Balenciaga Rumba

You know what I love about perfume? Among many things, I love the swappage – in my case, mostly free samples in and out based on a guess that the recipient might find them interesting.

I opened one envelope recently to find samples of Dominique Ropion´s weird/wonderfest WET, Lothantique Ginger, and Tinderbox, which I believe is a dupe of Faberge Woodhue. Let´s pause for a moment and ponder — how a great a selection is that? That´s like when they ask some wack LA hostess, who would be the ideal guests at your dinner party? And she comes up with Proust, Henry VIII and Buckethead. Where to start?

At that moment, though, I had already started, and was struggling with the realization – how had I missed the totally obnoxious opening of David Yurman? I´d quasi-dismissed it as money disguised as taste, and now I´m not even sure I´m willing to go that far. It´s like that customer at the makeup counter whose neutral palette and trying-too-hard casualness are screaming out, I spent three hours and thousands of dollars to look this effortless! What is that opening? It´s part metallic and part soapy and all up in my face. I got so aggravated I took the Dawn to it (begone, taupe harpy!) and searched around for something else.

Which is when I saw the Balenciaga Rumba and realized it was perfect antidote. We have been having the most bizarre weather – quite fall-like in August in the DC area, when it is usually hellish enough here to remind you why everybody leaves for the beach or the Adirondacks or anyplace else.

Believe it or not, Rumba was created by Jean Claude Ellena and Ronn Winnegrad, which gives it some cred where some might be inclined to write it off. The notes I find listed vary, but this is as good as any: peach, plum, orchid, magnolia, jasmine, tuberose, amber, vanilla, musk, moss and leather. Online discounters describe it breathlessly along these lines: “Rumba is a passionate dance with notes of exotic trees and a classic, warm trail of musk and vanilla” blah blah blah.

I’ll be honest — Rumba sounds deeply, desperately not my sort of thing. Clearly this is supposed to be some sexxxay perfume, all dance-club ready (or perhaps out for an evening spin on the floor with your ballroom dancing group). But I can´t help it; I can´t move myself away from its snuggliness. It is sweet, more jam than fruit, but not sickeningly sweet. There is a dusty warmth that appears at the opening and never fades away. The musky base tempers the sweetness but still doesn’t remove the fragrance into anything I’d describe as sexy. That’s pretty much the whole story. Rumba has extraordinary lasting power on me; I applied it at noon and it was still very much there the following morning.

To me, Rumba is as exotic as a plush teddy bear, with all the edgy angularity of a fleece bathrobe. I don´t mean that disrespectfully; I think it´s lovely. It is absolutely the fragrance I´d put on following a hot bath after a crappy day in the long, cold depths of winter. Then I´d wrap my wet hair in a towel, make some hot cocoa and read back issues of Allure with my feet propped up. I feel honor-bound to point out that looking at Basenotes, Rumba is a love-it-or-hate it, with the dreaded old-lady insult lobbed around by the less than thrilled. They´re wrong, though. I would advise some restraint with the atomizer, but how can you throw darts at something so cuddly?

I need to credit Angela´s review on Now Smell This for making me seek out Rumba. She talks about comparing it to “dust and hot metal” and that funny smell the first time you turn the heat on in the winter. That´s a characteristic it shares with Fendi Asja, although Rumba is jammier.

Notes for Asja from my earlier post: bergamot, peach, apricot, raspberry, Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, cinnamon, mimosa, lily of the valley, honey, carnation, orchid, vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, musk, benzoin, balsamic styrax and amber, so there are definitely some similarities between the two in the kitchen-sink Oriental department.

