Balenciaga Paris ~ perfume review

Balenciaga Paris fragrance advert 2010

Balenciaga Paris is the latest fragrance from Balenciaga. It's the brand's first major launch since Cristobal in 1998, the first effort under new licensing arrangements with Coty, and the first under creative director Nicolas Ghesquière. It's fronted by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is frequently described as Ghesquière's muse (see the very low-key Gainsbourg ad here). Perfumer Olivier Polge characterized the floral chypre as "present" — "It's here. When you wear it. You smell it."1

That might sound a little oblique, but it turns out to be a fitting description: when I first tried Balenciaga Paris on paper, my reaction was muted, and it wasn't until I'd worn it on skin several times that I began to see what he meant. Balenciaga Paris wears like a minimalist veil — think Prada's Infusion d'Iris or L'Eau Ambrée, although it smells like neither. It starts soft and fresh and watery, and if that sounds like something I'd hate, I'll add that there's no Glade and no melon, although it is rather fruity in the very early stages. It's also slightly metallic in the opening, and slightly powdery throughout. What does it smell like? Well, like a very soft violet, mostly (a nice nod to Balenciaga's iconic classic Le Dix, perhaps), over a woody-musky base (the notes: bergamot, spices, pepper, violet, carnation, oakmoss, cedar, vetiver, patchouli, labdanum).

The dry down is creamy and pale, but has a soft earthy buzz, and it gets earthier the longer it's on skin. I've ranted here already about the whole concept of "modern chypre", so will leave that aside and only say that Balenciaga Paris does not smell like a classic chypre, but nor does it smell like your average patchouli-laden modern chypre. The patchouli here is muted at most. Everything, in fact, is muted: think of it as a musky violet skin scent and you'll get the idea. It's one of those fragrances that you can forget you put on, then all of a sudden you smell something lovely and remember.

I don't know much about Nicolas Ghesquière — and of course, a brilliant designer doesn't always translate into a brilliant perfume — but reportedly his "...designs for Balenciaga express a dualism: the conservative world of good taste, on the one hand, and the moody hard-edged style of the street on the other."2 The fragrance seems a good fit with that characterization: it's quietly elegant, and while I wouldn't go so far as to call it edgy, it's modern and grown-up, and it doesn't smell like a carbon copy of something that came out three months ago. These days, for a mainstream designer perfume, that's edgy. Nice.

Balenciaga Paris perfume bottles

Balenciaga Paris is available in 30, 50 ($95) and 75 ($130) ml Eau de Parfum. The lasting power is excellent.

1. Quoted in New fragrance is classical not retro at The Star, 1/28/2010.

2. From Balenciaga and Balmain Preach to the Converts at the New York Times, 10/1/2009.

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  1. lena says:

    Oh my. I covet that bottle. It also doesn’t hurt that I love almost everything with violet, right?

    • Robin says:

      Nope, doesn’t hurt at all!

  2. Stephen says:

    You hit it right on the nose Robin! I totally thought that it was a long lost relative of infusion d’iris at first whiff, so muted, elegant, and quite lovely….. Very worthy of the Balenciaga nameplate!! I may grab a 30ml on my next excursion…..

    • Robin says:

      Of course the 30 ml does not seem to be in the US yet! But I’d like to have one too. This is really terribly well done, and easily my favorite from Olivier Polge to date.

      • Stephen says:

        funny enough i just called my friend at BG to see if they had them in… and no, they dont =(……. oh well…. Maybe soon though..

        • Robin says:

          Was wondering if in the US the 30 ml would only be at Sephora — that often turns out to be the case.

          • RusticDove says:

            One of the reasons I like Sephora so much.

  3. Dzingnut says:

    Robin, this sounds nice, and the bottle is very pretty, although the stopper looks kind of like … a soccer ball!? I am hoarding my small bottle of Le Dix (why did they ever discontinue it??) so it would be nice to find another Balenciaga to enjoy.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, it looks to me like a crackle-finish cabinet pull!

      It would be really nice if Coty would re-release some of the older Balenciagas. But who knows if they will.

    • Daisy says:

      nope, it’s a soccer ball

      • Joe says:

        I find it funny that Robin thinks “cabinet pull” is an improvement on soccer ball and likes it. :D To me it just reminds me of far, far too many somewhat dated faux-finish “shabby chic” do-it-yourself projects I’ve seen.

        • Robin says:


        • Julia says:

          Ha! Now you have me thinking of a certain line of bathroom accessories at Target. The perfume sounds great, though. The description reminds me a little of SSS Wood Violet.
          The bottle suffers from the same problem as the Balmain Ambre Gris. They are both beautiful and substantial pieces of glass with sleek, uncomplicated lines that are topped off with something that brings to mind some sort of sports ball. The Ambre Gris bottle is a special disappointment because the gorgeous, heavy smoked glass cube with a very tasteful and understated label is topped of with a tacky and cheap looking golden plastic golf ball. I’m just waiting for the gold to start flaking off. Guerlain manages to make the EdT version of the L’HB/Mitsouko bottle look pretty much like the original even though the upside down heart is made of acrylic instead of crystal. Ahem. I realize I’m going on a little too much about this, but I really love perfume bottles even though mine live in a dark cabinet and I alone get to open it and gaze upon them.

          • Daisy says:

            I would always rather that the cap be plain ,yet solid with a substantial FEEL than some big cheap plasticky thing…..even the VC&A Collection Extraordinaire caps are plain—but heavy and solid—so it’s nice. The WORST cap ever= Tocade……egad, what were they thinking? But the Maitre Parfumer caps are a new low in tacky as well.

  4. k-scott says:

    How fitting… I just tested this one last weekend at my local Neiman Marcus (a.k.a., Needless Markup). I only smelled it on paper, but your review here seems right on point. That Polge quote about the floral chypre really is an apt characterization of this one (even though it sounds so silly)!

