Diorama is spicy, slightly sweet and fruity, musky and sharp.It's been described as a perfect fruit chypre, a cross between Roudnitska's Femme (in its Prunol buttery plumminess) and Mitsouko.
Top notes: Bergamot, aldehydes
Heart notes: Jasmine, rose, gardenia, peach and plum (undecalactone gamma — peach aldehyde —and Prunol), raspberry, strawberry, galbanum, lily of the valley
Base notes: patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, violet (methyl ionone g), labdanum, castoreum, civet
Jean Claude Ellena has said of Diorama:
"No perfume has ever had more complex form and formula, more feminine contours, more sensual, more carnal. It seduces us with its spicy notes: pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, the scent of skin. It is disturbing with its animalic notes: castoreum, civet, musk. All the accords and themes to follow are contained in this perfume: the wood and the violet, the plum and the peach, the jasmine and the spices."
It reminds me, in its ambitions to be everything (feminine, floral, ladylike and carnal), like Narcisse Noir, which I find infinitely sexier, because it's darker and more animalic. Like Miss Dior, there's a kind of schizophrenia to Diorama. Both fragrances (in classic '50s fashion) want to be sophisticated good girls who hint at their sexuality. (The funky dirty underwear whiff in Miss Dior is more successful to me than the civet, castoreum and musk in Diorama.)
Ellena says that from an olfactory point of view, Diorama is "well balanced." From the point of view of personality, of what Diorama suggests about its wearer, "well balanced" comes across as conservative compromise, like a Southern debutante in a black leather jacket.