Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leonard- Balahé

Balahé, a 1983 perfume from the fashion house of Leonard, is yet another proof that once upon a time you didn't have to go to great length to find interesting and  creative quality perfumes. They used to be everywhere. Balahé is a big and somewhat cluttered oriental, the kind that includes just about any note one would want. It's not as assertive and big shouldered as the most memorable classics from that decade, thus it's far less dated or difficult to wear on a daily basis. Still, it has all the markings of a signature perfume for a fashionable yet quirky person from back then.

The opening of Balahe is green and herbal with a very pronounced clary sage and anise battle-axe (years ago I used to think there was lavender, but it's all anise now). It feels quite gender neutral before the warm and round fruity notes (lots and lots of rich sweet plum) join the fun. It's still not too femme or frilly in my opinion, but what do I know? I do think that men who enjoy a little powdery woods and a good oriental base should give this Leonard perfume a try, because even with the nice serving of vanilla and a somewhat creamy floral heart (I get more orris and ylang ylang than anything else from the listed notes), Balahe is not too sweet and has a fine woody backbone with a hint of creamy sandalwood.

Back in the 1980s, as a teenager, Balahe would have been what I considered a grownup womanly perfume. While I was clueless and misguided regarding just about anything and everything (I certainly have the ex boyfriends and  to prove it, and also some equally cringe-worthy old diaries), I did have a reasonably good nose for perfume and I would have been spot-on about this one. It is sexy, rich and velvety, way more sophisticated than my tapered ankle acid wash jeans would have been able to handle. My 40 year old self with a formidable perfume collection thinks it's a beautiful perfume and I'm delighted to have it.

Notes (via Fragrantica): Top notes are aldehydes, pineapple, coriander, plum, mandarin orange, clary sage, anise and bergamot; middle notes are tuberose, orris, orchid, orris root, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and orange blossom; base notes are sandalwood, opoponax, musk, civet, vanilla and vetiver.

Checking the Leonard Paris website I see Balahé is no longer in production (Tamango, surprisingly, is still with us, but I can tell you from testing it's not the same) . Bottles of the EDT are widely available online and usually for very reasonable prices.

Old Balahe ads from


  1. rocked this in my early 20s in florida of all places... have no idea how i found it there then, but i did. great stuff. nice to see it getting some love. i just snagged a bottle a few months ago to revisit. i remember guys liking this very much ;)


  2. It is great to hear you talk about Balahe - I bought this in 1987 when I lived in Paris for a year - all of 26 years old and discovering perfume for the first time. I clearly already had great taste, because I bought Balahe, Bal a Versailles, and Ivoire and I still have the original bottles and still love them all. I wish I had more left. Balahe and Bal A Versailles are still two of my favorites. Kate

  3. Just bought this blind and am not sorry. I get a resemblance to Habanita—the heliotrope I'm smelling may be a fiction but I smell it just the same, and the coriander makes it dirtier than Habainta (I'll hazard a guess cumin joins the coriander for the earthy herb note).


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