Balmain Jolie Madame ~ fragrance review

Balmain Jolie Madame fragrance advertBalmain Jolie Madame perfume advert

Have you ever played the game where you compose a dinner party of any guests that you want? With all four leaves in my dining room table I can seat twelve people. I haven’t chosen all the guests yet, but I’m tentatively down for Dolly Parton, M. F. K. Fisher, Jimmy and Roslyn Carter, Charlie Chaplin — and perfumer Germaine Cellier. Germaine Cellier is the nose behind an astonishing list of list of fragrances, including one of my favorites, Balmain Jolie Madame.

According to a profile of the perfumer by Jeannine Mongin for the Société Française des Parfumeurs, Germaine Cellier was a tall, thin blonde with an unerring sense of style (she favored Balmain suits) and a dirty mouth. She studied chemistry and during World War II worked for Colgate Palmolive scenting soap. She lived in Montparnasse, modeled for André Derain, and was friends with Jean Cocteau. She kept three dachshunds named Cléopatra, Félix, and Valentin and a parrot who could sing Etoile des Neiges. She was imperious, generous, opinionated, and never married but spent the last thirty years of her life shacked up with a tennis pro. If Cellier were alive today, she’d be exactly 100 years old.

And, of course, she made marvelous, groundbreaking perfumes…

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Robert Piguet Visa & Cravache ~ new fragrances

Robert Piguet Visa perfumeIn what is turning out to be a very good year for reissues (are you listening, Dior? get with the program!), Robert Piguet is planning to reintroduce two fragrances from their back catalog this fall, Visa for women and Cravache for men.

Visa was originally developed by perfumer Germaine Cellier, and launched in 1945 (after Bandit but before Fracas). The new version of the “classic oriental” was created by perfumer Aurelien Guichard

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The End is Here: A Scented Dialogue — Monsieur Balmain, Old & New

Balmain Monsieur Balmain cologne for men

Setting: A crowded perfume cabinet in the Pacific Northwest.

Main Characters:

Monsieur Balmain (“Monsieur”): the original Pierre Balmain fragrance for men;

Monsieur Balmain (“MB”): the reformulated version of Monsieur Balmain.

Monsieur “awakes” and is startled to see a new, bright yellow bottle standing next to him on the perfume shelf.

Monsieur: Excusez-moi monsieur, we have not been introduced. Could you turn just a bit…. What? Is this a joke? MY name is Monsieur Balmain, yet “Monsieur Balmain” is written on your garish bottle…

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Robert Piguet Fracas ~ an appreciation

Robert Piguet Fracas advertPiguet Fracas perfume bottle

Fracas was launched in 1948 by Robert Piguet. Like yesterday’s Bandit, it was created by perfumer Germaine Cellier, and like Bandit, it eventually disappeared from the shelves. In 1996 it was reformulated by perfumer Pierre Negrin and relaunched. The notes are bergamot, mandarin, hyacinth, tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, lily of the valley, jonquil, violet, neroli, rose, orange blossom, iris, musk, vetiver, cedar and sandalwood.

Fracas, love it or hate it, is indisputably the queen of all tuberose fragrances. “Every single person making a tuberose fragrance is trying to knock off the classic, which is Fracas,” commented Frederic Malle when discussing the creation of his own tuberose scent, Carnal Flower (via Women’s Wear Daily, 9/30/2005). Roja Dove notes:

Fracas is the big tuberose reference of perfumery, and tuberose is the most carnal of the floral notes. It smells like very, very hot flesh after you’ve had sex — that’s the bottom line. It’s very much in fashion just now, but current fragrances don’t use such an incredible concentration of it. While they may nod towards something carnal, Fracas is carnal all the way. (via The Independent, 12/14/2002)

Fracas, as the name suggests, is not a subtle fragrance. It is in-your-face tuberose…

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Bandit by Robert Piguet ~ fragrance review

Robert Piguet Bandit fragrancea advertRobert Piguet Bandit perfume

Bandit was the first fragrance release from Parisian fashion designer Robert Piguet. The leather chypre was created by perfumer Germaine Cellier, and launched on “the couture runway in 1944 with models sporting villain masks, brandishing toy revolvers and knives” (via Fashion Fragrances and Cosmetics). Bandit was eventually discontinued, then was re-launched in 1999 in a new formulation created by perfumer Delphine Lebeau of Givaudan. The notes include neroli, orange, ylang ylang, galbanum, jasmine, tuberose, rose, carnation, leather, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli and musk.

Guy Robert called Bandit a beautiful but brutal perfume, and that is as apt a description as any: Bandit is not a fragrance for the timid…

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