Christian Dior Dune : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Dune… I love everything about this fragrance Christian Dior: its unusual fresh oriental scent; its mellifluous name; and its winged bottle that fits so comfortably into the palm of my hand. One could easily write an academic thesis on this gem, first launched in 1991, and still available today in a great form. I will, however, resist this temptation. I simply would like to highlight this underrated fragrance, share why I find it breathtaking and encourage you to smell it.

Dune is vibrant and delicate, almost shockingly so given its rich notes. The difficult goal of creating a “big, softspoken” fragrance was set by Dior’s fragrance development team as it considered its next big launch in the early 1990s. Competing with Dior Poison would be hard because it became much more than a trendy idea; Poison was the quintessential smell of the 1980s. Dune had to be different, not just from Poison, but from anything else available on them market. Three perfumers—Dominique Ropion, Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Nejla Bsiri-Barbir—worked on Dune, and they succeeded. Dune is indeed a tenacious, sumptuous fragrance, but with an unusual softness.

It contains all the elements of a voluptuous oriental—creamy layers of vanilla, sandalwood, amber and musk as well as the smoky accents of incense. Nevertheless, Dune is more like a sip of lemonade, rather than a mouthful of hot chocolate. Its modern structure also defies the fragrance pyramid—Dune reveals its heart on first inhale, while the changing accents during the course of its development lend it an enchanting and interesting aura. First, it is salty and metallic, with the pronounced verdancy of green leaves, briny seaweed and mandarin peel. Then, the layer of jasmine and rose colors it softly, throwing a sweet fruity shadow over the brightness of the initial accords. The drydown is enveloping and comforting, with the dryness of moss and patchouli offsetting the warmth of amber and musk.

While Dune did not make the same splash as Poison, its legacy lives on both in fragrances that are directly inspired by it (Chanel Allure) and in compositions that rely on its technical innovations. Dune itself, however, is hardly advertised. It is available only in the Eau de Toilette concentration, minus the inevitable coterie of flankers that crowd around other Dior fragrances. Nevertheless, Dune undoubtedly deserves its place among perfume legends for its ability to speak soft and touch deeply.

Christian Dior Dune includes notes of broom, bergamot, wallflower, mandarin, lily, peony, rose, jasmine, amber, moss, musk, sandalwood, and vanilla. Available from major retailers and Dior boutiques. Today, it is sold only as Eau de Toilette.

Sample: my own 1993 bottle and a sample of current EDT from Saks.



  • Carla: Dune is a love or hate fragrance, and I almost always love it. Still, sometimes I can’t stand it. I don’t know why, but my guess is my reaction is influenced by the other perfumes I’ve been wearing recently and the vanilla and amber then puts me off. So I always sniff the bottle before putting it on. I’ve worn it since college and now it is often my traveling companion. The loss of the little 30 ml bottle won’t cause me to weep if my bags get lost – don’t trust the airlines – since I paid so little for it at the drugstore in Germany. And it works in almost all seasons and weather. Plus, it’s distinctive and has a history for me, two things I look for in a perfume when wandering far from home. In enjoyed reading your review! January 5, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

  • Yulya: Carla, you describe exactly what I feel about this fragrance! But Victoria’s article inspired me to try it again and… who knows? I may just love it (forget about hating it). January 5, 2012 at 9:35am Reply

  • King: Dear V, such a spot on review. I really love the narrative quality of your reviews!
    I was still young when I first smelled it. The notes were novel and dissonant, which make this an oddball perfume for me. Some years later, I’m still fascinated how such perfume isn’t a product from a niche house. However I’d like to add that Dune also comes in an extrait version. The parfum is contained in an elegant, matted-gold, lipstick-tube like container. And compared to other rare extraits (such as Yvresse extrait, which nowadays sells at $200ish on Ebay), this one could still be acquired at a reasonable price (around $70 for 7.5 ml refill parfum). January 5, 2012 at 9:58am Reply

  • patuxxa: I enjoy Dune but can’t really wear it; still, back when I was a child and collected perfume adverts, Dune was one of my favorites (remember the closeup of the face looking like a dune? so simple, so beautiful). January 5, 2012 at 6:08am Reply

