Vent Vert is a perfume classic by Balmain, the famous French fashion brand, which has been at the top of the world’s fashion for over 50 years. It is also known for creating many memorable and timeless perfumes such as Jolie Madame, Miss Balmain, Monsieur Balmain, as well as the mega-popular Ambre Gris. Many famous and talented perfumers of the world had worked for this house. Still, probably the most brilliant of them all was the creator of this perfume, Miss Germaine Cellier, who you also know for her work with the brand Piguet on the legendary fragrances that are still available today – Fracas and Bandit.
The meaning behind the name Vent Vert is a fresh breeze, and indeed, Vent Vert has given a breath of fresh air to the entire perfume category – green floral perfumes, the most famous of which are Dior Diorissimo, Guy Laroche Fidji, and Revlon Charlie. But rarely one has reached the popularity and fame that continues to this day as Chanel no 19. Nowadays, it seems that this type of perfume has lost its luster, charm, and appeal and that people are less and less reaching for these formulas. However, there are still a few brilliant examples among contemporary green florals, and to me personally, my favorite and one of the perfumes to which I come back again and again with equal admiration is Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio.
Unfortunately, Vent Vert has undergone many reformulations over the years and decades, two of which are the most famous. 1991 one by Calice Becker, known for her work with the Kilian brand and megapopular J’adore Dior perfume, as well as the masterpiece Beyond Paradise for Men by Estee Lauder. And the second reformulation that finally ended Vent Vert, by Natalie Feisthauer in 1999, when this perfume became just a shadow of its former self. That was sadly the faith of many perfume icons like Chanel no 5 and Yves Saint Laurent Kouros.
In this review, I will focus on the 1991 version that I own and that successfully adapted the Vent Vert to the modern age. Calice Becker had a challenging task ahead of her: How to adjust and reformulate the perfume formula when it is known that Germaine Cellier worked mainly with perfume bases of that time. For those who don’t know, perfume bases are already pre-mixed fragrance notes, something like mini perfumes, and some are so good that they could easily be perfumes for themselves. When she put on paper all the bases Miss Cellier used to make the original Vent Vert perfume, she saw that the ingredient list was around 1100. Being impossible to recreate it, she reduced them to a reasonable figure of 33. She gave the perfume a new, contemporary look: equally captivating, but a little quieter and more subtle than before.
The perfume composition of Vent Vert is green floral, which means that at the heart of the perfume is a rich blend of flowers, in this case, rose, lily of the valley and jasmine, which seems fresh, natural, as if we were strolling barefoot through a garden in the south of France. The added freshness of the opening, the famous galbanum note, is present in large quantities in this perfume, and is the first thing we feel and, like a green tsunami, flood our senses when we initially apply Vent Vert to the skin. Galbanum is a distinctly green note, somewhat bitter, with warm, balsamic undertones, and if you want to feel it in all its power, naturalness and potency, try to get either a vintage or 1991 version. A fragrant peach note is also sensible, similar to another old perfume classic – Guerlain Mitsouko. Still, while the base of Mitsouko is of chypre composition, Vent Vert is a classic floral. What these perfumes have in common is that it takes time to show us their charms and let the individual notes pop out of the composition, make a few turns in the air just enough for us to admire them, and then plunge again into a fantastically harmonized whole. But they’re worth it. Those patient enough and courageous are ought to pick the best that only a few modern perfumes can provide. I deliberately avoid giving gender direction to Vent Vert. I think, especially given the sweet, gourmet perfumes that dominate the category of men’s fragrances of today, that this work would be a good fit for a young (in spirit or body) gentleman with perfect manners and refined style. Vent Vert doesn’t know about age, gender, or origin…his only determinant is courage and impeccable style.lemon; middle notes: jasmine, freesia, hyacinth, rose, lily of the valley, violet, ylang-ylang; base notes: amber, oakmoss, iris, musk, sage, sandalwood, styrax, vetiver. [Fragrance group] green floral.
Perfumer is Germaine Cellier.