If you go to the Dior website then you will see that it describes its infamous scent in the following way:
‘A true magical formula, Poison is an irresistibly seductive fragrance, characterized by spectacular appeal. Each Poison fragrance is part of the Dior legend of seduction, embodying magic and audacity, fascination and enchantment.’
There are many people who love Poison’s smell. But it most definitely is the Marmite of the perfume world; for every woman who will liberally slap it on their wrists and neck there are plenty more who would rather spray themselves with oven cleaner. I had a look – just to balance out all Dior’s flowery hyperbole of how much of a goddess you’ll turn yourself into by wearing it - at reviews of Poison by normal people. There were many like this… ‘To me personally, Dior’s Poison smells like Playdoh on steroids,’ ‘Never been able to stomach this perfume,’ ‘Simply synthetic forest fruit-scented bathroom refresher,’ ‘This smells like a headache.’ Not fans, clearly. I guess it’s all down to your body’s chemistry; on some women it will smell more subtle and therefore likeable than on others.
But I admit it. I’ve always loved Poison. I know that it has a sickly sweet smell that is more reminiscent of cleaning products that mask fabric odours; that this smell will stay in a room for hours after the person wearing it has left and that to really appreciate it properly you need the big shoulder pads, large trashy earrings and enormous back-combed hair of the 1980s – I know all that and yet I still love it.
I was first given a small bottle of the stuff as a teenager by a grandma whose nasal passages had presumably already given up the ghost. I wore it constantly; partly because I genuinely did like the smell but partly because, whilst not unpopular at school I was certainly not in the in-crowd and, therefore, may have thought that I needed a hook to ensure I remained in peoples’ minds once we left. I was hoping for ‘Oh yes, she was the girl who always wore Poison.’ What I think I probably got was ‘Oh yes, she was the girl whose perfume meant we had to open all the classroom windows.’
It was created by perfumer Édouard Fléchier for Christian Dior in 1985 as fragrance for seduction; the purple bottle was designed to resemble an apple – the fruit of temptation. The scent description includes ‘top notes of coriander, pimento, plum, anise, mace, rosewood and carnation; heart notes of rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, jasmine and lily of the valley, and base note of cedarwood, vetiver, sandalwood, musk, helitrope, vanilla and opopanax’ (a herb apparently). That’s a lot going on; no wonder some people’s noses just can’t handle it.
It won ‘Women’s Fragrance of the Year’ at the FiFi Awards in 1987 (an annual New York City event which is sponsored by The Fragrance Foundation) as well as admission to the FiFi Fragrance Hall of Fame in 2000 and it is still an iconic perfume – its name as instantly recognisable in the perfume world as Chanel No. 5.
There are now several other siblings in the Poison family: Pure Poison, Tender Poison, Hypnotic Poison and Midnight Poison (possibly named because no matter how early in the morning you put it on it still smells just as strongly the following midnight?).
Poison by Christian Dior: a scent which can both enchant men and knock out small animals.