  • jtd: Hi, Victoria. Wonderful review! I’m a fan of Dune and am always taken by its haunting yet not strange quality. It always makes me take notice (even today it’s singular) but there’s nothing disturbing. Like hearing a minor key when you were expecting a major key. Your review really captures that comfortable dissonance. Yes, a thesis could be written. Maybe you’d consider? Thank you. January 5, 2012 at 11:37am Reply

  • Nikki: how interesting….i bought Dune after reading LT’s review and although I liked it in a way; I found it depressing, very sad in a way. I assume it also had to do with somebody wearing this when it came out whom I dislike…but in the end, I gave it away and will not buy it again…
    It reminds me of Sables, well, the name alone, and also as both use Immortelle flowers but while Sables is warm and comforting, Dune seems to be more dusty, more depressed in a sense. January 5, 2012 at 11:43am Reply

  • Bora: Can you tell us how the 1993 and the current verions compare? I remember loving Dune in the 90s but am afraid to try the current version for fear of disappointment! January 5, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

  • Persolaise: Thanks for this review.

    I’ve always been an admirer of Dune, from the moment my Mum let me smell the bottle she was given at the original Dubai launch.

    I wonder if you could expand on your comment about its non-pyramidal structure: on the one hand, you state that it reveals its heart straight away, but then you suggest that it brings out certain aspects one by one. January 5, 2012 at 9:05am Reply

  • Victoria: Their older ads were fantastic! The most recent ones are not as striking, but I still like them. January 5, 2012 at 9:20am Reply

  • Victoria: It is perhaps thinner in the drydown, but overall the current version compares really well. The facets of the original Dune are still there. The only thing is that you cannot buy anything other than the EDT today… January 5, 2012 at 9:22am Reply

  • guido: Hi, another great review… and Dune is my fav Dior fragance…together with Eau Sauvage… I admire Poison but I stay aways from it… 😉
    Dune is just a pleasure to wear… I only find the current formulation a bit thin… on me disappear quite fast…. I think it makes a better impact on humid warm weather…

    Guido January 5, 2012 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: Dune, Tresor and Paris are often used as text book examples for monolithic perfumes that completely broke with the pyramid structure of fragrances like L’Air du Temps and others. Monolithic does not mean that the fragrance smells the same way from top to bottom, but that there is a big core that stays up front from the very beginning. In L’Air du Temps you smell this bitter green, spicy note up front, and nothing will lead you to expect that lush, sandalwood inflected drydown. In Dune or Tresor the warm oriental notes are clear even under the sparkling top notes. And they stay there.

    Sophia Grojsman uses another analogy that is easy to understand. A classical pyramidal perfume is like a woman covered in several veils–as you remove the veils, you start seeing glimpses of her. The fragrances like the ones she created are like seeing a woman and then noticing her accessories–she turns one way, and you see her earrings; she turns the other, and you notice her scarf. But she herself is seen from the very beginning.

    I hope that it makes sense! January 5, 2012 at 9:30am Reply

    • yomi: I love this description! Perfect May 8, 2016 at 10:48am Reply

  • behemot: Great review, thanks! I have been thinking about revisiting Dune for quite a while. It was my first fragrance after I came to the US. When I bought it, Dune has been on a market for a few years, but I did not find it too popular. I purchased a small bottle of EDT and loved it ..for a few weeks. Then something strange happened and Dune did not put me in a good mood (I experienced sth similar to the state of mind Nikki describes.) So I gave it to someone who liked it.
    I need to smell it again. I am so curious what was that “depressing ” thing in Dune… January 5, 2012 at 3:19pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Love that metaphor! So useful. January 5, 2012 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Thank you for this. I have owned bottle of Dune for over 10 years, and don’t wear it very often. I do like it though, but it’s an odd sort of fragrance. I would love to smell it in extrait, but have never seen that.
    Thank you for your very clear explanation of monolithic fragrances. I remember at the time that Dune was described as linear.
    Roma by Biagiotti seems to be related to it as well. It’s not as polished, and therefore sometimes more likeable to me. January 5, 2012 at 4:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: I can see that, and I also would agree that it is not a crowd pleaser. There is a very penetrating, clinging side to Dune. And its sillage is quite strong. January 5, 2012 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Victoria: It happens to me occasionally that when I approach a fragrance after some time, I form a completely new opinion on it. So, it is always interesting to revisit. January 5, 2012 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: I am glad to hear from someone who has been wearing Dune faithfully, because I meet few people today who are familiar with it.
    Thank you for your parfum recommendation. Maybe, it was discontinued in the US? It is not listed on Dior website and Saks did not have it either. At any rate, good to know that it is still being made. The parfum was fantastic! January 5, 2012 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Victoria: Like hearing a minor key when you were expecting a major key–such a great analogy. And I agree that the dissonance is comfortable, not at all strange or unsettling.