    I really wanted to like the Balenciaga bottle, because the heft of the heavy glass feels so nice and the black and white cracked effect top is very cool, but in person the proportions of the bottle seemed wrong. They didn’t have the squatter, rose shaded bottle that you have pictured here but I love that one- the proportions are perfect and the pink looks beautiful with the top! Happy Friday and have a great weekend. :)

    – Katherine

    • Robin says:

      NM never seems to get the 30 ml bottles, shame. But don’t know why the juice in the picture seems to be a different color in that one, and have a feeling it’s just a lighting thing.

    • promiseevans says:

      The shape of the bottle is supposed to be a nod to the Balenciaga bell-shaped capes and the lantern shaped dresses.

  5. datura5750 says:

    Thanks for this review as I impulse ordered this unsniffed!
    L’Eau Ambrée has become a surprise hit with me, so pleasant to have it waft around, if this is similar in effect I will be very happy…

    • Robin says:

      Oh, hope you’ll like it! Send it to me if you don’t ;-)

      • datura5750 says:

        Well it came today and I really love it! I would call it an elegant scent great for a lady, or a man in a suit!
        The bottle and packaging is elegant and unisex as well, and the deluxe sample is huge!

        • Robin says:

          Oh good, so glad you like it!

  6. mals86 says:

    I’ve been waiting for a review of this one, and will probably sniff when I get the chance.

    I think the bottle’s pretty, although I’m not wild about the crackle top.

    • Robin says:

      The top is my favorite part, but looks like I’m in the minority maybe.

      • RusticDove says:

        I like it too!

        • RusticDove says:

          No. I’m not talking about Irish Spring.

          • Robin says:


  7. sarahbeth says:

    The woman at Neiman’s told me there were TWO muses for this fragrance, Charlotte Gainsbourg AND Jennifer Connelly. Hm. I thought the fragrance was lovely, and the bottle as well, but I kept getting caught up in the double muse thing and felt a bit confused… which woman had more influence? Why the American actress? Why do I feel strongly that the NM gal was so WRONG about this? I mean really, you can only have one muse at a time, right? Until I resolve this issue I’m afraid I cannot fully embrace the fragrance.

    • Robin says:

      Hmmm. There has been lots of publicity on this one, and almost all of it about NG & CG…had not heard the Jennifer Connelly thing, at least not associated with the fragrance.

  8. Karin says:

    I’ve also been waiting for a review as I’ve seen articles about it in countless magazines lately. The articles I’ve read make it sound “edgy” and one said that Gainsbourg actually chose the strongest of all the briefs. Yet, it sounds like it’s neither edgy nor strong…but it does sound nice!

    • Robin says:

      Definitely not what I’d call strong, but it works well as a skin scent and glad they didn’t go with anything lighter. As for edgy, I don’t know. A perfumista’s view of edgy is probably different from that of your average department store fragrance consumer. It’s not strawberry lollipop, and that’s a huge plus in my book.

  9. Joe says:

    Musky violet skinscent? Sign me up for a 30ml bottle, please. Still not sure if that crackled white top works, but I’ll take a small bottle anyway. No aldehydes in the top notes, right? It sounds almost boring, but like something that would work well as an “office scent.”

    Luckily, I have my partner/enabler in crime above to keep me stocked when this comes in. :D

    The only thing I really know about Balenciaga is that they have some crazy-assed shoes and boots, some of which look like a mating accident between ski boots and Legos.

    • Robin says:

      The top notes are diffusive & metallic. Don’t know whether there are aldehydes (I’m not interested in aroma chemicals in general) but there might be.

      It *would* work as an office scent, but it doesn’t bore me at all.

    • mals86 says:

      “mating accident between ski boots and legos” – HAH!

    • datura5750 says:

      Joe, It comes with a mini, with your name on it!

  10. Don’t know when I will run into this, but from your review, and Lovethescents’ recommendation, it really does appeal.

    • Robin says:

      I don’t know who has it outside of Harvey Nicks & Neiman Marcus, & should have checked but didn’t.

    • Haunani says:

      I agree! It sounds well worth trying.

  11. Abyss says:

    I mentioned it before but I tried it a couple a weeks ago and, well, it’s fine. It’s not unpleasant , certainly nicer than many other department store offerings and very commercial so should sell like hotcakes. I imagine that every fashionista who’s getting sick of her Daisy will happily buy this.

    I was just hoping that Balenciaga would adopt a similar approach to, say, CdG and do something a little riskier.

    • boojum says:

      I can’t help giggling at the subliminal enabling in this comment: “Daisy will happily buy this.” :D

      • Abyss says:


      • RusticDove says:

        LOL Boo!

      • Daisy says:

        and here I was thinking….” I wonder if I should buy this?…..”

        • Joe says:

          Remember: violet is not your favorite. Let a newbie host the split. :D

      • Daisy says:

        of course by the time you’ve bought the fragrance, paid their whopping $16.00 shipping fee and then TAX —it runs $155 for 75ml or $2.07 per ml —seems a bit pricey.
        Not that I haven’t been enjoying my day slathered in a good amount of Divine…which logs in at about 2.40 ml —there’s some small portion of my brain that keeps repeating (in an exceptionally snotty tone) that department store is supposed to cost LESS than niche….a lot less.
        But if you all want to do a split, I guess I’m in.

        • RusticDove says:

          But this one ‘reads’ more like a niche, don’t you think? From the muse [she’s Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter] to the list of notes. It really has a feel of being a cut above so many banal dept. store releases.

          • Ari says:

            It does have that niche vibe, and that’s how they trick you into paying almost-niche prices! I like violet but was not that into the light-but-dense effect of L’Eau Ambree, so who knows about this one.

        • boojum says:

          And that is why you wait for it to hit the disounters. Or Sephora, where it can be retrieved w/o shipping.

