I love this perfume, although it may be a little sweetly floral for an older woman.
It's 1978 in Battersea Park, London. The Stranglers have just finished playing "Nice 'n' Sleazy". This is how the stage smells like...
Bal à Versailles is a marvelous, iconic and perhaps a little underrated chypre rich in civet and grace, a dirty Kouros wrapped into the warm skin of a lady scented with Shalimar – or, except for the leather, the naughty Habanita ready for her début in the high society. Benzoin, vanilla, oak moss, civet, flowers, fruity notes, leather, iris, a slight aldehydic accord, musk... what completely amazes me is that Bal à Versailles is surely skanky and carnally dirty, but there is also this irresistible sense of utter, golden, velvety refinement and elegance, in a really radiant, powdery way, like if you can almost feel the silky scented powder on the dresses of the ladies dancing. Perhaps it is just about that: the smell of dancers in a Belle Epoque ambiance, with all their scents, but also their passions and dirty secrets. As minutes pass - as the ball goes on, one might say... - Bal à Versailles gets increasingly darker and dirtier, with the civet note emerging in its sweaty, irresistibly "urinous" personality, always perfectly blending and hiding in a white fog of talcum and warm floral gracefulness. Great persistence, great scent, great everything.
Advertisement — Reviews continue below
Add another voice to the chorus in praise of Bal à Versailles! As a traditional oriental fragrance, Bal à Versailles’s kinship with Shalimar is obvious: there is a similarly smoky, dark vanilla and there is plenty of opoponax. However, there is also more indolic orange blossom more obvious civet, more animalic musks, and perhaps even a suggestion of leather. (Labdanum, perhaps? Yes – labdanum and opoponax in a leathery accord, I think.) Bal à Versailles is perfectly judged in terms of balance: floral vs. spicy-vanillic vs. animalic; and in terms of strength. Unlike some orientals of the ‘80s, say Opium, Samsara, or KL, Bal à Versailles never shouts. It does last, however. And last. A full day and a couple of showers are not enough to banish Bal àVersailles’s voluptuous labdanum, musk, and vanilla drydown.
Bal à Versailles is a dark, glamorous, and evocative scent. It is not so much “old-fashioned” or “old-school” as timeless: though released in the early 1960s, it could have been composed decades earlier. A beautifully crafted scent that’s completely deserving of is classic status. As a man, I find it easy to wear, provided I apply it lightly. It strikes me as little more inherently “feminine” than orientals in the mold of Héritage, Habit Rouge, or Jaïpur Homme.
The first time I met Bal a Versailles I was 16. On my way through Nordstroms I saw it sitting on the perfume counter, in the middle of the shiny modern 80's bottles, looking very out of place. I'd never even heard of BaV before but I rather recklessly spritzed it on both wrists (hey, I was young, lol).
The next 20 minutes were miserable. BaV was completely out of left field. I wanted to wash it off! But then something changed and it became quietly perfect. At the end of the day it was so warm and delicious and that I knew I had to try it again.
Every time I wear this fragrance, I am still uneasy for the first 20 minutes. During that time I am 90% certain that I've made a mistake. But after that, it is simply one of the best fragrances that humanity has ever managed to formulate. It is warm and deep and delicious and sensual.
I've read that there are over 300 different ingredients in this masterpiece. I can't smell them all, but I always feel like I'm wearing a work of art when I put it on.
It's not a fragrance for everyone. It's a fragrance that lasts, but it doesn't zing across the room like some perfumes do. It has very rounded, full, soft edges.
This is not a fragrance for a girl. This is a fragrance for a woman.
If you're tired of the soapy, piercing, headache-inducing "clean clean clean" laundry perfumes, if you'd rather smell like a goddess than a lollipop, if you'd like to make people nervous at church, give Bal a Versailles a try. :)
To me, this is the incredibly beautiful definition of perfume. I own the vintage EdC, the vintage parfum and await the arrival of the vintage EdT so I can wear all three at once as its designer, Jean Desprez, intended -- never mind the inflated prices paid. Nor will I go into the many notes. They exist in other perfumes. BaV transcends its components. This is a powerhouse perfume for a self-confident person seeking luxury for the nose.
p.s. I bought Coty's Laimant and tested it against BaV. They're similar, but not the same. The jasmine & orange blossom are much stronger in BaV and it is more complex and rich.
