Nothing about the ugly bottle of Balenciaga Pour Homme (believe me, once you remove the cap it's utterly godawful) or the cheap-looking box suggests the gem inside. Neither does the advertisement above, that falsely points towards an aquatic (*shudders*), though the one below is marginally better, as long as you don't try to question what's going on there too closely:
Balenciaga Pour Homme is a spicy oriental perfume from 1990. It's sexy, but to my nose completely free of gender references. It's good. Great, even, as simply as that, and serves as yet another reminder that what we now call "designer perfumes" used to be spectacular.
The notes, as listed in the H&R Atlas Olfactif (my copy is from 1995) are: bergamot, orange, lime, fruit note, cinnamon, carnation, honey, rose, orris, leather, benzoin, patchouli, cedar, amber, tonka, styrax, vanilla, labdanum, olibanum. This should give you the general idea of complexity and robustness. Right from the opening you smell a lot more than just fresh citrus. There's something there that smells olive-like, both on my skin and on the husband's, and it adds a slick richness to composition right away. The olive smell is soon replaced by various honeyed spices, and that's when the party starts.
Balenciaga Pour Homme never goes gourmand, but it is kind of delicious. My skin amplifies honey and makes it drip slowly into any animalic or woody notes, helping them to envelop the skin and not just stand there and shout. The fragrance is warm and feels cozy in the winter but I love its boldness in the heat. Ambers can truly bloom in the summer, and this is no different, except being more unique than average, and having a hot/cold contrast in the heart (can there also be some herbal thing in there that give the leather and orris a shadowy boost?).
The fragrance is long lasting, satisfying, and a true pleasure especially when you manage to snag a cheap bottle online (it's becoming a bit harder, but still possible). I can't stress enough how much the "pour homme" label should not matter to women who are fans of spicy perfumes. It's great for men, obviously, but in our house the husband completely forgot we even have it while I've been wearing it often. He now promises to correct the situation.