New Balenciaga perfume review

A favor, por favor!  I have been searching for Santa Maria Novella Eva in the U.S. for months, and it is out of stock and never seems to come back.  Anyone in Europe able to check their local SMN supplier and see if they have it?  This is my summer scent, and I’m getting a little freaked out that I may not have it.  If you do know of a bottle somewhere, click the Contact Us over on the left.

Olivier Polge created the newest pefume from Balenciaga with a nod to Le Dix, with a modern sensibility, so goes the marketing copy.  Notes are bergamot, spices, pepper, violet, carnation, oakmoss, cedar, vetiver, patchouli, labdanum.

This is another one I’ve been wearing around for over a week now, trying to decide what I think of it (this is my  new hobby, apparently, fussing over perfume samples for longer and longer periods of time). When I first smelled it in Paris (they were spraying everyone with it at Galleries Lafayette that came withing 30 feet of them), I was sorta uninspired.  Nice, easy to wear, nothing reallly stood out.  I’d wear it. It is supposed to be a modern chypre, but I’m not getting that on me as a prominent feature where I would loudly proclaim it is a chypre.  It’s heavily violet, which puts it in the “yeah, I’d hit that” category for me right away because violet always finds its way into my wearing pile.  I don’t find any of the other notes to stand out, they just seem to be the supporting cast. There’s just a touch of spiciness, it’s not overly dry, and it’s certainly not sweet.  This is kind of the perfect neutral violet for me.  There are a couple of frowny-face moments when it seems close to soapy aquatic, but the drydown veers off into a more earthy territory about an hour or so in.

What winds up working for me in Balenciaga is the waft.  It’s incredibly persistent, soft, and it follows you softly through the day.  It’s not big or loud, but delicately strong. Wearing it makes me happy. It’s not so distracting or weird that I can’t concentrate, but it isn’t so plain that you don’t really care that it’s there.

60 Comments

  1. I’m currently wearing Byredo Chembur on one wrist, Datura Noir on the arm and L’Artisan Al Oudh on the other wrist. I think the Balenciaga would faint dead away. hell, I can barely stand myself!!8-x

    xo >-)

    howevah, the several times I’ve tried it (by itself, of course) I came away with much the same impression as you. it’s nice and I wouldn’t hate anybody who gave me a bottle – but not much beyond that.

    • How do you like that L’Artisan, A? I thought that it smelled like an armpit, on me.

    • Dear God, A! I need to re-try Al Oudh, but I haven’t been brave enough. I’m thinking of combining it with Amaranthine and reporting back from my gas mask.

      Yeah, there’s always a place for pretty perfumes for me, and I’d love to see this one at the discounters so i can snag a bottle for the cheap, and that would make me happy.

      • Well the Chembur tore out nearly all my nosehairs so I’m not exactly sure about the Al Oudh. El O said it smells like something he used to get from a headshop – something called ‘rush’? I forget (the Chembur was 8-x – Byredo hates me all the way, baby.)

        P – YOU????? Brave enough? You wear EVERYTHING! I’m stunned. This stuff isn’t so bad (I tried it again before replying to this). I can’t see getting through even the little samp I have (it’s strong but not armpitty) but it’s way easier to wear than some of the other oudhs.

        I must admit I was stunned it was L’A, though. It just seemed so different for them.

        K – like I said, not armpitty. But it’s not one I would ever ‘have’ to have. Have you tried the Chembur? It’s like wearing the remnants of Tom Yum soup – and I do NOT mean that in a good way. Like I said, Byredo hates my guuuuts.

        And I can’t even begin to describe Datura Noir. I get it, I get it. But I think it gave me nightmares!

        xoxo >-)

        • A: I’m surprised you weren’t chewing your arm off with the L’A. I kind of like it, but it’s TOTAL sweaty armpit on me. I sniff it and think, “cool, how’d they do that.” (yes, I’m weird). Haven’t ever tried Chembur.

          As for the Balenciaga… I’m surprised it doesn’t do that Thing That Shall Not Be Mentioned for you. I was thinking you WOULD hate anyone who gave you a bottle. Talk about chewing your arm off. Huh. Who’da thunk?

          • Nah. Neither of them really did the 8-x. Somehow the Oudh just comes of headshop-sweet on me. No sweat (El O is funny about that sweat note. Did I ever tell about his first whiff of (C)atagan? He’s a big man – watching him jump back about 5 ft was really something! No jumping on the Oudh.

            The Balenciaga really irked you that much, eh? 😕 I wouldn’t deliberately wear it, I don’t think – too many other ‘pretty’ scents I really do like – but I could stand to have it around.

