Separated at birth: Carbone de Balmain (2010) and Graphite by Montana (2011)

Same nose (Nathalie Lorson), same address on the boxes (4, place Wagram, Paris), same (good) quality.



Carbone

Another really nice cheapo wort having. Kind of ambery and musky at first, with a heart of cedar, pepper and vetiver(ol) and just a hint of floral dark gracefulness. The general vibe is "trendy" yet also meditative, shady and "pencil sharpener" as other users correctly say - that is the prominent heart of this scent. Some waxy feel too. The fig, I don't get that much honestly: but perhaps it is what causes the slight "lactonic", sweetish creamy note I detect underneath the general woodiness, which blends perfectly with it. Overall much synthetic and "modern", so absolutely safe and elegant for anyone, but also quite distinctive in a way as it's darker and more peculiar than other "safe mainstream scents". I can't say I don't like this, as I find it the perfect example of a solid, unpretentious but quality scent: it does smell good... really good actually (my guilty pleasure: I quite like that "pencil" feel), it feels classy and versatile, it costs pennies. Basically no evolution, bold projection and really good persistence. Encre Noire fans or of other contemporary/dark/synthetic woody scents - from Gucci pour Homme I on, basically - will love this.

7/10

P.S. The bottle I own looks different from the one I posted above - the label on mine reads "Carbone de Balmain Paris". Not sure if that indicates the existence of 2 different formulations (but I doubt that, most likely it's just a matter of graphic restyiling)

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Graphite

A more dry, darker, woodier, kind of more austere version of Balmain's Carbone. Basically take out the subtle fruity-milky feel from Carbone, here you have Graphite. If you aren't familiar with Carbone, then well: "pencil sharpener", and that's it. Shavings, sawdust, wood chips, freshly-cut wood trunks. Nearly nothing else except for a warm ambery frame, and a gentle violet note, which is greenish, discreetly sweet and really subtle. Probably fairly pointless to own both Carbone and Graphite (as I do...), but Graphite is perfectly good as well: more than an inferior "copycat" it smells like a slightly different perspective on the same theme, worth having if you're really into this type of perfumes, or just have the chance to get both for pennies. In other words the quality and the "features" (projection, persistence, elegance, versatileness etc.) are quite the same in my opinion - except for the persistence, which is actually much better here. Solid, easy-going versatile stuff.

6,5-7/10


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