Jean Desprez: Bal a Versailles: The Smell of Scandal


 My dear chum Lisa Wordbird dropped round to IScent HQ yesterday with samples that made my eyes pop out.  As you know, it’s my blog-aversary in two days and what better way to round off the year than with this notorious and coveted legend?

Bal a Versailles is talked about in the way scandalous scarlet women are discussed.  Part of you is outraged whilst another secretly wishes that you looked that good in fishnets before noon.

Burlesque Artiste Pretty S'Vere courtesy of World of Oddy photography
Burlesque Artiste Pretty S’Vere courtesy of World of Oddy photography

 Bal a Versailles is too much of everything all at once, but somehow it really works. The opening is so brash and bright it borders on the medicinal for a few moments, before plunging like a slutty neckline into spice, resin, balsam and all things nice.

The notes are too numerous to list here, but here are the highlights: Leather, Amber, Benzoin, Vetiver and Balsam. The flowers are present and correct but they get a bit lost in the smokiness of the background, like Can Can dancers in a Cigar room: Jasmine, Roses, Violet Leaf, Lilac.

The whole cacophony results in a smoky, slightly metallic, spicy, leathery, woody fug, which to my mind has a lot in common with Caron Tabac Blond (see my earlier review on this blog).

I do have to marvel at the fact that I found no civet or animalic notes here, when so many Fragrantica users rate it as one of the most prominent notes.  This is unusual for me, as I found animalic notes in Worth Courtesan and Ivoire de Balmain (original, not the recent one) both of which you can find on my blog. In fact, the animal notes were so strong in both that they bordered on the smell of poor hygiene, yet Bal a Versailles?  Not a whisper of it.

That doesn’t stop it being what Lisa called “Definite Date Night” perfume. And by Date Night, we are not talking about a night at the cinema, but the kind that makes you sneak home the next day with your shoes in your hand.

5 thoughts on “Jean Desprez: Bal a Versailles: The Smell of Scandal”

  1. Dearest Iscent
    ‘Like CanCan dancers in a cigar room’… what an exquisite image!
    But no animals?
    On me its a magnificent danse macabre in an unruly menagerie.
    Happy New Year, near blogging birthday girl.
    All my most scented wishes for the year ahead.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dearest Mr Dandy

      I was amazed not to get the dirty civet since I seem to find it everywhere when others do not. It’s still a darned good powerhouse scent that I would even wear for the school run, just to scatter the pigeons.

      Thank you for your warm wishes. Your support, and indeed your excellent blog, has been a motivator, an education and an inspiration.

      Your friend

      1. Dearest Iscent
        Oh please do wear it on the school run… promise!?!
        I’ve derived so much pleasure from your adventures this year and look forward to much more in 2014.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Ooooh, I agree! It’s tantamount to wearing a dress with a neckline cut down to.. gosh! It’s an absolute declaration of intent but it’s not slutty. I love it and I’m so glad you like it too. I did wonder if you’d get all the animalics and basically run for the shower though! 😀

    1. Ha! ha! a neckline cut down to “gosh”.

      I know exactly what you mean. I’m quite glad I didn’t get the filthy note as it makes this more wearable for me. The price is eye watering on Amazon but there are lots of bargains on eBay. Thanks so much for lending me the sample, I was really chuffed to finally get to sniff what everybody has been on about.

Leave a Reply