            Faint praise, indeed.

            xo >-)

            • Oh no, no… I like the Balenciaga. Fuzzy musk doesn’t do that 8-x icepick-in-the-brain thing for me. That’s YOUR perfume “issue.” :d

  2. Wow, Lafco’s all sold out of SMN Eva, too. Good luck finding it.

    A Dear Friend 😡 gave me a sample of the Balenciaga and I just loved it. Maybe because I want something now besides incense and spice, vanilla and skank. I can see splashing myself with this a lot through the spring.

    • I know. I’ve been waiting for them or Aedes to get it back in stock for about five months now, which was fine during winter to wait, but with the temps warming, my stress level is going up contemplating not having it.

      I am happy to see the designers doing something different – Cartier, Van Cleef and now Balenciaga. Dare we hope that the celebrities might start going off in the same direction? I could forgive them a lot if they would just stop with the fruity florals unless they could do an interesting one like Worth Courtesan or Penhaligon Amaranthine.

  3. Hey, Patty. I’d hit that, too. And again, no walk of shame! 😮

    You nailed it: a pretty, neutral violet that’s perfect for grocery shopping, lunch al fresco, or whatever. It’s barely on this side of delicate-femme for me, but is it easy to wear? Hell, yes.

    I have one recommendation for everyone: if you have an occasion for gift giving this spring or summer, give some of this to any young lady you know. Maybe it will divert them from or wean them off of all that SJPNYC or Beyonce stuff. Couldn’t hurt to try.

    Also, the bottle is nice: a sort of asymmetrical, pentagonal thing.

    • Joe, we probably ought to stop talking about our fragrances as if they were one-night stands, but, well, some of them are. 🙂

      I’m with you, as long as the designers start moving in this kind of direction, I’m here to encourage them on the pretty, at a minimum, so maybe one day Balenciaga will do something like Le Dix or Quadrille or Dior will create something on par with Diorling instead of one more Poison flanker.

      Bottle rocks. It’s so elegant.

  4. Aedes has Eva (or at least their website shows it as in stock).

    • Nope, they don’t actually have it. Have had it on order with them for about four months, and no Eva love coming. They thought they’d have it in Feb, as did Lafco, but it must not have shown up. I’m so sad about it, it’s ridiculous.

  5. yeah , skip on over and git yerself an 8.4 oz jug of it !!

    I like the Balenciaga Paris bottle but haven’t sniffed it yet…sounds like a perfect scent to wear with summer’s neutrals .

    • Nope, it’s not at Lafco or Aedes, I’ve exhausted them with my weekly inquiring if it’s arrived or not.

      It will be a great summer scent. I, of course, would prefer the discounted bottle, but they might do better at fixing their distribution lines than most designer scents do, which I’m not really in favor of. 🙂

  6. As you probably know if you’ve read my review, I found Balenciaga Paris pretty but a little pallid and breathless… I’m no huge fan of violets unless they’re backed up by something with a little more substance to kill the mawkishness — so Bois de Violette is what makes them palatable to me. Somehow, I never find myself in need of subdued, neutral or easy-to-wear, but then that may be because Paris is a lot less casual than the US, so I definitely won’t be needing a bottle of this.
    You’re right about the waft: there’s a lot of musk in there making the scent stick to the skin, so that it just hangs on for hours.

    • Yeah, I think it fits more of a U.S. mentality of wearing lighter scents for public or mass market consumers not wanting their scent to be too big or dramatic. I have to admit that sometimes I do need something neutral and just pretty because of what I’m doing or where I’m going. There’s so much more of a fuss here about perfume pollution that I don’t want to make it worse by burning people’s nosehairs (in a good way!) at the symphony.

    • cc, how would you say it compares to the most recent reformulation of Le Dix?

        • I’ve got a bottle of it purchased within the last year, D, and I see it’s readily available in its modern packaging through various etailers right now, so if it has been discontinued, there still seems to be some stock around. Price is right, too.

          If anyone’s interested, the current Le Dix is really quite nice. It’s not of vintage caliber, but it’s a good modern take on the original. It’s essentially a musky-woody violet, vetiver and sandalwood skin scent with a gentle vintage vibe. Not bad at all.

  7. Happy to see if I can find Eva if you have no luck in the US, Patty (and look forward to seeing you in London again)!

    The Balenciaga is quite pretty but I echo Denyse’s sentiments – I don’t need a bottle of something that is pretty and inoffensive. Of course, I also mourn the passing of the old Balenciagas which were so fabulous, as were the clothes by The Master…I remember my mother drooling over them.

    • Well, maybe their grow a pair eventually and make something with more personality again? I’ll hope for that. They hadn’t done a scent for a long time, but if this one has a good sales history, and they rebuild their name as a good one for scents, maybe they’ll get more daring.

