If you’ve never smelled Dior Mitzah before, then telling you that it smells like cinnamon, honey, rose, amber and incense is about as useful as telling you that a pound cake contains butter, eggs, and flour. Change the proportion of any one of those ingredients and you get a different result but only slightly. Because it’s still a pound cake. Most spicy-sparkly-balsamic ambers exist on a pound cake plane, separated by infinitesimal degrees of smoke or sweetness or heft. Perfumes like Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens), Ambra Aurea (Profumum Roma), Miyako (Annayake), Vento nel Vento (Bois 1920), and yes, Mitzah (Dior) all form part of a universal comfort lexicon. It is hard to go wrong with any of them. But they are also much of a muchness.
There are primarily three things that distinguish Mitzah. First, its texture. For a scent made with such heavy materials – honey, labdanum, cardamom, patchouli – it feels remarkably airy, like gauze stretched across a window. Mitzah wears as if all these materials had been placed in a low oven, dried overnight, and then, once cooled, ground to a fine golden mica that applies like one of those edible body dusting powders. If you’ve ever eaten a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut right after the red light flashes, then you’ll know that sensation of sinking your teeth into that thin glaze and suddenly finding nothing in your mouth but air because the entire thing dissolved the minute it hit the warmth of your tongue. Mitzah replicates that.
Second, the peppery bitterness introduced by the cardamom note, which firmly pushes back against the glittery sweetness of the perfumed, freeze-dried air that is the rest of Mitzah. The same might be said for the gentle earthiness of the patchouli, which subtly darkens the bright rose gold aura of the scent and gives it a hint of something approaching depth. These little counterpoints give Mitzah an air of balance and refinement not that common in the amber genre.
Third, there is a ghostly ‘roasted’ note that smells like the sesame seeds or cinnamon sticks toasted in a dry pan. It is not a major component, but it adds a point of interest, much like the crushed thyme and bay leaf in Ambre Sultan, or the licorice and spilled petrol notes in Vento nel Vento. Mitzah needs this point of interest, because without it, it becomes one of those diaphanous ambery-spicy scents without distinction that you throw on for comfort on a cold day and promptly forget about five minutes later. And while I don’t think Mitzah is quite as interesting or as exceptional as its reputation makes it out to be (Paris exclusivity having greatly shaped its mystique over the years), it does do an excellent job of straddling that gap between mindless comfort and intentionality. For that reason alone, I can almost forgive myself for not buying Eau Noire instead when I was last downwind of the Dior Paris Mothership’s postal reach.
Cover Image: Photo by Lucas Kapla on Unsplash
Source of Sample: Sample, ha! My jeroboam-sized bottle laughs in the face of a mere sample. Does double duty as a barbell. Purchased by my own fair hand in 2017 from Dior Paris.