Top notes: Bergamot, lemon, lavender, basil
Heart notes: Jasmine, lemongrass, ginger, carnation, cyclamen
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Cedar, Musk, Leather, Patchouli
The commenters on Basenotes who say not to expect much from this scent are reading with their preconceived notions about men's fragrances and not with their noses: I have never smelled a man's scent like this before in my life. At first whiff, you get the freshest, most complex lemon and bergamot and then, most definitely, the smell of an indispensable Southeast Asian ingredient: lemongrass. I'm not sure what notes made me thing of Antilope and its golden warmth, but I think it's the ginger, lavender and animalic base notes, melded together in the drydown.
If men's scents are supposed to be as unobtrusive as grey suits — lemongrass should be Monsieur Balmain's first hint that you're getting more than you bargained for.
I am a connoisseur of Southeast Asian cuisine, so there's no getting around the fact that in place of visions of a Nordic man in a grey, bespoke suit, I'm picturing the plate of herbs I get with my bowl of Vietnamese pho — complete with basil and lemon. (The ginger and lemongrass are just thrown in for good measure.)
Herby, citrusy, animalic — and yet subtle. Monsieur Balmain is a gem, but alas, a discontinued one. Sigh.