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

32 thoughts on “Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez 1962

  1. Hello darling,

    What lovely memories! OMG though at putting Bal on the Barbies! Our discussion the other day prompted me to put some on just yesterday and yes May have been too hasty to get rid of my bottle. My fave too much to wear out scents are Arabie and love wearing Absolue Pour le Soir too.

    M xxx


  2. I have this one and like you, it has happy memories attached to it. The first time I smelled it I was immediately reminded of my grandmothers bedroom. This is what it smelled like. I don’t even know if she had any because I was quite young when she died but whatever the case this stuff triggers the memory of her every time.


  3. I wear the most ridiculous things out and about, in PUB-LICK! LOL! Lessee, Epic (the body cream and(AND) the edp) in 90F heat. Ditto Carnal Flower. 100F+? Slick on a bit of Tribute attar. Boom! (well, they are from the Middle East, where a citrus gets eaten in a nanosecond). Vintage Femme to meetings (but only if I am wearing the most tailored white blouse in existence. And my hair must be in a French twist. Ditto Fleur de Cassie)…..

    I have a pretty little bottle of Bal parfum (older). I think I’ll wear it today, in honor of this post. And in honor of your mother!



  4. Thinking of your mother today (hugs). My mom wouldn’t let us play with Barbie’s until we looked like Barbie – so I received my first Barbie doll when I was thirty (my sisters gave her to me! hahaa!)
    And BdV – I’ll wear any version of it – what a classic!


      • yep totally true! Well other than I filled out before I was 30, and would NEVER look like Barbie! 🙂

        We were just able to play with Skipper and Skooter (‘younger sister’ of Barbie, and her friend) I gave Skooter a mohawk (this was in the early 70s) because I had just seen “The Light in the Forest” and I wanted Skipper to have an American Indian boyfriend. I actually wasn’t a big playing-with-dolls kid. I was a tomboy, but I did try the doll thing for a bit.


  5. Hello Portia, How are you? Thank you so much for writing that lovely post on Bal a Versailles. My deepest sympathy goes to you for losing your Mum on the day yesterday in 2001. I imagine, even though I didn’t know her at all, she must be very proud of you. I was wondering if you would allow me to quote some of your work on my website to help describe the perfume and experience the wearer will receive? I will absolutely fully reference you and link back to your website. For example, I would love to quote on this page of mine from your most recent post below, the following: “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-dwon is also the welcome reprise of the animal with a lusty growl, till it becomes a purr of amber nothing”. ( I would also love to quote your other work if I sell the perfume. Would you like me to get your permission for each of your quotes I use? If you need help with any of your posts, I would be happy to help. Have a lovely day Portia. Kind regardsMia MorrisonFounderAustralian Perfume Addicts0424 424 Box 4212, Raceview QLD Australia,

    Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 11:30:17 +0000 To:


  6. What sweet memories of your mom and this perfume – thanks for sharing them. I’m still in a bit of shock that the barbies got the parfum and your mum didn’t seem upset! 🙂


  7. Your mom sounds like an awesome and beautifully fragrant lady! Thank you for sharing your memories with us, Portia!

    Amouage Memoir. On me, it radiates for miles. NSFW but I will wear it anyway 🙂


  8. Portia, what a beautiful memory and, in a way, tribute to your mother!

    I keep buying perfumes for my mother to pay for those tiny Dior parfum bottles that was definitely meant for scenting my dolls (as I thought at the time).

    I’ve never tried Bal a Versailles. The reason is very strange: I despise those crooks who bought right to that name/brand and schemed many perfume lovers into paying for “testing” their perfumes in development a couple of years ago. But one day I’ll find a vintage version and test it – I promise.


  9. I’m still debating getting this one, but the extrait version is no where to be found. I might just end up getting the modern EDT version for now. Will I be extremely dissapointed with this formulation?


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