Balenciaga Le Dix : Fragrance Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The breeze entering the windows suddenly brings a scent of something bittersweet and sharp. A wave of melancholy overcomes me as I noticed the yellowing leaves and the chill that forebodes the change of seasons. I want to hold onto the time as it passes, and the best way to do so is to envelop oneself in a fragrance that speaks of another era.

Created in 1947 by Francis Fabron, the perfumer responsible for such fragrances as the original 1957 version of Givenchy L’Interdit, Monsieur de Givenchy, and Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, Balenciaga Le Dix is like a beautiful vintage dress that has lost none of its splendor, despite the passage of time. In fact, time only adds to its beauty.

Delicately powdered violets shine through the glossy veil of bergamot and lemon, forming a leitmotif of the composition. Voluptuous heart blossoms into rose, iris and ylang ylang softened by the aldehydic mist that settles over the flowers after its initial burst in the top notes. Vanilla cuts through the aldehydic wrapping, merely smoothing the edges and adding an interesting facet to the classical structure of the composition.

Le Dix is often referred to as No. 5 with violets, however the ambered sandalwood element of the drydown reminds me of Bois des Iles. Stunning elegance of the composition is underscored by dark violets. At first, violets are sunlit and radiant, however as the fragrance develops, they turn dark and cold, with the musky ornamentation dampening their sweetness. The caramelized petals rest on a gilded sandalwood base that has just a touch of mossiness to create a character of a patina-covered jewel.

Notes include bergamot, lemon, ylang ylang, rose, lily of the valley, iris, civet, musk, vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver. Le Dix is available at various online stores, as the Google search reveals.

Le Dix advertisement from www.psine.net/parfum/ collection/Balenciaga/

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26 Comments

  • parislondres: Lovely review of Le Dix – one of my favourites but one I do not wear often enough. It is one of the more elegant fragrances around. The violet note is what drew me to it being a fan of well blended violet perfumes. I can see why you find a similarity with Bois des Iles. 🙂
    I prefer not to think of this as No. 5 with violets because No. 5 is one of my least favourite perfumes or should I write – one I am totally indifferent to.

    Have a great day dear V! September 22, 2005 at 4:34am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, I haven´t had time to post yesterday, but I just read your lovely reviews: Tea for Two isn´t a favourite of mine (It´s too earthy & dry for my liking), but when I read your review, I think I should try my sample again – you have a way of writing/a very poetic view on perfumes that always makes me so curious, even if I think I don´t like the fragrance 😉
    I didn´t know Balenciaga perfumes, but in the last weeks I´m more & more drawn to more elegant, female scents – I think your blog is responsible for that ;D – so I think I have to try Le Dix! September 22, 2005 at 6:25am Reply

  • Marina: What do I hear? The drydown reminds you of Bois des Iles? Oh, I must re-visit Le Dix then. I love the boxes with their little black bow-ties. 🙂 September 22, 2005 at 8:56am Reply

  • Laura: Lovely review, but I think Le Dix will not be me. Never, however, say never. ;D September 22, 2005 at 9:33am Reply

  • Robin: Echoing Laura..Le Dix did not suit me the first time I tried it. Not sure it ever will, although it is a lovely fragrance. September 22, 2005 at 10:36am Reply

  • Dain: Ooo… thanks Victoria! What a great thread for perfume! I love autumnal scents; they might even be my ‘thing’ (though really, I’m confused as to what my ‘thing’ is). I want to try all that you’ve listed, particularly Bois des Iles, which I’ve wanted to try forever but Chanel counters are always sadly lacking. September 22, 2005 at 11:08am Reply

  • Tania: Hmm, never tried this. Now you’ve made want to. I used to think I hated violets *and* aldehydes, but whenever I see a review claiming that the sweetness of violets is tempered with something, I get excited, and whenever I see something that mentions classic aldehydic character, I get excited. How taste changes! September 22, 2005 at 11:11am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: N, I revisited it because of your review, and I had to agree how beautiful it is. It is a shame it is not as well-known as it should be, because it is a beautiful fragrance, very elegant and refined, without being affected. I also do not like a comparison with No. 5, because it really does not capture the spirit of Le Dix, which is much darker. September 22, 2005 at 11:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I am glad that you are revisiting various fragrances because of me. 🙂 I often do the same thing, because tastes and perceptions change. There are so many gem one discovers just by giving something unexpected a chance. Such discoveries for me were many classical and sadly ignored fragrances. I hope that if you have a chance to sample Le Dix, you would take it. It is simply beautiful and elegant. September 22, 2005 at 11:18am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marinochka, if you like Bois des Iles, then you owe it to yourself to try Le Dix. Imagine violets caught in that beautiful sandalwood note! September 22, 2005 at 11:19am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, never say never is right! 🙂 It is a classical composition, in the vein of fragrances made in the 1940s, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on what you like. September 22, 2005 at 11:21am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, it is definitely a beautiful fragrance. Like N, I tried it, because of violets, and it has become a favourite almost right away. September 22, 2005 at 11:25am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dain, thank you! You might have to visit a Chanel boutique to try Bois des Iles, because it is exclusive to certain locations. Gloss.com also carries it. September 22, 2005 at 11:27am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, I can see how you would like Le Dix. Violets are rather dark in it, especially when iris resurfaces completely, and the drydown is just stunning. Dark, luminous sandalwood layered with ambery and mossy notes just enough to create a perfect setting for the caramelized thread of violets. September 22, 2005 at 11:29am Reply

