Balmain‘s vintage Jolie Madame came in a variety of different bottles and packaging over the course of its lifetime, particularly in the case of the eau de toilette. The best era, in my opinion, was the 1950s to the mid or late 1970s because that’s when the formula was closest to Germaine Cellier’s original and truest to what she intended Jolie Madame to be. Consequently, that is the era which I’d suggest you look for. Today, I’ll try to give you a rough sense of how to assess what you see on eBay or Etsy based on things like box markings, bottle caps, batch codes, and more.
Balmain‘s vintage Jolie Madame — an exquisite chypre that turns into a softly animalic floral leather then into a suede-like floral — was created by the legendary Germaine Cellier but it is not one of her creations that I hear people commonly talk about, unlike Bandit, Fracas or, to a comparatively lesser extent, Vent Vert. That’s a shame because I think that Jolie Madame has a heartbreaking tenderness and delicacy which I find largely missing in those bolder, more operatic masterpieces. In essence, Jolie Madame is like Chopin or Vivaldi, not Wagner or Beethoven.