Vintage Eau Fraîche teems with oakmoss and tart citrus. I took a decant with me on a 900-mile, one-day road trip a few years back, and spritzes of it — along with a thermos of coffee and several books on CD — kept me alert while summer-crisped stretches of the high desert flew by. As for Miss Dior Original, the jolie-laide leathery green chypre fascinates me enough that I laid down a lifetime supply of the vintage a long time ago.
Naturally, Miss Dior Eau Fraîche couldn’t live up to either of those fragrances. Lately my relationship with Dior has felt like a bad marriage. Remembering the early days of the romance — Diorella, vintage Diorling, my beloved Miss Dior, vintage Dioressence — I keep going back hoping to feel the same happiness. But the reformulations have consistently let me down. As I made the sample of Miss Dior Eau Fraîche from the department store’s tester bottle, I girded myself against more heartache. I needn’t have worried. Sure, it's not Eau Fraîche or Miss Dior, but I really like it.
Last year, Miss Dior Chérie was renamed Miss Dior, and the real Miss Dior is now called Miss Dior Original or Miss Dior Classic. So, Miss Dior Eau Fraîche is actually what was Miss Dior Chérie Eau Fraiche. Or is it? To me, Miss Dior Eau Fraîche smells more like the original Miss Dior than it does like Miss Dior Chérie. Really, though, it reminds me more of Chanel 31 Rue Cambon than either.
Perfumer François Demachy developed Miss Dior Eau Fraîche, and the Dior website lists its notes as bergamot, gardenia, and Indonesian patchouli. To me, Miss Dior Eau Fraîche is a dry floral chypre in the new, oakmoss-free modern chypre style. It goes on with a subtle citrus burst, but the fragrance’s woody-musky chypre-like base kicks in right away, giving its quiet floral heart the feel of being lightly dusted with white pepper and bitter cocoa powder. Gardenia buzzes quietly but clearly beneath the haze of the woody musk. The fragrance wafts within arm’s reach and lasts about five hours on me.
Miss Dior Eau Fraîche doesn’t smell especially complicated or grand. Neither is it particularly fresh. A touch of powder adds elegance, but the fragrance isn’t conventionally pretty or fashionable. That’s part of its allure to a perfume lover tired of the purple fruit-white flower-patchouli-musk treadmill. I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few Miss Dior Chérie fans are stumped by Miss Dior Eau Fraîche. On the other hand, they just might find that it's the gateway to a deeper appreciation of perfume.
Next to Miss Dior Original (ack! I don’t even like typing the name!), Miss Dior Eau Fraîche loses a lot of her personality. Imagine seeing a mannequin in the same pose as the in-the-flesh grande dame standing next to it, and you get the idea. I couldn’t find my sample of Chanel 31 Rue Cambon to make a direct comparison, but if any of you have smelled these two together, I’d love to know what you think.
As long as I have the real Miss Dior in my perfume cabinet I don’t see any need to invest in a bottle of Miss Dior Eau Fraîche. I like my oakmoss too much, and to me Miss Dior’s delicious freakiness is irresistible. But if I craved a new-style chypre with an old-fashioned vibe, Miss Dior Eau Fraîche would go on my short list.
Christian Dior Miss Dior Eau Fraîche Eau de Toilette is $66 for 50 ml and $87 for 100 ml and is widely available.