Miss Millefiori Dior Pop-Up is an olfactory garden in middle of LA
The initial visual impact of the Miss Millefiori Dior pop-up in Los Angeles primes me for what’s to come. I haven’t even sniffed the new perfume yet, but as soon as I step inside the space on Melrose Avenue, a fantasy unfurls all on its own. The throaty sounds of the road disappear; the boxy, metallic landscape of shops all gone. Between corners bursting with florals and the play of lavender and rose, I feel as though I’ve been dropped into the middle of a spring pasture — surrounded by idyllic green hills and valleys draped in a tablecloth of flowers.
In several corners across the pop-up, bottles of neatly displayed Miss Dior offer visitors an opportunity to interact with one of Dior’s most iconic scents. First created in 1947, the fragrance was Christian Dior’s ode to his sister, Catherine, who was a French resistance fighter during World War II and earned several medals of honor for her bravery. Coincidently, she spent much of time after the war trading and tending to flowers. A fruity and floral chypre, Miss Dior was meant to embody Catherine’s resilience — all while reminding a post-war world of beauty, poetry and love.
Now, 75 years later, the scent is reimagined — tweaked, fine-tuned and morphed into a new eau for the modern woman. I pick up one of the baby pink bottles, pull the cap off, and spritz. Then, I take my first whiff. The buttery-softness of iris, the light freshness of peony and a tinge of jasmine, courtesy of Lily-of-the-Valley. Miss Dior, as I’ve always known it, but just a little changed. More peppery, more honeyed.
To take it a step further, the minds behind this pop-up set up an interactive installation that releases Miss Dior’s new key fragrance accord — a wild Centifolia rose, known for its rich, herbaceous scent — with a push of a button. I press it, and bring my nose closer to the megaphone-shaped device. The note here is darker, muskier, somewhat like a marriage of honey and bergamot. It’s isolated, giving visitors a deeper understanding of the iconic perfume’s new personality.
In fact, everything set up here is meant for education. Yes, there are plenty of Instagram tropes, like an infinity mirrored room covered in blooms and meticulously curated walls designed for the cameras. (You can even get some touch-ups by Dior beauty experts at a designated make-up station before your snaps.) There’s also a “coffee shop” slinging cappuccinos that spell out “Dior” with dusted rose petals and the most adorable, photo-worthy macarons. Upstairs, on the rooftop garden, a flower cart brims with huge, larger-than-life arrangements of fresh blooms. Even more photo opportunities! But I admire the fact that the pop-up offers a little more than that.
Those who are curious about the makings of Miss Dior will find plenty of museum-like corners that give up small secrets about the fashion house. For example, rows of framed bows reveal that each jacquard ribbon that’s hand-tied around the neck of a Miss Dior bottle is unique. Each one is a little different, the edges of the v-shaped tails slightly mismatched. Woven from close to 400 threads, these bows boast a flower-like, pointillist pattern. These are details you often miss under the harsh lights of a department store or even in the cold, dark nook where you store your fragrances at home.
In another display, Japanese artist Haruka Kojin “decomposed the perfume to represent it as a multitude of flowers suspended in a transparent space, like a flight of birds.” Called “a thousand birds” in Japanese, the work is a nod to the original bottle’s houndstooth check. Closeby, you’ll find a tableau-sculpture by American artist Anya Kielar. Made out of a mishmash of materials — paint, linen, resin, wood and plexiglass — the piece represents Lady Dior. The ultimate muse, she holds a confident, flashy pose.
And of course, I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite part: the pleated, fog-colored dress worn by Natalie Portman in her recent campaign for the luxury fashion house. Designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director at Dior, the strapless gown took over 500 hours to make; each “millefiori” flower is painted and embroidered by hand. It’s meticulous and delicate, and the work feels all the more herculean in person.
If you haven’t watched the aforementioned ad, you’ll get a chance to see it flashing across screens at the pop-up. There’s Natalie Portman, carefree and as beautiful as ever, running joyously through endless fields of flowers. “Make me a fragrance that smells like love,” master perfumer François Demachy once said. This is the sentiment Miss Dior has always coaxed out — 75 years ago and even more so now.
Photography by Mari Makatsaria and Jacquex Frankel