This was a lucky eBay find for me. I’d had it on my Watch List for about a week, and then a review at Perfume Shrine (see below) made me decide to snag it. I think the words “ginormous heart of tuberose and rose” were influential, and my thanks to Helg for the review and the push.
Perfume Review: Balenciaga Michelle, vintage parfum
Date released: 1979 – now discontinued. (*Note: I can’t find out when it was discontinued, but my guess is that it was several years ago.)
Perfumer: Francoise Caron
Sample provenance: Small spray bottle of parfum in sealed box, bought from eBay seller in 2009.
Subcategory: Rich oriental-chypre base tuberose composition
The first time I talked about Michelle here was early in the fall of 2009, when I’d had this epiphany about really radiant perfume. I’m still not a big fan of that – I feel positively rude when people can smell me from farther away than a yard – so I restrict my usage of Michelle to times when I can wear a scent just for me. In any case, I no longer automatically cross a scent off my list if it’s loud, I just wear less. (Duh. For example, one tiny dab of Ubar was enough to keep me smelling great all day. I wouldn’t spray that one.)
My bottle of Michelle is, as a matter of fact, a spray bottle of parfum (see top photo), which strikes me as being one of the most decadent ways to wear perfume, ever. Spraaay… parfum?? Wow. Luxury squared.
When I reviewed Michelle earlier, my experience wearing it was that it was essentially a tuberose scent decorated with carnation, and with a lovely oakmoss-rich base. But when I have worn it since then, the rose has had a far greater presence, partnering with the tuberose and carnation in a circle dance, Three Graces powerfully linked.
Michelle does still start out with a bug-spray accord that lasts about five to ten minutes – and it still reminds me of the decomposed aldehydes-and-bergamot openings of various vintage fragrances. Ergo, it doesn’t bother me. I can spare ten minutes. After that, we’re on to the Big Dance, rose and tuberose and carnation tearing up the floor while the ylang and jasmine look on, standing near the punch bowl.
Eventually the florals (except the tuberose) fade, and the base reveals itself to be a rich, lush composition of moss, vanilla and sandalwood, covered with a light veil of tuberose. I have a hard time calling it woody, chypre, or oriental – it’s just rich. And beautiful. The only modern fragrance that reminds me of this drydown is (the rereleased) Amouage Ubar.
Notes for Balenciaga Michelle (from Perfume Shrine):
Top: Aldehydes, gardenia, green notes, coconut, peach
Heart: Carnation, tuberose, iris, orchid, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose
Base: Sandalwood, oakmoss, musk, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver
The Bottom Line :
Quality: A- Bear in mind my bottle is vintage and the top notes are slightly off.
Grab-scale score 8
Short description Tuberose-rose-carnation powerhouse
Cost $ (only available at ebay and a very few online discounters)
Earns compliments: From The CEO, yes. From my kids, no. I did wear it to work once, and no one commented, either positively or negatively. Of course, that day I mostly spent hiding at my desk among the brake rotors, so it’s hard to make assumptions based on that experience.
Scent presence Very strong. One small spritz (parfum) lasts 8-10 hours. Big sillage.
Review Report: Perfume Shrine
Top image is Michelle by Balenciaga, sold by fiera1966 at ebay; my bottle looks just like this. Bottom image is Three Graces, from artist’s website: http://tomaszrut.com/pages/rut-editions.html. Wish I could afford it myself.