          • Daisy says:

            That’s exactly what I’m thinking —I saw that $16.00 for shipping and decided you violet adorers were on your own! At least until it hits the discounters! (shaking fist at NM)

          • RusticDove says:

            Uh-oh. Daisy’s leaving us to our own devices. :-D [Actually, this one I CAN wait for – the Guerlain Tonka one is another story!]

          • Rappleyea says:

            I’m with you on that one Rustic Dove.

          • Daisy says:

            I’m considering putting the Guerlain boutique at Bergdorf’s on speed dial—that’s not sick, is it?

    • Robin says:

      I know what you mean, although the number of fashion houses doing that — and doing it successfully — is very small indeed. It isn’t something you’d immediately think of as generic and/or trendy, so in that sense, it is risky.

      • Abyss says:

        Yup, it’s all about the context, right? Compared to most other designer fragrances they did pretty well. But for a company with – among other things- the aforementioned lego shoes it seems rather tame. I’m sure they thought it a good balance so I should probably stop whinging :) Money saved, anyway.

        • Robin says:

          Yes, but w/ most of these luxury houses, it’s the perfume that finances things like those lego shoes. They can’t afford to be so avant garde w/ the perfume. This doesn’t strike me as one of those pathetically generic ploys to generate $, as do so many other mainstream scents, so I’m happy. If it doesn’t sell, guessing the next one will be a pathetically generic ploy to generate $.

  12. RusticDove says:

    Well, this sounds like a pleasant surprise. I’m so happy that you reviewed this, as it’s been featured in every magazine I picked up the last few days, so it’s been on my mind. It really does sound nice and I can’t wait to try it.

    • Robin says:

      Is it? Good, haven’t been reading any mags this week. I do hope it sells.

      • It’s in this months Glamour I believe. It’s one of one of the mags I subscribe too, maybe Lucky.

        I love that bottle, not sure why but when I saw I felt I had to have it , that it was just my style. Of course I have yet to smell it, but the bottle makes me want to seek it out and smell it. I hope it’s at Ulta so I can try it out.

        • Robin says:

          Don’t think Ulta has it yet (at least, it’s not online) but guessing they will eventually.

  13. sarahbeth says:

    I was not exactly serious… the muse issue would never actually prevent me from buying a wonderful fragrance! Robin, I am relatively new. It has taken me a few years actually to muster the courage to join in these discussions but I have been following your blog for so long! I appreciate that you let in newcomers…

    I have a question and can’t get this straight about oakmoss. When the list it as a note now, hasn’t this ingredient been altered/changed/banned? When it is listed as a note in new releases (as it is here) are they not somehow misrepresenting this ingredient? I mean its not really oakmoss anymore, right?

    • Robin says:

      Then hi & welcome! Glad you found the courage — we’re not that scary :-)

      First off, oakmoss is restricted, not banned. Second, it’s important to understand that there are no rules whatsoever about how companies must list fragrance notes: they can be (and often are) entirely fantastical, and often they use natural names for entirely synthetic ingredients, or for ingredients which started out “natural” but then were molecularly modified, usually to remove certain unwanted characteristics. I have no way of knowing if there’s any “real” oakmoss in BP, but if there isn’t, that’s no more misrepresentation than usual, you know what I mean? See:

      • annemarie says:

        Thanks, I was unclear on that too.

        When I read NST perfume reviews I’m rarely one of the people to jump on and say ‘Oh golly, I must have that right NOW!’ because I have carefully schooled myself in the fine art of being content with what I have. But in this case, I’m saying ‘I must have that right NOW!’ It sounds perfect for me.

        What is scary is the Balenciaga website. Joe is right about the shoes …

        • Robin says:

          I really enjoyed looking at the Balenciaga website. Awesome stuff, none of which I need. The scent is MUCH more conservative than the clothing.

      • sarahbeth says:

        Thank you for the information. Labdanum is another one that is on the list. Aren’t these the typical components of a chypre? I’m wondering then if this would be a (modern) violet-chypre. So many questions!

        To me it is utterly fascinating. I seem to need a classification of things, just to feel more organized because there are so many darned launches. THIS one does stand out, not only because Balenciaga has made us wait (Cristobal was memorable) but this bottle IS one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

        Thanks Robin!

        • Robin says:

          Well, yes on the labdanum, but I think the term chypre is used very loosely these days. If you smell a handful of classic chypres, you can pretty quickly get the idea. If you smelled a handful of modern chypres, not sure that would happen, other than that many of them have an overdose of patchouli. Most so-called modern chypres are (to me) indistinguishable from scents in other fragrance families (usually fruity and/or oriental).

    • Rappleyea says:

      Welcome Sarahbeth! Most of us are crazy, but as far as I know, we’re not dangerous so you should be safe! LOL!

      There is a REAL oakmoss product out there that perfumers are now using that has the allergen component removed/lowered. Laurie at Sonoma Scent Studio has told me that it smells like the old oak moss.

      • Daisy says:

        oh yes, second what Rapple said….you’ll be perfectly safe…..your piggy bank , however, is now in mortal danger!
        (insert evil laughter here) ;-)

        • sarahbeth says:

          Yes Daisy, mortal danger for sure (and I JUST got paid up on my last year’s perfume expenditures)! I was hoping nothing would come along that I found interesting, but the more we discuss, the more interesting Balenciaga becomes…

          In this respect you wonderful people are SCARY and DANGEROUS (poor innocent me being brutally enabled by a bunch of terribly intelligent and humorous ladies and gents who don’t understand this addict is TRYING to RECOVER from this devastating perfume addiction)!!! Heeeellllppppp (as she runs off this weekend to Neiman Marcus)!!!!

          And its only February.

      • Winifrieda says:

        Oh, HA HA HA, what a surprise!!!
        A miracle that they had it ready just as the IFRA ruled the natural stuff radioactive!
        So what happened to the environmental concerns..i.e. that oakmoss was ‘over harvested’??
        Sorry, I should not be so cynical, but its hard not be cranky when Mitsouko is your holy grail…

        • Robin says:

          I think you might be confusing oakmoss with sandalwood — sandalwood is the one that has been overharvested in the wild. And again, oakmoss is restricted, not banned, and that’s true even with the oakmoss Rappleyea is talking about above: it can’t be used in unlimited concentrations.