    As for a thesis, maybe at some point down the line… There are so many fragrances that inspire me to do that! January 5, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mmmm, Sables is such a suave (and as you say, warm and comforting) creature. Another favorite from Annick Goutal! January 5, 2012 at 12:55pm Reply

  • sunsetsong: How interesting! Wish I still had my early 90s bottle of Dune! I wore it a lot back then. Apparently it is what Kate Duchess of Cambridge usually wears – shame she didn’t choose it for the Royal Wedding! I will spray the sample next time I pass. I wonder if I will be able to love it quite so much as I did back then. January 5, 2012 at 8:02pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Guido. I also admire Poison, but I cannot wear it anymore. It is also associated with another time of my life, so it just does not feel quite right, if you know what I mean. January 5, 2012 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Sujaan: I admit I have never smelled any Dior. Don’t expel me from The Perfume Club! But, this review made me want to run out as soon as I can and smell Dune and Poison. I promise, I will, I realize my membership is pending…
    January 6, 2012 at 8:08am Reply

  • Faylene: I think you’re both correct: I believe that Dune is no longer being made in extrait but that it is still available relatively inexpensively on eBay. Indeed, I was fortunate to purchase 30ml of Dune extrait within the last few months – sealed in the original oval box – at a reasonable price. It’s absolutely one of my favorites, though I must admit I’m puzzled by reviews that call it “bleak” or “weird”; I don’t find it to be either of those. Just my own experience, of course. January 6, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

  • Victoria: Sophia is a great teacher! January 6, 2012 at 10:34am Reply

  • Victoria: I am curious too, and it is interesting to read comments that call it sad and bleak. Dune is so serene and warm to me. However, everyone sees these things differently, which is why I love writing in the blog format–you get all sorts of viewpoints, and it makes exploring fragrance more fun. January 6, 2012 at 10:35am Reply

  • Victoria: I checked on Ebay, and yes, the price for extrait was surprisingly reasonable. Dior boutique has almost all of their fragrances in the parfum form, but I do not remember seeing Dune among the lineup. January 6, 2012 at 10:37am Reply

  • Victoria: Roma is another Dune sibling, and I used to like it as well. I also enjoy Allure, but it is much louder, so I find it tiresome after a while. Still, whenever I catch a whiff of it on someone, it is so pleasant.

    The biggest excitement so far for me is the relaunch of Venezia by Laura Biagiotti! January 6, 2012 at 10:39am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, interesting! I didn’t know that, but I am a Kate fan, so it is a nice tidbit. Too bad she did not select Dune, but perhaps she did so deliberately to favor a British brand. January 6, 2012 at 10:41am Reply

  • Victoria: Sujaan, do not worry! No such membership rules, and there is no Club really; it is more of PJ party–anything goes. 🙂
    As for Diors, I like the line very much, but many of their classics just do not smell the same way anymore, so it seems pointless to recommend them. I used to hunt much more for vintage perfume, so I wrote more about it, but these days I do not have either time or money (vintage perfume prices went through the roof.) Plus, a trip to Sephora can usually yield more great perfumes (Aromatics Elixir, No 5, Hermes collection, Angel, Kenzos, Dior Homme, etc.) than rummaging through the antique shops. January 6, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

  • Austenfan: It’s odd that having always liked and admired Dune, I have never even remotely liked Allure.
    It was such a “relief” to find out that it wasn’t liked in The Guide. January 6, 2012 at 6:35pm Reply