Bigger than life and as sexy as the come
Here we have a fine example of "over-the-top" perfumery at its best. I don't mean that in a derogatory way--in fact I adore this fragrance and am searching for a bottle to add to my collection, for I know the sample I own won't last long. The vintage EDT is, as one reviewer described it, "Rococo" in effect; big, complex, a veritable cornucopia of notes that spell out "sexy" in large, bold letters for all to see. No, don't wear this for running around town, catching up with errands; the reaction from the male sex is pronounced. This is meant for special moments. Seduction. Because there is so much going on in this fragrance, teasing out individual notes is difficult. The animalic notes appeared within moments of application, surrounded by sweet florals and juicy citrus fruit. The opening might be a bit much for some noses, but be patient because once the fragrance settles in, it's lovely and becomes deeply resinous and woody. The civit is pronounced. If you love the perfume "Shocking", I'm sure you'll love this as well. Sillage is BIG, longevity excellent. I could still pick up the scent 12 hours after application. A classic in its own right, one that everyone should at least try before assuming it's "just a skanky civit".
Pros: Warm, spicy, animalic, heavy florals, great longevity and sillage.
Cons: Might be too big and bold for some tastes."
Orange blossom, opoponax, and a whiff of plastic doll. I have to assume that my bottle is a modern formulation, so I detect no outrageous civet or bestial skank. There is, however, a whisper of the hay loft and the barnyard. This is lovely, when I am in the mood. I have to get past the Plastic doll note. This is a scent that I imagine Betty Draper wearing: it evokes, for her, a 1960's evocation of both the palace at Versailles where this princess would love to envisage herself in a scandalous assignation, and the stables where she enjoys flirting with young WASP heirs whilst working up a sweat during her horse riding lessons. Over-hyped, but a lovely study in opoponax.
Many years ago as I walked through Harods in London, I avoided as usual the perfume praying mantis trying to make me try the synthetic mass produced chemical concoctions and happened upon the sight of a massive bottle of Bal a Versailles. Maybe its quite sad to realise that initially I was seduced by my eyes and not my nose, but yes, it was the case. I did have a try of the tester though and as I wandered around Harods, and then later around London, I felt as though I couldn't forget the fragrance. I suppose in a way, it was like falling in love at first smell. I couldn't rest until I had aquired a bottle for myself, luckily my local wonderful perfumery in York stocks it.
I don't wear it every day, or every week, but like a favourite Lover who only appears occasionally but never fails to please, I absolutely love it!!
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 harbor 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. Today, post reformulation, I layer Cuir Amethyste and Bal a Versailles. Love means never have to say you're sorry.
04th March, 2013 (last edited: 19th March, 2013)
I had a sample of Bal a Versailles years ago. It was the 1980's and I was in my youth. The popular fragrances of the period were Poison, Amarige, Arden's Red Door, etc. Great big florals and things of that ilk. Bal a Versailles was miles away from what all my friends were wearing. So of course I adored it. I never cared to follow trends. I like what i like. Unfortunately the sample bottle was all I could get my hands on at that time. When it was gone I sadly said good-bye to Bal a Versailles.
Other scents soon caught my attention and I forgot my love for Bal a Versailles. Now as I like to change scents monthly I was trying to think of something new for January. I like heavy scents for winter. In the cold of the Pacific Northwest my skin dries out and a light scent won't last.
After much searching and debating I happened across my old friend - Bal a Versailles. I remebered it's richness and sillage and also found the current reformulation is quite inexpensive. So I purchased a bottle. Now, not having smelled BaV in quite a while may be a blessing. I really only remember the barrest structure of the fragrance. But this new BaV does not disappoint me!