        • Rappleyea says:

          I’m pretty cynical too Winifrieda. But I’ve got a pretty good supply of vintage Mitsouko extrait stocked up in my fridge!

          • Winifrieda says:

            Yeh, a few years ago I realised something was ‘wrong’ with Mitsouko and I blamed myself for getting old and losing my nose. Then I discovered in rapid succession (a) perfume blogs, and (b) the ‘bay, so I have probably been out there slugging it out with you!!! (What naive place I was in for not believing that it could be messed with??)
            Actually I did think I read somewhere in my travels on the ‘net that oakmoss too was becoming scarce, after all it takes years for it to grow on ever decreasing trees?
            You would think someone would gear up to grow it, like they have done with the black truffle in Tasmania (Australia). Ditto sandalwood. I wonder if patchouli and vetiver which grow like weeds are the next naturals to become toxic…tha vanilla thing was ridiculous considering the amount we actually EAT….

      • sarahbeth says:

        Interesting. True though, that we may never know the full list of ingredients. Kind of like food (but of course I am not spraying my food on me or slathering up in the shower with it….) Thanks for the welcome!

  14. boojum says:

    Sounds like another for the must-try list. Muted is good for the office and my sensitive nose, but that often translates to dull, and it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here. I must be hungry…the cap looks like a truffle to me.

    • Haunani says:

      OMG! It does! I love the bottle, and agree with the person who prefers the proportions of the smaller one.

  15. LeBeau says:

    I am new-ish to parfum and have been following your blog for only a few months…and due to all of you, my horizons have been broadened! I find that I am able to experience a greater range of fragrances, now that I pay more attention to what is going on on my skin with my personal chemistry.
    Having said that, I was surprised that I enjoyed this on my skin, even with the faint metallic. It is not something I would have tried in the past.
    Neiman’s on-line has a beauty offer, giving a ‘deluxe sample’ with any Balenciaga purchase…

    • Robin says:

      Now I’m curious — why is it not something you would have tried in the past?

      • LeBeau says:

        Mostly due to just having been in a rut (for a couple of decades) and not really venturing past the same familiar scents that I ALWAYS tended to drift towards (jasmine and vanilla, mostly). This blog has made me realize that I shouldn’t discard the paper sample if the initial sniff doesn’t quite strike me and also to WAIT (patience is not a virtue that I possess) and see how the scent evolves…and also to NEXT, test it on my skin. Really, I just didn’t pay much attention. Now, I’m obsessed with scent and all the nuances in each compilation of fragrance.

        • Robin says:

          Oh, gotcha! I thought you meant because there was something unappealing about it.

  16. Rappleyea says:

    Excellent review Robin. Violet and metallic both scare me. I love the old violet ingredients (Le Dix, Je Reviens, Violetta di Parma) but whatever they’re using now, really blows up on my skin. I love the bottle *and* the tops though!

    • Robin says:

      It is not hugely metallic — nothing like, say, Comme des Garcons + Stephen Jones, which is what I’d recommend to anyone who found this too sedate.

    • Winifrieda says:

      After sampling myself into a second mortage this year past (living in the Australian countryside, no other option!) it does seem as if that funny metal-violet is a new note on the block. One can imagine the perfumers sitting around having a few beers after work…hey Maurice, what are you going to do with that new violet, I’m gunna do a meteorite thing; ah yes Christoph, I’m thinking of a beautiful skin scent like when you are holding your dearest in your arms, ah what are the Coty boys up to in the mainstream…hey, everyone is onto the skin scents now!
      Frankly I love violet, and I love this new note and the creativity in Stephen Jones and Dance te Bras! Move on over, blackcurrant…

      • annemarie says:

        Nice one – I’m Australian and I do detect an Australian twang in your comment. (Somehow ‘a few beers after work’ sounds very Australian). Me, I reckon perfumers go back to their solitary apartments and ‘relax’ over sparkling water and Bach cello suites.

  17. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Robin, you had me at musky violet. The 30ml option only serves as further enticement. If Sephora picks up this size option, I’m so there. I don’t mind paying full price now and again to rack up Beauty Insider points toward more perfume purchases. ;)

    I’ve liked all the Prada frags I’ve tried thus far. They’re beautifully composed and cling to the skin like a warm toned cashmere sweater. No sillage that enters the room before you do, but enough that you just smell good, which is all I want sonetimes. I must try this. Can one still find Balenciaga La Dix? It sounds so pretty.

    • Robin says:

      I still see Le Dix at some of the discounters, and you can find it on eBay as well. It’s often described as Chanel No 5 with violet…it’s not a favorite of mine but many people adore it.

    • Winifrieda says:

      Yes I must admit that I did get Le Dix vintage when I read that it has the violet note….but it is quite heavy, rich, and despite being a Mitsouko girl for three decades, I would hesitantly call it ‘old-fashioned’.
      I wonder if this one is a way of updating that heritage with what sounds like a little sensitivity?

  18. kaos.geo says:

    I like the “creamy” part of your review…not so sure about the metallic top notes, but powdery morphing into creamy…me likes.

    As Balenciaga as a perfume line is a new thing (is being relaunched I mean) I don’t know about how soon will it be until I get to try this.

    Robin I recommend that if you ever come across Balenciaga Pour Homme (now long discontinued) give it a shot. The caramel note on that one was creamy and lovely (if applied carefully…too much can be terrible)

    Great review as always, and now I have one more item on my “giftables” list. ;-)

    • Robin says:

      I did really mean “slightly”, and only early on. I do not think that aspect will put anybody off.

      I had not even heard of Balenciaga Pour Homme!

