The latest creation by the house of Balmain is called La Môme (The Kid) and pays homage to an encounter in the 1950s between the great propular French singer Edith Piaf and couturier Pierre Balmain. It was released in February 2007 to coïncide with the debut of Olivier Dahan's biopic La Môme about the life of the singer.
The perfume was created by Guillaume Flavigny who is also the composer for Purple Lips by Dali and Lulu by Lulu Castagnette, together with Antoine Lie, amongst others. The young perfumer won a prize in 2002 with the Société Française des Parfumeurs for a fragrance called In The Mood For Love.
La Môme has top notes of May Rose, freesia, and pink pepper. Heart notes are Damas Rose absolute, violet, raspberry, and myrrh. Base notes are orris, musk, amber, and opoponax.....
La Môme starts with a fruity spicy impression and moves quickly into some of the narcotic facets of freesia. The resinous warmth of the myrrh, amber, and opoponax is enveloping and readily present from the start. The slightly metallic marine theme of ambergris brings its greyish hue and slightly more daring note to the composition. The perfume is based on a rose-violet accord that is rendered gourmand with the addition of a sweet edible raspberry note. But less so than with Putain des Palaces by Etat Libre d'Orange for those who know it.The sensation is a bit syrupy, very soft, with not one note shouting louder than the others. The fragrance feels cosy, comfortable, round, and succeeds at creating a convincing velvety texture. Yet, instead of appreciating the well-blended aspect of the fragrance, one is left feeling that the notes are shyly mumbling rather than talking eloquently to the perfume wearer. There are later plumey and sugary undertones. The orris adds a faint powdery character to the composition. The perfume smells rather sweet and innocent despite its warm animalic notes.
In spite of the claim that La Môme offers a vintage feel, I cannot say that it is very well marked like it is for the reformulation of Baghari by Piguet for example. Perhaps the ambergris and orris are supposed to evoke that impression.
I actually have a hard time pinpointing the personality of this fragrance as it seems to play on the restrained character of most of its elements.This seems to be keeping in line with the pretty reformulations of the Balmain classics which have considerablly toned down their effects.
The perfume seems to be much shallower than I would imagine a perfume worn by Edith Piaf would be. As we know that Robert Piguet designed her famous little black dress that she wore on the stage, I could very well see her wearing Bandit but not this perfume in particular. It is pleasant but lacks depth. I think though that it would probably be more interesting in a parfum version where the nose could feel more satisfied with a fuller development of the notes.
If it were a dish and not a perfume, I would tell the cook, quite frankly, that it lacks spices and depth of flavor while being too sweetish. Thinking along the lines of a food that I would be willing to eat or not, I would add then also that I find the ambergris a bit harsh at times and unbalanced together with the rest.
I think however that people who like soft baby-bottomish fragrances and violet and rose accords might feel more enthralled by the scent. If you like Gem by Van Cleef and Arpels for example, it might strike a chord with you.
La Môme seems to be inspired by Trésor de Lancôme as it offers that same distinctive syrupy-soft fruity-floral feel. The rose and violet notes are also reminiscent of Paris by Yves Saint Laurent.
The perfume stays rather close to the skin and, there also, seems to play on the restrained character of all its potential effects. I would be very curious to see how the extract version might smell as it might bring out the personality of the scent better. For now, it smells terribly politically correct or, on a lighter note, it evokes at most for me some agreeable time spent at high tea conversing about banalities and tasting delicious tea and scones with jam while smiling with contentment at the flower pots.
The perfume is distributed exclusively by Marionnaud. It retails 41 Euros for a 50 ml flacon and 59 Euros for a 100 ml one.
2nd photo is from the movie La Môme.