Balenciaga Paris's a bit "hands off the merchandise."

As the face of Balenciaga Paris, Charlotte Gainsbourg is the very personification of a wealthy waif. Lean of limb and mussed of hair, Charlotte combines expensive lingerie with a coolly appraising stare, making you think, "whatever she's having, I'll take two!"
Even though the lovely bottle of Balenciaga Paris perches right in front of her on a lily pad in the fountain, I don't think that's what's giving Charl her mojo. She may look reserved, but that's merely a disguised warrior stance while she decides your fate. On the other hand, Balenciaga Paris smells reserved, because it is. It's positively pursed-lipped. I kept waiting for its sheer violet and wan woods to fight off the shivers and walk in the sunshine, but it never did. But like a waif in expensive lingerie, context is everything. Just as I was about to dismiss this eau de parfum, up popped a comment on my YouTube channel from viewer konrox:
"this is my FAVORITE perfume! i use it all the time! and im a guy ahha"
Ah-ha, indeed. I do believe konrox has discovered a way to warm up Balenciaga Paris' chilly violet reserve: throw her on a man.
Balenciaga Paris is available from stores including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, starting at $95 for 50 ml.


  1. I agree 100% with your appraisal of this one, which I think of as YSL Parisienne's brainier older sister - not least because of the cranial appearance of the bottle top. : - )

    Before spotting your review, I had in fact been umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether to include a sample of this in my selection for an upcoming work trip. Paris sat on the desk for a few days in a "maybe" pile along with that other cool customer, Bas de Soie. In the end neither of them made the cut - I figured that if I am going to be travelling a lot on my own, I don't want a slightly austere perfume for company! So the cosy likes of L'Eau Ambree and Eau Duelle are coming with me instead.

  2. I bought a bottle of Paris and wore it for a while. I loved it at first and I didn't mind it's chilliness at all. I eventually tired of the musky notes in the drydown, so I swapped it away. But sometimes I regret the decision. It's very pretty for spring.

  3. I remember stalking Balenciaga Paris when it was due to launch mainly because I'm such a fan of what creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere does with Balenciaga's fashion and accessories. When I did finally smell it I was really surprised that there was no trace of the label's cutting edge modernity or avant garde appeal in the scent itself. Knowing what the clothes and accessories look like I think I was expecting something really unusual; stark, androgynous, maybe with a metallic facet to it a la Gucci Envy or Silver Factory. I think it was right to go in that sort of "look but don't touch" direction, but the result is a bit uppity and kind of traditional smelling. It seems at odds with the house's current image. Beautiful bottle though.

  4. hey Katie....I was does it compare to Malle's Dans Tre Bras..that is a violet I love and wear....I told you a long time ago it somehow reminded me of ironing..and I read online someone saying they spray their clothes with Paris when they iron...funny

    M and M

  5. Well Katie, I love violets, and having Après L'Ondée and Dans tes Bras on the top of my favorites list, I just have to try this one. I confess that the "uptight" and "hands off" comments just made more curious about it:)



  6. Sabrina, as a violet lover, you're the perfect candidate to road test BP. Especially since you work the range between beautifully wan (Après L'Ondée) and beautifully weird (Dans tes Bras). I'd be interested to see how BP fares with you.

    I do admit that as a wearer of generally bolder fragrances personally, I was perhaps a tad impatient with BP's withholding ways. It's just a perfume style I don't gravitate to. But wearing it now and thinking of spring, well, that's a very fine pairing indeed, Melissa!

    And onesmalldog, I'm smelling both Dans tes Bras and BP to answer your question. There is no link between the 2, other than the violet. DtB is thick with musk and Jordan almonds, and has that bizarre salty metal cast. This is art house stuff.

    BP is much more like an ironing-appropriate scent, methinks. Inspired application of the perfume! It's very sheer and green.

  7. Vanessa, I do the same kind of perfume casting session as you for my travel smells. And you're so right: austere doesn't cut it for cozy companionship. (Laughing at your "cranial cap" remark...)

    Spike, I don't often care that much one way or the other about the bottle a scent comes in, but he BP bottle is one of the few actually gives me pleasure to look at and hold. I guess that means it's a really successful design. I think some of my dismay over BP's smell was that I wanted it to deliver in the way the bottle does.

  8. This was dryer sheets on me, & that's just not a genre I enjoy.

  9. And occhineri, some people go goo-goo for the whole laundry genre, of which "dryer sheets" is a subset. And I agree, BP fits right in there. That person who irons with it has the right idea.

  10. Can Man Wear This edp , What do you recomend for a guy in 18 and thank you

  11. A7la, my teenage guy YouTube viewers have been reporting in that they do wear Balenciaga Paris with great results.

    I think Tom Ford Grey Vetiver is a great choice for younger guys - it's easy, fresh and classy.

  12. Hi Katie!

    I finally tried Balenciaga Paris today and guess what? I loved it!!! I have a big bottle gift wrapped and waiting for me under the Christmas tree, yay!!!

    You are right, it IS a very reserved fragrance, and that's one of the things I love the most about it... the sillage (better saying the lack of sillage) is perfect for me. As a violet lover, I do admit it smells nothing like my top favorite fragrances ever. It is not a "dreamy violet" like Après L'ondee and it's not a "weird violet" like Dans Tes Bras. It is, IMHO, a very "down-to-earth" kind of fragrance... reserved? YES! Austere? Hmmm, vielleicht... Classy? YES, big time!!!

    On my skin, it opened very dry, like Eau de Cartier Concentrée does, but without the cardboard undertones. After the first instants, the freshly cut violets started to appear, and it makes me wonder if this is how Balmain's Vent Vert could smell like, if the violets were the main part of its composition. The drydown almost falls into the "laundry genre", but without being generic like the Clean Fragrances or Banana Republic W. It also carries an "earthy" note, not as swampy as the earthy note in Hiris by Hermés, just earthy and pleasant.

    I see it as a grown-up fragrance that can be worn by both women and men, and throughout the year. It may be very "hands off the merchandise" as you said, but can also be very soothing and comforting, and most of all, introspective.

    Hugs and a Wonderfully Smelling Christmas for you:)


  13. Hi Sabrina!

    Thank you for offering up such a considered and thorough investigation of Balenciaga Paris. For those who aren't aware, Sabrina's "specialist subject" in perfume are those little purple beauties, so when it comes to violets, she knows her onions.

    Your feedback on BP is very valuable to me, and gives me a much-needed perspective on the perfume's place in the violet universe.

    Cheers for this great "field report"!

    Fragrant Christmas tidings to you, too.