      • kaos.geo says:

        Well I got it as a gift from my dad in 1991, he traveled somewhere and brought his usual duty free shop gifts (yes, my dad is wonderful! :-) ) At first I didn’t like it …many people think it smells too much like kouros and I guess that was it, but then I started to love it.

        Marlen ranted about it in his 2006 basenotes article about going to Singapore to buy discontinues (is that how the plural is spelled? Discontinuedsss ssoundsss baaad! :-) ) That article really cracks me up big time.

        • Robin says:

          You can’t really make discontinued into a plural…you’d have to say discontinued fragrances. I’ll have to go look for that rant!

  19. Nlb says:

    This sounded too close to everything I’m looking for; a linen-like, ethereal violet with a chypre-type kick. Is this at all reminiscent of “Eau de Cartier” (an almost metallic, wet-linen violet with something that brings to mind hardened amber resin. I have EdC an enjoy layering it with other blends)?

    You know how I loved “Violetta di Parma” (I think I unconsciously suggest it to everyone, nomatter what they’re looking for :D), how does this compare to VdP (is it cooler, more candied, drier, musky-carnal)? Your nose for violet and iris has always been spot-on, Robin; so, I have a 2.5 oz on its way from Neiman Marcus. I assumed this is the kind of scent that could be worn liberally?

    Also, I have some “Ambergris” oil on the way, but I think it’s merely a synthetic interpretation (if the price is any indiction, absolutely); so, less animalic. Would this wear well with an Ambergris?

    • Robin says:

      It is nothing like VdP, really…that is an old fashioned soliflore. This is not a soliflore at all, much less an old fashioned one. It doesn’t remind me of EdC either, that’s a pretty standard herbal/woody summer cologne. This is also light, but not so summery as that, certainly not so citrusy.

      No idea how it would layer, sorry!

  20. Nlb says:

    …and I love the bottle and cap! The cap looks like a mix between a Gaudi mosaic and something crackle-painted from an “Ancien Regime” style boudoir :). The combo would make sense, considering the ties of the company…

  21. nozknoz says:

    I DO love Le Dix, and a modern, office-friendly version of that is EXACTLY what I need. Thank you, Robin, for reviewing this so expeditiously!

    • Robin says:

      Hope you’ll like it!

  22. Flora says:

    I suppose it’s too much to hope for that someone other than Neiman-Marcus will carry it in the U.S, at least for now?

    • Robin says:

      I assume eventually, but don’t know how widely they’re planning to distribute it.

  23. ami says:

    nice bottle…
    has anyone tried both this and montale’s white musk? that is a musky violet too, loved it at first sniff, bought it, then i realized it was not me at all. however i adore en passant. probably i do not like musk. or montale…..

    • sarahbeth says:

      I have tried for so long to like Montale. I do appreciate them, and there are moments when I feel they are brilliant, but like you said just not for me I guess. They are almost too pungent at first, and I am impatient enough to NOT want to wait for a fabulous dry down.

    • Robin says:

      Sorry, I haven’t.

  24. mitsouko says:

    Lovely bottle, edgey scent, violets, I’m in. :D Sounds fabulous !

    • Robin says:

      Not really edgy per se, but hope you’ll like it!

  25. rickbr says:

    I got curious for this fragrance especially because the bottle and the ad transmits me an image of something classical interpreted in a sheer and modern way. Loved your review Robin, Infusion (on the men’s version) and L’eau ambree are two fragrances that i’m enjoying at this hot summer here.
    Do you think this balenciaga can be used by men too? I’d like to know if this one also have that floral that reminds you of clean scented sheets. I love this kind of smell.

    • Robin says:

      Rick, this one is only mildly sweet, but it’s powdery. To my mind a man could wear it if the powder didn’t put him off.

  26. Bela says:

    I love that bottle – stopper ‘n’ all. Pity the crackled effect is only painted on because the real thing is really very attractive. Still…

    • Robin says:

      You know, 99% of the time, the cap is what ruins the whole look — you have all that lovely glass and then usually you have a big ole piece of plastic at the top. This one is better than most!

  27. _Sweet_Dreams says:

    Oh- joy! I am not sure if this one fits my budget, but I am really excited to see that there is something new coming out that looks elegant, and not geared towards pre-teens. Usually things with vetiver and patchouli smell like medicine on me, but the concept of this pleases me. win!

    • Robin says:

      Both vetiver & patch are very mild here, but I guess you’ll have to try it and see!

  28. eminere says:

    I predict this will be the new Chloe.

    • sarahbeth says:

      Yes, but it smells much classier (and less synthetic) than Chloe!

    • Robin says:

      Going to be really surprised if it sells that well, but we’ll see!

  29. hereitcomesagain says:

    Great review. WANT.

    Not liking anything I’ve got right now. Everything is lifesaver candy or shouts or takes off its clothes before dinner has even started.

    May backtrack and try that Field Notes from Paris, too, though.

  30. hereitcomesagain says:

    Or, maybe I should go the other direction — dye my hair international distress orange, get that Utilakilt I’ve always wanted, take out a second mortgage for tattoo work and break out the Midnight Mass at Old St Mary’s from Possets.

  31. hereitcomesagain says:

    Oh, and I like that cap — assuming it is actual porcelain. But, then, I’m a ceramics nut.

    • Robin says:

      Very much doubt it’s actual porcelain — almost certainly plastic.

      But do try it, and highly recommend the Field Notes too.

  32. Joe says:

    I got to try this last night and it’s really very nice and wearable, and I’d say a perfect springtime scent. Well done, Balenciaga!

    The bottle is interesting: it’s actually a pentagon with sides of unequal length. I couldn’t quite tell from photos. Great packaging, including the elegant box.

    I think I will wear this today (no, I did *not* buy a bottle.) ;)

    • Robin says:

      What do you think then: will most men find it wearable, or too feminine?

