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Balmain de Balmain – A green babe, sleek and elegant – August 9, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - - Balmain de Balmain packaging

Give me spicy, give me sweet, give me fresh, give me floral, give me woody, give me raunchy animalic, give me green – I’m an omni-fume-vore. I love ‘em all.

Just like with foods, I love me greens. Can’t have a perfumed week without me greens. Greens are the snooty babes of the perfume world – the femmes with big attitude – not to be worn by shrinking violets. Several of my favourite greens are all from Balmain, the Paris fashion house created by designer Pierre Balmain that was such a huge trendsetter in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

 “The house showcased long bell-shaped skirts with small waists, which later became popular as Dior's New Look… Balmain popularized the stole for day as well as evening wear and created a vogue for sheath dresses beneath jackets. His talent as a designer lay in his ability to make simple, tailored suits as well as grand evening gowns, all with the same aesthetic of slender and elegant lines.” His vintage “red carpet” dresses are coveted by current celebs such as Angeline Jolie, Penelope Cruz, and Kate Moss. (Wikipedia)

His first scent in 1947 was Vent Vert (Green Wind), created by the incomparable Germaine Cellier. Balmain’s contribution to the creative effort, along with creative direction, was the bottle design, a classic square glass column with the black and white label on one corner. Vent Vert was a ground-breaking over-the-top green chypre for the modern post-war woman and was followed up more Cellier scent treasures, such as Jolie Madame in 1953, her second fabulous green which I’ve written about here, and is listed in our Decant Store, and Ivoire de Balmain, a sharp soapy green, launched in 1973, which is still listed on the Balmain website.

Balmain de Balmain, launched in 1998, carries on the green chypre tradition, but this gorgeous babe was created by Antoine MaisonDieu (CdeG Monocle Scent Two: Laurel, CdeG Black Play, Armani Code, Burberry Brit for Men, plus eleven – count ’em – scents for Etat Libre d’Orange). Balmain de Balmain is one of those perfumes that never got its due respect – a green chypre launched in the midst of a trend for big powerhouse spicy and fruity Orientals? Boring, old news, go away. Which is a shame, because now, of course, it’s been discontinued, but the fact remains that it is an absolutely outstanding fragrance for those who love, understand, and crave classic French scents.

Balmain de Balmain opens with a huge whip-cracking hit of bergamot and galbanum, mixed with pepper and black current. Galbanum is a bitter bitter green note – I see it as a stream of molten bright-green glass, shiny and translucent – but the bergamot gives it a citrus tartness, the black current a sweet tartness, and the pepper a wonderful dry spiciness. Soon joined by vetiver and oakmoss, the green gets greener, but when the earthy floral notes – iris and violet and hints of indolic jasmine - rise up in the heart, the green becomes a little sweeter, and also darker, earthy, and slightly dirty.

In the dry-down, creamy sandalwood and dark patchouli smooth out all the sharp edges and lighten the musty damp oakmoss-vetiver mix, bringing the notes into a soft harmonious accord that stays on the skin for hours and smells so faintly floral and so deliciously green. This is a scent that, for me, hits all the right olfactory triggers, more savoury than sweet but with warmth at the end, and makes me feel elegant, feminine, and powerful.

Balmain de Balmain can easily be worn by men, because the florals are so subdued. The story is truly green, sleek, smooth and elegant like the classic designs of Pierre Balmain. Balmain de Balmain is still available on-line, and it is fairly inexpensive. A word to the wise - buy some now before it disappears completely.

Balmain de Balmain is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Note: We also list Monsieur Balmain, a fabulous lemon-based scent loved by men - and women.