The first rush is sweet honeyed fruit and flowers. Nothing bad about that. The thing I get is the sandalwood and patchouli here make a very smooth combination. I get a lot of the vanilla and the resins in the base, but absolutely no civet. So I have no idea what people who call BaV skanky are talking about. To me there is richness, lushness and pure elegance.
Althought I can't smell the civet in BaV I think my cat can, because she has started to lick my arm where I was testing the fragrance!
Rome January 1962, in the dark corners of the huge soundstage of Cinecittà Studios all eyes are on an extraordinary personage. The man is Welsh, and touted to be the new Olivier. With a good ten years of films behind him he has never really hit it big in the movies. Not like he has on the stage where he is considered a god. That is about to change.
There is a small commotion in the shadows. He and everyone else on the set turn, and his eyes fall upon the luscious curves of the woman who has just unceremoniously sauntered into the pool of lights in the center of the stage. Sheathed in flowing canary yellow chiffon, her eyes of violet blue spangled with glitter and lined with black Egyptian kohl she is every inch a morsel for a monarch. Her eyes with veiled curiosity explore his handsome acne scarred face. She is not impressed and yet slightly apprehensive of his stage training. He takes in her dark glamour in and recalls being tuned to ice by her dismissive glance ten years earlier across a hot star encrusted swimming pool in smoggy Los Angeles. That was the first time Richard Burton laid eyes upon his destiny in the form of Elizabeth Taylor. This time in Rome was the second.
The director, Joe Mankiewicz spoke briefly to both of them then went of to commiserate with the cinematographer and the assistant director leaving them awkwardly alone to make their own introductions. Burton turned and crookedly smiled to Elizabeth. He picked up a cup of coffee and spilled a little as his hand was seized by a hangover tremor. Instinctively she reached out and steadied the cup. Gently her hand cupped his and guided the coffee to his lips. His eyes fell into hers and locked there for eternity.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are a very pretty girl?” He said.
Her heart, imagination and life were changed forever by that simple cliché that fell in perfect calculated grace from the lips of perhaps the greatest Shakespearian actor of his generation.
And so it began the scandal of the 1962 which shattered two marriages, nearly toppled a studio and ushered in the cannibalistic tabloid world of today. It was the romance of the century and inspired a generation of sexual revolutionaries. Not to be left out of the action the Pope got in on the act and branded Elizabeth Taylor a “Sexual Vagrant”. Now THAT is a Movie Star!
What did this shattering moment smell like? Bal à Versailles is the answer. Many famous women from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Queen Elizabeth have worn it, but none more famously than Elizabeth Taylor on the set of “Cleopatra” when she launched a thousand paparazzo’s in the arms of her Mark Antony.
Created in 1962 by Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles is traditionally presented as a female fragrance. Well that was back in the old days of the 1900’s, welcome to the 21st century were such gender identities for fragrance are down right passé. This magnificent perfume fully rounded out by 350 essences is a monster of audacious panache and a masterpiece of design fit for anyone with the balls to wear it. It is bold, and huge in its opening of rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, Neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose and lemon. Heavy hitters are the roses and the orange notes. We move in for our close-up with notes of sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and leather. The Leather dominates the heart of the fragrance. If you are a leather lover this is Oscar time at the Kodak Theater and Nicole Kidman has just called your name. When the dry down approaches it is a dramatic movie star fade out. Beautiful notes of tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar and resins hold court for the final long shot as Bal à Versailles rides off into the sunset captivating all it has touched with its smoky fingers of desire and fire.
Bal à Versailles is a projection bomb. Once you have it on there is no going back. You commit to this one all the way or not at all. The silage is like incense burners pumping purple heaven full blast on Cleopatra’s barge. It lasts for days without the need for “retakes”. It is animalic, dirty, sexy and just a wonder of a scent that has me in its spell as surely as Elizabeth Taylor had Richard Burton just where she wanted him all those years ago in Rome, right in the palm of her hand.