      • Joe says:

        I’m the wrong one to ask what’s TOO feminine. This is a definitely on the femme side, yes, and Dans tes Bras and Unicorn Spell (both of which are much better — and far pricier — than this) would be easier violets for most men to wear I would think. If a man doesn’t find JPG Fleur du Mâle too girly then this wouldn’t bother him. It’s like a floral eau … something that I’ve concluded, now that I’m sniffing again, wouldn’t be out of place in the Aqua Allegoria line, with slightly better lasting power.

        Must also mention that our temperature has shot into the 70s, so I’m afraid I’ll be pulling out citruses and lighter florals and greens for daytime wear this week. I confess I’d prefer our version of “chilly” to last (though it’ll return quite a bit through April).

        • Robin says:

          Thanks! That helps…I’m never sure how to answer.

          And 70s!!! I’ve still got a foot of snow on my roof.

  33. Nlb says:

    I received this today! Let me just say, it’s remarkably beautiful. Easily the best new release I’ve smelled in…years? Ages? When I said I’d blind-ordered the 2.5 oz, I probably sounded like a spoiled fairy-princess, but full disclosure: I hadn’t ordered any form of new fragrance in almost a year. I just used-through my collection and passed along goodies to friends and family, convinced I’d never find an “HG” match. As you know, one year is like twenty in perfumista years.

    I thought “Infusion d’Iris” was beautiful but on my skin, it felt like something was missing. It lacked any depth and accessibility. “Balenciaga Paris” has a similar ethereal elegance to it, also with an inclusion of violet, but there’s also something else–something creamier and powdery, but without the dustiness often accompanying “powder”. It’s more like ground, fine soap. Smooth and mild, but with a slightly acrid kick. Plus, there’s a little organic earthiness in the background that’s very “old world” in spirit. Other than that tiny hint of olfactory ghost, BP is strikingly modern.

    Something I admire about the house/brand: They really try to create an “in the moment” aesthetic and this represents that ideal well. And I like that the ads look like they should be advertisements for an Ingmar Bergman film ;). Thanks, Robin and “NST”! Good recommendation. Heads up: I don’t think someone needs to particularly adore violet, to appreciate this blend.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I’m so glad you love it — unsniffed is such a gamble! Great description too.

  34. Peki says:

    This is such a beautiful site… Actually, I have a question regarding Balenciaga (Paris) and Guerlain Insolence (Edp). Which is MORE violety, flowerlike? I have been searching for a ‘true imitation’ of the flower scent-without much luck- for the last, let me think, 17 years, both on top shelves (designer perfumes, of which I purched too many:). One nice shop assistant in Guerlain even showed me a book of perfume ingredients and I made the journey to Harrods because at that time only they would sell Mitsuoko (I lived in Oxford then). However, most scents advertising as violet were nothing like. The Culpeper (herbalists) had a range of bathroom products and the talcum powder-smelled like violet. So you see how desperate I am.

    • Robin says:

      Neither Balenciaga Paris nor Insolence are meant to be “true imitations” of violet at all. Have you tried Borsari Violetta di Parma or Berdoues Violette Toulouse?

  35. Shelley says:

    I’ve been following your reviews for quite some time now… :) This fragrance sounds “interesting”, too bad, it’s not yet available in the Philippines (or at least when I checked).

    • Robin says:

      Hi & welcome! It’s still pretty new here too, so perhaps it will be available near you eventually.

  36. turbovivi says:

    So before today the last “full” bottle of perfume I purchased was Le Labo’s Labdanum 18. I used full in quote because it was a 15ml bottle, purchased in mid 2008.

    I am happy to report that I’ve acquired this new love, Balenciaga Paris, the 50ml bottle and the body lotion from my local Neiman Marcus. Along with that I received a gift of a small Balenciaga change purse and a small bottle (2.5ml?) for travel.

    I do agree with you that when I first put it on I was not impressed by it, but as it dried down, it became more and more beautiful. I hope to use this in Spring/Summer.

    • Robin says:

      Congrats on your new bottle, and glad it found another fan :-)

  37. scooby says:

    bought the large bottle in singapore airport for a girl friend and it came with a very nice woven cotton bag with leather accents since it just released. I love the way it smell on woman and makes you want to be closer.

    • Robin says:

      Hope she will like it!

  38. eminere says:

    Tried this on my skin today and I thought I was smelling something else entirely to the fragrance described in this review. Earthy, soft, pale, minimalist veil – none of that! This smelled so sickeningly, nauseatingly SWEET. In fact, just a couple of sprays on my hand filled my entire office with the fragrance; my colleagues coming in could smell it. It smelt cheap and nasty and tacky.

    Lovely bottle though.

    • eminere says:

      Oh, and this is one fragrance I’d hardly call grown-up and elegant. Pity, because I really wanted to like it. :(

      Chloe’s still a winner over this one in my books.

      • Robin says:

        I think Kevin hated it too! I’d take this over Chloe any day.

        • turbovivi says:

          Actually my boyfriend can’t stand the smell of Chloe…. Interesting.

  39. parfumliefhebber says:

    Smelled it today. My first thought was Bill Blass Nude, but a very short thought. It than smelled as Eminere said.

  40. redscorpio says:

    There was a full page ad in today’s Sydney Morning Herald regarding the launch of this fragrance so I’ll be off to David Jones (department store) to check it out.

  41. redscorpio says:

    Not only did I get to try it the SA gave me a sample- a tiny little spray bottle in an equally tiny little Balenciaga box! Seriously cute. The perfume is lovely BTW and I will be tempted to buy it although AUD$95 for 30ml is getting on the expensive side.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, glad you scored a sample! It isn’t cheap. Are there discounters in Australia? I’m hoping eventually this will be at discounters in the US.

      • redscorpio says:

        There are some discounters but they only tend to stock the less up market stuff I think. (Happy to be corrected if anyone else knows a good local site.) At the moment with the Aussie dollar being quite strong it is better value to shop at the U.S. discounters and pay the postage if it isn’t too much.

        • Robin says:

          Gotcha. Well, we might have a long wait here…it just came out recently.

