Bal à Versailles (1962) Eau de Toilette

Bal à Versailles (Eau de Toilette) by Jean Desprez
Bottle Design Pierre Dinand
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8.0 / 10     126 RatingsRatingsRatings
Bal à Versailles (Eau de Toilette) is a popular perfume by Jean Desprez for women and was released in 1962. The scent is animal-floral. The longevity is above-average. It is still in production.

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Fragrance Notes

Top Notes Top NotesBergamot, Jasmine, Cassia, Mandarin, Neroli, Orange blossom, Rose, Rosemary, Lemon
Heart Notes Heart NotesLilac, Orris root, Lily-of-the-valley, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Ylang-ylang
Base Notes Base NotesAmber, Benzoin, Resins, Musk, Tolu balm, Vanilla, Cedarwood, Civet

Ratings

Scent

8.0 (126 Ratings)

Longevity

8.5 (82 Ratings)

Sillage

7.9 (76 Ratings)

Bottle

7.7 (82 Ratings)
Submitted by Bergamotte, last update on 28.11.2019.
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Reviews

7.5 7.5 10.0 9.0/10
Exciter76

32 Reviews
Exciter76
Exciter76
6
A vixen in conservative clothing (fools no one)
I was working on a project, wearing Bal à Versailles, and listening to my iTunes playlist. While I was hitting a wall with my project, Ryan Adams’ “Stay with Me” came on. I stopped looking blankly at my computer screen, closed my eyes, and inhaled as the song played. I realized at that very moment both the song and the scent were very much alike: both plainly convey deep, unchaste desires without being vulgar and both works of art have a way of getting stuck in one’s mind, like an earworm.

Bal à Versailles is the scent of a wanton woman or a virile man. It’s not blatantly sexual or perverse (i.e., this isn’t ELdO’s Secretions Magnifiques) but there is an underlying smell that is carnal. Where a perfume like Glow alludes to a clean, naked body, BàV alludes to a recently dressed body after having, eh, relations. All the classic perfume elements are present--flowers, incense, and such--but these things act to cover (or accentuate) what’s libidinous. Some call it dirty panties, others call it skanky; they’re different names for the same sexual beast.

This is not an easy scent and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Some on the Internet have mentioned Mad Men’s Joan Holloway--this is certainly Ms. Holloway’s bottled essence. It’s pure beauty and sex and joy and… I could go on. There is no reading between the lines with BàV, much like Ryan Adams’ song. Neither art pieces were created for prudes.
2 Replies
Rickbr

190 Reviews
Rickbr
Rickbr
Helpful Review    5
Review of the EDC concentration
This is one of those rich and complex fragrances from the past that it's not usually made anymore and that doesn't surprise that it has become of Michael Jackson favorites due to its so complex aroma. Bal A Versaille even its EDC concentration is a kaleidoscopic creation that shifts from notes from almost all the families: altough being classified as an oriental i also see a floral side and a mossy, animalic and fougere one too. I usually dislike fragrances which are heavy on animalic aromas, but the richness and fine tuning of elements don't make it this way. This animalic breath is counterbalanced by something more dry and earthy, which is the chypre facet for me, by the oriental sweetness coming from the almond tonka nuances and the vanillic creaminess, and also from the sensual floral roundess provided mainly for me by the the neroli use. The fougere impression is the trickiest one for me to notice, but i see among the other things a commented a subtle barbershop nuance which is typical from fougeres. This is a quick readout, its aroma is much more than this and it seems that i would need more than a few trials to completely understand it. Evern from the EDC Bal a Versailles has a great performance on skin, starting more heavy and animallic and ending more vanillic, balsamic and soft on skin. It makes me want to finish with one of my typical phrases when i like something: fantastic creation, i'd own a bottle.
1 Replies
10.0 7.5 7.5 10.0/10
ScentFan

325 Reviews
ScentFan
ScentFan
Very helpful Review    12
Smelling Like a Potentate
If I had to explain to a space alien what perfume is, I'd hand over a bottle of Bal à Versailles. Learning Jean Desprez created three versions to be worn at once, I hunted them down. The tall one was a gift I’ll always treasure—the famous EdT flacon. Not wanting to open it yet, I obtained a smaller version. Now I can simultaneously wear the vintage Parfum, EdT and EdC as Desprez intended. Surely he designed it with potentates, rock stars, multibillionaires in mind, wanting its wearers to be as drenched in the glories of scent as they were in the glories of life. I can’t imagine what garden Jean Desprez got his flowers from because these are regal blooms, blended to create an instantly hypnotic, luxurious, and indolic powerhouse of jasmine, rose, and orange blossom at first, brightened with neroli, bergamot and other citruses — cassia and rosemary keeping the mix from going over the edge. Soon the heart kicks in with patchouli and sandalwood, primarily. Other florals enter, Vetiver adding sophistication. Sultry amber, musk and civet anchor the base, with balsam, vanilla and cedarwood playing supporting roles. Yet, individual notes don’t stay prominent in awareness. They become a symphony. And this is just the parfum. Put all three on my arm and Deprez’s magic is revealed. BaV becomes complex, intriguing, unpeggable, unique. I understand why this was Michael Jackson’s signature scent, why Liz Taylor adored it. Little chance of walking up to most department store fragrance counters and leaving smelling like this. I’m glad to have discovered it later in life, after learning it’s okay to do as we please, including smelling like a potentate not only at the opera, but at the supermarket, too.

