Bal D’Afrique was created by the nose behind Dark Rain and Whist Forest for the Bjork and Berries and many of the fragrances for And Other Stories. Byredo along with the brands mentioned are all Swedish. Scandanavia in general and Sweden in particular is going through a wave of popularity and Byredo in the fragrance world is one of the front runners.
The Scandi aesthetic of the packaging is write up my street. The bottle is large and bold in a simplistic way. Modern and contemporary the packaging is very unisex and clean lines – it is also excessive. I keep the boxes of perfumes that I love and this one takes up a lot of space in my drawer and there is a lot of space in the box. Also the perfume is super tight in the box so it is a bit of a faff taking the perfume in and out of the box.
The marketing blurb says Bal D’Afrique is inspired by African culture art and dance of Paris in the twenties. An interesting reference for a contemporary fragrance. The name Bal D’Afrique references the dances that black Africans attended. The Parisian sensibility would have seen Africa in both an exotic and erotic light. People of colour were observed and fetishised. This reference leaves me, as a black women in 2016 feeling uncomfortable. Under no circumstances do I want to be observed in this way. The beauty of fragrance however is that it takes you to places that the marketing geeks of fragrance houses don’t dictate.
Vetiver is a relatively new fragrance love for me. I am increasingly finding that whenever I like a fragrance there is a vetiver note that I love. Bal D’Afrique is combination of clean citrus notes, sweet floral, woody sandalwood and vetiver and powdery violet. It is a fragrance that is complex without being confused. As a result I wear this when I grounded. Not flighty or girly but strong and feminine – like I can get stuff done. For me this is a fitted t-shirt and jeans appropriate whether I’m wearing trainers or heels, it is not fussy so it does not get in the way or distract from what I am doing.
Despite the dodgy marketing blurb, Bal D’Afrique is a beautiful fragrance. It isn’t cheap, but you get plenty of fragrance and it is absolutely worth it.