“So you like perfume with a handful of personality? That`s great, `cause I have many” – this is approximately how the beautiful Byredo Bal D’ Afrique could present itself, not being too sure (nor myself) about the note it will make the first impression. It can be that of vetiver, musk, or, why not, lemon. You will rarely find a perfume that is so difficult to categorise. Although you can clearly notice that it can bring the best out of a lemon, it will present this talent at a rather introductive level, taking the note back shortly after because you may end up enjoying it and it has so much more to offer. Don’t worry, as it will get back to lemon a bit later when you least expect it. It will be like it starts all over again.
Then, people talk about it as about great woody perfume. There’s nothing falser than this, but in this case, as well, Byredo Bal D’ Afrique refuses to let itself be grabbed by the collar in this common and overly spacious category, rather preferring to maintain its key position as Head of Sales on the Luxury Vetiver aisle. This is a successful order, small yet well-established, of sensational perfumes with vetivers in eager rivalry (I won’t name them so we won’t stray from our path too much). Calendulas, always actresses in smaller parts, can’t establish themselves too much in this case either, regardless of how much they manifest their interest to penetrate the composition with their floral-spicy-buttery scent. They simply fall somewhere at a level of quieter scents, barely noticeable, which is preferably in their case.
Apart from all this, the perfume truly needed – and contains due to this reason – a juicy scent of black currants. Yep, the today’s ubiquitous currants and precisely because of this, things settled in such a way for this note to be administered with the tip of a needle, but still with a total euphoric effect. Byredo Bal D’ Afrique is contemporary, complex, and atypical for any category. But hey! This is what makes it so memorable. And this is what makes out of it a permanent presence in my collection of perfumes.
And now a bit about its evolution. It has moments and moments. I enjoy them all. Sometimes I find it slightly different from one wear to another, and this has nothing to do with the temperature. It’s all about my perception and disposition during a day. Today I find it rather lively, at another time it caresses me like a cashmere scarf, while other times it balanced the fresh and creamy proportions better than Philippe Petit does with the twin towers. Look, I wear it for more than an hour already and it seems like the lemon notes last well beyond their debut limits. And who’s to blame for this? The currants, of course, but today these two notes appear to be more elevated. The currants appear like showing their interest to offer lemons their arms, resulting in a sharp and sour duet which, taken separately, could be easily called as “fresh”. But, just a few steps further in the back, just like a stalker :), comes the musk. An agent that follows, commenting in a whisper, with its warm, soft, and sweet voice.
If the musk remains in the background, wrapping everything in warmth, the vetiver, on the other hand, plays in the light. It is dominant, with a unique print. And through its way of being, green-earthy-astringent you can tell what a magnetic mix it can do with that citric-fruity something and with the other something fully puffy musky? And all of this whole has a splendid olfactive texture, smooth, and so unctuous! “Blend, blend, blend, and then blend again”, this is what Ben Gorham asked Jerome Epinette. The wake is not of a bombastic order, but enjoying strong fixatives as the musk and vetiver it has a longevity of up to 6 hours. Is that short? I find it satisfactory, for this particular type.
It is a modern, unique, with attitude perfume, provided as unisex, although I find it more feminine. This is what it is all about and in a summarizing exercise, I quickly say that it is a citric-vetiver-musky perfume. Just look at how I am synthesizing already :))) If I try really hard, I could come up with a two-word definition as well. Bal d’Afrique, you’re… CREAMY-SOURY!