The vintage parfum:
The top notes consist of a delicious melange of rich, ripe and fruity plum/pear/peach notes, which have some citrus freshness infused such as to display great balance. The more I get down the drydown phase, the more I appreciate a lovely jasmine that at times sees cinnamon and cardamom impression added such as to give it a spicy and at times darker edge.
The base switches gear into a lovely bright amber, that is characterised by a light, elegant powdery background, upon which a white musk is added towards the end. This all is supremely well blended out of ingredients of the highest quality.
The performance is very respectable with moderate sillage, decent projection and eight hours of longevity: on my skin at the end of the base phase it gradually peters out, with the slightly bright soapy powderiness fading out as the swan song of this venerable creation.
A grand but not pompous, perfectly balanced fragrance of great expression; ideal for spirng and warmer, sunny autumn days or evenings. Noblesse with elegant restraint. A classic. 4/5
*This is a review of the original formula vintage Quadrille EdT.
Quadrille (vintage) opens with a nose tingling blast of deep, boozy plum wine with significant musk and mossy green oakmoss support. Moving to the early heart the boozy plum recedes to a supporting role, leaving the animalic musk and mossy green oakmoss as co-stars with hints of dulled peach fruit and cardamom spice. As the composition moves further through its mid-section, the musk fades as the oakmoss switches gear, now featuring its powdery facet while maintaining some of its prior mossy green nature. During the late dry-down the composition stays linear with the gentle powdery oakmoss remaining almost through the finish, as hints of earlier obscured jasmine show up towards the end of the composition's development. Projection is excellent, as is longevity at well over 12 hours on skin.
Balenciaga has a fine history of releasing outstanding compositions, and vintage Quadrille shows off what the house can do at its best. The opening boozy plum wine assault is extremely intense and I loved every minute of it. Adding to the opening barrage is the musky oakmoss that melds perfectly with the boozy plum, amplifying its impact and depth, while ratcheting up the brilliance factor exponentially. The composition then impressively shifts gears from its boozy open to a more green powdery oakmoss led accord with the animalic musk playing co-star. I am not a huge powder fan, but the powder level never gets out of hand, and the mossy green facet of the oakmoss somehow holds things together throughout. The last surprise well after the composition was little more than a skin scent was when a fine, slightly sweet jasmine emerged right at the end of the composition's life cycle, and it is one of the best jasmine notes I have ever sniffed. How the jasmine was hidden for most of the development is a mystery, but smelling it at the end made for a very fine finish indeed. Quadrille (vintage) is the kind of composition that makes one really long for the "good old days" where IFRA regulations and focus group testing weren't the rage. Yes, it smells like it is from another age, but by saying that I mean it with the highest respect and compliment. They just don't make 'em like they used to. The bottom line is Quadrille (vintage) checks off all the boxes as to what makes a perfume classic and great, earning a "near masterpiece" rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 and a strong recommendation to vintage perfume lovers of either gender.
Balenciaga's third scent (after 1947's Le Dix and La Fuite des Heures) in 1955 was the classic Quadrille. One of the greatest of spicy chypres ever offered to the public.
It is warm, dense, elegant and rich. One of the greatest chypre types ever created and with no modern equivalent.
Go out of your way to find it - it's worth every penny!
First edit: After living with the parfum for a number of months, I am surprised by the spicy carnation which lays at its center. I am reminded briefly of Guerlain's Sous Le Vent.
Still one of the greatest creations of all time, Quadrille is a treasure.
Second edit: Surprisingly lately, the spice has disappeared. I am left with an identical copy of Coty's original Chypre. How or why this occurred I don't know. The bottle of pure parfum was kept in the dark and still sealed when I opened it prior to the first edit. It's still very nice and earthy as was the original Chypre, but I miss the boozy fruity, nutty, spicy heart notes, as I seem to be left with nothing but the base.
29th January, 2014 (last edited: 16th December, 2016)
I recently found a tiny vintage mini of Quadrille and when I dabbed it on, I immediately thought of vintage Rochas' Femme. This is fruity/spicy and chypre-like and although it's similar in many ways to Femme, it's not as leathery and animalic. Think of it as a more "behaved" or "lady-like" version of femme.
I love Quadrille! It has a bygone elegance, but is far from old fashioned.
It has beautiful plum and peach notes against a background of chypre and subtle spice. There's a definite smokiness too.
I have seen Quadrille advertised as a summer fragrance, but the smoky notes make me think of Autumn (which is when I wear it every year). I think Quadrille has a more casual elegance than the formal Le Dix, but it's suitable for day or evening wear. It seems that the Parfum has been discontinued, which is such a pity. One of the all time Great perfumes