You might be forgiven for not noticing that 20 years have flown by without a new Dior fragrance. After all, the house has been nothing if not busy, and that’s ignoring all the hubbub that surrounds its fashion, skincare and make-up departments. Perfumer François Demachy has had his hands full dreaming up new incarnations of fragrances such as J’adore, Miss Dior and Poison, not to mention inaugurating concepts such as the perfume collection Maison Christian Dior, an olfactive journey that comprises some 20 scents that are ingredients-led and celebrate the finest that nature has to offer our senses.
Monsieur Christian Dior first developed a fragrance in the late 1940s, seeking a complement to his fashion offering that could bring mirth into a sombre post-war climate. His solution was called Miss Dior. We may not be suffering the aftermath of a global war right now, but the time somehow seems right for an injection of pleasure and indulgence, and the house of Dior wants to be your saviour with Joy, a fragrance that appears as a breath of fresh air in your life, the intangible something that arrives hand in hand with hope and promise. It comprises floral notes of bergamot, mandarin, jasmine, rose essence and rose absolute; woods including sandalwood, cedar and patchouli; and a selection of musks.
And who better to be the face of this perfume – nay, its entire essence – than long-time Dior ambassador Jennifer Lawrence? Her evolution from all-American girl-next-door to beloved bombshell is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face, and her off-screen persona makes her one of the most adored A-listers in Hollywood today. If this ain’t Joy, we don’t know what is.
Give us three words that describe this new fragrance, Joy.
If I had to choose three words, I would say floral, woodsy and musk, but of course it’s a bit reductive!
What motivated the launch of a new code of fragrance?
It’s because we’ve already made sure the others – J’adore, Miss Dior – were well on their way. At a certain time, the stars aligned with a project, and all things came together – a fragrance, a woman, a flacon. We thought that we had to do something strong, something noteworthy that would interest women, that would have an impact, that would evoke the tradition of the house and also move it forward.
What is the personality of Joy?
This new one really plays on the themes of spontaneity. The others are iconic, emotional as well, but this new one is filled with spontaneity. A woman who is instinctive.
If you consider the direction of the fragrance, was there any special inspiration?
It’s light. The notion of luminosity was really fundamental in inspiring me. I think it’s easier to convey a phenomenon – which light is – rather than a sensation. Light is part and parcel of joy. When you think of joy, to me, it’s very much connected to light.
Which brings us to the muse – why was she the right fit for this?
I adapted the perfume to her personality, in fact. I made it have a more immediate impact, maybe a little more sensual, certainly her personality did influence the process. If we chose Jennifer Lopez, it would be a different perfume, for sure! In the beginning, when she was chosen, she really insisted on familiarising herself with the world of perfume. She visited the lab and I asked her to try different basic ingredients so that we could understand each other. We talked about a floral note. I wanted to make sure she understood and knew what that meant. That’s how we started with her.
THE FACE OF JOY
Jennifer Lawrence – who not only fronts the campaign, but also inspired the scent – talks fashion, fragrance and fundamentals.
How do you feel about being the inspiration for Dior’s first new scent since the dawn of the millennium?
It was just really such an honour when they came to me with this opportunity because my first scent ever was Miss Dior – my mom used to wear it. So working with Dior was already kind of emotional, but when they came to me with my very own fragrance, that’s Dior, that was just very emotional. I brought my mom with me when we went to the Dior laboratory in Paris, and we smelled the different ingredients that were going to go inside, and I’m still having trouble processing it. It’s such a huge honour.
You’ve had a relationship with Dior for some time now. How has working with the house influenced you?
It’s definitely made the way I dress better, because they give me free clothes! I’ve been with them since 2013 so some of the most iconic, monumental moments in my life have been in their dresses. And some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever worn have been from them.
How does it compare to others in the Dior family?
I love all of the scents that have come from Dior, and this one is definitely different. It’s more floral, it’s not as strong, it’s very open. I love all of them, [though] I would never wear Miss Dior because it reminds me of my mother. It’s very comforting when I smell it, I just don’t want to smell like my mother!
Did any specific image come to mind when you tried the new fragrance?
I think when they first came to me with the idea they showed me this image of a chateau in the countryside in France, and this whole flower farm where they actually get a lot of the flowers that they use in their perfume, and it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. And when I smelled it I just got a flash of that chateau; it’s very natural, the sandalwood, the floral, it’s not overly perfumey.
What is your relationship with the house like?
Dior from the very beginning has been very supportive. They never wanted to change me or turn me into something that I’m not. They’re very supportive and kind and we wanted to build something together. It wasn’t like my image was pasted on there; they really made a point of making sure I was part of the process.
Do you wear fragrance daily?
I do wear fragrance every day. I normally like very natural smells, which are a bit harder to find, which is why I was so happy when this came along, because it’s very accessible. Anybody can buy it, it’s easy to apply and it smells natural, not alcohol-y.
Finally, what gives you joy?
My friends. Laughing. [My dog] Pippi. Taking her to the park. New York when the seasons are starting to change – all the puddles start to really stink, which means it’s summer, which I really like.