(Image, model Helen Williams from 1960s Greyhound Bus advertisement.)
Balmain Miss Balmain, 1967. Perfumer Germaine Cellier.
Miss B’s charm comes from a slapdash but effective composition. It conveys an honestly straightforward approach, and the result is a charming perfume with character.
Forget any discussions of buttery Italian leather, sophisticated Russian leather, discrete French glove leather. Miss B is stiff coat leather with a note of cheap compact-powder florals. Both ranges of notes, the leather and the compact, tell you to take it or leave it. There’s something wonderfully practical about this perfume. It doesn’t suggest that you contemplate it in search of meaning, intent or mood. It has that sort of checklist approach to acceptable femininity: hair, makeup, purse, dress, shoes. Walk out the house, never give it another thought. For some people this approach could be a a pile-up of mismatches.
For the right person though this approach can read as Just Right, and demonstrate a strong sense of self possession. Miss Balmain suggests an easy execution of gender more than a belabored performance of it. For the person wearing Miss Balmain, perfume isn’t a giveaway of your personality or desires, it’s merely a fragrance that s/he likes to wear. Try too read further into it and you’ll be barking up the wrong tree.