Patou describe Divine Folie, created in the "twilight years" of the 1930s, as "a party mood of exquisite madness". The lush floral-ambery, spicy composition has the intensity, the desperate glamour, the fey feeling of a beautiful world coming to an end and refusing to realize it.
The creamy nuttiness of ylang-ylang, combined with honeyed orange blossom, creates a sweet, slightly powdery accord reminiscent of old-fashioned powders and lipsticks, an accord that I adore. It sets the giddy, "dressed-up" mood of the scent, enhanced by the presence of over-ripe, ready-to-shed-petals rose and luscious jasmine. There is no mention of carnation in the list of notes printed on Ma Collection box, but carnation is there, highlighting the powdery aspect of the scent and infusing it with heavy-lidded, vaguely "exotic" spiciness.
The perfume wants to be worn with a slinky, black silk dress, smoky eyes and dark-red lips...to an "exquisitely mad" party...it needs to be worn by somebody already desperately in or about to fall in a doomed, twisted and tainted kind of love. One of my favorite poems by Anna Akhmatova depicts the decadent setting for Divine Folie wonderfully well:
We're all drunkards here, and harlots:
how wretched are we together!
On the walls, flowers and birds
wait for the clouds to gather.
You puff on your burnished pipe,
strange shapes above you swim,
I have put on a narrow skirt
to show my lines are trim.
The windows are tightly sealed.
What brews? Thunder or sleet?
How well I know your look,
your eyes like a cautious cat.
O heavy heart, how long
before the tolling bell?
But that one dancing there
Will surely rot in hell!
(Translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward)
Divine Folie has been discontinued, along with other gems from Ma Collection, but right now it seems to be available at PerfumeMart, $59.00 for 2.5oz
The image is by Gunther Sachs.