Vintage: Balenciaga – Prelude & Quadrille

Ok I’ve finally succumbed to vintage… it’s happened. I’m snagging up bargains left right and center buying, with a bit of research, buying things that sounds interesting… finding my tastes change slightly or at least my cravings.
These are two that I have picked up in the last week (I figured going by house would be a good place to start…)
Here’s some quick thoughts :)


Prelude opens with a sparkly of very alcoholic aldehydes, extremely astringent with a nail-varnish like pitch, and an equally jarring scent. It takes just a short while for everything underneath to fall into place… as it slowly gives in to a slightly abstract, but light handed, spicy/oriental thing.

There’s a carnation/clove spice with just a hint of dry cinnamon – the solvent-notes still pushing hard. There’s a hint of sharp ylang ylang – and the whole thing smells like a higher pitch, more dated (despite it being more recent) Opium-hybrid. There’s a hint of clean rose underneath, and a bracing green accord – yet the whole thing has a slightly “soap-ish” edge initially – with a “musky” through, predictable almost of these kind of old-time, almost cheap-y fragrances.

The rose/ylang dominate with a jasmine note getting louder throughout, paired with the light but bracing spices, with a soft amber/resinous accord underneath. There’s a dose of civet and musk – it has a very old school feel even in the finale… but with a texture almost ozonic. Once the aldehydic accord burns off, it becomes much more enjoyable, getting smoother and more vanillic with a heavy tolu and benzoin base. A smooth, restrained spicy floral that’s very nostalgic, and familiar – I’m sure I look totally out-of-place wearing this, but I surprisingly really enjoy it! It’s extremely refined, very classic whilst being a little too “pristine”… but interesting and easy enough to wear to make this one a keeper <3


Now Quadrille I absolutely love! It opens with again, just a tiny smidge of aldehydes… but develops much quicker, and deeper – into a thick fruit of plum and peach, so dense it’s almost “boozy” whilst still being relatively light. The fruits are gently spiced with cloves and cardamom, all piled on top a thick mossy base.

Quadrille has a very restrained but elegant quality on the skin, a more muted, yet slightly more complex Mitsouko. It is a peach chypre, very delicately spiced with an even deeper colour (the plum). There’s hints of jasmine, just a touch of rose, and a subtle liquorice note that runs throughout. The liquorice jasmine and plum is piled on top of an immediately recognizable and old-school chypre base… a little white musk, and a hint of civet and lots of thick moss.

I find Quadrille to be an exceptionally easy wear, and unlike Prelude, it’s immediately appealing, familiar, with enough of a personality of its own to make it hugely unique. From a distance, it has a relatively subdued but rich mossy throw; with a little heat on the skin, up pops the spicy florals and wafts of liqourice. Gorgeous!

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9 thoughts on “Vintage: Balenciaga – Prelude & Quadrille

  1. If I meet you in Birmingham next month,I wonder if you will be wearing one of these?

  2. Welcome to the rabbit hole!! I can’t wait to see what you pick up next!

    • I’ve picked up a small bottle of Anne Klein (never heard of it!) But got the pure parfum for less than a tenner and it sounds like my sort of thing! And Houbigant’s Gardenia (couldn’t find a single review of mention of it online! Impossible to find) for less than ten pounds too, and it’s amazing! – big swampy gardenia, review to come.

  3. Thanks for the very clear reviews! And as for Quadrille…

    In the summer of 1966, following my junior year of high school, I had the good fortune of flying from Sacramento, California to Europe with 24 other foreign language students. You can imagine our naive wide eyes as we deplaned in Brussels and were driven by coach directly into the chaotic traffic of the City of Lights.

    One morning our chaperone herded 25 gangly teenagers into a perfume shop packed floor to ceiling with expensive glass bottles. She must have figured it would be a suitably French thing to show a bunch of American teenagers who’d just taken in the Follies Bergère. At seventeen, this little visit was probably what awakened my lifelong fascination with perfumery. After nearly suffocating myself on way too many strange and amazing aromas, I zeroed in on a little bottle of Quadrille to take back to my high school “steady”. I just couldn’t get enough of that wonderful perfume. For me, it was The One.

    Christine and I broke up sometime in our senior year. I have no idea whether she actually liked that fragrance or hated it. Nor the oval blue velvet lined walnut jewelry box I carved for her with a flowing C on the lid. Looking back, both items were mostly about my own dreamy fantasies.

    I’ve never smelled Quadrille since, but I did fully fall in love with it then and there. I can almost catch a whiff of it now, 48 years later. As for Christine… ah…

    Michael Storer, perfumer
    Arizona, USA

    • Loved this story Michael (and so flattered you pop back here for a read!).
      Sounds like your need to get your hands on a bottle of Quadrille again.
      I recently found a bottle of Geminesse for my mum, a max factor cheapie she used to wear in her teens, now nearly fourty years later she’s got a bottle again after wishing she could smell it again <3 I can't wait to visit again and try it… love how nostalgic perfume can be :D

  4. SallyM says:

    MMMMM Quadrille. Smokey-floral, plummy, boozy – beautiful juice.
    You’re certainly starting off your venture into the vintage word with some crackers :-)

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