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.