Monday, June 16, 2008

La Fuite des Heures : Balenciaga : Cellier

**Public service announcement: If anyone is reading this who is in the least bit susceptible to vintage perfume lust, this review raves on about a discontinued, obscure, and frustratingly little-known vintage parfum. It's gotta be done, though, so I beg pardon in advance.**

On one of those dangerous fleabay whims in which I too often indulge (I can stop anytime, I swear. A-ny-time now...), I bid on and won an ounce of an almost-forgotten perfume created by the legendary Germaine Cellier for Balenciaga in the late forties (1949?). It's called La Fuite des Heures (Fleeting Moment), and from what little I could glean on the web, it was a subtle jasmine and thyme affair.

When I unsealed the bottle (so pretty! it rests inside the sweetest little oval cylinder box printed with Balenciaga in gold), I found out the scent was perfectly preserved, at least to my nose. I was surrounded by the most radiant herbal jasmine scent I've ever encountered.

I've never been a fan of jasmine, mainly I think because of its ubiquitous and synthetic use in department store perfumes, which to me smell a bit like ammonia. This perfume finally acquaints me with the wonder of jasmine. That doesn't mean it's purely sweet and light, however. I have often heard of Lutens' Tubereuse Criminelle described as having a gasoline-menthol edge to it on first whiff, and La Fuite des Heures has a similar, faintly petrol cast to the herbs in the beginning. Did Serge study his Cellier? I'd like to think I've found a missing referent, because that would give my obsession the justification of archival research. In any case, I can certainly say that petrol edge spotlights the shift from green leaves and herbs to a warm, sunlit jasmine such as I've never smelled in perfumery.

Now I have, and love, Fracas, also created by Germaine Cellier, but I've often suspected I'm missing something about it--a note beyond the frequencies I can hear. I've tried to love her Bandit, but I get only wet ashtray. But in this third example of her work I feel like I've made a huge discovery. Why is it such discoveries most often come with rarity, inaccessibility, and the anticipation of inevitable loss? 'Cause they're my discoveries (obscurity-lover that I am), that's why! And that's why the name of this perfume is so perfect from my perspective, as well--the literal translation is the flight of hours.

See Scented Salamander's more detailed review of La Fuite des Heures.


The Left Coast Nose said...

I found La Fuite des Heures through the Balenciaga line, and this is the only one that took for me. I, too, can't STAND Bandit (from my notes: "despair, pain"), and I struggle, as I do with all things tuberose, with "Fracas." But I'm kinda crushed out on LFdH right now-- it smells to me, in the drydown, like twigs, honey, and straw. Like sexy cowgirl-- in a GOOD way.

Enjoyed your review. (Sorry about the vintage perfume habit...)
Rita @leftcoastnose

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Twigs, honey, and straw -- yes! Very astute description. I like that. Thanks for commenting, Rita!

The Left Coast Nose said...

I thought about this later-- I don't have a vintage bottle perfume crush....yet. But I do tend to fall in love with perfumes that have been discontinued.

Have you ever tried Laura Biagiotti "Venezia"? It's so good... But it's discontinued, and word on the Web is there is some watered down imitation on the market. I'd be afraid to bid on anything, for fear I'd get the new, sad impostor.