I´m sure many of you remember when Bois de Jasmin was blogging regularly. She was my nemesis. There I´d be, an adult completely in control of my environment and behavior. And I´d saunter over to her blog, read a beautifully written review of some obscure scent (new, niche, classic) and then, in a trance, head to a perfume etailer or eBay and buy it unsniffed. She could have written a review of, I don´t know, Merde de Chien and I´d have whipped out my MasterCard. It was infuriating.
And thus it was that I found myself frantically bidding on a vintage bottle of Jolie Madame shortly after her review. I won it. I waited, glowing. It arrived. I tore open the box, popped the bottle open, dabbed (sprayed?) it on triumphantly, and … sweet mother %*#$%*)$*) why don’t you please go ahead and kill.me.now.
Jolie Madame was the nastiest, skankiest piece of liquid hell that had graced my wrist until another BdJ review made me buy Jacomo Silences (another shout-out to you, V!) I tried Jolie a couple more times but that was all I could take. If I recall correctly, I wrapped it up and sent it as a surprise gift to the only person on the planet who might inexplicably, conceivably like it – Bois de Jasmin. She was thrilled, and that was that.
Regular readers have already sussed out where this is going, because I am so predictable it´s a joke. Two weeks (?) ago I said something like, leather fragrances – love to smell them, but wearing them — meh, not so much. But this Lancome Cuir thingummy – this I like! Then someone mentioned Jolie Madame. Then Louise said she could hook me up with a sample of the vintage, since she owns some, and everyone else on the planet including you and your hamster already bought up the new bottles of Jolie Madame at TJ Maxx for $14.99, so all they have when I go is Caesar´s Man and Liz Claiborne, and what is up with that? Is it some karmic thing?
Jolie Madame is, in essence, violets and leather. I can´t remember what the new smells like, but I´m assuming it´s a little more polite, although serviceable. The vintage bottle Louise has is violets and leather in the sort of base that causes less … discerning people to step away quickly in alarm. Ah, the beauty of vintage fragrances. The top notes may have wandered off or turned rancid, but frequently what you get at the bottom is extraordinary. Back in the day they really made some musky, animalic wonders. Jolie Madame’s notes are gardenia, bergamot, coriander, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, rose, jonquil, orris, patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, musk, castoreum, leather, civet… yeah, I know. Read those base notes and weep, whether with desire or repulsion. To smell that in a vintage iteration is to get an obscene amount of pleasure in a smell. I just had to give my nose three years to come around to it.
The weird part is, this particular vintage bottle goes all wrong on Louise, although her others are fine. I won´t describe it further, in case you are eating breakfast, but it´s the sort of vaguely organic smell that would have you sprinting for the liquid Tide on the double. So it was win-win all around – I bought her bottle, which smells great on me (if I do say so myself) and she got a little cash out of the deal to spend on makeup. Which she did (and have you seen those new Lancome glosses?) And then we all sat down for a cuppa joe in the basement of Saks and lived happily ever after, The End.
PS This time of year always gets me down a little. I spent last night watching The Women (the original, not the recent remake) — speaking of Dames! And the clothes! Those gowns by Adrian!! And I love that the nail polish they’re wearing is … Jungle Red. And perfume even has a role, what more could I want?
Jolie Madame ad trademark, courtesy of wipo.int; Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, The Women