Balenciaga Paris L’Essence

While I grew up to be rather obsessed with skincare, which eventually grew to cosmetics – but still mostly skincare – my mother spent most of her life washing her face with bar soap.  She doesn’t use creams, serums, sunscreens.  She is amost a skincare virgin.  In her younger days, that is to say when I was a kid, she used to have a jar of Pond’s Cold Cream.  But it has been ages since I have ever seen her with a Cold Cream.  My mother’s beauty vice is not skincare, or makeup, but perfumes and accompanying scented body lotions.  She LOVES her some perfume.  Sugary, floral, elemental, woodsy, oriental, citrusy – SHE DOES NOT CARE.  She loves them all!  She used to have a significant stash of perfumes on her dresser.  Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium and ParisGuerlain Shalimar, Annick Goutal, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Oscar De La Renta, Givenchy Organza and Amarige, Jessica Mclintock, Calvin Klein Obsession, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Lancome Tresor, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds and Passion, Anais Anais.  You get the idea.

Oddly, perfume has never been my thing.  I only got into perfumes in my mid twenties.  Anais Anais, Guerlain’s L’Instant, Aqua Allegoria in Ylang & Vanille and in Figue Iris,  are past scents I have used ’til the last evaporated drop.  But this is a ridiculously short lifetime list compared to my CURRENT list of face washes (probably near a dozen).  I have only ever had a maximum of two perfumes at a time and I usually use one until completion before I move on to the next.  A bottle can last me a very LONG TIME because I generally only use perfume mid-fall, winter, and early spring – and not every day. 

A few things to know about my philosophy on perfume.  To me, perfume, is like a footnote, an anecdotal marker highlighting an aspect of your personality. It is not an every day ocurrence, but when I do wear a scent, I am going to exclusively wear that scent to the last drop.  However, wearing the same scent for the rest of my life? Pass.   Perfume, to me, should be as individual and nuanced as you are – for that period of time.  I am multifaceted, and therefore, would like to highlight different aspects of myself, but not ALL at the same time.  Constantly changing perfumes during a set period of time gives me a headache, and is very confusing.  It’s like I can’t decide who I am.  Plus, the olfactory confusion of using multiple signature scents at a time is dizzying and nausea inducing.   An even bigger reason why I have never been a strong user of perfumes is the fact that MANY perfumes make me feel nauseous.  First, I have strong aversion to the scent or taste of alcohol.  This smell dissipates quickly in the better perfumes, and in the bad ones, remains with the “perfume” notes acting like a cheap, tinny sugary syrup trying to cover cheap alcohol.  So, my preferred families of scents are limited.

When it comes to scents, I always go: woodsy, soft floral, or elemental.  Orientals, power florals, citrus, vanilla, and power fruity/sugary dominant notes make me gag.  Strong scents of ANY kind make me gag.  However, I have a tendency to like lingering, muted masculine scents.  Now that I have gone through this incredibly long introduction for my first perfume post, I can get to Balenciaga Paris L’Essence.

1. Balenciaga Paris L’Essence, 1.0 oz for $75.00

For me, Balenciaga Paris L’Essence is a sheer, warm scent with a hint of muted powdery and leathery spicyness to it.  It actually reminds me of a masculine scent that has been toned down dramatically making it very wearable on a woman…which is the point, I guess? There is a hint of violet in here, and I am a sucker for violet notes, even if it’s not very “sophisticated” of me.   I can honestly say the Balenciaga Paris perfume was my first choice with stronger violet notes.  But then I decided to live a little and try something a little off within the same family.  Balenciaga Paris L’Essence is pretty much that.  What makes this perfume even more awesome is how intimate it is on skin.  Someone would literally have to be on top of you (teehee) to actually smell it on you.  It is a tad ephemeral and does fade rather quickly.  You will go through a bottle rather quickly to maintain the scent, and if you use it every day. 

Like all perfumes, Balenciaga Paris L’Essence changes/shifts with your body chemistry AND any underlying chemical product on your skin.  When I first sniffed this at Sephora I was immediately repelled because I sprayed the back of my hand which had just been cleaned with an alcohol based makeup remover.  The back of my hand smelled RANCID!  Fortunately, I realized that I needed to spray it on CLEAN skin so I spritz on my other hand – PHEW! So much better.

I am not even going to pretend I have the nose to identify nuanced, subtler notes.  Here is the description from Sephora:

“A feminine and modern fragrance, it gets close to the skin as leather and vibrant woody notes express an assertive sophistication. The fresh yet coarse scent of violet leaves exudes an exquisitely stimulating sense of purity and youth. And its note of vetiver, at once wild, unruly and incisive, takes the upper hand.”

These are the individual notes identified by Balenciaga on their website:

“A chypre violet burnt by spices which becomes more sensual with delicate notes of cedar, vetiver, and labdanum.”

I had to do a bit of research to get a better understanding of these specific notes.

Before we get to what a chypre is let’s talk about accordsAccords in the perfume world means a few blended scents that lose their individual scent identities and become one distinct note.  A chypre is basically an accord composed of a animalistic/mossy note, floral and citrus note.  In this particular case, Balenciaga identifies a violet based chypre.  Now, labdanum is a scent that is identified as a warm woodsy or leathery scent, that can also resemble amber and animalic notes.  Vetiver provides a warm and dry scent of leather and wood.  Cedar is self-explanatory.  It is a wood note.  No question this perfume has a warm, almost musky (which I interpreted as slightly powdery without sweetness) woodsy scent with a hint of floral.  I really enjoy this scent and it may actually be a repeat purchase down the road, but not for a long time!  There are so many other scents out there to express myself with.  But right now it is Balenciaga Paris L’Essence.

Here is the interesting thing about perfumes.  Most perfumes rely on creating synthetic formulas that provide the SCENTS of these natural substances.  So, I don’t know if any of the notes in Balenciaga Paris L’Essence are provided by synthetic formulas, natural extracts, or a combination of both.

Here is a list of blogs that specialize in perfumes that reviewed this scent:

If you are afraid of being loud and smelly, like muted warm-musky leathery, woodsy, scents with a hint of floral in it, then this is for you.


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