p.s. This applies to the vintages. The new version is pure swill, IMO.
2 Replies
7.5 10.0 7.5 7.0/10
GothicHeart

87 Reviews
GothicHeart
GothicHeart
6
NC-17
It's 1978 in Battersea Park, London. The Stranglers have just finished playing "Nice 'n' Sleazy". This is how the stage smells like...
1 Replies
MicallefLuv1

14 Reviews
MicallefLuv1
MicallefLuv1
Helpful Review    7
Classic
I cant say enough about this scent! I think I have the reformulated version but even so I love it... Very earthy, creamy and warm. It makes me feel like playing an old Carol King album and just lay about the house. My top fav notes are in there in deed! Jasmine, Patchouli and ylang ylang....If there is anything I dont like its the lack of staying power, perhaps the vintage last longer. But I have a big bottle to reapply!
1 Replies
Omni

69 Reviews
Omni
Omni
Helpful Review    9
Immortal Beloved
I am not capable of writing an objective review of the Bal, having worn it since 1978. Why do we love sausages and mashed potatoes when nouvelle cuisine or pacific rim is au courant? The hippocampus is to blame of course, we lay down memories with our sense of smell and this explains why we remember the end of the golden weather when our Dad wore Old Spice and our Mothers wore Tweed. Even though I embrace change and try to keep up with technology there is always that sweetest tabu, the nostalgic link to the best of times, the worst of times. My head swivels to the waft of Aramis Devin or Chanel 19 because only a very definite personality type wears such. In other reviews I explain why I loved Ma Griffe, Weil de Weil, Shocking and Chanel No 5. I obtained them by roadkill. Bal a Versailles walked in to my life in 1978. It was wearing a slightly built, androdynous woman and I was shocked by the juxtaposition. After all, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor and Her Majesty were followers of the original. Today I would wear Terre d'Hermes and wouldn't bat an eyelid at a man wearing Bal a Versailles (Michael Jackson did) or Cabaret. It seemed strange then but she certainly had me thinking. After working with the perfume and the woman for some time I began to harbour the possibility, what reaction this pelt might have with my body chemistry? I wasn't brave enough until our employment diverged and I discovered that I wore it and not the other way round.

It lives in that dark place between the shadow and the soul, the perfume of a heartbreak, a computer chip of responses. Pure perfume is the only way to go
1 Replies
jtd

484 Reviews
jtd
jtd
Helpful Review    7
Image of an era and a scene: A glass of Scotch, a cigarette and Bal à Versailles.
Bal a Versailles went right over my head when I first tried it. It seemed like an old-school, animalic/powdery floriental. Whether you like that sort of perfume or not, the balance of the elements is crucial. Bal a Versailles just missed that balance---not enough powder to hide the skank. But as I eased into it, I got it. If I didn't put it into the Genre-Box, it came into just the right gauzy focus. Sweaty, decrepit, unashamed.
5.0 7.5 10.0 8.0/10
Sherapop

1239 Reviews
Sherapop
Sherapop
Greatly helpful Review    9
Even after reformulation, it's still complex...
When reviewers describe a perfume as "vintage", I'm never quite sure what they are trying to say. There seem to be at least three distinct meanings.

For some, "vintage" is a polite euphemism for "old lady," a nice way of saying that while it may have suited one's grandmother, those days are now long gone.

For others, "vintage" means something like "quirky", along the lines of MA GRIFFE or IVOIRE or some other creation that persists out of sheer stubbornness: there is nothing else like it, and no one would create such a fragrance today, but it still commands respect.

Another group appears to use "vintage" to mean "big-time real perfume masterpiece"--along the lines of MITSOUKO or ARPEGE--created by a parfumeur, not an industrial organic chemist under pressure from corporate marketers to produce something that will sell a zillion bottles only to lie idle on the vanity of most, eventually going stale.

Jean Desprez BAL A VERSAILLES is vintage in the third sense, I think. This edt is so rich and complex, with so many distinct layers to discover, that it evokes memories of a time when perfumers were primarily artists rather than savvy businessmen. My understanding is that the original perfume contained more than 300 essences, and I'm sure that the reformulation contains considerably less, yet it still smells complex.

I could not resist acquiring a bottle of BAL A VERSAILLES scent unsniffed after seeing so many references to it by so many people, including perfumers, and I must say that I was not disappointed. This deeply oriental perfume is an A1, bona fide, indisputable classic! I reach instinctively for BAL A VERSAILLES on cold wintry nights, when its big sillage and warm, deep resinousness blanket me in golden lustrous beauty!

Regarding the "skank factor", the reviews of this perfume I've seen at various websites and blogs are very polarized, but I side with those who don't find this composition dirty at all. Of course, my reference here is JOY, the Platonic Form of civet perfumes. (-:

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