From the off, this is a slick new perfume launch. It’s Balmain. What else would we expect? With Olivier Rousteing firmly entrenched at the helm, after 2 years the house of Balmain is changing – going daywear, going definitely younger in feel, with overalls and flippy skirts in abundance at the SS’14 show.
Balmain may still attract power-women who love their black leather and chainmail as much as the next (or the me’s who dream of wearing it) but is savvy enough with its new designer spearheading change to realise that Balmain (like Burberry, Belstaff and Balenciaga before them) have had to alter their outlook. And that also included their ancillaries and money spinners, like shoes, bags and the biggest brand & buck spinner of all, perfume.
It’s no real surprise, then, that Extatic is geared in its heady, sweet make-up to a younger woman hell-bent on appearing sophisticated while rushing full-charge at life in Balmain padded shoulders and chainmail belts. (NB. To those fashion wary, this is a good thing). Christoph Decarnin’s visionary frock n’roll heritage lives on in Roustieng’s updated version.
Even the Extatic box is padded in chainmail, echoing one of Balmain’s signature looks, and comes in gold and black, incorporating another. Then there’s the look and feel of the tactile, glamorous bottle that’s gold & black cap is stamped indelibly with the Balmain name and, at the centre of the juice, the shape of a long black stiletto heel stamps its Balmain authority. This is branded to the hilt. The perfume spritz should reek of Balmain. And that is the biggest surprise factor of all.
Yes, this is a worthy expensive perfume that lingers and grows with intensity. Mirroring the attitude of the new Balmain women it’s aimed at, it has both character and a sweet excessive depth but is a whole lot more saccharine than traditional Balmains of old. This is quite the departure.
It seems to trail of gold and shininess and is bound to be a hit with women in over-expensive nightclubs the globe over. But do I think it’s sophisticated? Hmm, maybe not as much as the name imbues.
Perfumer, Emile Copperman has gone down the floriental route, a path well trodden for the younger lover of all things glam (while us oldies stick to difficult to fathom chypres). There’s a definite lift to this juice. It’s as light and shiny and bright as the chainmail it’s meant to reflect but the feel is of a younger women with unsure authority, dressed up in clothes that she’s yet to grow into rather than a mature caress of don’t-give-a-damn. The nashi pear and osmanthus sweetness is prevalent throughout and there’s a hint of chocolate scented Sharry Baby orchid, which, granted, is not as sweet an offer as some others on the market but is an intentional sway in the direction of youth. The jasmine trail and the amyris and cashmere wood notes help to dull down the sweetness and soften edges from any clunky over cloyingness. My, there’s even a touch of leather but you have to search really hard with your nose to find it.
Says Olivier Rousteing, “Extatic is the perfect reflection of Balmain fashion: sexy, glamorous, daring…it’s like one of our gowns: able to reveal the sensuality of the women who wears it.”
Extatic is a good new offer to market and represents the brand’s new vision. But even as a stalwart of old Balmain and a fan of Rousteing, I have to say, I’ll stick with my faithful Ivoire or even my Ambre Gris.
Balmain Extatic Eau de Parfum is available exclusively at Harrods from 20th January 2014 and then at selected dept stores nationwide from 3rd February 2014. An EDP Natural Spray (90ml) is £65, (60ml) is £46 and (40ml) is £36.
Catwalk imagery of Balmain’s S/S’14 show kindly supplied by permission of www.style.com