Thursday, October 29, 2009

Balenciaga Quadrille- Vintage Perfume

Finding this bottle of Balenciaga Quadrille parfum was another step in my vintage perfume quest. I wasn't familiar with the scent at first, yet lusted after it for a while, just because. A 1955 Balenciaga creation- if I couldn't have a hat or a dress, at least I should be able to get a bottle. Later I obtained a sample, which fed the obsession even more. I stalked eBay and several other sites, watched the auction, placed some bids, sniped but since I refused to engaged in bidding wars or go over a certain limit, it was nearly two years before the sealed pristine bottle arrived at my door.

Quadrille is everything you'd expect from a vintage Balenciaga. it's elegant and mysterious, dark but not weird. It smells like a spiced plum liqueur, rich and smooth, but not foody or too sweet. After all, this it was created before the yummy school of perfumery took over (compare to the fig-vanilla pudding of Cristobal). Instead, it's beautifully balanced, velvet-like, with a well-dressed floral heart and a somewhat dirty musk drydown that sits close to the skin and lingers between one and her cashmere sweater. It's a great scent for daydreaming about different times and places, picturing yourself wearing a Balenciaga hat and coat to a Paris cafe.

I'm not sure how old my bottle actually is. Quadrille has been around until a few years ago, though the parfum extrait was discontinued for ages. By the deterioration of the citrus top note I can tell it's quite old. There's also that seamless smoothness you find in well-kept vintage perfumes. In any case, I love it and have been savoring the perfume. Surprisingly, it doesn't last very long on my skin. I get about 2-3 hours of bliss before it fades to whisper.

Vintage Quadrille ads:
Balenciaga fashion photos by Richard Avedon- model with the dog is Dovima (1955), the other one is Elise Daniels (1948). Both from
Balenciaga Quadrille vintage bottle picture by me.


  1. Oh, Gaia !
    This was my favorite Balenciaga; I now have none.

    You do it justice in your description, spot-on.

    It is sad that the top gets so dusty with age, and that it flees so soon.

    A very real glamour scent, impossibly elegant.

  2. I love Quadrille. On me it was a dichotomy- dark, slightly exotic with whispers of spice, which quickly became a gorgeous skin scent. Very close to the skin, like warm skin after dancing all night in a smoky jazz club. I had the vintage edt and used every last drop. Quite an accomplishment for fickle me.

  3. I love your take on vintage. Transport yourself to another time and place, not necessarily better (girdles, job discrimination) but different (manners, style). I have a sample of Quadrille and it's one of the best time-travel fragrances I've tried!

  4. I love your vintage perfume quest Gaia. The old perfumes on my Grandmother's dresser have taken on a whole different resonance.

  5. Hi Gaia,
    I just wanted to let you know how much I LOVE ur blog and ur images! Ab-fab!
    I hope you don't mind, but I used one of the images from this post on my blog - obviously credited to you. Should it be a problem please do let me know!
    I just love this image!
    You can check it out at
    Have a great evening!
    Flora xoxo

  6. I first learned of Quadrille in 1960 when a taxi driver in Paris gave me a small sample. I wore it the following year for my wedding and it has been a favorite of mine ever since (my husband's too!) I am devastated that it is no longer produced. Why, oh why did they stop? I have an empty bottle that I will not get rid of. Every now and then when I need a lift, I take a sniff!

  7. My vintage bottle of Quadrille smells a bit dusty, but also extremely animalic. I think there must be a lot of civet in this, even if many of the scent pyramids don't mention it.


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