It is interesting to compare fragrances that you think smell similar, as Angela did the other day on NST with Tabu and Youth Dew – side by side, they often smell less similar than you´d think. For instance, Angela declared that next to Tabu, Youth Dew smells “cleaner” and “almost prim by comparison.” (Which, if nothing else, means I am really overdue to sniff Tabu, since I find Youth Dew pretty ripe.) Comparing Asja to Rumba, I was struck by Asja´s mannered restraint – if it is a pale pink cashmere sweater, Rumba is a raspberry-colored tracksuit. Asja is sorbet; Rumba is jam. I´d layer them, but Rumba would eat Asja like a goldfish cracker and that would be that. So, as it turns out, I do need both of them this coming winter after all.

images: vivaterra.com; grandcanyonteddybears.com

  • nubelia says:

    wow , never could snuggle with Rumba , to me its that mad insane party where so much happened and I damned if I can remember what exactly , but I am sure I had a jolly good time

    Mine was bought at Imagination Perfumery for a song pretty much, the bottle is massive though

  • sariah says:

    Haven’t tried the Rumba, but I got a mini of Cristobal based on Angela’s review – I like it very much. Have you tried Cristobal?

    Has anyone seen Rumba in stores (or any of the Bialanciagas), or just online?

    • March says:

      See, Cristobal (which I have not tried) sounded right for you and wrong for me. You like those more herbal/chypre/green aspects, and I don’t. Maybe when we get together next you can bring your mini and I can bring my vial and we can sniff. I have never seen them in stores, no. Thinking about all those funny mall places, like the ones in Tysons, but no.

    • Melissa says:

      I have seen the Balenciagas in the mall stores. Both Tysons and Fair Oaks I believe. Not sure if I saw Rumba, but worth calling them.

  • Debbie says:

    I think I could wear Rochas Femme daily for a long time before I tired of it. That really is a great fragrance!

    • March says:

      Musette has Seen the Light. Also she’s thinking she needs some Feminite du Bois. And another fragrance addiction is born… :d

      • Vidalicious says:

        Musette, darling, I’m happy to send you a samp of FdB. Scored a FB recently, and LOVE it! It would be perfect in the fall or now, in this cooler weather. Let me know…

        • Musette says:

          Darling, you can do me one better! You can tell me where you scored yours so I can score mine. I just got a samp from a gorgeous little sprite so I’m okay for awhile but I’ve got to have FBs of both Femme and FdB before the next full moon>:). Femme’s easy-peas- it’s that blasted FdB that’s rough. There are a couple of Asian drug and beauty stores in Chicago that stock Shiseido; when I’m there next week I will check to see if they have it.

          but thank you SO much for the incredibly generous offer! @};-

  • Musette says:

    We’re having coolish weather here as well and it’s odd to be wearing a sweater in August, even an itty-bitty one….it’s one of those things where, in the sun it’s 85F and in the shade it’s a cool 60F. Odd. Perfect for Rochas Femme which stands up to any weather, I think (new love, don’tchaknow;). All my little citruses have gone, shivering, back into their drawers until this cool spell is over…..

    Faberge Woodhue! Lord, I read that and was transported back to my youth!

    A question: why do teddy bears always look so plaintive?

    I have to rethink Balenciaga for fragrance – I only think of the house for ball gowns and interestingly structured suits!

    • March says:

      Yeah! I was wearing a sweatshirt a couple nights ago, which really is completely odd for this time of year. I am certainly not complaining, though. I am looking forward to fall.

      I am so happy you are enjoying Femme! I don’t know about those sad bears. You are right, though. Enigma has a collection of smallish bears, and hanging out together they look like a furry little support group, coping with some crisis.

      • Amarie says:

        Mmmm,
        We’re in the depths of winter and don’t dare put a nose outside without beanie, scarf & thermals. It’s been solidly raining for days, with snow covering the higher parts of town and enough freezing wind to make you catch your breath. I had to go out walking in it yesterday- it was quite exhilerating. However, perfect weather for warm snuggly perfumes!:)

        • Amarie….

          Where the heck ARE you?

          • Amarie says:

            It’s the bottom of the world, Tasmania, which is a small island state off the bottom of Australia.:)

          • March says:

            Oh, I want to visit there! It sounds wonderful. There and NZ. Long trip, though.

          • Shelley says:

            Tasmania!!! Ha! You shall be the celebrity of tonight’s dinner conversation. Every now and then, we’ll say something like “well, it’s not like I know somebody in *Tasmania*” or some such indication that there’s a limit to everything.