      I’ll e-mail you back about the Eva. You are a doll. I may be able to get it from Canada, which would be the best exchange rate option, if I can. Love you guys!! I’ll be in touch about London so we can definitely get together

  8. Hi Patty,
    Eva is in stock here in Milan, @ the SMN store.
    i) 47 Euro (roughly 64 US$) for the 60 ml bottle;
    ii) 250 ml for 140 Euro (roughly 190 US$).
    They also have an Eva coffret, but I didn’t enquire what was inside, or the price.
    I just wrote you an email in case you don’t the fragrance in the US. 😉

    • P.S.
      the Milanese shop, since the official SMN site has been forever “under construction”, made a home-made (very artisanal 😉 ) web page.
      Here’s the link, with contact information:

  9. I’m among the folks who find Paris easy to wear, pretty, relatively neutral etc. But it has enough of that modern, metallic edge to keep it interesting. So, like Francesca, I am gratefully adding this to my early spring rotation. :x:)

  10. Well, I wondered how good it would be when I read an interview with Charlotte Gainsbourg (the inspiration for the fragrance and the one who chose the final iteration) in Elle where she said she never wore perfume. She said she started by “spritzing it on her luggage…”

    • And her mother inspired L’Air de Rien. *That* apple fell kinda far from the tree.

      • Well Jane Birkin did say she didn’t like perfume either when she did the promotion for L’Air de Rien — she said she put pot-pourri in her pockets. But she apparently fell in love with oak moss, bless her heart. I think what she meant was that she didn’t like perfume-y perfumes, which L’Air de Rien definitely isn’t.

    • Now, why would they pick someone that doesn’t like fragrance and doesn’t wear it to be their “muse”? I mean, I’d do it for them!

      • My point exactly! You’ve got my vote, Patty. Patty for muse!!!!

  11. “Of course, I also mourn the passing of the old Balenciagas which were so fabulous, as were the clothes by The Master…I remember my mother drooling over them.”

    Being a relatively new perfume fanatic, what ARE the old Balenciagas that are drool worthy? I’m starting to get a dangerous taste for vintage perfumes as well.

    • I love Michelle (a rich tuberose-carnation thing with oakmossy base) and Rumba (big jammy fruits, big florals, musk-and-beeswax base, reminds me a little bit of Bal a Versailles, has this hot dust note that I just love). They’re on the formal side, and they’d probably suffocate me in the summer. Le Dix is an elegant, aloof aldehydic violet floral.

      Other Balenciagas I haven’t smelled: Quadrille, Talisman… I know there were more…

      Vintage really is the rabbit hole to Wonderland. (My latest find, a little crown bottle of Prince Matchabelli Stradiveri – gorgeous sandalwood.)

      • Adding Prelude, which is a gorgeous, fine-grained bergamot, ylang-ylang and amber masterpiece with that mysterious and oh-so-French Balenciaga base. There’s also Cialenga, probably my least-fave of the Balenciagas: a slightly sharp citrus chypre.

        Quadrille is an old-fashioned, rich fruity oriental with a touch of spice and, quite baroque and a wonderful one for an elegant, dressed-up evening.

        Talisman (1994) is built along the same lines as Rumba (1989) and is from the same, more modern stylistic camp; the notes are violet leaves, davana, litchi, rum, osmanthus, hyacinth, rose, orchid, freesia, ylang-ylang, clove, amber, iris.

        Hope that helps. 🙂

        • P.S. Mals, you are SO right about that rabbit hole of vintage. Once you go down it, it’s Alice in Wonderland, complete with Johnny Depp. 😉

          • I’m well on my way down the rabbit hole of vintage perfumes…Jolie Madam and Miss Balmain being the latest (and oldest) acquisitions I’ve made. Rooting around down here in Wonderland but so far…no Johnny Depp. Now THAT would be a find! 😡 Carolyln

          • There was a very funny piece in a recent edition of The Onion about a guy who fell into the “life-style” of gourmet mustard-lovers through, primarily through their websites – not that anything like that could happen to ME – LOL!

    • I was waiting for somebody else to reply first…because I kept on thinking of movie scenes where vampires who are TRYING to be good can’t help but look up when fresh blood walks into the room… ;))

    • I have a bottle of (new) Rumba and you could clear a room with it, it’s that strong. Sweet/fruity, powdery and zaftig, sort of in the Tabu mode of operation.

      I hate to write this because I cannot find the quote, but I think in The Guide somewhere (in a review of a different fragrance) Luca Turin referred to Talisman as “a richly deserved vacation from good taste,” or something similar. He meant that as a compliment. 🙂

  12. I love the wafting scents, but not the ones that hit you with a forceful blast like radiation from the toxic waste dump. “Delicately strong” sounds like my kinda sillage.