  42. Miriam says:

    Walked past a perfume salesman yesterday – and went weak at the knees with the beauty of this scent! This has never happened to me before. I actually tried it – I am a severe asthmatic, and normally can’t wear any perfume except First.

    I did not react at all!!! No wheezes, no migraine, just a wonderful, wonderful scent!!!!!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, how nice! Hope it continues to not aggravate your asthma.

  43. Miriam says:

    I intend to buy it. First perfume puchase since 1980. I am another Australian, by the way, about to go to Europe, and will try to get it duty free.

  44. LaMaroc says:

    Still haven’t smelled the juice in person yet but I’ve smelled the scent strips from the magazine ads several times now. There was something so familiar about the scent that it took until last night for the “eureka” moment to hit me. Balenciaga Paris (in scent-strip form) smells exactly like the Vitabath Plus (purple lable) shower and bath gel that I used to use back in the 80s. Don’t know what it smells like now, but their bath bars run around $5. Can anyone else confirm or deny this?

    • Robin says:

      How interesting! I don’t know vitabath that well.

  45. jonr951 says:

    I LOVE IT!! I smelled it at Nordstrom 2day. They only had it for presale. I bought my mom the 75ml. I can get it on the 1st. Just in time for mothers day! : )

  46. jonr951 says:

    Crap!! I had my mom sample it and she likes it but she doesnt love it! I thought it would be perfect for her! Dang! Shes been wanting Coco Mademoiselle forever so I guess I’ll just get her that. I was gonna use Paris too! LOL! Should I just keep the bottle for myself? : )

    • Robin says:

      Oh, what a shame! But Coco Mlle will make a nice present. If *you* want the Balenciaga, you luck out though :-)

  47. Violet says:

    Hi! I’ve been reading and sampling……and reading and sampling for years. What started out as a quest for “my” scent, has turned me into a perfume snob. I love reading Robin’s reviews because they seem to paint such an accurate picture of the fragrances. After finally learning exactly what I do and don’t like, I have been able to narrow down my search. I have never been able to appreciate any fragrance that included a “skank’, “unwashed hair” or “sweat” note. To me perfume should never make people wonder whether or not I bathed that day……but that’s just me. I also never seem to like anything with leather or incense (maybe just a recovering Catholic thing).
    That being said, I read the notes for this fragrance and ordered a sample. I applied it and immediately turned up my nose and tossed it in the trash. I tried it again today in a store after reading Robin’s review and everyone’s comments (not really expecting anything different, but wondering if I wasn’t patient enough) and mmmm…… Wow! Really love this! Not at first sniff, but second, and third. This could be MY fragrance!!
    So, thank you all for all of your (indirect) help!! I finally found a violet that I love, and it doesn’t dissappear before I can get a second sniff (or smack an innocent bystander upside the head)!! CHEERS!! ;-)

    • Robin says:

      Oh good! And yeah, always worth giving something a 2nd or 3rd try, it’s amazing how often I change my mind.

  48. Late on this one — I think I was stuck in DC commuter traffic for four hours & never made it into work and thus didn’t read this the day it was published. In any case, this was an impulse buy of mine last night while cutting through Bloomingdale’s and wanted to see what your opinion was on it.

    When I say impulse buy, this was it in it’s truest form. Went into the mall to pick up a few new summer dresses only to find the escalator out on one end the mall and took a Bloomingdale’s detour to use theirs to reach the upper level. And then there I am amidst the perfume counters. What started as me boredly trying scents here & there all the while declining SAs efforts to assist me, I started talking perfume w/ a SA who shared in my love for classics. Before I knew it I was trying an array of fragrances and ultimately ended up w/ a bottle of this. The 1.7 oz though the fragrance manager kept trying to plus the larger size on me upon which I explained that I had so many bottles already that I would never need a larger one.

    But now, having worn it, maybe I should have sprung for a larger bottle. It’s really a lovely, delicate, feminine scent, and yet there’s that distinctively metallic opening. It’s so gorgeous and reminds me a little of expensive bath salts, vaguely mineral-y in its opening and then a powdery, soft, violet.

    While it’s not nearly as edgy or exotic, bold or bizarre as what I’m normally drawn to, it’s gorgeous in its understated beauty.

    Nice to see that it has your seal of approval as well. I’m filing this one under $100 well spent.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, but you were probably wise to get the small bottle — it’s sure to be available at discount eventually, right? Glad it’s finding more fans.

  49. LucyLu says:

    A birthday gift! Yay! I would not have found this lovely perfume myself and would not have imagined that my husband did–can you imagine?. Live and learn. I’ve had gifts of perfume before (and don’t quite approve of this practice) but none that has pleased me so much. Warm, yet interesting, feminine in the best and most centered way. Not flighty or light. Although a violet, it’s very different from Insolence. Then again, nothing is like Insolence. I much prefer Balenciaga Paris.

    • Robin says:

      How nice to get a (risky) perfume gift and turn out to love it! Kudos to your husband.

      • LucyLu says:

        Thanks for your comment. We often don’t give as much credit where credit is due. Especially a partner.

  50. jonr951 says:

    Do they come in different colors? I was at Nordstrom 2day and I swear I saw the bottle with green juice & a green cap. Weird?

    • Robin says:

      Wow, not that I know of! Maybe there’s a flanker already…which would be darned fast!

  51. jonr951 says:

    That would be insane! I know it was green! Im about to call my nords about it. LOL! Im probably just blind! : )

  52. FOandW_oh_my says:


    Thanks so much for the review on this! On the strength of it, I found my way into the dept. store, found a bottle, sprayed one inner elbow (other 3 spots already spoken for) and a paper strip about 4 hours ago. Next paycheque, this one is MINE. It is such a fresh scent and if this is violets, then I like them! Since my nose is new again, I don’t have very many connections with references any more and I am relearning most of them. I can only hope I don’t fall in love with anything obviously awful to anyone else. Wouldn’t want to offend all the people around me. So odd to be so unsure of my own nose but I trust my confidence will become better in time.

