Perfume Review: Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles
Michael Edwards’s site Fragrances of the World Online offers a wonderful service that is as useful as it is fun. Click on the name of your favorite perfume and Michael Edwards will recommend you three scents that you might also like. Bal à Versailles is one of the fragrances that the site always insists I am guaranteed to adore. Michael Edwards certainly knows best. After having been recommended this scent so many times, I finally got a sample and I do love Bal à Versailles.
Launched in 1962 by Jean Desprez, Bal à Versailles is a Floral Oriental with notes of jasmine, rose, sandalwood, patchouli, musk, amber, and civet. Those notes suggest a dark, rich, and powerful scent. And it is. What I did not expect based on that list of ingredients is how soft and strangely comforting this fragrance really is. Bal à Versailles starts with jasmine whose indolic darkness is almost impenetrable and very agreeable. I am not a jasmine lover and I usually shy away from jasmine’s indolic side, but I absolutely love it here. According to Jan Moran, three rose species were used in Bal à Versailles, Bulgarian, Anatolian, and May rose; based on that I expected the rose note to be more pronounced, and the rose is there, but it only serves as an understated background, which allows the dark jasmine note to flourish more effectively.
The middle stage of the fragrance is sweetly woody and ambery and not especially remarkable, but it is over very soon, giving way to the most scrumptiously animalic drydown. It is resinous and pitch black and it makes my knees week and my mouth dry. What with the indolic top note of jasmine and the civet in the base, Bal à Versailles is positively dirty. It is dirty, ravishing, sexy…and very soft…it is shocking really how unexpectedly velvety this scent is. Bal à Versailles would be a great accomplice if you wanted to seduce, stun and enslave somebody, but it would also work great as a warm comfort scent to wrap around you on a cold, dreary winter day.
For those familiar with Anne (Sergeanne) Golon’s book Angélique and the King (or any other books in the series and/or movies based on them, starring Michelle Mercier), Bal à Versailles is a perfect olfactory equivalent of the dirty world or love, lust, and intrigues depicted in the book. Bal a Versailles would have fitted Angélique, the brave, passionate, romantic and warm-hearted beauty that she was, like a (soft, expensively perfumed) glove.
Bal a Versailles can be found at Scentiments, $9.73-29.94.
*The photo of Angélique is from this site. You can read more on the World of Angelique here.