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Balmain Jolie Madame: View of the first Woman-Perfume

Thursday, 03 December 2009

balmain jolie madameThe Balmain Fashion House is on the highest point of fame today not only in France but world-wide. It is loved for its luxury military styled jackets popular with many celebrities and Hollywood divas from Beyonce to Rihanna. The vintage perfumery by Balmain Fashion House has been acknowledged as the iconic fragrances along with the legendary Chanel and Guerlain. Among them, the vintage fragrance Jolie Madam, that was launched in the far year of 1953, is the perfect example of how the personality affects the aroma. The legendary Jolie Madam was created by Germaine Cellier, the French woman who was first accepted as the perfumer along with men.

Germaine Cellier was very unique unlike others. She was tall, slim and slender blonde with the perfect taste of style (she preferred costumes by Balmain) and much peppered tongue. Germaine was the model for the French artist André Derain and close friend to Jan Cocteau; also she was employed as the chemist at the Roure Bertrand. And this year Germaine Cellier would be one hundred years old.

Germaine Cellier is a woman to create a variety of flourishing fragrance Vent Vert by Balmain, created by her in 1945 that became the first modern green aroma to Piguet Bandit, Piguet Fracas, Balmain Monsieur Balmain and Nina Ricci Coeur Joie. The contemporaries stated that Germaine Cellier form her fragrances like a painter creates the paintings, when striving to utter the abstract art in perfume compositions. Yet, being one of the most avant-garde perfumers of that epoch, Germaine Cellier did not follow the classic traditions in perfume creation, favoring for experiments with ingredients while other perfumers frequently refused to even try these ingredients due to the intensive and almost rough nature. The works by Germaine Cellier do always contrast with their unpredictability, exactly the same as her.

Jolie Madame scent create by Cellier in 1953 for Balmain was so demanded and succeeded that the French designer called some of his models to thank this perfume. The perfume composition of Jolie Madame is built on the ensemble of flowery notes, the notes of gardenia, jasmine, rose, tuberose, nerol, bergamot, coriander, pachouli, vetiver, though the scent, when applied to the skin, is seen as the notes of greenery, violet and the leather. The «green» origin of the scent finds the ineffable peppiness and vitality, when the flowery scent of violet is femininity and delicacy. And, finally, the closing note of leather is the original and unusual sign to symbolize that Jolie Madam belongs to a woman who's risky to play around, as well as with Germaine Cellier.  

As Germaine Cellier remarked herself afterwards, she made every attempt to ease the leather accord with the unusual note of powder and sweet note of violet, when creating the new scent for Balmain. The sources that inspired her to create the new fragrance were two of her previous scents, extremely intensive Robert Piguet Bandit and Robert Piguet Fracas. When launching Jolie Madame, Pierre Balmain took his chances, since the French perfumery of that epoch did not appreciate leather scents as much as classic flowery scents for women, with all those classic traditions. Balmain appeared to risk reasonably when the fragrance created by Germaine Cellier was estimated by the fashion trendsetters, by French and American fashion mongers. One of the most women who admired the fragrance was the legendary writer, Gertrude Stein who was the regular customer to Pierre Balmain, and Stein supposed that her peculiar match of tender violet note and lather in Jolie Madam reflects her individuality best of all.

The fragrance stayed unchcanged for several decades until it was finally changed in 90s, and Jolie Madame experienced several issues that affected the scent significantly: the affection of the sensitive base of oak moth disappeared with the leather note, while flowery accords were fully replaced by flamboyant but dead aldehyde notes. The scent itself became far simpler and poorer and fairly washed out unlike the original intensive and rich version of the fragrance.

Today Jolie Madame is still launched in classic plain bottle with the plainest label like that if Coco Channel at her time. Pierre Balmain ignored the flamboyant bottle for the perfume to show off thinking reasonably that the content should tell more than the cover.

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