She is the undiscovered royalty of the fragrance laboratory.
The Marie Curie of the sweetly scented branch of industrial chemistry.
She is the most beautiful of all ball gowns though her beauty by habit remains hidden beneath a white coat and horrid blue hairnet.
She spends her sterilized days, so people imagine, enrapt in endless games of molecular quadrille.
In truth, she runs wild.
Her mind will not have its horizons trimmed by test tubes, its considerations cut short by condensing pipes, its brilliance scorched back by bunsen burners.
Where others perceive formulae she drinks in blackcurrant bush leaves broken by urgent brutish hands.
The colourless liquids frothing up into clouds in conical flasks are putative rains for dark, lichen-mapped forests as yet unleashed.
She will see measuring cylinders stuffed with irises and glass beakers fulled to the brim with green galbanum before day ends.
Her chemist’s kitchen thus transformed to wooded wonderland, she will imagine herself a savanna to surround her magic kingdom.
This sorceress is sovereign over the sense whose memories last longest.
She needs no acts of exuberant appreciation, no adulatory audience.
Her majesty is the air around her.
Balmain de Balmain is not so much a forgotten masterpiece as a triumph never known to the crowd at all.
In parfum form, this is a brave and emerald brilliant latter day chypre.
Wasting no time on ceremonial openings it immediately erects an expansive architecture of oakmoss, vetiver, cassis leaf and black pepper.
Between these great steal vaults of scent creep slow swathes of green glass galbanum: filtering the sun’s light and lending a slight bitter hue to fleshy iris, feint rose and just visible jasmine.
It is a structure built to last.
The overall effect at once luxurious and imperiously restrained.
She is a still young beauty lamenting her dead and gone beloved, but she is not yet ready to be a dowager.
The King is dead.
Long live the Queen Regnant of aromachemistry.
Had the roles been reversed and the King been made a widower, this would have made as handsome a scent for him in his sorrow.
The Perfumed Dandy.