21 agosto 2017

Pierre Balmain Jolie Madame (G. Cellier, 1952)

Kate Winslet as Tilly Dunnage
When I first saw the 2015 Australian revenge comedy-drama "The Dressmaker", I immediately got a scent association popping to my mind. The film itself is not a masterpiece, but it is one of a kind and while the main character Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) unfolds a pitch-percect wardrobe from the award-winning costume designer Margot Wilson that quotes the best New Look outfits from Balenciaga, Balmain, Dior and Fath, you can't help but thinking of her leaving trails of Jolie Madame while she carries her sewing machine across the dusty hometown.

Jolie Madame by René Gruau (1952)
Revenge in a leather glove holding a cigarette is definitely what best describes Jolie Madame. This Haute Couture Western Lady spots Balmain's flattering style with just a pinch of seduction. The second leather chypre released by Germaine Cellier was such an instant success that from 1952 to 1957 Pierre Balmain named eleven collections after it.
Aimed to the Balmain customers, Jolie Madame opens with the crispy elegance of gardenia surrounded by dainty violets and the silvery freshness of artemisia. Gardenia was really in fashion in the late '40s, specially after the success of Ma Griffe and Miss Dior, the styrallyl acetate (a synthetic also found in gardenia blossoms) loaded striking creations Jean Carles made for Madame Carven and Christian Dior. Here though it is just the prelude of a unique contrast that makes this Madame not just a pretty perfume but the charming, complex and sensual smell of a badass woman.

My vintage perfume from the '60s
In fact the upfront pretty greenery gives way to a white floral kick of jasmine and tuberose releasing their lavish nocturnal message, echoed by the sinful warmth of civet. The heart softer and sensual, wearing on skin like a dark and creamy wasp-waisted satin dress can take the inner Parisian bombshell even out of a messed country girl like Tilly Dunnage dazzling designs.
You're warned though: don't even think of messing with Tilly as while looking utterly chic and feminine, the lady knows how to fanny kick you.

Anne Gunning in a Balmain red linen suit (1952)
The takes no prisoner attitude of Bandit hides underneath in fact and she's ready to slap your face with her buccaneer manners and shut you down with her husky voice if needed. That's the statement of the mysterious leathery chypre trail later cutting through the feathered powderness of iris, empowered by the animalic, earthy radiance of jonquil, castoreum, vetiver and quinoleines.
Jolie Madame originally came in two concentrations: the eau de toilette enhancing the fresher green violet powderness and the denser, creamier perfume. Both are gorgeous and worth experiencing them at least once in a lifetime.

Brigitte Bardot at Balmain
preparing to meet the Queen in Nov. 1956
Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot, the singers Dalida and Juliette Gréco and H.R.M. the Queen of Thailand are only a few of the beautiful women won by the Jolie Madame style and its fragrant aura.
In the last decades classics like Fahrenheit or more recently Dior Homme have helped even the more restrained guys to feel confident about floral leathers. So today I can perfectly see a man pulling off Jolie Madame as long as he feels comfortable wearing some of its granddaughters like Bottega Veneta eau de parfum, Armani Privé Cuir Amethyste or the discontinued Tom Ford Black Violet as I do. On my skin for example the eau de toilette version is beautifully floral with a leather tinged violet dust while the perfume is a uberchic leather lingering close to the skin with its animalic magnetism.

Top notes: gardenia, artemisia, bergamot, coriander, neroli
Heart notes: jasmine, tuberose, rose, orris, jonquil
Base notes: patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, musk, castoreum, leather, civet

Backstage of the Balmain Couture show in Paris by Mark Shaw for Life Magazine (1954)

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