            When they were very young, the kids read a book called “Possum Magic,” which goes around Australia and includes a stop in Tasmania. (You may well know it.) Times have changed…mom now spends time haunting perfume blogs…

          • Musette says:

            I was going to say Southern Chile or Boliva – Tasmania’s way nicer. I used to work with a lot of Australian directors, back when I was in the film business and that corner (curve?) of the world is the most gorgeous of all (at least that’s what they say – I’ve not been there yet myself, though if LOTR is any indication they aren’t exaggerating!)

            Nippy days, good for incensy-warm fragrances!~o)

  • rosarita says:

    Asja has such a wonderful bottle! I liked it, but it was just too much like a heavy Christmas fruitcake after a while so I swapped it. Funny about Rumba, I actually have a decant of this on the way as part of another MUA swap. I remember trying it and wanting to explore it further, ages ago. I like First, too, but only the edp and in minute doses. I have a mini that will last a lifetime. Oh, yes, and Tabu: I find it difficult to apply lightly enough. That is one strong puppy, even for me, the woman who publicly admits loving Obsession, Jungle Elephant and Gucci Rush. Yep, those big oriental bombs warm and cheer me all winter long! I think Rumba and I might get along just fine. :d

    • March says:

      Amy’s sending me some vintage Tabu, can’t wait to try it. I have the world’s smallest bottle of vintage Youth Dew bath oil. It’s like the size of my thumbnail. And I put on one teeny weeny drop and I’m good to go. So Tabu must really be something.

      I can absolutely see what you mean about the Asja fruitcake and in fact it smells like that on a friend who tried my bottle. There’s something about my skin that muffles the sweetness, I think.

  • dinazad says:

    If Rumba were a colour, it would be the exact gold of the inside of a perfectly ripe damson. I find it more sensual than sexy, much in the way perfectly ripe damsons are a sensual/sensuous pleasure. A sleepy-eyed, voluptuous, buxom diva reclining on a chaiselongue in a tastefully decorated boudoir. Promising all the pleasure flighty youth has no idea of…..
    On the other hand nothing gives me such sweet dreams as a little Rumba on my pillow!

    • March says:

      Ah, a perfect description. I suppose I was expecting something flashier? More brazen? It is, as you say, more sensual, and I love your plum description. That kind of fruity aspect is often the kiss of death for me, but there’s something about the base that definitely makes it work.

  • sara says:

    I’ve worn Rumba for many years and I just love it! Nice to see it get some mention here. Perfect for this completely odd DC summer we’re having! If we have another DC mini-sniffa I will bring my Rumba parfum for you to try. It’s incredible!!

  • Debbie says:

    I love the teddy bears in the snuggly robes. Adorable.

    Naturally, now I want to try both Asja and Rumba.

    • March says:

      I am laughing a little that I posted about these NOW. Really, I think they are best in cooler weather. If I’d tried Rumba on one of our 98-degree days I doubt I’d have been as taken with it.

  • Louise says:

    Rumba also sounds very not me, though I do gravitate toward rosey saffron jammy stuff. Spray me a bit, babe :d/ ?

    In NYC-brief report on the DKs-Chaos is just right, I detect no reformulation, but a slightly more robust herbal edge than my ancient bottle; Black Cashmere is also the same wonderful juice, a bit fresher than my stock-piled backlog. The bottles are very simple, heavy, nice. I have both loaded in my knapsack for the bus ride home 😮

    And this weather !-I have never had good weather in summer on jaunts to NY, this is heaven <:-p

    • Melissa says:

      Lucky you! On both counts, the perfume and the weather. 🙂

    • mharvey816 says:

      So glad to hear that the Chaos is as it should be. Especially since I have now bought not just one, but two bottles, unsniffed. Of course, since the second was from the website, and they’re saying that “Date Unavailable” for when they’ll have it back in stock, I’m hoping that second bottle shows up sometime before the end of this year.

      Here’s what the DK website folks had to say when I asked if it will be an LE item:

      In response to your question, the Donna Karan fragrance collection is currently available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman. It has not yet been determined if this collection will be available at other retail locations. In addition, the length of time this collection will be available at Bergdorf Goodman has not yet been fully determined. Thank you for you interest. Your comments will be forwarded to our Marketing executives.

