Friday, October 01, 2010

Helena Rubinstein- Barynia (Vintage Perfume)

Barynia by Helena Rubinstein was launched in 1985, but doesn't really smell like the eighties. Instead, this is an aldehydic floral with classic aspirations, a somewhat haughty demeanor and and just enough animalic notes in the amber dry-down one wonders how seriously to take the hyacinth, aldehydes and rose that preceded them.

I bought a sealed bottle of Barynia in extrait de parfum because the price was (very) right and I was curious. When it arrived I didn't take to it right away, at least on the emotional level. It didn't tell me a story and didn't take me anywhere I haven't been before. After all, we know the schtick, and personally I prefer it in various vintage Chanel perfumes and in Hermes Caleche, where there also used to be a hefty dose of oakmoss and leather. I was also more impressed with another Helena Rubinstein vintage fragrance, Courant.

I gave Barynia a chance, though, because it was pretty and easy to wear. Despite the extrait concentration and darker base, it feels a bit light-weighted, which worked well this past summer. It stayed in the background and never demanded much (or any) attention, but here and there I would notice how nice I smelled. There's a well put-together air to Barynia, without making much of an effort, and I've learned to appreciate it. An occasional compliment also helped endear it to me, especially when it came from my husband, who isn't exactly known for his love of (non Guerlain) vintage perfumes. All in all, Helena Rubinstein didn't really create a classic, but it's very nice to have around.

Barynia has been discontinued for ages. I don't even remember ever seeing it on mainstream shelves, but nowadays it pops online every now and then. The notes, according to Marina of Perfume Smellin' Things are:  bergamot, lemon, aldehyde, hyacinth, violet, rose, jasmine, tuberose, lily of the valley, orris, carnation, orchid, sandal, vetiver, amber, musk, civet, benzoin.

Images: 1985 ads for Helena Rubinstein's Barynia from


  1. Interesting! I've never ever heard of it...of course now it will pop up over the radar everywhere...

  2. I have this one too and I like it a lot, it has a cool elegance that I did not expect for an eighties scent or one whose packaging seems to advertise a heavy Oriental style scent.
    I really love Courant though, and I am trying to find all of it that I can afford! Such a shame that chypres went out of fashion.

  3. I remember this! My mother wore it in the mid- to late 80's, I think it's the first one of her perfumes that I actually remember. She bought the first Kenzo later, wears J'Adore now and clearly favours this classic, slightly prissy floral style.

  4. my mother (bless20yrs gone)said "every women should have her signature perfume. She gave this to me (aged 16)so it was mine when it launched. So it was my smell,my perfume,my era and me. What would i give for that advice and smell again...Everything..

  5. Barynia smells very similar to Sentiment by Escada.

  6. I bought the fragrance in NY ! I loved it so much that as I started years later to work for L'OREAL, I litteraly begged the guys from the labs to find some left over for me! You might like Mischiefe and Scandal from Roja Dove as well.
    Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Aldehyde
    Heart Notes: Hyacinth, Violet, Rose, Jasmine, Tuberose, Lily of the Valley, Carnation, Orchid
    Base Notes: Green Notes, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Amber, Benzoin, Orris, Musk, Civet


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