FIVE GOLD STARS *****
I recieved a bottle of this in the Eau De Cologne as a birthday/graduation present a couple of days ago along with some other [EPIC!] goodies from fellow basenoter Jujy54. Her note in the card stated that it was 'Racy stuff, pure decadence' and I couldn't agree with that statement more. The porcelain bottle is beautiful and like something off of Marie Antoinette or Josephine Beauharnais' boudoir tables. As others have noted very french. The opening on my skin is very spicy and slightly dizzying if you smell it straight away. I love the spice in the beginning, and after a few moments it begins to develop. Heavy on the musk, vanilla, and rose and a spicy vibe as it dries down to a 'sultry cookie' on my skin. The scent itself reminds me of an extravagant ball at Versailles or some other palace, with flowers all around, and flowing champagne and sweet treats, and ladies and gentlemen [or gentleman/gentleman, lady/lady menage trois] pressed together [it is Bal a Versailles after all] it just reeks of elegance and sultry cookie. and I really like it. <3
19th July, 2012 (last edited: 28th July, 2012)
Advertisement — Reviews continue below
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.
This review is for the current EDT.
This opens rich, warm, heady & sweet, with a honeyed feel, & animalic civet present right from the start. After a powerful opening, it settles quite close, taking on a vanillic & powdery aspect, but remains wonderfully skanky throughout. Five hours in l get a salty amber, with just a whiff of the supporting floral notes, & it lasts all day & all evening on me.
l find this classic perfume rich & comforting, & like Musc Ravageur, most suited for a night on the tiles or for those special private moments. l would feel far too self-conscious wearing something so dirty to work or for a formal occasion.
This is for the original Bal à Versailles.
Head notes: Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, bulgarian rose, lemon
Heart notes: Sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley
Base notes: Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, oriental resins
Bal à Versaille is most certainly one of the utmost opulent perfumes ever made. This kind of fragrance is perfectly suitable for white tie events where women are dressed in long silk taffeta gowns and wear diamond rivières. The vanilla-amber-resin base, the complex middle note extravaganza and the intoxicating citrus-floral top make for a powerful olfactory experience. Of course, BAV is rather sweet, powdery and heady fragrance but when it is worn in the proper venues, it is absolutely heavenly. IMHO, BAV is chiefly an evening fragrance and it's warm and rich effluvia are better appreciated in autumn and winter.
I read here that there is a "new" version of this great classic which has not much to do with the original. If so, it is a pity.
Wow, simply amazing, one of the absolute best, most magnificent creations ever made. If you want something different, something naughty, something men will remember as the scent of the girl they were crazy for, choose BAV. It is not for the tame at heart, it is for those that will embrace their sexuality, who are daring to put on red heels with a red dress and walk out to the streets wearing bad hair. Call girl, perhaps but to me Madamme Pompadour all the way. We all have the bad girl in us but do we dare to show it off? Pure perfection to me, men are very attracted to this scent even though it is not loud but very intimate and thus best for intimate occasions, it must be those pheromones in there and what a stunning civet, bringing out our animalic side. Very long lasting and my absolute fave at the moment. BTW, I own the vintage EDT but also really love the modern EDT. They are similar yet different, as expected due to the natural notes the vintage is smoother and velvety, less sillage and definitely less lasting power but some of that is also due to the dissipation of some top notes perhaps. The modern version is spicier, grand sillage and great lasting power, some effervescent sharper notes on top. Love both and could not choose, great layered too, I would do vintage and then modern over. Vintage alone can even be worn to the office. Simply what I would call passion in a bottle.
13th March, 2012 (last edited: 13th April, 2012)
I'm tried the new one, and I've tried the original 1960s. I ended up hunting down the original. For me, the new version smells a lot like L'Air de Rien by Miller Harris, the skankiest of skin perfumes make for Jane Birkin. I onw that and I love it and I didn't feel the need to own another scent that smelled the same after dry down.
So the 60s one. I adore this. My bottle came all the way from the US (via Etsy, a great place for vintage scents), and had leaked only slightly into the plastic wrapper. I keep that on my desk now and it still sinks gloriously after two months.
