Wishing that all of my US friends stay safe, dry and prepared as the storm approaches! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything will be ok. I’m thinking about you!
Florabotanica is a good illustration of where most big brands, even those that start out with good intentions, end up as they chase market success. The first launch by Balenciaga, Balenciaga Paris, was a transparent violet leaf composition that wouldn’t be out of place in the L’Artisan Parfumeur collection. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take off that well. People need time to appreciate something unfamiliar, and the only way to do this is to support the brand and spend resources on educating the staff. In other words, you need time, money, and some new marketing tactics, all of which are in short supply at most fragrance houses today.
So, after the perfunctory flanker to Balenciaga Paris, L’Essence, we have Florabotanica. It was composed by perfumers Olivier Polge (who also created Balenciaga Paris) and Jean-Christophe Hérault. The inspiration behind Florabotanica is described by Balenciaga as “not just a pretty flower, but a pretty dangerous flower.” This time Balenciaga took no risks. If you find transparent roses dangerous, then yes, I suppose that Florabotanica is right on the mark. I found it just pretty and meek.
The start is fresh and green, with a fizzy minty note. The sheer rose is the main element of Florabotanica. When I say rose, I don’t mean the honeyed, spicy scent of a blooming flower, but rather the sheer effect that passes for rose in today’s perfumes. If you are familiar with Cartier de Lune or Jo Malone Peony & Moss, you might know that radiant, fresh rose already. In Florabotanica, it’s blended with lemony jasmine and fruity peony, so the rose impression is even more abstract.
The drydown of musk and woods is crisp and mild, with the dry amber adding its clean, polished accent. There is nothing unconventional or remotely dangerous about Florabotanica, and while it’s easy to wear and easy to like, it has very little character. I agree with Robin’s review that it’s one of those inoffensive, innocuous perfumes that aren’t likely inspire strong emotions. If I were in the market for a radiant, sheer floral, I would rather wear Estée Lauder Pleasures or Tommy Girl for something with a bit more zest. Or reach for Stella McCartney Stella, if I craved a sheer, crunchy rose. Finally, for a unmistakably dangerous floral, I would turn to either Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle or Robert Piguet Fracas and truly feel like a femme fatale.
The bottle is the only element of the whole thing that’s distinctive. When I held that heavy rose tinted cube in my hand, I felt even more disappointed that the perfume turned out to be so tame and bland.
Balenciaga Florabotanica includes notes of green leaves, hemp, carnation, mint, rose, vetiver, and amber. Available from Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and other major retailers.
Sample: my own acquisition