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An Aromatic Trip to Violet Hill with New Balenciaga Paris L’Eau Rose Eau de Toilette

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Fragrances should evoke memories, capture or even enhance moods, tap into the overarching themes of seasons and locales, and allow us to delve into a realm of fantasy. With scent being arguably the most powerful gateway to memory, there’s a seemingly infinite amount of stories that can be told via fragrance. Perhaps, because I’m a writer, that’s why I’m so drawn to the realm of scent — and why I have a collection that encompasses over 50 different options (check out my Instagram feed for a look). Maybe it’s how I tap into every aspect of my personality or try to create a narrative of my own. This summer, my go-to scent has been the Balenciaga L’Eau Rose ($90 for 1.7 fl. oz. and $115 for 3.4 fl. oz. at Nordstrom.com).

Initially, I was a bit reluctant to try the scent — the pink box alone seemed to say “girly” and “cutesy,” so I assumed the fragrance would be so sweet and dainty that it would basically make me want to vomit. But, once I opened the box and looked upon the gorgeous glass flacon, with its domed sides and matte black neck and bottle cap, my mindset began to shift. Clearly, the shape of the bottle is perfectly consistent with that of the original Balenciaga Paris scent: the faceted sides and the bell-like shape that seems to mimic the vaulted ceilings inside such landmarks as the Notre Dame cathedral. But, unlike the original Balenciaga Paris glass bottle, which has a crystalline yellow tint, this one has a light pink rose hue. And the original round bottle cap, which had a white marbleized look, is now given a more mysterious twist via its matte black tone. The combination of the feminine rose glass and the stark matte black bottle neck and cap create a fascinating dichotomy, a push-and-pull between hard and soft, delicate and strong, pretty and punk. This, in turn, lends the fragrance an enigmatic quality that I found alluring and which enticed me to spray the scent onto my skin.

Once I did, I was beyond pleasantly surprised. The pink color of the bottle might suggest a heavy reliance on rose notes, but this is far from a rose-centric scent. Developed by Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier, Balenciaga L’Eau Rose has a tender and elusive quality thanks to the violet and rose notes at its heart, but the patchouli and musk base notes lend it a carnality that feels rather sensual and primal.

It’s a rather light fragrance, making it perfect for summer, and it does have a juiciness that makes it feel refreshing and succulent — great qualities for a hot weather scent. Specifically, the perfume boasts top notes of green pear and blackberry, both infused with a peppery kick to add an unexpected hint of spice. The pear scent isn’t quite as noticeable as the blackberry, but together they do create a mouth-watering quality, a delectable freshness — and, thankfully, these fruity notes don’t go overboard into toothache-inducing sweetness. At the heart of the fragrance, you’ll find violet, rose, and jasmine sambac notes for a lush floral bouquet. The most dominant of these blooms is the violet, one of the most innocent and delicate floral scents. In a way, the Balenciaga Paris L’Eau Rose reminds me of the Para Mi Bebé Agua de Violetas that my mother splashed on me as a child. The additional notes, however, thrust the fragrance’s floral heart into adulthood (particularly the rose note). That being said, there’s an ephemeral quality to this fragrance that makes it markedly softer and more demure than such rose-violet scents as YSL Paris. The dry-down, meanwhile, is earthy and woody, with a combination of cedar and cypress essence, musk, patchouli and iris.

The only downside to this fragrance is its brief lifespan. About two hours after spritzing on the scent, you’re not likely to smell much of anything but, hey, all good things must come to an end, right?

Overall, this Balenciaga scent, while not revolutionary or remarkably inventive, is pretty but powerful, youthful without losing its elegance, feminine without being dainty.

 

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