sit well with me. I would very much like to try this. Is the boutique in Las Vegas the place to call for a sample? June 25, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: It should be available at the boutiques, so I would call your local one and see if they carry it. If you find out, please let us know, since some other people might be curious. I can only speak for the European boutiques, where it’s now available.

      It’s very different from Cologne Pour le Soir in character. The former is much more opulent and dramatic, while Gris Montaigne is softer, more subtle, more understated. Now, this could be a shortcoming or a positive aspect, depending on what you’re looking for. June 25, 2013 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Carlisle: It’s probably wrong to want a fragrance only because the name combines my favorite color and favorite author June 25, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 It’s best to try it on your skin. But hey, I’ve craved some fragrances based on their names alone! For instance, I really couldn’t resist a perfume named after Colette (Tocca), and luckily it turned out to be very nice. June 25, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

  • solanace: Gotta try it, not expecting Magie Noire, though – it’s good to go warned! 🙂 How does it compare to Santal Majuscule? This sounds like my kind of subtle, subdued yet detectable. June 25, 2013 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Gris Montaigne is more transparent and much less sweet. The sandalwood note is blended more as well, so you think “wood shavings,” rather than the heavy, sweet, creamy sandalwood. Definitely not Magie Noire, but I’m in love with it for its effortless, unfussy elegance. June 25, 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

      • Solanace: I see how that can be appealing. Gotta try. June 26, 2013 at 5:37am Reply

  • rainboweyes: Grey and pink is actually one of my favourite colour combinations, especially for winter time. I’m not a great rose lover though and I almost classified Gris Montaigne as not my cup of tea but then you mentioned Perles de Lalique – the only rose scent I love. I guess I’ll give Gris Montagne a try… June 25, 2013 at 4:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: I had a total turnaround on Perles de Lalique. The first time I smelled it a few years ago, I thought that it was dull, but some time later I discovered it again and was completely smitten. If it had color, it would be opalescent, and if it were fabric, it would be satin. Such a beautiful perfume! June 25, 2013 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Undina: I tried it recently and liked much more than I expected. And I’m glad you liked it too.

    Now I’ll need to get some for the proper testing. June 25, 2013 at 10:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Some other Diors from that collection left me completely cold though. For instance, I was looking forward to Grand Bal very much, but it turned out to be just a nice, but not outstanding jasmine. And for the price, it had to be! June 26, 2013 at 3:05am Reply

      • Undina: You have to admit that the price isn’t that outrageous 😉
        I like Grand Bal enough to get a small decant (I did) but I don’t see a FB of it in my future, you’re right – it’s not outstanding. June 26, 2013 at 10:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, especially compares to Amouages, Arquistes and so many others. And the quality of the fragrances is very good, so while not everything is a gem in this big collection, there are many perfumes I would be happy with. June 27, 2013 at 11:17am Reply

  • Annikky: I agree with Dior on grey and pink: both of these colours tend to have bad press, but they can be so sophisticated. There are so many different hues of of both and dove grey with dusky pink is one of my favourite combinations of all time.

    The fragrance sounds nice too (wood shavings especially!), if not earth-shattering. It looks like a good choice for work, for those days when one doesn’t want/need to be very assertive? Anyway, I’ll definitely give it a try.

    Victoria, which ones are youre favourites from Collection Privee? I have only tried a few so far. June 26, 2013 at 7:35am Reply

    • Victoria: It depends on the exact hue, because some types of pink combined with grey make me think of gym uniforms (odd, I know, and I have no idea how to explain it) or old-fashioned underwear (ok, even stranger!) 🙂

      As for my favorites, it must be Mitzah and Eau Noire, and now Gris Montaigne. While I used to love Cologne Blanche and Bois d’Argent, I don’t have them anymore, but they were beautiful. Eau Noire is stunning, but so darn demanding, and I can’t wear it that often. June 27, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

      • Annikky: I can totally see the underwear thing, actually 🙂 And you are right, the success of the combination depends on the exact hues, but also the quality of the fabrics. I haven’t really worn grey and pink much in recent years, but I used to do it a lot – it makes sense with my somewhat cool colouring.

