I have absolutely no idea why this one is labeled Feminine.
I have maybe 75 bottles in my collection. This is the only one officially sanctioned to the fair gender. Out of the 75 bottles, maybe 20 smell decidedly more masculine than this.
Byredo claims that this is a vetiver scent....i'd say maybe a touch but not to the point of domination. They also point to the meeting point of Paris life in the 1920's and African culture. Sounds poetic...not sure what that would smell like.
To me this is a decidedly masculine floral with hints of musk and cedar.
Perfect Summer frag with solid longevity.
Byredo's Bal D'Afrique is, at least by reputation, the house's signature warm weather option, and I recalled liking it when first smelling it in the house's New York City Store but hadn't yet gotten a chance to try it on skin for a while.
It opens with a burst of citrus (I get more bergamot than lemon) and orange flower, and it gradually dries down (over the course of an hour) into a mix of vetiver, cedar, and musk. I don't really detect the amber in the base, otherwise I might consider it a bit darker, deeper, or sweeter.
I'm probably neglecting the blackcurrant in the opening, but it wasn't that striking to me, and the florals in the heart, though they seemed quickly lost and overshadowed by the vetiver-intensive based that seems to draw most of the attention away.
It's certainly wearable by both women and men, a friendly blend of citrus and vetiver for the most part. There's nothing especially masculine or feminine about it.
Moderate projection and longevity, which certainly confirm this as a warm-weather-only option, and not terribly regal or sophisticated to the point that I would consider wearing it at night. It's a summer day fragrance for me.
Comparisons to Westbrook are fair, and I actually hadn't smelled Bal D'Afrique in a while when I tried and purchased Westbrook last week, but Bal D'Afrique is far more of a light citrus option, whereas Westbrook is a bit darker, more year-round friendly, better-performing, and a bit more year-round friendly. I'd certainly not consider owning Bal D'Afrique to be redundant with Westbrook or vice versa.
7 out of 10
Fruity and kind of too sweet for me. The ladies might like this one. Just not my style. Projection and longevity are average. 6.5/10
Update: Had a change of heart with Bal D'Afrique. Wore this a few times within the past few weeks. The vetiver in this fragrance sneeks up on you. I still believe the ladies will love wearing this. Starts out pretty sweet, but calms down with sweetness in about 20 minutes or so. The citrus and vetiver in this make it perfect for warmer weather.7.5/10
Update (7-12-16): Wore this quite a few more times and I am really digging it. Light musk and citrus with a nice dose of vetiver. When I initially sampled this, it was cooler and I was unable to get what makes this one as good as it is. This is perfect for the summer.
27th December, 2015 (last edited: 12th July, 2016)
A really well done fragrance by Byredo. Excellent sillage and longevity, however, a tad sweet and feminine for me until the dry down; however, it takes a while to get there. Would highly recommend anyone sampling this to see if it works for you.
To me Bal d’Afrique is immediately about assiduously cared for skin. From initial associations of sun tan lotions with a hint of coconut oil, I plump for a more non-specific impression of skin caressed by unguents and soothing oils which later on reveals its musky character. This is skin one wants to touch and be touched by, and it gives Bal d’Afrique a warm, inviting personality.
Upon this floats a melange of lightly handled notes – the blackcurrant-like buchu, honeyed neroli and jasmine given a fruity aspect by citrus, the greenish, almost herbal scent of marigold.
Others have commented on a similarity to Hermes’ Vetiver Tonka and I too perceive it in an almost cocoa-like depth to this creation, but the fruity, musky tones are all its own and make it sufficiently different. The later stages get woodier, a grown up cedar-vetiver accord that remains creamy rather than sharp.
A perfume of gentle sensuality, with a certain elusive quality (the notes keep shifting), I find Bal d’Afrique confidently understated.