The dark beauty of Balenciaga’s Florabotanica

The dark beauty of Balenciaga’s Florabotanica

Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of Balenciaga, couldn’t have planned it better. Not that he initiated Kristen Stewart’s dalliance with married Snow White and The Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, but his naming of the raven-haired beauty (and her brooding, I-never-smile MO) to represent his new Florabotanica fragrance is brilliant, a perfect maelstrom in its dark, brooding, creative-marketing synergy.

But then Ghesquière doesn’t really do pretty. Since 1997, when the French designer joined the 107-year-old Balenciaga brand at the tender age of 26, he has given us abundant sculpted black leather and motorcycle jackets, robot leggings and rigid molded corset dresses. Florabotanica follows a similar anti-princess path.

The new spritz is, as its name suggests, a floral one, but its blooms are not those plucked from a pastoral setting. Instead, perfumers Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Herault concocted a less serene recipe to evoke the enigmatic fantasy garden imagined in Ghesquière’s brain: a dark woodland full of beautiful flowers both carnivorous and venomous.

Two accords create the olfactory aesthetic of Florabotanica: one defined by rose, carnation and mint; and the other by vetiver, amber and poisonous caladium leaf.

It’s an almost-peppery flower spritz with energy and warmth: a floral for a Twilight era.

“A few years ago, I designed this ‘floral collection.’ The dresses were covered with flowers, but these flowers were neither charming nor romantic,” says Ghesquière. “They structured the whole silhouette. I wanted the flowers in this perfume to express the same idea.”

If the designer was inspired by botanical studies of the 18th-century; his Floribotanica bottle likewise nods to the biology lab. An oversized tube plunges into the perfume flask like a test tube; the bottle’s coloured sides suggesting a scientist’s microscope slides.

The bottle’s black and white stripes are also signature Cristobal Balenciaga, a designer who pushed the fashion envelope and excelled at the graphic and the bold.

Balenciaga Paris Florabotanica EDP, $90 (50 ml),,



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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.