  • sunsetsong: A pity Kate didn’t pick Ormonde Jayne. January 6, 2012 at 7:22pm Reply

  • Victoria: Not really odd, I can totally see why someone would love Dune and not care for Allure. I appreciate Allure, but I can't wear it. It is so sharp and loud to me. January 6, 2012 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Victoria: I was thinking that too! Frangipani would be so much better. Too bad she didn't ask us. 🙂 January 6, 2012 at 8:19pm Reply

  • Mezzodiva54: Some years back, after the failed attempt to resurrect some of the classic Coty fragrances, someone at Neiman Marcus told my husband that Dune was a copy of Ambre Antique (we had purchased the reissued AA from NM, and he had gone back looking for more). Don’t know if this is true or not, just throwing it out there. January 11, 2012 at 8:37pm Reply

  • philomena: Thank you so much for this review. I have been a most faithful Dune wearer since it was launched in 1991 (?) and must have used up quite a number of bottles. I remember smelling it on me for the first time, walking across a rather bleak German market square after a visit to the local drugstore – and do you know, the picture of that square is forever fixed in my mind together with this scent 😉
    Dune has been carrying me through wonderful and less wonderful times and it always, always rose to the occasion. Never grew tired of that strange, insisting fragrance. I’d even go so far as to say that who disagrees with Dune, disagrees with me. Isn’t that an astonishing thing to say? February 14, 2012 at 9:34am Reply

  • Anita Monroe: The first time I tried Dune I was stunned by its beauty and have loved in ever since. I was in Paris visiting a friend, and she game me a sample. As far as I can tell, it has not changed its composition, but I suspect that some of the bottles that are available in department stores are not fresh and just seem sort of “off”. I’m going to try to find the extrait that several of you mention. Wish me luck. February 17, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: I've seen mini bottles of extract de parfum on Ebay. Of course, no one can guarantee their freshness, but they were not expensive. February 17, 2012 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Alityke: I have worn Dune on and off since it’s release. It is one of the few fragrances my husband immediately recognizes. Contemporary Dune EDT is still recognisable as the real thing and good. I think it’s the gorse/broom note I love in it which makes it unique and induces the weird storage bleak comments from many reviewers. The 80s and early 90s were a stand out period of time for new Dior creations. Such a shame about the naming policy since April 20, 2012 at 4:39am Reply

  • ken: i managed to buy a full spray bottle of dune parfum. initially i was a bit disappointed as its sillage / longevity were not exactly more powerful compared to the edt. but slowly i started to appreciate the parfum more. it is a lot smoother and i think the saltish note came through more than the edt. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! May 28, 2012 at 2:43am Reply

  • Gina wadsworth: I am overwhelmed by Dune’s beauty every time I wear it, which is daily. It is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I put on at night. this is only the second perfume to affect me this way. Aromatics elixir being the first but has been reformulated and destroyed, lucky Dune this was how I found you as I wanted another signature scent. Scentsational, phenomenal what more to love June 6, 2012 at 6:16pm Reply

  • shaney: After reading this review, I purchased Dune blindly, something that I almost never do. I am floored. This fragrance is so beautiful, beginning to end. It’s so difficult for me to imagine how the perfumers were able to combine a dry oriental with the ocean and make it work…simply fantastic. Thanks so much for this review and for all of the others! I really look forward to reading your posts every day! August 10, 2012 at 8:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for dropping by and letting me know. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed Dune! August 13, 2012 at 4:55am Reply

  • Rita: I love, love , love this wonderfull fragrance, its the only one i wear, besides my fragrance free-organic deodirant. just so it wont take or damage my dune fragrance….i dont rate it a 5, its a 10 out 10 to me…. November 22, 2012 at 7:04pm Reply

  • Courant: Old thread I know but I happened to notice that Dune is still holding a premium price. My friend wore it for years and I associate it with her. When she stayed with us a few months ago she was wearing a Marc Jacobs. I change my perfume with my underwear but somehow I required her to still be wafting Dune through the breezeways. September 11, 2013 at 6:35am Reply

  • Aisha: I had forgotten how much I used to wear Dune for a brief period in my life right after college. It was such a comforting scent for me as I pondered all my options after receiving my degree. I still have the fragrance miniature of it that my mom gave me (I think it came in one of those holiday sets because I also have minis of Poison and Dolce Vita). Anyway, the bottle caught my eye this morning as I tried to decide what scent to wear. I sprayed some on and still smell comfort in that bottle. October 5, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Dune is one of top favorite Diors. Like you, I find it comforting, elegant, serene. The bottle is also great. October 5, 2013 at 6:08pm Reply

      • Aisha: Yes, I do love that bottle.

