Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

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Post by Portia

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Heya Crew,

Last year Bal A Versailles was discontinued. It was quite a shock because I thought it was one of those fabulous fragrances that would go on forever. Sadly no. So obviously I went crazy buying new and old and now have quite a hoard. PHEW!

Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, lemon
Heart: Sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, leather
Base: Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, resins

Why did I feel the need to grab loads? Is Bal A Versailles an incredible fragrance, even still after multiple reformulations, IFRA challenges and a clearly dwindling need to stay incredible?

Well, I didn’t merely buy up new, I also scanned the eBay pages and peoples documents. It became a little bit of an obsession.

So I have told of my using Mum’s miniature Bal A Versailles parfum on the Barbies as a kid. The smell seems to have been with me on and off throughout my life. Comfortable and warm, its richness and plush glamour offset by the very mundane daily sniffings of it through the years. I have hazy recollections of smelling it on my Mum while we’d be sharing the couch and watching TV companionably after dinner or the golf/tennis on a weekend (me bored to death but happy to be hanging with my Mum) when I would make us sandwiches and either milkshakes or coffee depending on season.

Bal A Versailles Jean Desprez Chateau_de_Versailles WikiMediaWikiMedia

Then later in life to rediscover its beauty in a 4ml vintage parfum. Moving forward to recently when my mate Scott arrives some days lierally bathed in the radiance of Bal A Versailles and then we do office work and go to the various errands that need doing with me awash in his massive sillage.

How does Bal A Versailles smell? Big, fun, over the top. It’s a grand high kitchen sink fragrance that is to scent what Phil Spectre’s Wall Of Sound was to music. Think Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High or The Ronettes’ Be My Baby. A cacophony of fruit and flowers underpinned by resins, woods and animalics. Nothing smells quite like it but I sometimes get Tabu, Aromatics Elixir and Dia mixed up with it when I smell them on other people. Nope, they’re not the same but they all have a similar sillage in dry down.

Is it a Must Try vintage? Probably not. Am I sad to see it discontinued? Yes, there was a place for Bal A Versailles but clearly it wasn’t selling enough to continue.

Bal A Versailles Jean Desprez Réception_du_Grand_Condé_à_Versailles WikipediaWikipedia

Further reading: MuseInWoodenShoes, Australian Perfume Junkies and ThePerfumePosse
Beauty Encounter has a range od EdT and Parfume
SurrenderToChance has all sorts starting at $3/ml

What vintage do you hoard? Do you have a bal A Versailles story?
Portia xxx

Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

Hey APJ Family,

On this day in 2001 my Mum died, it was a years battle against leukemia and the leukemia won. She was a tough lady and fought hard for the first half of that year and then the fight seemed to go out of her completely. I have so much to thank her for and still randomly talk to her picture as if she is in the room. If ever I have had a conscience it is all due to her reprimands, which I can still hear today when I pee with the door open or don’t put my knife and fork down between mouthfuls or even choose unwisely in  love. I think she would approve of the current one though. Her unconditional love even though I was often an ungrateful, snide or screaming bundle of TNT, and constant vigilance over my future wellbeing has left a stamp upon me and I am so lucky that she chose me when I was a baby.

We were kids and always playing with dolls, cars, lego etc etc. One of our favourite games was dressing up the Barbies and putting Mum’s perfume on them so they smelt like they were really going out. You can see where this is going right? We thought that the little bottle was a toy bottle of perfume that Mum had put on her make up, jewellery and fragrance shelf in the wardrobe. What a cute little bottle, just the right size for the Barbies and that gorgeous technicolour reproduction of a Fragonard painting (Sorry, can’t find the original online and there seems to be much conjecture about the pic! I love drama). How could it not be meant for the Barbies?

I don’t remember Mum being angry or upset with us using it ALL on the Barbies, not like the time I dropped a 16oz bottle of Joy EdC or gave away a bottle of Shalimar to a girlfriend because she liked the gold toned case or a million other deserved rants.

Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, lemon
Heart: Sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, leather
Base: Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, resins

I have had the EdT of this in a modern incarnation for a while and I love to spritz its dirty great feline self on and go about my business but I have often been intrigued by the reasonable priced Extrait and ordered som. Well, it was the Barbies bottle!! OMG!!

This seems to be particularly dark juice and BOY does it take the back of your head off. Right at the start the cat is out of the bag and ready to roar!! All the flowers and citrus are completely overshadowed by a rich, dark purr of animal. After a short time the flowers decide it’s time to shine and fly in above the animal and do their very best in an orgy of florals, fruit and woods. What a fragrance! I love the powdery iris that takes control for a while and the bitter leather side by side with the ylang ylang. Bal a Versailles warm, sweet dry-down is also the welcome reprise of the animal with a lusty growl, till it becomes a purr of amber nothing. It doesn’t seem as intense as my memories of Barbies perfume but maybe my childhood nostrils were more acute, still this is a fragrance that you must try before you earn full perfumista stripes.

Versailles chateauversaillesPhoto Stolen chateauversailles

I get between 6-8 hours of fragrant bliss before I can detect only myself, even in the summer heat of Sydney today I’m pushing 6 hours and still growling. Wear this while at home for your own enjoyment. Leaving the house please take bodyguards.

Further reading MuseInWoodenShoes and ThePerfumePosse
Parfum1 starts at $12.50 for a 50ml Tester. This is where I found my Extrait but it is now sold out.
SurrenderToChance has all sorts starting at $3/ml but I particularly like the Vintage Parfum + EdC combo for $11

marieAntoinette habituallychicPhoto Stolen habituallychic

I’m wearing Bal a Versailles tonight to work. Let’s see if the punters can take the heat! Do you ever wear outrageoius scents just because? What is your fave and where would you really like to wear it that would be less than PC?

Off to splash some on now, see you tomorrow,
Portia xx