        Am now desperate to try Eau Noire, of course. June 27, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

        • Victoria: If you like the burnt sugar and curried maple scent of immortelle, Eau Noire is a must try. It’s an intriguing melange of bitter and sweet.

          I have a feeling that you can pull off many colors, Annikky! June 27, 2013 at 5:27pm Reply

  • zephyr: Thanks for this review, Victoria! I’ll definitely check out Gris Montaigne as soon as I see it. In my attempts to find a scent similar to my beloved Parure, I tried and really liked L’Eau de Chloe, but sadly, it doesn’t last on my skin. Gris M. sounds right up my alley – a chypre, albeit a light one, with rose. June 26, 2013 at 2:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: L’Eau de Chloe is another one in this genre (and my other favorite for a modern rose chypre), so it sounds like Gris Montaigne is worth trying for you.

      Parure is a beauty, and I cherish whatever I have left of it. June 27, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

  • Austenfan: You make this sound really gorgeous, I haven’t tried any of the Collection Privée Diors apart from Eau Noire. Mainly because they are nowhere to be tested near where I live. June 26, 2013 at 4:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s the most frustrating aspect of these collections. In Dior’s case, it’s a shame, because the collection overall is nice and more reasonably priced than most other exclusives. June 27, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

  • Merlin: I’m glad those colours don’t come to mind when you sniff the frag because that particular combo just strikes me as stuffy. Perhaps it involves the memory of waiting for my mother to try on clothes at some posh upmarket boutique. For a child = dull. Aesthetically though I can see that the two do harmonize well! June 26, 2013 at 6:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can understand this. For instance, in my case, the retro elegance of leopard print is completely lost on me. June 27, 2013 at 11:15am Reply

      • Merlin: Funny: I used to hate leopard prints but in the last 5 years or so have begun liking it more. Funny thing is that the aspect of it which put me off – a sort of smarmy off-putting sexuality is now why I like it: now it seems beautiful, slinky and sensuous. Have no idea why the turn-around; perhaps I am more in touch with my animal nature! June 27, 2013 at 8:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: 🙂 You must be indeed! Or else, the modern treatment of the print is inspiring you. June 28, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

          • Victoria: Ha! I posted and remembered that I do have a coat that has a leopard print lining, so even I’m not totally immune from the leopard allure. June 28, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

            • Merlin: lining doesn’t count. Because, um, I say so;) July 1, 2013 at 11:38am Reply

              • Victoria: Oh well! I’ve tried. 🙂 July 1, 2013 at 5:42pm Reply

  • eminere: I really wanted to like this but on my skin it just smells like heavy, sickly-sweet syrup. 🙁 June 30, 2013 at 7:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh well, your mileage may vary, as they say. In cases of this perfume, I would also emphatically add, “money saved!” 🙂 June 30, 2013 at 8:13am Reply

  • yomi: Lovely review as always Victoria! I am just thinking of starting to create my own private collection – its nice to know that consumers really appreciate them. My challenge of course is to make them *very me* yet somewhat trend compliant. June 30, 2013 at 2:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a fine balance, and I wish you luck. But sounds like you know your customers and you would be able to figure out how far you can push the idea. July 1, 2013 at 5:40pm Reply

  • schokominza: As I am a newbie to the comment function: First of all I would like to say thank you, I enjoy your sites very much!
    I tested GM and bought it straight away although normally I am more a lover of roses like Noir de Noir. I find it very elegant and sophisticated and smell quite e few resemblances to Bottega Veneta. But GM is smoother, better balanced and somehow opaque. I always think of opals. July 4, 2013 at 7:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for another great comparison, which would be useful to those who would like to know what GM smells like. I agree with you,it definitely has a polished aura. July 7, 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Emma M: Oh this sounds right up my street, I’m now convinced that a pale-toned version of Agent Provocateur is exactly the thing I need.

    Now I regret walking past a Dior boutique recently, without calling in to try this one!

    (p.s. according to the autumn/winter catwalk report in this month’s British Vogue, which dropped through my letter box this morning, pink and grey is one of the colour combinations for the coming season…) July 4, 2013 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Fun! I would love to see more of this combo. Another color I’ve been obsessing with is nude. But the warm toned, tea with milk sort of nude. It’s flattering even for the pale ones among us. July 7, 2013 at 3:57pm Reply

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