For me it's a perfume that doesn't smell like perfume, way ahead of its time. Yes, it's a "skin scent" but it doesn't smell like the new version, not after a couple of minutes.
So what is it like? A bunch of flowers held in the hand of a gardener who's been out in the sun digging flower beds all day.
Ah! Father! This intrigue of nonsense! In myself I believed to see an omnipotent, all-knowing Alpha-Male, impervious and invincible to any and all confusions of the heart; troubles of unrequited love, emotive manipulations: Always, I walked a straight line into the lives of any and all I desired, to then leave them breathless, enflamed, slaves to my every whim. Coolly, with deft calculations, shamelessly I would captivate them with my looks, ensnare them with wit, to then hold them hostage until the moment would come, always inevitable, when the intrigue would wane, their allure grew tiresome, or simply, without warning, I would unexpectedly crave isolation: So it happened, Father, that, with age, I did come to approach and finally to guiltlessly accept my peripatetic love life; self centered, preoccupied with my own pleasures, feigning interest, yet principally engaged only in the glorification of my own ego to the detriment of many: To find me, follow the trail of shattered, weeping hearts, for I have broken so very many. The long, winding trail that crosses the globe, over and over: The trail of corpses. At the end of it, my own now lays gasping for air: Flummoxed, disturbed, distraught and in shock: Halfway through my life it would appear that I have been served a bit of my own Machiavellian, wanton ways, and just this tiny wee dose has left me senseless in despair, finally enlightened as to the bleak gravity of my transgressions. So here I am. I have come to confess this most hideous of sins: A lifetime of demonic lusts that culminated and erupted in a tryst so shamelessly brazen, so vile, that I feel as though by it I have been branded in fire. Somehow, now that I have tasted the foul savour of my own, pitiless and self-serving lust, I can no longer live with myself, for I feel as though I have been transformed into a kind of devil: Possessed and invaded by a daemon. I met her. I met her in flesh and in the blood. In retrospect, I feel as though I have met my own self in the guise of a woman. Her reputation, quite legendary in certain circles, had preceded our meeting. I knew well and proper that with her, I would be playing with fire, but nothing, nothing at all, would stop me: From the moment of introduction, to my integral surprise, in me she would show no interest whatsoever: She was aloof. Unimpressed. When questioned, flippantly she claimed never to have heard of me, as if I were some nameless back room bookkeeper in a shoe shop, or a common civil servant. That assertion I am near convinced was a ruse, though presently I am sure of nothing, save for the searing pain in my heart, and an unusual taste of isolation, formerly sweet, reassuring, restful, full of relief; now bitter. The nonsense of it! My own cherished, beautiful solitude now turned to loneliness, common as gutter sludge. I have come to confess a lifetime of sins of the flesh, of gluttony and of shameless, guileless indulgences, never repented, never regretted.