  • mreenymo: Oh, Le Dix! Now that’s a blast from my past, V.

    I purchased a bottle back in the 80’s. I really liked it then and even received a compliment on it from my mother. 🙂 I think it reminded me of Chanel No. 19, but I will have to re-visit it the next time I visit my favorite discount fragrance boutique.

    Hugs! September 22, 2005 at 1:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear R, I am so glad to hear of another fan. I think that it is such a terrific composition, and the violet is just perfectly done. I keep thinking of a dress from 1950s, my pal and I discovered at the vintage store, and the next time I wear it, Le Dix will be my accessory.

    Hope that your day is wonderful! September 22, 2005 at 1:34pm Reply

  • Katie: I need to pull out my sample of this again… The first time I tried it I was struck by how cool and damp it seemed, because of its inherent sweetness I kept expecting it to overwhelm me or stray into cloying territory. That’s just beautiful and just right what you say about the violets. What an elegant way to put it. September 22, 2005 at 2:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ah, another Le Dix lover! I am glad that you agree. Balenciaga fragrances in particular receive so little mention, but the collection has some really unusual pieces. Consider another favourite of mine, Rumba. Would you ever guess that it was created by Jean-Claude Ellena? September 22, 2005 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Katie: Oh wow – hee! You are a mind-reader, seriously. I realized the other day I knew NOTHING about Rumba, and thought I might like to try it, when I spotted it as one of the scents in a coffret of miniatures I was considering. That is good to know. *on recommendation of V, adding Rumba to my list of must-tries* September 22, 2005 at 3:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I am impressed! First, Eau Egyptienne, and now Rumba. I shall have to review it soon, because it is just a stunning fragrance. Again, another rarely mentioned gem. September 22, 2005 at 3:55pm Reply

  • claire rule: just bought a bottle of le dix one of the delicious fragrance i had n ever tried, fell in love ,it developed so well on my skin, it is an elegant juice with a touch of mystery and so stylish, le dix will be from now on in my perfume repertoire, a lovely ilderhyde, in other words slighly powerdery and fresh at the same time. the house of balenciaga has created a masterpiece, thankyou you wonderful artists…… claire of hilton western australia , french born in paris10th district. merci encore June 13, 2007 at 8:20am Reply

  • claire rule: just bought a bottle of le dix one of the delicious fragrance i had n ever tried, fell in love ,it developed so well on my skin, it is an elegant juice with a touch of mystery and so stylish, le dix will be from now on in my perfume repertoire, a lovely ilderhyde, in other words slighly powerdery and fresh at the same time. the house of balenciaga has created a masterpiece, thankyou you wonderful artists…… claire of hilton western australia , french born in paris10th district. merci encore June 13, 2007 at 8:20am Reply

  • claire rule: just bought a bottle of le dix one of the delicious fragrance i had n ever tried, fell in love ,it developed so well on my skin, it is an elegant juice with a touch of mystery and so stylish, le dix will be from now on in my perfume repertoire, a lovely ilderhyde, in other words slighly powerdery and fresh at the same time. the house of balenciaga has created a masterpiece, thankyou you wonderful artists…… claire of hilton western australia , french born in paris10th district. merci encore June 13, 2007 at 8:20am Reply

  • Cassie: I just love Le Dix! But it is so hard to find – at least here in the States. The parfum and EDT are quite different. I much prefer the parfum. It seems Balenciaga no longer makes the parfum. Does anyone know how I can purchase the parfum? October 26, 2007 at 10:04pm Reply

  • Cassie: I just love Le Dix! But it is so hard to find – at least here in the States. The parfum and EDT are quite different. I much prefer the parfum. It seems Balenciaga no longer makes the parfum. Does anyone know how I can purchase the parfum? October 26, 2007 at 10:05pm Reply

  • IRISJET’AIME: Et Quadrille !!!! Houlala !!!! Un bonheur pour mes narines….
    Si Balenciaga voulait bien les ressortir à la vente mais sans qu’ils soient reformulés….. Oui là je rêve !!! October 16, 2011 at 1:40pm Reply

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