Perfume Directory

Bal Versailles (1962)
by Jean Desprez


Bal Versailles information

Year of Launch1962
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 337 votes)

People and companies

HouseJean Desprez
Parent CompanyPerfumania Holdings > Parlux
Parent Company at launchJean Desprez

About Bal Versailles

Bal Versailles is a feminine perfume by Jean Desprez. The scent was launched in 1962

Reviews of Bal Versailles

Copied from my Fragrantica review ~2018

-BASED ON THE ORIGINAL 60's FORMULA (15ml extrait)- (Apparently BaV was a reissue of "debutante a versailles", allegedly released in France in 1941, but then marketed for international release in 1958. BaV was most likely an improvement to the original due to the constraints of wartime conflict and trading difficulties being lifted, over time the quality of ingredients disposable to the perfumer would have been restored)

I was so so lucky to find this a few months ago, a pristinely preserved 15ml, still wrapped in its golden silk rope. The jus (no evaporation) was a light golden orange (golden yellow when in front of light), not a dark brown like I have seen of the ill-preserved 70s-80s vintages. It only takes me the smallest dab from the end of my finger to get the full effect. A lovely earthy, dark bergamot that has a very distinct but pleasant petrol facet, far removed from the more brisk and linear bergamot in today's compositions. This perfume is full of contrasts being melded together and smoothed over perfectly, the civet is the star of the show, it eases the bergamot's potency as the perfumes settles into a slightly herbal state, sinking further into an exceptional bouquet of orange blossom, rose, jasmine and ylang ylang. The spiciness of the ylang plays well with a tickle of eugenol, reinforcing the deep bouquet even further. The herbal element resurfaces, with a strange slight sourness, but not off-putting as a contrasting castoreum-like leatheriness appears, smoothed over by the civet. At this point a powdery diffusive nitromusk element also shows up, feeling like an animated cloud puffing from my wrist, all from this exceptionally tiny dab. As the bouquet and herbal spiciness melts away, a very sudden animalic earthiness takes over, there was not just nitromusk here, but a nicely diluted genuine deer musk essence! As the nitromusk puffiness softens, the real McCoy becomes earthier still, gaining a sweetness of its own before the resinous base fights for presence, with a whisper of velvety rooty orris, and subtle earthiness from patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. At this stage the perfume has pushed the boundaries often, trying to repel you at times but you can't help but be drawn in, its the perfect chaos, completely balanced despite being feral in its own way. The resinous accord comprising of mostly vanilla, labdanum and subtle ambergris eventually runs its course, the party is over, at least you think it is, except the musk never left. At this point it is a exceptionally soft, dirty, slightly sweet muskiness hitting a soft patch of soil, this animated furry quality is different from the nitromusk, it blends with your skin and practically becomes one with you. You have to twist the angles of your wrist and nose to switch between extremely gentle earthiness and slight sweet feral.

Projection was strong at first and became a skin scent within a few hours (very good considering it was a tiny tiny dab), longevity of the perfume approximately 16 hours, longevity of the deer musk afterwards however, its been about two days and after enough showers, hygiene and chemical soap, it seems to have gone.

Overall this is one of the best perfumes I have ever smelled, I cannot speak for the slightly modified 70's vintage (check out MdM's descriptions on Basenotes), but the 80's onwards is more nagcham incense with no animated qualities or as much "animal" in it. The American version (00s onwards?) cannot hold a candle to the original in my frank opinion, it just lacks the magic and the richness overall, lacking in the florals by comparison, and the musk is more a linear powder to me, oh well.

Apart from the florals, the main component that blew me away was the animal essences, all of them extremely smooth and well dosed, the deer musk from what I have read to have been used at the time was the Tonkin/Tonquin variety from Vietnam , I would say it is more smooth, refined and less saccharine sweet than regular Himalayan musk, and does not have as distinct a chocolatey sweetness that Siberian musk has (I have sniffed those two types of deer musk from aged tinctures abroad, ageing before the CITES rulings). Although historically Tonkin was considered to be the most prized musk for perfume, I think that the Siberian variety with its more pronounced chocolate facet would appeal today, if dosed correctly of course. Even the synthetic nitromusk was an eyeopener, as I had no major reference point for it, considering that it has been barely used in a couple decades. I do feel guilty about how good these materials smell, especially when they meld together like they do in BaV.

Dare I say I believe this is an improvement of accords in other vintages, the civet in BaV is dosed far better than I have smelled in fragrances like shocking (also with the spice there is a small nod to L'Origan/LHB). In that regard I believe the civet in BaV to the civet in shocking is like comparing the work of Jacques Guerlain to Coty, what Coty did as a rough sketch with harsher tones and accords Jacques smoothed out, gave a soft focus to, and depending on your viewpoint, made it infinitely more luxurious. And this is coming from a guy touching his 20's, so believe it or not perfumes like this really can appeal to anyone, just depending on memories or emotional connections to the many many reference points in this perfume. Even after this ramble there will probably be odds and ends I have forgotten to mention, it really is something else.

Addendum: I thought the deer musk was gone for good but if I focus and inhale harshly it is still faintly there, rubbing alcohol doesn't seem to remove it either, oh dear!
17th February, 2019
I have been wearing BaV since the early 80's. My current bottle is from the early 2000's. The top has an aldehydic buzz even though none exist. I think it's the blend of all the top notes, that creates this vibe. It is bubbly, champagne-like, well-blended. The civet from the base notes, appears shortly after the top begins to settle. It has no sweetness on top. It has an almost earthy mood.

Rose and muguet appear. Ultra sheer lilac. Mellow jasmine - ladylike. A layer of leather lies just beneath. A layer of ylang ylang makes its presence known after a time.

The base is not sugary sweet. It is a muddy sweetness with again, an earthy appeal. Expertly blended cedar, sandalwood, boozy vanilla, civet (still here!), benzoin, and a fuzzy balsam. Worn out in fresh air, BaV totally reveals her charms.

The base grows more intense after a time. A very adult perfume.
31st October, 2018
If there were a God, She would smell of vintage Bal a Versailles in pure parfum concentration.
02nd October, 2018
I purchased the current eau de toilette, and my expectations were reflective of the majority of the reviews. There was no funk, animalic, or sensual aspect to this fragrance. It smells like Talcum Powder and reminded me of the Johnsons and Johnsons powder aroma in the locker room after the game. (without the funk) I am disappointed. Powder is not a good scent for an older dude.
14th August, 2018
I own a 70's bath oil, that I dab as one would extrait and it is superb, great evolution, the flowers, the powder, resins, vanilla, leather all is of great quality, deep and airy a the same time, shimmering , it lasts forever and even gets more intense in the first few hours. But what anchors, enhances and sublimes is the civet.
Eye rollingly scentual with sex
29th June, 2018
This is for the current EdP. For me this is mostly old-school powder and florals with something skanky and animalic lurking in the base. The sweet, powdery start reminds me a bit of L'Heure Bleue, then the rose and iris show up with a bit of that face-powder/vintage lipstick vibe, but with a bit of tropical, indolic floral thrown in. Some aspect of the flowers almost seem dried to me - shades of potpourri, but with a rose-creamy scent underneath, along with that animalic musk. As it dries down, the powder fades and it settles into a rose-floral, sandlewood, musk that I quite enjoy, but not enough to deal with all the powder and potpourri up top.
15th June, 2018

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Perfumes launched in the same year as Bal Versailles (1962)