Bataille (which means Battle in French) is a fragrance which looks at the interplay between fragrant water and fire, between more aquatic facets and spicer notes. And which side will you come down on?
Ginger, magnolia, pink pepper, saffron, cedar, sage, sea salt, amber, patchouli, tonka.
Bataille has a really interesting opening: it is where the clash of hot and cold, wet and dry, water and flames is most in evidence. A distinct and robust spiciness from the ginger and pink pepper rise quickly following an initial spray, but this is accompanied by a sour juiciness and a crystalline tone from the bergamot and salt notes. If you know the inspiration for the scent then it is indeed possible to imagine a fire, not exactly doused by water, but hissing and spitting as droplets hit the warmth. There is a moment at the start where something fresh and even a little pine-tree like peeps through, and the interplay between the warmer notes and the cooler one produces a lovely sense of tension and unexpected delight in the scent.
Lying under the excitement of this clash of notes, the floral magnolia nuance acts as a crucible, drawing everything together in one pot, and offering us a shiny, radiant focal point. It’s fair to say that there is plenty going on in the start of Bataille, and it is one of those scents which subtly changes and shifts depending on the ambient temperature and the skin of the person wearing it.
Whilst this scent may be described as having an aquatic facet, it doesn’t fully feel like an aquatic scent. Instead, the overall impression it gives when viewed in the round, is of a lovely warmth, cosiness, and a burnished ambery quality. The scent conjures autumn, of warm drinks and big sweaters, of falling leaves and moisture in the air. It’s really quite a lovely thing.
The magnolia which is noticeable in the start of the scent gives way to a leathery saffron which sneaks in as easily as summer changes to autumn. The saffron gives some robustness to the middle part of a wear, and during this phase, the scent almost appears to “crackle” as flecks of pepper and ginger bounce off the smoother tones underlying them and a faint smokiness obscures and reveals different facets.
A touch of sage is the next thing to make itself known, and it gives a green, aromatic and savoury hint – it is perfectly balanced though and doesn’t overpower the rest of the composition, instead just nudging it away from being entirely shiny or sweet and helping the scent sit in a perfectly unisex place. The sage further enhances this sense of autumn, however, with its dense and slightly woolly texture.
At this point in the evolution of the scent, Bataille evokes smooth, blonde wood polished to a burnished glow, melted butter, treacle oozing off a spoon. Sprinkle a few salt crystals on the top of that and you have the perfect picture. It is ambery, languid and luxurious without being stroppy, demanding or overdone.
The final phase of Bataille continues in a similar vein with that autumnal cosiness. It conjured walking through an artistic part of Oslo in the autumn once, through an avenue of trees that had shed golden leaves all over the floor. The air is cool, but doesn’t yet have the bite of winter, and you’ve put enough layers on so that you are toasty and warm, a little drowsy, belly full of sweet bread and coffee. That is the sort of vibe we are talking about with this scent and it is perfectly delightful if you enjoy warm, ambery scents generally.
The final bars of the fragrance give us a continued spiciness which turns more towards the vetiver as the scent travels along, there is a smooth, ambery glow which continues throughout the scent, a warm earthiness, blonde woodiness and little remaining hints and flecks of sparkle and spice.
Bataille is a fragrance with a definite sense of energy and movement about it, particularly at the start, but alongside that there sits a sense of nostalgia too. There is a showcasing of hot versus cold, but in reality the battle isn’t quite evenly matched and the warmer elements shine the brightest. This was the case both on skin and on tester strip but it was a closer match on the strip suggesting that some people are likely to amplify the cooler, saltier notes more profoundly.
Bataille feels like one of those fragrances which is likely to be a bit of a sleeper – it isn’t enormous or showy, gaudy or glitzy, but actually, if you stop and give it the attention it deserves then it is really quite a gem, which is well done and nicely constructed.
The other stuff
The perfumer for Bataille is Nicholas Beaulieu.
The longevity of the fragrance is moderate, lasting about four hours following application before it sits very close to the skin indeed. Even very shortly after spraying, the fragrance only projects to hugging distance or so, making it a good fragrance for snuggling up with.
Bataille feels like the perfect accompaniment to autumnal weather and we can imagine it being in heavy rotation around those times.
Bastille are a new-ish, fun, French brand. Their range of scents is relaxed, playful and very easy to pop on a spray or two before you head out for the day. These aren’t fragrances which will wear you, or demand your undivided attention, instead they’re vivacious, friendly and easy to enjoy – great if you are just getting into niche scents or if you just fancy having a relaxed day. The Bastille scents are the fragrance equivalent of a comfortable but chic sweatshirt, that sort of vibe. There is something really pleasantly modern and contemporary about the brand which feels upbeat and distinctly unstuffy.
Bastille fragrances are all vegan and are produced in France.
We’ve previously reviewed Un Deux Trois Soleil by the brand.
Bataille by Bastille is available from Bloom Perfumery London, where it is priced at £80 for 50ml EdP. Bloom very kindly supplied us with a no-strings-attached sample of the scent.
You can also buy Bataille from the Bastille web boutique.