Why Christian Dior Was Wrong


I noticed this quote by Christian Dior going around the twitterverse the other day: “A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” Personally, I find this sentiment to be laughably untrue. My handwriting is all too revealing; one glance at my oversized scrawls makes it clear that I am severely ADHD and totally incapable of doing anything the conventional way (I am a right-handed person who was taught how to write by a left-handed person). In contrast, my perfume choices say very little about me. Instead, they speak to the person I would like to be.

Perfume can be very much aspirational. My bottle of L’Heure Bleue says, “I am an elegant noblewoman of the early 20th century. I have a vast collection of very fancy hats.” My Chanel No. 5 suggests that I am a confident, competent woman who always has it together and who never, ever watches Say Yes to the Dress instead of studying for Biochemistry. That bottle of Ungaro Diva proclaims, “I am J-Woww. If The Situation tries to step to me again, I will be forced to punch him in the jaw.”

How do you use perfume? Do you consider it to be a form of self-expression, or a grown-up way of playing dress-up?

15 thoughts on “Why Christian Dior Was Wrong

  1. For me, perfume is definitely aspirational. My closest friends joke that in social settings I tend to pretend to be someone very close to myself but more interesting … or well, more early 20th century European at least. I’m a displaced Austrian noble, a silent film star, a ballet dancer. I have a closet full of Dior & Fortuny and drink champagne for breakfast. And some of that’s true … to a very small point. I do have a few Dior dresses & if it was economically feasible I’d drink champagne every morning & eat caviar by the spoon. But the truth is I’m just some twenty-something professional who grew up loving history & watching too many classic films. My life is generally incredibly boring.

    I tend to choose my perfume based on what persona I feel like projecting. I know that no one else knows or cares, but for me it’s fun. It’s like playing dress up, decked out in what little diamonds I own smelling of vintage Shalimar.

    My handwriting definitely betrays more of my true self than my perfume ever would. It’s scrawling and hurried and barely legible. And so I’ll continue spritzing on my perfumes and pretending I’m an archduchess.

  2. Aspirational! For sure 🙂

    There are perfumes that I love that are very much “me,” but they’re definitely a best version of me– and that’s exactly why I love them!

    I too love to wear L’Heure Bleue: it makes me feel cool, calm, and collected. No scatterbrains for me on an LHB day!

  3. When I try to choose a fragrance to wear the question in my mind is “where do I want to go?” and I don’t mean when I leave the house.Some times I go in places of my personal past, sometimes to pasts and futures of people i don’t know.

    I don’t know how that compares to my handwriting. Partly because when I was in junior highschool and in a crescendo of delusional grandeur I re-designed my handwriting. It took weeks but it finally stuck.

      1. My sister did that. It stuck. (Of course, she is an artist.)

        I would be happy with my youngest kid’s handwriting if it were at least legible. It isn’t. GRR.

  4. Great question, Ari. I guess I would say aspirational, but I’ve been approaching my life like it is a movie for so long that this is how I now really see it. (I don’t want to talk about how this probably means I need a shrink!) It’s the way it is, and my perfume choices reflect that. If something doesn’t strike me as a perfect embodiment of an emotionally rich and interesting aspect of my life, I don’t generally want to wear it. Sure, I have some perfumes that don’t fit that bill, that get worn to mundane places, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

    1. Have you ever read the Gossip Girl books? (I’m sure you are much too mature for them. They’re the trashiest books I ever owned). If so, you’ve got a Blair Waldorf mindset going on in terms of the life-as-movie thing. But “a perfect embodiment of an emotional rich and interesting aspect of my life” seems like wonderful criteria for a perfume to me!

  5. Hm, that was a really tricky question. I think my answer is-neither. Now that I think about it I don’t really perceive the perfume I’m wearing as “me” at all even though I’m wearing it on my skin. It’s a beautiful thing that evokes moods or a sense of color, sort of like wearing a piece of music on your sleeve and listening to it now and then.
    Does this makes any sense at all? 🙂
    Maybe this explains why I’m always suprised when people comment on the perfume I’m wearing!
    As for my handwriting,I’m a physician and my hardly legible scrawls reflect that fact…

    1. It makes perfect sense! Not all perfumes have the strong character required to evoke a persona, but pretty much all perfumes create some sort of mood, I think.

  6. I actually have that comment as my basenotes forum signature! I think perhaps the statement could be more accurate for me if it referenced a woman’s perfume collection rather than just her perfume. Mine would accurately show someone who has a short attention-span, a need to collect and a tendency towards addiction 🙂
    Ps. Couldn’t agree more with your comment on L’Heure Bleu – that’s exactly why I love it!!

    1. Ha! Thank you for your interpretation! In that case, my perfume collection would reveal that I have expensive tastes that I can rarely afford to indulge!

  7. I am all over the map on this question, as befits my name of flittersniffer. Some scents are very me (the quieter, undemanding end of the spectrum that is lightly nuanced without being bland), then there are the flirty, slightly naughty ones and the big diva ones and the blushing bridal scents, all of which I will dally with occasionally, with varying degrees of irony. And then there are scents I don’t associate at all with any kind of genre or persona – they’re just something nice with bergamot and rhubarb, say. And I will happily wear those too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.