Perfume Directory

Balafre (1967)
by Lancôme

Balafre information

Year of Launch1967
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 33 votes)

People and companies

HouseLancôme
Parent CompanyL'Oréal Group

About Balafre

Balafre is a masculine fragrance by Lancôme. The scent was launched in 1967

Reviews of Balafre

After an indecisive opening of soapy aromatics, coumarinic sweet, and sour wood perked up by a dash of resin, Balafré settles on a vaguely rustic sort of fougere style with a natural-porous texture.

My sample is described as Aftershave on the box, and just in case there remains any doubt about who should wear it, underneath it says For Men. Being released in 1967 when the gender bending flower power movement was in full swing, Lancôme evidently wanted its male customers to feel no shame or embarrassment about wearing perfume/cologne/aftershave, even one that by todays standards seems a perfectly innocuous masculine in the barbershop tradition.

Coming from a time of political tension between various Radical movements and 'the Man' who represented the establishment, perfume seemingly got caught between a demand by the young for less rigid social structures - and more flowers, and the desire of the producers to avoid alienating conventional male customers with anything less than Manly fragrances.

The outcome was a compromise. Both Balafré and its exact contemporary Hai Karate with its violent misogynistic advertising, were neither testosterone fueled chest beaters nor perfumey floral affairs, but in the case of HK apparently a 'soft' barbershop style thing. Balafré - the name means Scarface in French, was despite its aggressive image also quite bland.

The usual repertoire of typically male notes are claimed to be present: spice, wood, resins, green herbs, oakmoss and leather, but the leather effect is barely there and only resin and moss make any definite impact on the soapy barbershop motif. In fact, rather than being in your face, its quite shy and a bit confused and instead seems to want to slope off to the woods and find its Inner Man, which it does after two or three hours...

Interesting only as a period piece.

09th April, 2015
The opening is absolutely perfect, with green notes, bergamot, lavender, neroli and a hint of oregano forming a wonderful mix. Later wood notes, pine and cypress mainly on my skin, softened by flowery components - geranium and carnation - dominate the middle phase, all reminiscences of Southern French Mediterranean gardens in bloom. Delicious. Here is reminds me a bit of Grès' Monsieur, and also of the latter's Cabaret. In the base I mainly get a very soft amber, with gentle musk and mossy undertones. The development from one phase to the next is always interesting, and
the whole is an extremely well-blended scent that never looses structure. Excellent silage and projection with six hours of longevity on me. A supreme Loncôme classic for autumnal days.
24th April, 2014
Marais Show all reviews
United Kingdom
"Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
Understated, formal, elegant and masculine. A bitter citric opening prefaces a dark green heart of pine and herbs and a mildly-musky, mossy leather base. The whole is so seamlessly integrated it is a challenge picking out individual notes; leather is perhaps first among equals, but fans of popular loud leather scents will be disappointed by Balafre's restrained voice. Despite its 1967 origin it doesn't seem dated but rather has a classic, timeless quality and conveys an aura of seriousness that marks it for men of substance rather than boys. Longevity and sillage are average. {review of reissue}
04th July, 2012
drseid Show all reviews
United States

This is a review of the vintage version of Balafre...

Balafre opens with a very nice moss-like green cypress and oakmoss combo that sets the stage for the rest of the scents development. This mossy theme remains from start to finish. Also up top is a supporting note of bergamot, but it definitely hangs in the background, letting the mossy accord take center stage. The mossy accord remains into the scent's heart notes, now joined by supporting cedar notes and even a hint of carnation and coniferous pine. In the base notes the mossy accord recedes but the oakmoss remains, joined by a musky leather combo. Projection is average to slightly above average, and longevity is average.

I had heard enough good things about the elusive Balafre, so without sampling it first when a small bottle made its way to eBay overseas I pounced on it. Even at its relatively high price tag now having smelled it I am very glad I did. The scent somewhat reminds me of vintage Derby from Guerlain. Balafre has much more of a mossy vibe to it than Derby, but the oakmoss and leather base structure both share has a somewhat similar feel to my nose, at least. Balafre is definitely a scent from a different time, probably most reminding me of the 70s through the 80s. I love many scents worn during that time period, so it comes as no surprise I like Balafre quite a bit. Is it worth the many hundreds of dollars a full sized bottle now commands? In my opinion, no, but if a mini or two pops up for sane money on eBay or elsewhere I would definitely recommend snatching it up if you can afford it. 4 out of 5 stars.
19th May, 2012 (last edited: 08th June, 2012)
A little brother of Yatagan-Caron
21st August, 2005
Sagamore...Balafre...two poetic, Gothic names from Lancome. And, in the case of Balafre, a poetic, Gothic scent. Here is the castle door, here are the long, winding corridors down which this deep, elusive fragrance leads us, breathing of lost time, whispering of forgotten loves, and murmuring of improbable destinations.
30th November, 2004

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