Bally Masculin opens with aromatic, slightly powdery lavender and underlying anise. Moving to the early heart, the composition stays relatively linear as the lavender and anise remain the focus, with soft patchouli and a supporting soapy, leathery accord joining the fold. As the composition moves further through its middle, the lavender largely vacates, leaving the remnants of the now supporting anise to join the remaining rough leather and newly arrived green, slightly powdery oakmoss rising from the base. During the late dry-down the composition turns to a woody vetiver focus with hints of the oakmoss remaining in subtle support joined by slightly sweet soft amber through the finish. Projection is average, as is longevity at about 8-9 hours on skin.
Bally Masculin is a composition that took quite a while to completely win me over, but win me over it has. The aromatic lavender smelled quite pleasant from the get-go, but the anise was keeping me from completely embracing the composition despite liking it immediately. It is rare that my opinion changes to a large degree on any composition, positive or negative, but with Bally Masculin every time I would wear it new elements that I initially missed behind the lavender and anise fougere front emerged. Over time, the leather that was hiding under the aromatics reveled itself, and later the oakmoss that I completely missed the first few wears is now unmistakable. I could go on and on, but what appeared on first sniff to be a classic fougere that was competent and likable, but relatively unremarkable is actually *quite* remarkable. In short, I stand corrected. The bottom line is the long-since discontinued Bally Masculin is difficult to find nowadays and will most likely cost about $100 for a 100ml bottle on the aftermarket, but it has a lot more going on than what is smelled initially, earning it an "excellent" 4 stars out of 5 and a solid recommendation to classic fougere lovers.
Well, this was a great surprise, and allow me to sincerely thank user “easyfish” for the sample of this ultra-rare – and ultra-forgotten - little gem. The opening is fantastic: a graceful, manly, slightly sweet herbal-smoky-leather accord with a peculiar and irresistibly elegant soft and velvety substance (not the usual “raw” leather you often get in vintage masculine scents; rather sharp, clean, soft finished leather), a fresh-balsamic breeze, subtle fruity hints, and a “classic” fougère base of patchouli, woods (mostly vetiver) and the leather accord. Dusty shades and earthy echoes complete the look of Masculin. Think of the discreet European elegance of Bally leather goods and shoes, Masculin perfectly translates that into a perfume. What amazed me is how the opening was similar to vintage Bel Ami: perhaps lighter, brighter and sweeter, and also less complex here, but truly quite similar – how can you not be sold to that? Then it progressively moves away from the Hermès, leaning towards herbal-woodier territories, finally reaching a cozy and totally refined drydown with gentle smoky leather-vetiver-herbal notes. Terribly pleasant, sophisticated and solid, with a quite distinctive fresh, understated, bright yet smoky refinement, and quite different from many other masculine scents of its era – mostly for this kind of “modern” sweet-ambery-aromatic “roundness” juxtaposed to its invigorating herbal-balsamic freshness (which is more “herbal” than predictably “piney” as it was in fashion back then). Discreet, mild and elegant close-to-skin persistence. Hard to find, completely underrated, totally worthy a “rediscover” for me.
It seems like this was either a limited release or it was never actually released. What a shame! This fragrance is unapologetic in its civility, with notes of fennel that linger. Its aura is cooler, rather than warm, with above-average longevity and sillage. Not a member of the powerhouse 1970s and 1980s club, it smells clean and natural, without a hint of "aqua" notes. Pair this with chalk stripes and fine leather. Bally, perhaps? Over the years I've wondered that this release was apparently aborted. Contemporaneous calls (circa 1990) to Bally SAs confirmed that no one was aware of its existence, but its consistent labeling says otherwise. Well worth the investment of time to locate it.
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I bought the bottle I have in Greece 1990 and it stills smells pretty good today. Powdery, a little spice plus the basic ingredients in the base notes that most masculines use however it still remains somewhat unique in its fragrance. Worth owing to be different and if you like Givenchy Incense, Lancome Sagamore.