It was 1990, my first year of college. I had recently been dumped by my first love and had dropped 30 pounds and grown long hair and a goatee in response. I wanted to be a man about town, so I decided to enlist two girls (both of whom are awesome, by the way) to help me find a new “cologne.”
Sniffing everything at the mall yielded a unanimous choice: Balenciaga pour Homme. The ugly, art-deco, off-white bottle with a turquoise-marbled top contained a juice that made both girls go, “Mmmmmmm.” And I thought it was pretty sweet, too. So I bought the gift box, with eau de toilette, deodorant, and soap. Of course.
What does it smell like? Despite being formulated in 1990, this is a totally 80s scent. It’s big, relatively linear (meaning it doesn’t change much over time), and unapologetic, with strong sillage and longevity. It’s an asymmetrical, top-heavy haircut on a post-Goth emo that aspires to be a young Robert Smith. In other words, it’s me in love at age 18.
Balenciaga pour Homme opens with a bit of aldehyde, a hint of cinnamon and bergamot, and a giant bear-hug of vanilla and patchouli. (It utterly ignored the Calone wave swelling on the horizon.) I know it sounds a little humpbacked, but you have to take my word for it: this is a rich, expressive, and inviting scent. Later, it relaxes into a sandalwood and benzoin chaise longue, with only traces of the huge, sweet patchouli introduction remaining.
I miss it badly; it was discontinued less than a decade later, probably in part to IFRA’s oakmoss limitation. I love it so much, in fact, that writing this review prompted me to bid on an eBay flacon.