It was at a Fancy Dress Ball when, finally, we met, when finally, as it appeared, I came face to face with my own withered, dying soul. All around was confusion and movement. The finest ladies in sparkling attire. Hoards of gentlemen fitted out in black masques. From afar, I saw her dancing, whirling about on the marble, seemingly passed about like a party favour: Taking gloved hands into hers, twirling and pirouetting, then gliding off to the arm of her next partner. Every time our eyes would meet she would turn her gaze: No masque had she, only a fan of ostrich plumes, and a black spray of aigrettes tucked cunningly into her coiffure, which she wore pin-tucked and curled high atop her head. Waltzing and whirling my way through the chaotic merriment, I purposely and repeatedly veered to approach her, in hopes that she would accept my outstretched hand, yet each time I would draw near, she would only spin round, to whip me across the face with the feathers of her headdress, black as tar, that contrasted sharply with her voluminous, multi-layered gown of sunflower yellow taffetas, chantilly laces and diaphanous organza. Each time I drew near I could smell an intoxicating perfume of warmth: Fields of dryed out, rotting roses, baking and sweltering in the heat, laced with a kind of heady incense that left me in a muddle heretofore unknown. Finally, with my white-gloved hand, I reached to grasp her, forcefully from behind, at which point, with the deft snap-twirl of a ballerina, her face was flush against mine, and our eyes locked. Keeping my gaze, with nonchalance she handed me her fan, with long spidery fingers captive in tulle mittens she reached up to remove my masque, without a word, without an apology, to then tie it around her own face, now batting her eyes through it. Lifting up her fan to offer it back I could feel a kind of rush emanate from it: The sweetest, most erotic scent of sweat that took up residence in my nostrils. Like a creeping, invading virus, I could feel it enter my blood, which pumped furiously as we danced off key, strangely isolated in our own separate universe. This dance, which saw me bewitched and under spell, led us, both equally drunken and stupid, to a long corridor that stretched so far into the distance that it seemed as if it went on into eternity, all paneled and gilded, with sparkling crystal chandeliers and sconces flanking yawning doors, all closed. First peering down into the depth of it, she looked up at me, her aigrette feathers quivering as she removed my black masque from her face, and tossed it on the floor as she took my hand, and, in a rustle of taffetas, led me away, so far that the music faded to silence, and we were alone: As it now appeared, there was no end to this hall: Just an eternal suite of scintillating crystal, glistening wood, and doors….still more doors. She threw herself seductively against one of these, and, her face now bare, looked up at me. The fire, it was not only in her eyes, but seemed to erupt from beneath her skirts, through her bustier, with licking flames that crept up between her bosom. With her right hand, she reached high up to take a firm, pinching hold of my ear. With her left, she opened the door, and both of us fell, tumbling into an opulent chamber of damask silk draperies, lyre shaped lounges and cabriole legged chairs, all gold and vibrant, canary yellow. Intoxicated on the vapours that enshrouded her, now so heavy as to fairly blind me with their dank, rosy musk, I began laughing, until I was summarily shut up by her mouth, and her tongue, which seemed to move into my head the way her scent flushed its way into my blood, turning it to liquid amber: I felt as if the whites of my eyes had grown yellow, and, were a pair of horns to burst forth through my skull, I would not have puzzled. Tearing at each other like wild beasts we rolled about the floor, until her massive sunflower ball gown became a kind of mattress, my black cloak a cover: I felt as if she had wiggled her way into my body, and from the inside was tickling it and tantalizing it in the most delicious ways. Our silent waltz on the floor became increasingly intense. Her mouth, her hands, her hair, every part of her body seemed to seer its way into mine. She was in control. Every time I tried to speak, or groan, my mouth would be filled with some part of her. Finally I resigned to close my eyes and let her take charge as she mounted me and rode my body like a horse: Slapping and whipping it, scratching and spitting, all the while filling me with her amber liquids that smelled and tasted like the heat and fires of seething passions of bestiality. Of these I drank willingly, never knowing from whence they came, or what they were, knowing only that I craved them, hungered for them: Each time I would reach to return her caress I would be whipped, spanked or pinned down. Each time I opened my mouth it would be fed with her body, and all the while I could hear her gasping, moaning, in turn cackling and laughing. When finally I tried to open my eyes they would be blinded: She spat in them. Licked them. Held her fingers spread open in my mouth, to fill it again with a rush of nectar, all sweet, yet dry and suffocating, burning my throat. Finally, as I began to feel the convulsions of my own innards threaten to erupt, I felt her fingers leave my mouth and encircle their way around my throat. It seemed as though she were strangling me: Tighter and tighter until I gasped for air as my body released its passion, and I fell into a swoon that first seemed made of blinding yellow light then dimmed to a murky black haze, and, ultimately, to oblivion. Shivering and naked I next found myself sprawled out beneath my silk-lined cloak with the light of dawn creeping through the soaring windows, all draped and swathed with bouillon fringe and gossamer lace…and still…this scent in my nostrils…this taste in my mouth: All over my body an oily sweat of wilting roses and amber, yet in the room, I was alone. No trace of her. No evidence that she had even existed, though every item of garment I sought out as I redressed reeked of this perfume. My socks. My shirt. It was as if they had all been laundered in this liquid then pressed in its steam. Now, I carry it with me, everywhere I go: Nothing will get it off, so I bring it here, to this Holy Place, with head bowed, and misery in my heart. I bring it along with the audacity to beg forgiveness, though I know I deserve it not: For how many times have I myself brought such punishment unto others, desirous only of my own pleasures? And how many times have I left some poor soul naked and weeping, covered in my own stench, equally indelible? How many times have I remorselessly done unto others what she, this woman did unto me, I who was willing, who drank of her nectar as if it were the very wine of Heaven, and laid there, spattered in her eruptions, delighting in them, lapping them up like a crazed animal in heat? Is it not said that there is no sin so black that it cannot be forgiven? Even these? Even these that went on at that Ball… At That Bal a Versailles?
