Green chypres are considered these days to be out of style, yet they're my favorite fragrance genre. Unfortunately there aren't many green chypres made specifically for men (Chanel Pour Monsieur and Aramis 900 are the most well known). Therefore, if you're a guy looking for a green chypre to wear, you'll need to look in the women's aisle.
Neither Balmain's box nor its bottle indicates whether or not it's meant for men or women, but Balmain's magazine ads suggest that this is a women's fragrance. Despite that, its smell is considered by many to be neither feminine nor masculine. Balmain is in the classic green chypre mold all the way - it's dry and tart smelling, with a grassy and mossy scent. I've always loved this style of fragrance.
The problem with Balmain is that it follows the book too strictly. There's nothing about it that stands out and makes me think, "Wow, this is really great." It shares similarities with all the legendary green chypres like Scherrer, Givenchy III and Chanel Pour Monsieur, but it lacks that extra something that made those great. Scherrer was great because it was so rich, brooding and leathery. Not Balmain. Givenchy III was great for the vivid dry greenness of its scent; Balmain smells green but not as green as III. Chanel Pour Monsieur is great because it's so refined - Balmain is too middle-of-the-road, and its strong tartness lack that level of refinement. It's just a good fragrance, and for a green chypre, it's kind of boring.
I could certainly see a man wearing Balmain comfortably, but it's better as a feminine scent. It has a waxy floral, aldehydic tang to it that smells feminine to me, and deters me from wanting to wear it. On the other hand, it has an underlying spiciness that I like and gives it some bite.
Don't let my opinions prevent you from trying Balmain. If it were more unique, then its feminine qualities wouldn't bother me (such as with K de Krizia), and I'd be more likely to wear this. However, you might find it suits your tastes. If you like chypres, by all means try it, especially if your wardrobe lacks a good chypre. The price certainly can't be beat.
MY RATING: 7.5/10
Fragrance House: Balmain