    • Robin says:

      I really don’t think Balenciaga Paris is the sort of scent that would be awful to people around you — it’s pretty light.

  53. Kimilee says:

    After hemming and hawing for a while, I finally broke down and bought a bottle in Hong Kong. It is my new favorite scent. On me it’s soft, powdery, slightly musky, and criminally complex. Very little sillage, but enough to give me a whiff during the day and make me feel pretty! Powdery dry down. It is light, but doesn’t smell like it. Interesting to think about how Balenciaga tamed its power so it wasn’t overwhelming. Much like their clothing designs. A great perfume.

    • Robin says:

      I like these scents that hang around forever without being loud…really a wonderful scent, congrats on your new bottle.

  54. UALgal says:

    I finally ordered this for myself after hanging on to the scent sample from a magazine for several months ago. When it arrived I was thrilled that it held true to reviews and the original sample. BUT, I must say that it took 30 minutes to reach the scent I fell in love with last winter when advertised. So, if you do order it without sniffing/wearing first — give a little time to warm up. It certainly does, very nicely! I’ve worn Michael Kors for years and will continue to but thought this would be a wonderful scent for fall/winter 2010.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, you don’t always get a really good sense of the top notes from a magazine sample. Glad you’re happy with your new bottle!

  55. Jackflapsmells says:

    I love this perfume and something about it reminds me of Eden by Cacharel. Perhaps they both have violet in common, and I am interested if anyone else picks up on the similarity. Is it just me? It’s a beautifully easy fragrance to wear where as Eden is nice to own but is hard to wear all day. Thoughts?

    • Robin says:

      I am only vaguely familiar with Eden, sadly, and what I remember is: patchouli, loud, green. So would not have thought it much like Balenciaga Paris, but sounds like you know better than me!

  56. susanlyall says:

    I tried this on my skin today, after sniffing and disliking it a few months ago. I think I have changed my mind too…..I am loving it. Yes, I too see a resemblance to Eden, thought so as soon as the dry down kicked in…..which is a bit annoying, because I don’t care for Eden, and sometimes the association with a remembered fragrance spoils the joy of a new one!!

  57. I finally got to sample this really well this past week. And I really like it. But everytime I wore it, I kept saying what does this remind of ? The the next day I sprayed on some J’Adore because I am trying to empty my bottle and I was stunned. It’s just the briefest of flash during the opening and then more so about 15 minutes into the dry down. They share some very similar notes! Then J’Adore turns all soapy and dull on me. But I was so happy to find my favorite parts of J’Adore in another and better all around fragrance. I love this!

    • Robin says:

      So interesting…I will have to go smell J’Adore again!

  58. eluu says:

    Oh my god, this lasts so long on me.

    I have been in search of perfume that is powdery, unique & that would actually lasts on me. Everything seems to disappear on me for some reason. I tried Bvlgari Jasmin noir & within minutes everything is gone. Spayed the perfume sample I had within 2 minutes of my husband coming & nothing. I asked him, do you smell anything on it as he walked through the door. He bent over closer & I said “not so close”. He replied “no”. Surprised, I asked him “are you sure..” “No” he cut me off. That was a real disappointment so …. yesterday, I decided to test my “Balenciaga Paris’ perfume sample a try…..well, well, well…i was in for big surprise. I sprayed it on at 8 am & went to work. It felt very light at work but the scent is amazing. As it develops & setlle downs it smells even better than I just sprayed it on. I thought to myself, now I remember why I wanted a sample of it so badly. As I worked I didn’t quire remember I had it on unless I moved and then, oh! Balenciaga!!!

    By 1-2 pm I could barely smell anything at work. By 5:45pm, my husband picked me up from work. I opened the door of the car & got in. As I flipped the car’s mirror in front of me to glance at myself, my husband suddenly said gently “you know…you don’t have to put on perfurme right before you leave work!”. Totally surprised, I looked at him & said “I didn’t. I had this on since 8 o’clock this morning!!!

    He could actually still smell Balenciaga Paris after 10 hours when he couldn’t even smell Blvgari Jasmin Noir right after I sprayed it!!!! I was so pleasantly shocked!!! I knew this was it.

    We then went for diner aftwards & while we were driving I could smell Balenciaga Paris here & there as I moved. By 8pm after diner, I had to drive as my husband had a beer over diner. Yep, I could still smell the perfume all around me while I was driving with my window slightly opened.

    I have no doubt that Balenciaga is the perfume for me :)
    So happy I finally found a perfume that actually lasts & smells like heaven!!!

    Thank you, Balenciaga!!!

  59. eluu says:

    Oh! forgot to mention…my husbands is a person who never comments on any perfume I wear…because you can’t smell anything on me (even I can’t) except for 2 times, and both times happened to be the time when I wore Balenciaga Paris – both on different days (months apart). Coincidence??? I think not.


  60. Jada in GA says:

    Finally!! On 10/31/11 I was your “mailbox” subject, asking for help choosing a fragrance. I thank you all for your thoughtful suggestions. Many of you suggested Balenciaga Paris, so I had to try it. I absolutely love it! The dry down is perfect, and it lasts 12 hours on my skin. I’ll be asking Santa for a full size bottle…..

  61. eminere says:

    I tried Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste today and was surprised by how much Balenciaga Paris resembled it – anyone else sniff the same…?

  62. Annika says:

    Bought unsniffed from Amazon… LOVE it, I think I have my signature scent now at 35.

  63. Limony says:

    I tried this at night when there are no other distractions and discovered that it morphs into something like a lighter version of the brilliant Ultima II Sheer Scent (discontinued). That’s the watery-fruit plus close-to-skin aspect. I like it but not as much as the Bottega Venetta flanker Eau Leger. I mention them together because Balenciaga and BV came out around the same time with a lot of fan fare about their have leather notes.

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