This review is for the EDC diluition.
I usually approach reviews for this kind of classic compositions trying to avoid the usual note explanation. I generally prefer to give an overall idea of what the fragrance smells like and always suggest to any "real" perfume lover to not miss the chance to experience such classic beauties.
Here we go...
Take vintage Shalimar and deprive it of a little sweetness being careful, at the same time, to manitain a solid dose of spicy and powdery vanilla. Add the skanky aspect of Kouros (the urinous honey note plus the civet plus the greased hair musky vibe) and refine it with a consistent Orange Blossoms note on top. Et voilà. AMAZING stuff!
As a friend use to say, Bal A Versailles EDC is like a skanky naughty girl.
Classic but not aged. Terrific lasting power and great projection. If moderately applied does great also on a man. If you'll ever experience a skankier EDC, please, drop me a line..
'Bal a Versailles' is in a category all on it's own with the exception of possibly one other, *Tabu* by Jean Carles & the title would be "Orientalis Magnifica Decadensis". I love the way Luca Turin describes how Tabu,"The Genghis Khan" of orientals has the ability to clear a hotel lobby should a bottle break in some poor unfortunates luggage, 'Bal a Versailles' instantly reminds me of the ORIGINAL 1930's Tabu extrait formulated & produced in France ! It is said Bal a Versailles contains nearly 300 essences, absolutes, tinctures & bases mostly natural as well as some synthetics, I have all concentrations from the highly exotic huile de bain and parfum de toilette to the potent & mystifying liquid gold of the pure parfum. A great way to wear and experience the heady floral, ambre and ever so musky animalic delights of 'Bav' is to layer and alternate the different vintages & concentrations, this creates a personal blend if you will while saving and prolonging stocks of precious favorite bottles. A little goes a long way with this floriental juice of powerhouse proportions, I also have a uneasy premonition that a major reformulation may be a distinct possibility in the not so distant future, 'BaV' has held true without too much interference since it's launch in the early 60's, time to re-stock now for diehard fans of this legendary juice from the once esteemed house of Jean Desprez, of this I am most certain!
07th November, 2011 (last edited: 14th June, 2014)
Just got some of the EDC (white bottle, gold cap) off Evilbay. Not sure of the vintage, but the blue box lacks the Der Grüne Punkt and ingredients are listed as alcohol, water, and fragrance and D&C Brown n.l, so before 1991, I figure.
Whatever the date, I like this stuff. Powdery honey spice with a root-beer tinted musk. Reminds me of vintage Tabu, but more refined. More call girl than reasonably priced, conveniently located sex worker. I would love to try the vintage parfum.
Actually this would be a great scent for a roller derby girl. It's strong, feminine, charmingly retro and would go well with sweat.
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)
I, like Lilybelle, have the little white bottle of Bal A V. and I couldn't love it more. I found it at the Elizabeth Arden warehouse sale(!). Who knows how it got there; and the price was certainly right. It was an offer I couldn't refuse. And of course, the scent itself seduced me, so to speak, at first whiff. I wasn't aware of the scents rather prestigious history at the time. I just thought it smelled great. Instantly taken by it, and I'd been smelling stuff all afternoon. Bal A Versaille just cut through all the others. It has all these decadent, libertine associations and I'm not sure if that's warranted or simply the image it's meant to project...
