Sunday, December 4, 2011

Balenciaga Paris vs Balenciaga L'Essence

It’s no secret that my favourite scent for some time is Christobel Balenciaga’s Balenciaga Paris. I’ve been yearning for it since the first spritz in David Jones last year (when it was a store exclusive) and it has been on my wish list since.

The fragrance fairy god-mother must have seen my list and decided to grant me a bottle a few months ago. Not only that, I was also lucky enough to land the latest edition Balenciaga  L’Essence last month.

You can imagine my delight to be in the possession of these two beautifully designed bottles of magical elixirs and today I try to describe to you why I love the original so much and the subtle difference between the first and second chapter of Balenciaga fragrances.

Although born of the same design, there is no doubt here that Balenciaga L’Essence is winner in the looks department. Both bottles are heavy, with a pentagonal bottom, rising to an arch at the top to give it sleek angles, corners and curves – a beautiful and sensual amalgamation.

Whilst Paris is a clear bottle, L’Essence in depicting its greener heart, is tinted a gradated cool blue tone. Both have a dome cap sitting atop a wide ring neck. In Paris, the neck is yellow marblised ring bearing the engraving of its name with white with black crackle effect ball cap.

The colour goes well with its clear bottle and is undoubtedly feminine. However, I find the golf ball like cap sits awkwardly against the beautiful body. L’Essence has learned from this mistake and has instead a metallic silver neck ring that with scratch markings all around set along its engraved name and a slightly smaller black steel cap. This gives it a more sophisticated and masculine look. 

Both Paris and L’Essence are created by Olivier Polge and is described as a green Chrype, which really means it belongs in the fresh green family and is a scent that invokes images of strolling down a forest path in the morning along a running stream and inhaling the sharp mossy leaves crushed under your feet mix with the fresh coolness of surrounding green air.

To me, Paris opens up with potent sparkling qualities and is bursting with a big bouquet of violet and carnation notes. I’m a fan of violets and it’s the very reason why I fell in love with it originally (which is why I also love Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde).

Paris is a not soft floral but one that mixed with the green notes, gives it an airy quality that is both refreshing and livening to the senses.  There is also a hint of lemony citrus that helps to sharpen the scent, giving it that modern edge. It then settles to a creamy powdery base layered between earthy vetiver and mossy green patchouli that continues to captivate me.

L’Essence is a greener and fresher version of Paris. It is said to be more intense than Paris and has more metallic and masculine qualities. Personally, I think L’Essence isn’t that strong and instead, just opens up differently – not as vibrant as Paris as the floral notes is missing the carnation so you only get a pure dose violet leaves.

This is tempered by notes of pepper and pimento berries that heighten its greenness before a brief sweetness of something I can’t put my nose on enters the equation. I didn’t detect the metallic quality but there is a leathery note that does make it more masculine. It then dries down to an airy green of cedar and vetiver.

Both scents are beautiful day scents that can easily carry you into the evenings. L’Essence is a pleasant unisex scent, more so than Paris, which is saying something as unisex scents are hard to design and often end up not appealing to either parties.

Balenciaga first and second incarnation are aloof scents that leaves people wondering what you have on with its complex, airy, green mystery surrounding you. 

The problem for me with L’Essence is that it fades faster on my skin than Paris does. What I love most about Paris is the scent holds well and doesn’t transform much after the dry down. It continues be the powdery and musky green for many hours afterwards and only fades in intensity rather than change into something else.

RRP A$95 30ml | A$145 50ml | $175 75ml at David Jones, and select Myer stores only. L'Essence is a David Jones store exclusive as it was launched last month.

Products featured were provided for consideration.


  1. Great review, Amy. I've been wanting to try Balenciaga for ages and never got around to it. Like you, it was love at first sniff for me too :). Now, there's L'Essence which also smells wonderful! But, I think I prefer the original too.

  2. You lucky lucky lady!! I love this review, i smelt L'essence the other day and it is pretty divine.. now where is my fragrance fairy godmother?? xx

  3. Ahhh, now we know where the missing perfumes are! Ha!!

  4. Ah! U lucky duck! Balenciaga L'Essence is on my Christmas wishlist!!! Fragrance Fairy Godmother...where are u??

  5. Thanks Nadia, I bet you'll feel the same as I do about L'Essence - pretty to look at but nothing beats the original :)

  6. @thebeautebuzz & @Ling - I'm indeed very lucky to have met the fragrance fairy godmother - it was like Christmas coming early for me cos I had planned to pick this up this Christmas :)

    @Val - Sussh. You're not supposed to say anything!

  7. I just purchased the Essence version and respectfully disagree on the masculinity aspect of this review (which is apparently shared by Allure magazine). However, your review is fantastic and you are a very talented writer and obviously a fragrance aficionado. If a man walked in a room wearing this I would think he obviously just had a romp with an exquisite, discreet and sexy lady!

    1. haha, well if he was smelling like that, I may entertain the thought of having a romp with him ;)


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