Jolie Madame is not my favorite Cellier, but like many of her fragrances, it contains a contradiction in the notes which fascinates and must have reflected what it was like being a woman in the '50s. The almost sickly sweet top notes of tuberose, gardenia and jasmine undercut with the butch notes of leather, musk, castoreum and civet, demonstrate in perfume form that a '50s woman may have appeared all smiles and pleasantness but underneath she could be the toughest person around, or, to be less literal, more complex than those florals would suggest.
Conceptually, this sounds right. But with Jolie Madame drying down on my skin right now, and the sweetness fading into leather and tobacco, I picture, instead, a beautiful woman who is also a tomboy, a hyperfeminine-looking woman who surprises you when she speaks with a raspy voice. (When asked which perfume she would take with her to a desert island if she could only choose one, Tania Sanchez, co-author of Perfumes: The Guide, chose Jolie Madame.)
Top notes: gardenia, artemisia, bergamot, coriander, neroli
Heart notes: jasmine, tuberose, rose, orris, jonquil
Base notes: patchouli, oakmoss, vetiver, musk, castoreum, leather, civet