      Um, okay? I’m just shocked they responded at all. /:)

      • March says:

        Hmmmmm…. of course, the big question is, are these LEs? It seems to me the answer lies somewhere between, we don’t know, and we’re waiting to see how they sell and then we’ll decide. 🙂 I hope they sell like hotcakes, and I think they are. Certainly Chaos is. Anyone who releases a 3.4 EDP of this quality for less than $100 gets big hugs from me. >:d<

  • Kristy says:

    March can we PLEASE have a DC sniffa? PLEEEEASE?!?!

    • March says:

      Well… in theory I’d love to. But we’re doing the Chicago sniffa in Sept., and I’m still recovering from the mini-sniffa over here, I don’t think I can face another run through “Friendship” Heights w/o killing someone. Maybe we can do something in Tysons in Oct/Nov? I’ll post it on the blog and people can just show up and we’ll wander, as opposed to another super-organized event with a schedule. How’s that? We could do Tysons II (NM, Saks, Art W Flowers) and there’s a Burberry store, Anthropologie, Grooming Lounge and Oilily and a couple other boutiques if anyone cares. Oh, and the Hermes joint isn’t too far away, on the other side of Tysons I, if someone’s dying to smell the Hermesses. Hermanesses. Hermanses. Anyone sprays me with Mousson, your days are numbered. 🙂

      • Kristy says:

        Yes!! But since there’s already a sniffa in october, how about November/december (that’s when all the sales are anyways, right?!?!)

      • Melissa says:

        I could go for it in the late fall/winter some time. Tysons sounds good. Definitely Tysons II. Tysons I has a store (Parfums de France?) that is expanding its offerings recently. Has most of the Montales and sometimes they have some interesting classics.

        • Kristy says:

          What’s the difference between Tysons I and Tysons II? I’ve never been even though I’ve lived here for 3 years…

          • mharvey816 says:

            Tysons I is the original huge monster mall, aka Tysons Corner Center. Tysons II is the newer and much smaller Tysons Galleria.

          • March says:

            Also they keep II at 48 degrees. Part of their high SPF (Snob Projection Factor). Don’t forget your Chanel blazer! But they’ll still treat you like dirt. Except AWF, they’re wonderful.

          • Kristy says:

            oh good! I have some dior suiting which sounds perfect for the occasion 😉

          • March says:

            We’ll look mahvelous. (*) Hey …. where’s my CLASSAY emoticon? o-+

        • mharvey816 says:

          *head snaps up* They have Montales now?

          Yes, please, a late fall/winter group would be great. Can you believe I’ve yet to sniff any Hermessences in the Hermes store? (And how glad I am to hear that they have them there?)

          • March says:

            Montales?

            The Hermes store is in the funniest location. It’s like where you’d find a Cingular wireless store. The gals were nice enough.

        • March says:

          I’ve gotten some nice things there. Had no idea they had some Montales. Must investigate. b-)

          • Melissa says:

            Yes, the Parfum de France store (the crowded little place near Macys at the original Tysons with the 3′ tall factice display on the shelf near the ceiling) has Montale. They sometimes have original formulation classics, though the French Perfume store at Fair Oaks in Fairfax beats them on that count. Surprisingly good selections for mall perfume stores.

          • March says:

            I had no idea. I need to get over there anyway, there must be something I need to pick up…

      • Disteza says:

        Let’s not forget the Chanel boutique! Also, the Bottega Veneta store should be opening sometime soon. If go in December, maybe they’ll have the snowflake machine back?

        • March says:

          Gah! I want one of their stupid, consumerist-snob, overpriced bags so bad it makes my teeth hurt. (hangs head in shame)

          • Disteza says:

            I caved and got the chicest little black evening bag with a smattering of gold, silver, and bronze sequins and beads. It wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t need, but darnit if it doesn’t go with everything. /:)

          • March says:

            I bet it’s gorgeous. I have a whole closet full of clothing for which I need a dressier life. :”>

          • Musette says:

            I think I will start wearing my evening gowns to the construction sites and the foundries – what say you? =)) Can you imagine?

            I’m definitely living the wrong life for the clothes I have!

            xo

          • Disteza says:

            Maybe not the construction site, but how about wearing them out to dinner? My husband and I get really tricked out every few months and go to a restaurant or to show, whatever. It’s amazing how much better the service can be!

