Revolution a Versailles is tricky. Bal a Versailles, the 1962 scent classic by Jean Desprez, is so overwhelmingly superb and layered that nothing can come close. The two share the same place name; that's largely it. There's no candlelit ballroom, no hall or mirrors alight with the perfumy candlewax aromas, not even the hint of sweat and hot bodies that so memorably prevents BaV from sliding into the bathetic.
Nor is there a guillotine.
No, at first it is difficult to comprehend that they both sprang from the same creative heart and mind. But then it opens up. For me - my body chemistry does strange things with some scents, destroying them almost immediately - this is a medium-lasting creation. And what it evokes - to me - is a visit to the slightly neglected chapelle du Couvent de la Reine at the Lycee Hoche, at the other end of the court of honour at Versailles.
There's the tiniest bit of dustiness. Yes, there are flowers - a bouquet that has just reached its peak, at a side altar. Again, the sort of atmosphere that causes one to bate one's breath in anticipation of some great unknown, a sense of dusty air and stoniness from the old floors that have been steadily trod upon for two hundred and ten years.
And then, floating over the flowers, the stones, the wax candles, unlit in their stands, a hefty dose of incense.
Nothing about Revolution; nothing about any dance, formal or otherwise. Nothing about sophisticated floral arrangements, but a hint that someone still cares, the flowers and the implements of faith still wait for someone.
I am not certain this was what Desprez intended - but that is what his fragrance elicits from me.
(c)2015 Daisy Morant
19th August, 2014 (last edited: 13th January, 2015)
this is how joyful spring cleaning can be. underneath a stack of fabrics awaiting transformation into my next couture collection i came across a box. hm, i thought. is this the rest of the alchimie gift i got a few years ago? or is it a box of soaps??? doesn't smell like my soaps, they are held in limbo until their scent has faded enough that i can use them. wait a minute! i recognize that red! up it came: a lovely presentation of clarins' par amour. hmmm. i don't even recall having received this - oh wait, yes i do! several years ago now. it has been waiting patiently to be opened, in a very dark, cold place, so - let's open it and give a blast of eau de parfum. . . .
strange on me. a first blast of beautifully blended flowers and aldehydes yields to:
oddly it lasts for about two minutes, then disappears entirely, leaving soft woodsy, ambery, comforting notes. the oddity of the disappearing top notes might be explained if they managed to sneak out of an entirely intact, unopened bottle. but that would be specific to this situation. fact is that this evanescence is noted by most of the other reviewers and ought to be noted by the clarins company. it ought to be beefed up considerably, most notably in the top and middle notes.
(c)Daisy Morant 2013
short review of the original formulation:
you love your carnations strongly scented, and you have a whole lot of them in the conservatory where the sun pouring through the glazing just heats everything into a cocoon. you are enjoying a vanilla pudding while watching the men saw up sandalwood for the new bench. from time to time a whirl of sawdust carries the sandalwood scent more strongly around you and you feel blissful.
it reminds you of the time you went to italy with your cranky husband, to the villa serbelloni, where he opened a window to get a view of lake como and the uprushing scent of carnations and roses and other flowers nearly knocked him down.
and when you got home, and put on the perfume that reminds you so much of this charming adventure, he keeled over again. to him it smells like insecticide, clogs up his sinuses. oh well, it just leaves more for you 8)
i can't even give this a rating, i am SO divided on it. it's horrible, all manner of stench, rough, choking, lodging in the back of the throat -
then it's interesting in a tromping-thru-a-swamp sort of way, near the skunk cabbages - and the occasional bright, ephemeral glimpse of a tiny flower.
the question is: is the possibility of glimpsing the flower enough to make one overlook the rest of it?
sadly, i am still sitting on the fence!
ah yes, fracas. what can one say that hasn't yet been said?
fracas to me is cyndi lauper. she gets into the wrestling ring in her hilariously excentric costumes but when she steps uo to the mike she sings softly, sweetly, with soul.
question: everywhere i read that the relaunch in 1996 was a reformulation by pierre negrin. if that is so, how close to the original is this fracas, is there a difference between fracas in a black-stoppered bottle and a clear one, (i believe i also have a frosted clear bottle rattling around somewhere) and how do they stack up against the two-ounce 60th anniversary limited edition edp?
17th May, 2011 (last edited: 21st March, 2013)
if i had ten thumbs every one of them would be up. to me, the greatest perfume ever. i don't know if it was rejigged at any point but all my BaV are vintage - from the early early 70s. lasts two days on my skin, two glorious days.
17th May, 2011 (last edited: 27th May, 2011)
it's a good thing that i like ysl's paris, because i was given more than a dozen and a half little bottles of the extrait, most of which continue to reside in my perfume armoire, prim in their little salmony-rose boxes and their fat rhinestone heads.
when testing perfumes i always try to sample the actual perfume, as something in many edps refuses to anchor itself to my skin. so most of what i have is extrait and that might account for the fact that when i read many of the reviews i just shake my head and ask what it is that the reviewer is smelling??? so that, when i read "chemical and strident" or "hot clubber" i really want to know whether it was the extrait that was tested. we all know that there's an ocean between edt and lotion, edp and edt, and a universe between the eaux and the extraits of most serious, well-thought-out perfumes.
paris opens - on me at least - like a large bowl full of violet and rose l'abbaye de flavigny drops which, while sugary, are authoritatively flavoured and have a heart of anise, so - not cloying. it goes from there into the stratosphere with lightly tripping flowers and, like an emphatic underline via a broad nib, just enough of the "animalic" to keep it from floating into the wild blue yonder.
vent vert was my first scent when i was a teenager - other than 4711, which i never thought of in the same way - it was something you could wash your hair with if you needed to -
vent vert extrait came to me in an ounce bottle that was contraband, having been unlawfully imported into the country by the crew of one of Hapag-Lloyd's ships at the begining of the 60s. of course this added to the glamour, as did the fact that nobody - nobody - else had anything remotely like it (it was not available in the country at that time). it had a greeny-golden viscous nature that reminded everyone immediately of absinthe, and like absinthe there was a core of sweetness inside the various bitter and green and resiny odours.
yes, it was very fresh and cold. like spring, which lasts about a day and a half here, cold and wet but with the burgeoning green scent of the natural world growing beyond our control - and then the sun comes out and all the whiffs and teasing trails of flower just glitter in the light.
i miss it.
i have some emeraude from the 30s; absolutely love the green stuff. if i were to visualize what its scent evokes in me i would have to say silk velvet opera coat lined in ermine with a russian egg with imperial osetra caviar in one pocket, a dacquoise in the other.
whatever it is that is as aggressive on my nose as the sludge that is opium really wrecks the enjoyment of this scent for me. perhaps i should remain in my ballgown, dancing barefoot among the stars etc etc (wearing BaV) rather than taking the occasional tumble down a flue into a tepid heap of ash and half-eaten meringues and the cloth that was used to dry off the dog after he leapt into the moat.
what i find most surprising is the degree to which this classic scent was devalued in the public mind because it was sold at woolworth's, where, in the 50s, you could get the cobalt laydown with the tasselled cap for one dollar. it became the butt of numerous jokes - in fact, the reformulated version should be stood in a shower with much soap until all the chemical fumes are gone.no wonder there's a brisk trade in the original.