Miss Balmain

Miss Balmain was the first perfume I really fell in love with. I was still very young, 15 or something. I don’t remember how I got to own some in the first place. Did somebody give me a bottle? Was it somebodies reject? It was pretty expensive stuff for a teenager…
Miss Balmain is an old fashioned chypre. It was introduced in 1967 (a significant date!)

Anyway, although it’s a pretty hefty fragrance I wore it day and night well into my years at the Royal College of Art. I liked it especially on my own skin, not so much on other peoples skin. But in London, at the Royal College of Art I met a friend who wore Miss Balmain and on her it smelled the same as on me!
When I got a new (large) bottle on my birthday, (thank you generous parents), I suddenly did not like it anymore.
I tried to work my way through the bottle, thinking I was being weird but I couldn’t. I am now convinced it was one of those sneaky, secret reformulations of which they think we, the loyal fans, will not notice.
Well I did. I never asked for, or brought Miss Balmain again.

But, as the homage to my first love I have made a MissBalmain painting.
I am showing some stages to share my anxieties.
This Perfume series is about vintage perfumes, and exploring a more graphic manner of working, and some of the effects of vintage advertisement art.
One very typical style used from the Art Nouveau era onwards was a subtilegradation of shadows, and a very strong dark outline.

So, I planned to do the same on this painting.
here’s a sketch,


Here you see the painting (in the Q’s hall which I have taken over as my studio) and the two sketches.

So I had all those subtle shading and I was now going to edge it with a black line. That freaked me out, I entertained the idea that maybe I should go for the easy approach and forget about the Art Nouveau influence…
But I decided to take the plunge, and as I added the line I thought I should document this, so I could think about it later.
So here it is:

The line, eyes and eyebrows completed,

The furry jacket completed, I decided to keep that free of the outline to enhance the fluffiness and create a counter effect.

Miss Balmain
Acrylic on Canvas
30” x 40”


  1. Oooh, I liked seeing how this painting “evolved” as you added things to it. It’s interesting how scents can smell good on one person and not another. Enjoyed this. Why is 1967 significant?

  2. salam Aafke-Art , sorry I am offtopic. can I ask in which city you are?
    my brother will fly to netherland friday night and will be there till wednesday, he is one of members of team of Iran who participate in a conference based in The Hague.
    when he said to me about his travel, I said I have a friend there 🙂
    honestly I am interested to send something for you like saffron or pistachios…, so I wanted to know where are you. I wish you are in The Hague!

  3. Susanne, I am thinking if going to do more posts on the different stages of my paintings.
    yes, a perfume develops on your skin, interacts with your unique chemistry and body heat. That’s why you can never ”test” a fragrance on a strip of paper, you have to put it on your skin.
    The date is when the Q’s favorite Goddess emerged.

    Mariam, I live quite far from The Hague 😦 Normally I could travel, but I can’t at the moment.
    What a pity, I could send you something back too…
    I will write you a mail.

  4. Yes, I like the different stages of your paintings. It’s really neat to see how adding a dramatic line here and there can change things.

    Agreed about perfume reacting differently to each of us…we are unique that way.

    “The date is when the Q’s favorite Goddess emerged.”

    Aha! I like how you put that. 😀 I didn’t realize you were born that year though I’ve tried many times to figure out if you are older, younger or about my age. 😉

  5. Very beautiful,Aafke! It’s nice to see how you work out the details and the finished product is amazing! The pink ribbons are striking and so is the woman’s boldness! Love it!

    1. Lat you do mean bold and not bald I hope?
      I like the pink too, I think it’s important to bring in a color to keep it from being too monogrome.
      I think I will post more photos of paintings in different stages of completion.

  6. It’s beautiful, Aafke. You are very talented! Like everyone who commented above, I also like to see how a painting evolves through various stages.

    The woman exudes an air of confidence. And I wish I had her waistline 😀

    1. Thank you Nadia 🙂
      I will put up more series on how a painting evolves.

      Those waistlines were the result of ”waspies” , they were minimal short corsets.
      Just to save you from being depressed about the impossibility of gaining such a nice waist, as I did…. 😉

  7. Aafke,

    Didn’t i respond earlier to you about Balmain? My first perfume in which I fell in love, while living in Paris. I earned a lot of French Francs, as an au pair and fell in love with Jolie Madame, First by Van Cleef and Arpel and thought it smelled elegantly on me…henceforth my purchase of Miss Dior by Christian Dior and Aliage Sport, Estee Lauder….anyways, i always, thought, as you did, the perfume smelled best on me…but never found another woman upon whom it smelled equally as aromatic.

    I’m going to get into the habit of promoting your stuff on my website. as you’re soo good. Just can’t figure out the glitches on WP…gotta go and write.



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