          • Musette says:

            That sounds absolutely delightful! Maybe I can get El O out of the barcalounger long enough to go somewhere [email protected]};-

          • March says:

            I’d wear something nice to the Sniffa, but it won’t go with my sneaks. :”>

          • Shelley says:

            Will it involve a cape or a train? They have been mentioned multiple times in recent banter…

  • Elle says:

    Wow – had no idea Ellena was one of the perfumers for Rumba. Have to say I’m not familiar w/ the other perfumer’s work (will be remedying that shortly), but Rumba is so not what I associate w/ Ellena these days. I need to go resample it. I remember really liking it and am not sure why I don’t have a full bottle yet since it has a really decent price point. And I’ve never owned a stuffed animal, but am thinking maybe it’s time to start. I *love* those teddy bears in that photo.

    • March says:

      Yeah, I know — the master of minimal started out with stuff like First. Which I admire but hoo boy — you couldn’t jam anything else in there, it’s like a bagful of piglets.

      I had a heck of a time finding the illustration for this post. I wanted some snuggly bathrobe photo … and I looked at teddy bears … and then I saw the teddy bears IN the bathrobes and thought: I can’t resist. Although, don’t you think they look kind of depressed? Maybe they need a new fragrance to cheer them up. I think they should get out of their robes and drive to Neiman Marcus.

  • Lee says:

    I need snuggling today – this freaky summer is now (extreme humidity – normal for you I know, hot days followed by coolness, too much rain) sending us heavy storms and very high winds. Not fun.

    • March says:

      Noooooooooooo — not good for your garden!! 🙁 We have had some very cool days and nights for this time of year, which I am really enjoying, but not too many storms.

    • Louise says:

      Overseas snuggle coming in from NYC **==

      That’s a snuggle to share with the pup 😡

    • Debbie says:

      Gracie okay with the high winds?

      • Lee says:

        Surprisingly yes, considering the ‘penned in’ and noisy nature of the garden – it’s all tall plants out there and lots of rustling (leading to it sounding like you’re out at sea after a while, and emergency staking that she likes to turn into a game). It’s raindrops on her head that are the issue. Point blank refusal to go out. I carry her. She hides under the shrubs and refuses to come out. I get wet. She stays dry. Clever little muffin.

        And boy is she clever… It’s a real love story in Long Melford… A menage a trois, if you will.

        • Debbie says:

          It warms my heart to think of the Love Story there. It’s strange; our GSD really hated even light raindrops. Meanwhile, we rescued this huge Maine Coon cat, and he thinks nothing of them at all. It’s only if it’s coming down in sheets that he says, “Maybe not.”

  • Melissa says:

    The image of a plush teddy bear snuggled up in a fleece bathrobe eating its brethren had me snickering and digging through my samples to find one or both of these fragrances. Came up with Asja. Agree, it is more comfort than red-hot-mama on the dance floor. Cinnamon, apricot, carnation sorbet? Pretty.

    I remember trying Rumba on one of my ridiculous shopping/spraying sprees with a friend. You know the ones. Three fragrances per arm, one on each shoulder, heading for the knees and ankles…. “Yes, I know the Rumba is on the inside of my left arm above the star-shaped pattern of freckles!” That is to say that I sorta remember trying it and sorta remember liking it! 8-|

    • March says:

      Um, NO, I have NO IDEA what you’re talking about with those shopping sprees. I end up with notes that say things like “left inner elbow — DY; rt (undecipherable) — A-Men.”

      Or I write on my skin. That’s convenient.

      I was pretty confident I wouldn’t like Rumba based on the notes. It’s funny what works and what doesn’t.

      • Melissa says:

        Ooooh. Gotta remember to write on skin! Why haven’t I thought of that? Perfumista tatoos!

        • March says:

          People look at you funny. For some reason. I don’t know why they do that. Also apparently spraying your legs strikes some people as odd.

          • Shelley says:

            I hope Musette is reading this. I brought up the idea of tattoo pens for the Chicocoa Scentsation, and she looked at me as if I was growing an extra horn right in front of her eyes. /:) + (:| + 8-|

            She did allow to follow along the rest of the day, nonetheless. And I remain her faithful Sergeant at Arms.