In any event, when I wear it (and I'm a guy, but I think it's completely unisex) I make sure to spray a lot on my wrist so I can keep smelling it all day. It's like a cake you can't stop taking little slices of! So...let them eat cake! ;)
Good heavens - this really is a skank monster. A Libertines damp underwear, which is apt as the name and bottle evoke decadence of the powdered wig variety, with a dab of rouge, here and here. This is fragrance as costume drama.
I was mooching around Fenwicks Perfume Hall and tested this along with Mouchoir de Monsieur, so I was working the Belle Epoque, liberally doused with the royal court of King Louis XIV.
I sprayed this on my arm and got on the Tube home, feeling very self conscious due to the intense animalic element, which is the strongest I've experienced. Now, later, its dried down to something a little more conventional, floral and powdery but still the rudest Oriental I’ve ever had the privilege to try.
For Christmas I got the Roi Soleil candle from Cire Trudon, which apparently smells like the polished wood floor of the Mirror Room at the Palace of Versailles. The combination makes for a wonderful and evocative olfactory experience.
I’ll have to buy it at some point in the future, although I’m not sure I’ll have the guts to wear it.
03rd January, 2011 (last edited: 04th January, 2011)
Gorgeous, cheap unisex classic. I wore it to jail when I got a DUI and didn't regret it. The EDT has enough well-blended poopy skank that it gives off an aura of sophistication and wordliness without descending into vulgarity. Not that I have any problems with descending into vulgarity- I wear Giorgio! But Bal is a classic that is truly representative of its time- it beautifully anticipates the coming fashion, tied in with the sexual liberation movement, for single-note animalics, and wouldn't be out of place on Brian Jones or Mick Jagger.
The bottle, with its Marie Antoinette-through-a-sixties-filter maidens and whiskey flask shape, is PURE, HILARIOUS GOLD. It's a great summer fragrance, you can really bathe in it without offending anyone, but is probably too thin for winter. I look forward to trying the extrait.
A week ago I visited a friend in Chicago, and she took me to a performance of the top 10 winners of a summer reality show.
Now I don't have a TV, and had vaguely heard of the show. When it started each of the ten acts was flashed across the big sreen, but one performer in particular caused the crowd to go nuts.
Let's just say that when you have no preparation for Prince Poppycock, your mouth hits the floor and you jump out of your seat for a standing ovation along with everyone else.
Likewise, Bal a Versailles is best approached wiht no preconceived notions. I think it's image gets in its way, and if you didn't know any better you'd say to yourself, "My, what a lovely, soft powdery floral."
This scent is oddly addictive. When i stick my nose in it I get this strange spice note that is course and off putting, but when I smell the sillage It's so unusual I can't 'sniff away.'
I found myself chasing after my own scent trail, for no other than reason than morbid curiosity. There's just nothing like this out there. My version is from the 70's era, and I appreciate it more than the EDC I tried last year. It's smoother and more refined.
A standing ovation for Bal A Versailles!
I got a bottle of vintage Eau de Cologne which I decanted into a little spray bottle.
Upon first spray, BaV smells very dirty, pungent, indolic and animalic. It makes me think of a dog or a dirty cage.
As soon as the dog note calms down; rich orange flower, honey and musk take stage. The scent melts into the skin and I am left with a gorgeous golden halo that is comforting yet sexxxy at the same time.
The name is more than fitting. BaV is a decadent beauty that will not appeal for the masses in this era of scrubbed-clean detergent smell alikes. I like my scents more dirty than clean.
I think this can easily be worn by a man too.
Decadent...Lush....Dirty and/or animalic....Gorgeous!
Top notes are rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, bulgarian rose and lemon; middle notes are sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang and lily-of-the-valley; base notes are tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar and resins.
I'm amazed at this perfume. Made in 1962 yet doesn't smell dated. The great thing about womens fragrances from that era is they are now so unisex! I just adore this stuff!