Friday, February 15, 2008

Miss Balmain

Miss Balmain (1967) was created by perfumer Germaine Cellier who had also created Ivoire, Vent Vert and Jolie Madame for the design house of Pierre Balmain. Jan Moran categorizes it as a Chypre-Floral Animalic, and I agree, although to me, it's not so animalic and actually very green and dazzling like Givenchy III, Deneuve or Ivoire, just heavier and spicier. I smell mostly spices (coriander, carnation) and a heavy, dry but musky castoreum-patchouli-leather base. I love it, though--it's kind of sweet and yummy as well as airy. It opens with citrus-like bright greens, then reveals a retro gardenia, except the gardenia-jasmine in Miss Balmain isn't as heavy as in Jolie Madame. Although one is marketed to younger women and the other to older women (in the days before Ms. was standard even in the US), I don't find Miss Balmain light, simple and youthful. I think the main difference is that Miss Balmain smells less floral in that voluptuous, low-pitched, ambery patchouli + white floral way Jolie Madame has nailed. Jolie Madame is most obviously a retro gardenia blend; Miss Balmain while no less retro smells more like a balsamic-spicy Oriental-leather Chypre floral, bringing to mind the spicy-warm vintage Replique, supposedly a favorite of 1940s screen siren Rita Hayworth (alongside Lanvin Arpège and Guerlain Shalimar). By the way, this ad is one of my favorite perfume ads, ever.

(Edited to add) As I feel about Vent Vert and Ivoire, Miss Balmain is much more strikingly beautiful in the vintage formulation.