Quadrille Vintage Eau de Cologne Fraîche (Balenciaga)

Likened by various reviewers to Schiaparelli Shocking, Rochas Femme, or (in a more contemporary vein) Boucheron Jaïpur, Balenciaga Quadrille (1955) is described as a lush ambrosia of fruit and spices, with a lascivious bare-skin musk for ballast. According to Fragrantica, the parfum version of Quadrille features notes of plum, peach, lemon, jasmine, clove, cardamom, and amber. Sounds lovely-- but I'm here to write about a different beast altogether. Metaphorically speaking, Quadrille Eau de Cologne Fraîche is to its parfum counterpart what a daytime clutch is to a fully-stuffed Coach Gramercy shoulderbag. Only the bare essentials will fit... but by god, they're indispensable.

Though but a few of the parfum's constituents are readily discernable in the EdC, they have been well-chosen, their effect deliberately heightened. The lemon opener sparkles like sherbet candy and is followed by a damascenone which ably connotes a ripe, rosy plum. These two notes interact beautifully-- one bitingly tart and bright, the other dusky and jam-sweet. Whatever you're expecting next, it's probably not black leather. But that's exactly what meets the nose on the next inhale: a great waft of isobutyl quinoline, all bitter sophistication. (Surprise!)

A fleeting hint of soapy, cool cardamom blunts the harsh edges, and a friendly musk ends the experience on a hospitable note. But the message is clear: don't dare underestimate Madame.

Scent Elements: Lemon, plum, cardamom, leather, musk