Balmain La Môme (2007) {Perfume Review}



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. 


Related Posts

9 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. The base notes sound wonderful. I hope to sniff it sometime after it is more widely released.

    Victorias Own
  2. The base notes bring a nice warmth and an enveloping feel. I was also attracted by the description of the notes, but...well, I already said it.

    I could send you a sample if you wanted to.

  3. Oh, no, Marie-Helene. Please don't say this perfume is politically correct, I beg you. :) I cannot imagine a worse insult (for anything or anyone) and it's an epithet I reserve for perfumes for which you pay $50 a pop, or more, and vanish from your skin before you reach your front door. And there are so many of those around these days!

    Seriously. I smelled La Mome and fell in love with it. And yes, it does remind me of vintage scents, especially some by Guerlain.

    Also, I love the fact that this scent has good staying power, as God intended perfumes should have. How un-pc is that?!

    I guess that just comes to prove once again how taste differs from person to person.

  4. Having re-sniffed it, I haven't changed my mind much about it. I do see as before how a rose lover and one who would not have been already made blasé by Putain des Palaces or Trésor might really fall for it. I think that there is quite an enthralling rose impression for a rose aficionado. I still think that it could be more complex and have more depth and that it does not feel like a scent Edith Piaf would have worn. Caron Or et Noir, as a rose scent, would be much better on her; it has more oomph! But it is a pretty amber-y rose-violet scent and I did not at all mean to be insulting. I just think that the perfumer did not give it his all. And I still think that a parfum version would take it to another level. The dry-down definitely lacks complexity while the heart has a plenitude for a rather short time that I can appreciate.

  5. Well, yes. You do have a point on the kind of perfume Piaf would have worn. I haven't tried Putain des Palaces (good grief, is that really the name?) and Tresor has never quite agreed with my chemistry (although it smells heavenly on my mum). Also, maybe I like La Mome more than you because I smell the violet more than the rose. Funny how a same perfume can make such a different impression on two people. Maybe that's part of the charm of scents, don't you think. :) Thanks for a wonderful website, Marie Helene.

  6. Thank you:) Yes, it is the right name:)

    As you long as you have found a perfume to love, that is what counts.

  7. Hello - I just found this lovely review, then was shocked to find that it's been copied, in part, on an Australian site selling the perfume. I thought you might want to know; here it is [...]

    • Hello,

      Thank you very much for the info and the link (which I took out as I do not want to give them undeserved publicity). I shot them an email, which turned out to be non-functioning. Will have to call them in Australia next thing.

      And thank you for your kind words.

      Chant Wagner
  8. I'm glad I went to see LA MOME, or LA VIE EN ROSE. I had a good time at the movies. After seeing it, I realized what a good life I have. But seriously, Marion Cotillard's performance is nothing short of spectacular, even if her performance borders on caricature. I realized that whatever Cotillard and the director were attempting to do, it was worth it and that includes the borderline caricatural acting. The only thing I thought went overboard was the melodrama. Edith Piaf's life is filled with tragedy. We are well aware of this but the filmmaker didn't need to dwell on it ad nauseam. Practically every scene in LA VIE EN ROSE is taken from the big book of melodrama.

    It's hard to believe Edith didn't have one happy moment during her days as either a kid or a young adult. After 45 minutes of non-stop sadness, the film was laying it pretty thick. The best example of this was when Edith and her friend were eating at a restaurant. It was the first time we saw Edith eating a meal in a restaurant as a young woman. Just showing her enjoying her meal and chatting with her friend would have been fun to see but then Edith's estranged mother walks in, begging for food and money from her daughter and well, here we go again, more melodrama. The film needed more quiet moments to balance out Edith's albeit tragic life. The constant melo was at times off putting. Edith's life is remarkable enough without having to rely on easy melodrama to tell it. The end effect was like the director wanted to impress younger generations, who are unfamiliar with Edith, by showing her life as being more edgy than Courtney Love's life could ever be.

    At the theater where I saw it, an old couple in front of me walked out halfway into the picture, visibly not pleased with the bleak representation of the beloved chanteuse. The director was obviously in love with the concept that great art emerges from tragedy/pain/suffering but he carried this concept to an unfortunate level.

    My other critique of LA VIE EN ROSE is that the script forgot major aspects about her life. Of course they couldn't cover every aspect of her legendary life but forgetting to mention that Edith was the one who discovered Yves Montand or that she played a major part of the French Resistance was inexcusable. I understand that they wanted to create a specific portrait of her life. Making a biography is not easy thing to do. It can easily fall into two categories: it can be an exact "academic" portrayal of her life, which many find tedious and dull or it could have been a wildly inaccurate portrayal, made with many dramatic licenses, in order to be more entertaining. But in either case, an accurate, truthful portrayal of anyone's life is an impossibility and the director of LA VIE EN ROSE is conscious of this and deliberately avoided some things about Edith which would have conflicted with this portrait he wanted to create but the fact that Yves Montand didn't even figure somewhere in this portrait was, imo, very bizarre.

    This brings another point: the film is so focused on Edith that all other characters are pushed in the background and we hardly know who they are. Edith's star is so bright that she eclipses everyone around her. This part didn't bother me that much because I realized the director wanted to focus only on Edith but it would have been nice to have known who was who.

    But even with these weak points, I still recommend LA VIE EN ROSE. It's the type of film we rarely see these days: big, showy and remarkably depressing. Marion Cotillard should win awards after awards for her stunning portrayal. It's truly something to witness and it's worth the price of admission. And the music, of course, is great.


Leave a Comment