        At first I thought my perfume mini had turned because all I could smell was something metallic, and then something that smelled like pencil shavings (which, thankfully, I do enjoy smelling). 😉 I let body chemistry do its thing, and I was relieved it still smelled the same all these years later. 🙂 I’m now seriously thinking about getting a 1 oz. bottle from Sephora. The scent was perfect for the rainy, windy, cold (40 degrees) day we had today, and I’m positive I would reach for it again and again this fall. It’s also really surprisingly inexpensive for such quality. What a bonus. 🙂 October 5, 2013 at 8:23pm Reply

  • citypark: For me Dune evokes the sand and the reed at a sea coast like, say, the Baltic Sea. Whenever I wear it, I feel like I am transported back in time and space, even if it is an imaginary place.

    I bought my first bottle around 1993 and have never been without one. In the end of the nineties until about ten years ago I almost exclusively wore Dune – one could call it my signature scent at that time, but I had not concept of that, it just fitted so well. Then I expanded my then tiny collection and I started wearing many more perfumes. However I always come back to Dune and I am wearing it today. October 12, 2013 at 6:42am Reply

    • Ann Wang: It takes me back to when I used to read The Arabian Nights! Hot, challenging, mystical, and a bit old-fashioned. November 13, 2020 at 6:37am Reply

  • yankiel marinas: Im sorry to disagree but the Dune sold today is only a vague reference to the original.

    It is not just an anemic version of the breathtaking masterpiece, it is also a fraud.

    Many people dont know this but Dior’s classic formulas (miss dior 1947, fahrenheit, dune, etc.) have always been and still are property of the firm that created them, which I believe is Givaudan.

    Recently, Dior (LVMH) told this firm to keep their original formulations because from now on Dior would make their own.

    This is shocking and outrageous but its true. July 29, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

    • arxsyn: I believe you!

      The current version of Dune edt smells like male cologne. In fact, it smells freakishly similar to Light Blue pour homme by Dolce & Gabbanna.

      I don’t really get the oriental richness as described. Barely any flowers. Quite light and fresh. Mostly synthetics. It’s very transparent and ghostly [transparent]. A shadow of its former self. December 24, 2016 at 6:02am Reply

  • Konnie: I have worn only dune since it first came out. recently could only find it online, and it was awful. don’t know if it was old or a bad fake. sent it back. if anyone can advise where I can find the original i’ll be thrilled. November 27, 2014 at 10:55pm Reply

  • aurora.australis905: Hello! Do you have any info about Dune edt, is it still in production? I read somewhere it`s been discontinued. And I`wery disturbed. May 31, 2015 at 9:29am Reply

  • Paula: This is an amazingly written sincere review about Dune! You’re awesome Victoria!

    For those who wrote that this is a love or hate fragrance and that sometimes you love it and some you dont, it’s due to various reasons. First, Dune is a magic alchemy of incense that not many people are used to, know or feel comfortable with. After a couple of days, Benzoin, Sandalwood and Amber are left behind, making it almost smell like a man’s fragrance a bit. But it’s this exciting magical combination that makes Dune so unique. I’m glad it’s not advertised as much as the other perfumes and it should stay this way. Dune is only for a special kind of group of women who have lived an intense life and seek for inner peace and calm. Only then it can be appreciated… August 26, 2018 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Vanessa: I smelled Dune for the first time at a babysitting adress in the nineties, and was mesmerized. A few years later I asked it for my birthday, and have had it ever since. I start using it every Fall, until the end of Winter. I love the strength of the fragrance, and it lasts long. In terms of love/hate, only love from me, not a moment of hate! February 3, 2021 at 5:24am Reply

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