Friday, February 08, 2008

Pierre Balmain Vent Vert

Vent Vert translates to "green wind", and as the name suggests, it is a leafy breath of fresh air. The opening is a burst of galbanum, and the lively Green Floral rests on a light, mossy base that doesn't overpower or dampen the refreshing nature of this beautiful classic. Pierre Balmain Vent Vert (1947), often given credit for being the first Green fragrance, follows the launch of Carven Ma Griffe (1946) with its green Chypre motif, but comparatively, Vent Vert is lighter and fresher overall, streamlined in the heart with lily of the valley, hyacinth and freesia to the rich gardenia heart of Ma Griffe; sans Chypre base, Vent Vert feels airy and mild with subtle powderiness from the oakmoss and iris supporting the sandalwood-amber-musk base. It is the first Green Floral. There are herbaceous notes such as basil and sage adding almost-but-not-quite-spicy, playful accents to its vivacious energy. Vent Vert is best in the vintage formula if you can find it (the new one is sweeter, more synthetic-aqueous, with less galbanum, the life of this perfume imo). To me, it's among the best, if not the very best, that master perfumer Germaine Cellier had created in her lifetime (Robert Piguet Fracas, Bandit, Pierre Balmain Ivoire, Miss Balmain, Jolie Madame--more listed here).

According to Jan Moran in her book, Fabulous Fragrances, actress Brigitte Bardot was an aficionada of Vent Vert and Guerlain Jicky, two of the most memorable, crisp, herbaceous, nature-oriented scents an ingenue could have in a fragrance wardrobe.

(Image: Balmain Vent Vert ad, 1952 by René Gruau,