            From one who can get three sample patches per arm, two per leg…

          • Musette says:

            Oho! I do indeed remember that – my biggest confusion was ‘how do you get your leg UP TO YOUR NOSE….in public?:-?

            As for writing on the arms,etc I think that makes perfect sense. I remember the conversation about the tattoo pens which is a little scary for me but a regular ol’ ballpoint would help eliminate confusion in sniffage!

            Just hope you don’t get called into an emergency client meeting!

          • Shelley says:

            Oh! ;)) Now I get it…You gotta remember, I have KIDS…these days, a tattoo pen means nothing but bright colors and probably the name “Crayola” on the side, with a dash of Mr. Bubble being all that is required to make the skin art nothing but a memory.

            Ha, ha, ha….I’m going to spend the rest of my evening thinking of how I could enhance my image wielding a power needle as we stroll the Avenue, offering free ‘fume ‘tats to anyone who wants one….

          • March says:

            Well, you don’t lift your leg UP. You just bend all the way over … some of the group was really flexible and they can sniff their ankles. Not me. Knees, though, definitly.

            Remind me to shave. 😉

          • Shelley says:

            :-\” I was going to avoid mentioning the hair removal aspect…guess I’ll try to remember myself…but, in case Nair/razor not that a.m., we can promise not to point :-$

      • tmp00 says:

        Write on the skin? Genius!

        (saying to self in Brini Maxwell voice) Now why didn’t you think of that? 😡

        • Melissa says:

          Never listened to the show but your reference just sent me on a hyperlinking expedition that landed me on the “official Brini Maxwell website” and a link to the podcast version. Wheeeee!

        • March says:

          Wow … you all have not been writing on your skin? Am I the only freak out there? Maybe it’s because I have girls who write on their skin with ballpoints so regularly it doesn’t strike me as odd.

  • Amy K says:

    March, if you’d like to try some vintage (I think my bottle is from the 50s) Tabu parfum, feel free to email me your address and I’ll be happy to send you a sample. I love Tabu, especially in winter, but I’ll warn you – a little goes a loooonnnggg way! I’m not sure how the newer drugstore formulation compares, but the old stuff is fabulous in minute quantities.

  • tmp00 says:

    well, I think that there’s something to be said for yummy jammy comfort scents.

    I have that version of the hot metal and dust thing: the time where it’s actually cold enough to turn on the ancient gas wall heater in my house. I turn it on then forget it, since it has two settings: blast furnace and off. It will make the place be about 125 degrees before it shuts off in the middle of the night (which is I suppose far better than bursting into flame), and since the place is in LA and insulated with fond hopes, the heat is gone by morning. So I don’t bother for the rest of the winter. I know you laugh, but it can get cold here. Oh all right, it gets to the low 40’s. You get out your flannel jammies, cashmere throws and yummy glottal scents.

    I still have fond memories of the radiators in my parents house hissing and clanging with that bone dry heat and placing kettles on the radiator furniture to raise the humidity above 0.

    I suppose I think about comfort too much: my idea of a perfect vacation (oh hell, a perfect life) would involve a tub the size of a lap pool, a bed the size of a garage, a dressing table that would look like the Beauty Level at Bergdorfs, and those Ray Bradbury mechanical mice to keep it all clean. :d

    So what’s the price point? I reallllly wanted Rich Hippie Psychedelic to be it, but it’s just too freaking pricey..

    • March says:

      Radiators! My dad still lives in the house I grew up in, with radiators. I used to sit on the back of the giant sofa with my feet on the radiators, watching it snow outside … I tried to get husband to agree to put radiators AND a/c into our new house, and they all laughed at me… sigh. The 40s is certainly cold enough I’d want the heat on.

      Price point? Mine, yours, or Balenciaga? 🙂 Rumba online is I think dirt cheap. I’m dirt cheap too and don’t buy many bottles. But we all have places that look only like “wasting money” to other folks (I have a vulgar king-size Tempur-Pedic bed I adore) and oh, well. :)>-