This is for vintage EdT:
I don't usually like to post reviews of vintage juice, because there's no point in praising something that nobody else can get. But there's a lot of Jolie Madame still around, and it is selling for extremely reasonable prices. It's a shame it's not getting more love.
I suspect its general neglect within the perfume geek community could be for a number of reasons. Jolie Madame never held the same iconic status as many of its fifties counterparts, especially here in the US. This may be because it isn't as raunchy as Bandit or as flamboyant as Fracas. Also, Balmain has, no doubt, cheapened the formula over the years, no doubt gradually eroding any cachet their fragrance might once have held. And then there is Balmain's inexplicable decision to only (as far as I can tell) produce Jolie Madame in EdT formula. Even the finest fragrances lose much of their grip and character at this higher dilution. But with Jolie Madame, this is what we have, and I for one am grateful for it.
This is a perfume that presents two sides, almost all at once. Its floral top notes are almost strident: a breeze of sharp neroli and white flowers blows past, followed by jasmine, then tuberose and violets that smell fruity, but never sweet. All of this is wrapped in a distinctly old-school Knize Ten style smoke, and a subtle but animalic leather. The florals and the leather seem to assert themselves in equal measure, especially on fabric. The drydown comes on peppery-bitter at first, dense from oakmoss, and then it settles into a subtle, dry, vanillic tobacco still tinged with violets.
Those florals! Jasmine, tuberose, and violets. And leather. It's perverse, it's beautiful, and it works. How is it that nobody working in niche perfume today has taken this idea, ripped it off wholesale, recreated it with good materials, and restored it to greatness? Clearly, Balmain isn't going to do it. Germaine Cellier's creation deserves recognition and respect. Jolie Madame isn't an extreme statement--it's a marriage of extremes, and that's why it's great. Its greatness still shows, even in its attenuated form.
If you like Knize Ten, and you enjoy florals (Amouage guys, consider this) Jolie Madame could be fun for you. The downside is that, in this formulation, the whole show happens within an hour--two or three if you spray Jolie Madame on clothes. If you want to smell this on yourself all day, refreshment will be necessary. Forget about "performance" and "projection." Jolie Madame won't do those things for you. But it will tell you a story, and it will make you smell really great.
A vintage sample:
The opening notes form a rather unique combination, combining a lovely coriander with neroli and a boozy artemisia; a gentle spice in the backgound is provided by hints of cloves.
In the drydown this scent turns floral, with a waxy tuberose mingling with a lovely narcissus-jasmin duo that later on sees a violet impression added: a delightful, well-structured potpourri of garden fragrances.
The base notes again take another turn into a different direction: a gentle, beautiful bright leather impression, reminding me of Kölnisch Juchten, combined with cedarwood, a sweet pipe tobacco note and gently overarching mossy components. The base, which lasts several hours, at times emanates a velvety honeyed impression that is as classic as it is delicious.
Overall this a a supremely developing and always interesting creation, extremely well blended and made of top-quality ingredients. I get soft sillage, decent projection and an overall longevity of seven hours. Good for spring or autumn throughout the day or in the evening. A classic. 4/5.
**** This review is of the vintage. ****
I am charmed if not smitten by this rather easy-going floral chypre from the '50s. Unlike Patou 1000, the florals are present without overwhelming, the civet modestly applied, blending in beautifully with the chypre's lightly mossy base. Like sun rays filtering through the foliage, there is a radiance that glows from within. Oh, to smell this on a woman!
On me the vintage edt goes on with a mix of tuberose and dusky violet over a warm chypre base. Although this is nice, I would not rate it as outstanding in any way.
The base, despite 7 ingredients, is not as strong as my nose would need to balance the florals. Still, even though it is not my personal cup of tea, I can't deny it is unique in my experience - to have sweet florals float over nicely balanced, leathery warmth.
Top notes: Gardenia, Artemesia, Bergamot Coriander, Neroli
Middle notes: Jasmine Tuberose, Rose, Orris, Jonquil
Base notes: Patchouli, Oak Moss, Vetiver, Musk, Castoreum, Leather, Civet
This is my first post, so excuse my simple explanation! Jolie Madame is one of my all time loves. On me it smells divine, the newer version that is. I have not been fortunate enough to smell the original, but it is hard to think it could be even better than this. It is sweet yet pungent at the same time and always draws positive comments.
I wish I could try the vintage...only have the reformulated which, after a couple of hours, dries down to the astringency of cat pee. the first three hours are great, leather and violets, as promised but -- man! Gotta get home in time!