balmain: 5 posts

7 Rare Vintage Perfumes : The Perfume and Wine Class

As preparation for the Art of Perfume and Wine class that I’m teaching in April in France (more details here), I thought I would write about 7 vintage perfumes that have been influential for the evolution of perfumery and that we will smell in their original versions. There will be over 50 different perfumes in this course, but these 7 are among the most essential to learn.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue 1912

Many perfumers will name Guerlain as the most influential perfume house, especially in its period when Jacques Guerlain was the head creator. L’Heure Bleue is a textbook example of a classic as well as of a symphonic perfume.

We will, of course, smell other Guerlain classics, from Après L’Ondée and Mitsouko to Chamade and Chant d’Arômes.

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Balmain Ivoire : Perfume Review (Vintage and Modern)

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Ivoire de Balmain, like many classical fragrances, entered my wardrobe via a thrift shop find. I love browsing antique stores for treasures like old perfume bottles, fake pearl necklaces and copper cake molds, and while more often than not, I leave with nothing but dust on my fingers and clothes, occasionally I find a gem. Several years ago it was a small bottle of Ivoire parfum. It was still sealed, and the fragrance was exquisitely beautiful. Even when later I bought a bottle of new Eau de Toilette, I still was smitten with Ivoire’s fragrance of crushed green leaves and skin washed with jasmine soap.

ivoire

Ivoire was  created in 1979 by a great team of perfumers, Francis Camail and Michel Hy. For reference, Camail created Estée Lauder Aliage and was one of the perfumers responsible for Giorgio Beverly Hills, while Michel Hy gave us legends like Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Paco Rabanne Calandre. Balmain was one of the top French fashion houses, and Pierre Balmain was still at the helm. “A garment made by Pierre Balmain was the very quintessence of haute couture,” famously said the Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.

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Past Perfect : Return to Retro Glamour

In the July column of the Financial Times Magazine, I talk about the reissued perfume classics we’ve been seeing lately–Balmain Ivoire, Molinard Habanita, and Jacomo Silences, among others.  Titled Past Perfect, the article is my recap of the latest “retro glamour” trend. There are many unromantic reasons why it’s tempting for perfume companies to reintroduce classics (for instance, having the rights to an existing brand), but perhaps we’re really craving more glamour. I certainly do!

CornellCapaTheBolshoiBallet

“There is a distinctive retro vibe in the air these days. Strolling through the aisles of a local perfume boutique, I suddenly noticed something that I hadn’t seen for years — Ivoire de Balmain. The bottle, a heavy glass square filled with peach-tinted liquid, was different from the original all-white flacon of this 1979 classic, but the perfume itself was recognisably Ivoire. It smelled of clean skin scrubbed with jasmine soap, crushed green buds and a whisper of earthy patchouli. It was softer and sweeter than I remembered it, but I liked its glamorous aura. To read the rest, please click here.”

If I had one perfume wish, it would be for Jean Patou to reissue Vacances as close to the original as possible. It was an exquisite blend of lilac, rose and green sap. I also would have liked for Guerlain Après l’Ondée, my favorite classic, to become available in the parfum form, but that’s already crossing into the realm of fantasy.

What is your favorite classical perfume? What perfume wishes do you have? 

Bolshoi Ballet School, Moscow, 1958, photography by Cornell Capa via 0rchid-thief.livejournal.com.

Balmain Vent Vert New and Vintage : Perfume Review

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Balmain_vent_vert_1990

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

There are days in the winter when one can smell spring. It comes surreptitiously, even if the ground is still covered with snow and the sun is concealed by thick white clouds. Yet, the fragrance of spring is unmistakable—fresh, wet, and earthy, bearing that violet intensity that marks the desire of living beings to cast off winter’s slumber. Remarkably, this dissonance of spring is captured by perfumer Germaine Cellier in Vent Vert, the perfume created for Pierre Balmain in 1947.

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Balmain Jolie Madame : Perfume Review

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Meeting Balmain Jolie Madame for the first time is an encounter that leaves one intrigued by the unpredictable personality of this beautiful stranger. The dazzling shimmer of the green floral notes has a lighthearted character, however as soon as one is ready to see a smile of its dewy heart, the veil of leathery smokiness falls darkening the gentle features.

Yet, predictability is not the quality that Germaine Cellier’s creations possess. One of the most avant-garde perfumers, she worked against the classical tradition by exploring the raw materials that most perfumers of her time would reject for their crude potency and strength. She was not afraid to overdose Balmain Vent Vert with galbanum, which made the fragrance seem as if it were exploding on the skin into the cascade of emerald dust. The original version of her Bandit possessed so much animalic robustness, it seemed almost shocking to wear in public. …

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