Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SOTD: Balmain Vent Vert (Modern)

Today I dug into the Classics Ziploc and pulled out a sample of Balmain Vent Vert - the modern version.

Technically, I'm not sure if the modern Vent Vert qualifies as a classic. The fond descriptions are always about the vintage, which is one of the galbanum classics, and I am without a doubt a galbanum freak. But it's also a struggle to obtain, so I'm trying to evaluate the modern Vent Vert without reference to the old, to see if I like it as a separate perfume.

And I think I do, but perhaps not even enough to buy one of the heavily-discounted bottles widely available.

It starts out powdery, a girly-powdery, but that settles down to a reasonable level almost immediately. And there's galbanum, of course, severely tamed. It shows its bitterness and intense green for a few minutes, but then it's muffled with soft florals. And then I think it's done - a slightly powdery, not-too-sweet floral veiling a declawed galbanum. Compared to Issey Miyake's A Scent and Estee Lauder's Jasmine White Moss, it's less sweet and less cluttered. Compared to Cristalle, it's less sharp. Compared to Chanel No. 19, it's less wholeheartedly, aggressively, bitterly green.

The vintage Vent Vert is a critical ancestor of all of these green fragrances. Even the modern version seems somewhat true to this history, in that it makes galbanum the center and purpose of the composition - it may be afraid to let the green loose, but it also makes no attempt to pacify with other notes, disdains to offer sweet floral candy like the Miyake scent. (And, yes, I love the Miyake scent, but it is a scent that's eager to please, unlike many of the classic greens.)

But in the end, it fears its central player and works too hard to protect us from its sharp edges. It ends up just Nice, and a classic deserves better than that.

Review Roundup: Bois de Jasmin and Now Smell This and Basenotes (modern) and Basenotes (original) and Legerdenez and Yesterday's Perfume (original) and The Scentimentalist (original) and hortus conclusus and Perfume Posse.

(Edited to add to the Review Roundup.)

Photo:  Christian Staebler, Wikimedia Commons. Click for details


  1. I love the image you chose for this post. I missed out on a recent ebay listing for vintage vent vert - this has been haunting me. I like the current vv quite a bit, but I like the start much more than the dry down.

  2. Hiya, Abigail! Welcome! And thanks! When I saw it, that image seemed to perfectly express the idea of something that's still green and lovely, but very much changed to fit someone's restrictions and ideas of how it should be.

    I need to set myself a dedicated project of finding at least a little vintage. I love it, and I can't bring myself to use my tiny vial, because I don't know where I'll get more - even The Perfumed Court doesn't seem to have it lately.