    But like many, I’m all stocked up on “just pretty” scents. (That Calice Becker-composed Ines, I’m all over that in the summer. Might need another bottle before they all disappear.)

    • I know, there are a lot of them! I still really like them, though, they just have a charm for me.

    • I found an elegantly packaged large mini of Paris on ebay (15 mls of EdP!) and wore it today. It sort of reminds me of the Ines (which I haven’t worn that since last summer though, so the memory could be faulty), but with violet for the first couple of hours. Perhaps slightly warmer and softer than Ines. It was very pleasant today and should be great for summer.

  13. I adore the bottle, and I AM a ‘violet freak’…
    But I really don’t ‘need’ this one at all.

    If I want a wearable violet, I’d rather go for Liz’ Violets and Rainwater, or Rykiel Woman,which smells more like soft violet/ dates on me than incense.

  14. Ah, a place I diverge from Chaya. I am not a violet freak…on the few occasions I like it, it is dirtied, either literally (CBIHP Wild Hunt), figuratively (Jolie Madame, anyone?), or a mix (Violets & Rainwater). The exception is the incredibly spare Norma Kamali that I came into; and even then, I use as a layer on the infrequent occasion I get inspired to add a hint of violet to something. Kind of like picking the right bitters for a bar recipe, for you cocktail freaks.

    In general, violet is the thing that, if well done and nice, I would put on a list for “things to recommend to a parent when a young girl simply can’t not have some perfume to put on.” Balenciaga Paris goes to the head of the class for that. I can see how it would appeal, but my own inoffensive tendencies would trend green.

  15. Yeah, I think need is taking it far for me, but I would like a bottle at a discount. 🙂

    • You know, after catching the waft an hour after I wrote, I’ve got to say, a bottle at discount is not such a bad thing. 😉 Maybe my ideal would be gifting it to a teenager daughter, and sneaking a smidge every now and then. {whistler guy here} As I have no daughters, I have to settle for sneaking Terre d’Hermes from a son and Sel de Vetiver from the spouse. Which is, to my nose, a happy alternative. b-)

  16. Paris is indeed pretty, but I’m with Denyse in that I really don’t tend to have any occasion where I just want pretty. The closest I come to a simply pretty scent is probably Divine, Temps de Une Fete, or perhaps Quartz, which I think is one of the best inexpensive scents on the market.

    But as one who (again, with a nod to Denyse) really needs to have her violets served up with a dash of darkness, I can’t imagine ever reaching for Paris when the spectacular Bois de Violette is an option. Caron’s wonderfully quirky and addictive Violette Precieuse (vintage formulation only, however) is another fave, and my first and most enduring love, Jolie Madame. Without the grit, violet is too just too sweet and vanilla pudding for me.

  17. Hi.

    I couldn’t find contact info, so I’m writing here hoping someone will see this.
    I’ll be in Baltimore area and was wondering where are good stores for sniffing/buying perfumes. People on NST told me that March is from that area.

    Any ideas?

    THanks!

    • Hi, Sonia! You are right that March is in the DC area, so it would be worth asking on her next post here. I’m in the area, too, but generally prefer to order samples and shop online so I’m not well-informed about bricks and mortar. I can tell you that the big Saks and Neiman Marcus stores have large perfume sections. I believe there is a Blue Mercury at Dupont Circle, which is an interesting area. Old Town Alexandria is my favorite area to stroll around in, and Bella Cara is worth a peek if you’re there. Not too long ago this came up in some comments – I wish I could remember more of the suggestions from March and others in this area. Please do watch for March’s next post, and I’m sure you’ll get many great suggestions. Hope you have a great, fragrant trip!

      • Hi-also from the D.C. area. I don’t know Baltimore well-maybe a local can add to this.

        Well, we’re no NYC…but there are some options. NM and Saks are good options as Nozkoz noted, but the NM in Tysons Corner Galleria (Northern Virginia is a suburb) has a better selection than Chevy Chase-though much scarier SAs. If you do make it to Tysons Galleria, go to Art with Flowers-really our only shop that carries much niche perfume-and it’s a lovely shop, with wonderful staff. In the area around the mall you’ll find an Hermes boutique as well-well stocked, great staff.

        Blue Mercury has several shops-one in Bethesda, maybe still one in Georgetown. Their stock varies-some more niche-y things, nice makeup range.

        Have a nice visit :d/

        • Louise,
          thanks for the info.

          I see Hermes boutique in Vienna, Va which is right next to Tysons Corner. Is that what you were talking about?

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