The Perfumed Dandy’s Classic Collection: Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez


The floor of the Hall of Mirrors is filled with fractured glass.

Marie Antoinette skips gaily across the shards in untied ballet shoes and bonnet atop her seventy two inch face: six feet from chin at base through powdered visage and scaffolded hair above.

The queen and women of her toilette encased in immense dresses a la Polonaise are costumier conjurers’ sleights of hand in damasks, plain silks, laces, bustles, embroiders, and petticoats, petticoats, petticoats.

They have come to disdain the deliberately deranged destruction of the night before. To review the revels and not speak of revolution.

Around them a haze of powder hangs in heavy air. They beg to deceive with orange blossoms, roses, jasmines and musk. But the nose cannot be fooled.

Despite their perfumed protests this place is menagerie not orangery.

Their very gowns give them away: nothing can counterfeit the crust of human excreta that forms on every surface.

The sweat of the near-extinguished attic seamstress infuses every sewn detail of the skirts; the drool of the fawning courtier in search of sexual and political favours forms dried rivers on each sleeve; a distressing, animal dampness rises from decolletages disturbed by distant cousins’ amourous graspings.

And all around, amongst the fallen soldiers of the soon to be ancien regime: felled by drink, excess and fornication, an unseen feral mob is rising too.

Beneath floors and between walls, in attics and unused ante chambers a mass of minks swirls with civets and the escaped sheep of a pet farm, together feeding on crumbs of the vanilla cake of a court that has banished bread.

‘More powder!’ commands our monarch and asks her resins be brought forward to staunch the stench. But no amount of balsam can retrench the putrid perfume of a palace in its death throes.

From a grand salon far off in a distant wing of her vast sarcophagus she catches music in three four time and begins involuntarily to dance.

One slither of a mirror slices through her shoe and draws a steady line of blue blood from her pale royal skin.

Death is in the room and will not depart.

Bal a Versailles is a dangerous, irresistibly repugnant scent for men and women prepared to dance the dance of death. For all its wondrous beauty nothing can disguise the beating of its monstrous bestial heart.

Amongst its resinous superfluities beyond the brief orange opening there may be flowers and powder a plenty but this is an unappologetically animal aroma with a zoological garden of tooth and claw.

With silage the size of a herd of wildebeest and longevity the length of an elephant’s memory this is not a commitment to be taken likely.

Accept its invitation and you are bid welcome to the wildest party of a lifetime, but stay too long and you too may succumb to the guillotine’s blade.

But hell is worth the risk!!


Filed under Uncategorized

15 responses to “The Perfumed Dandy’s Classic Collection: Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez

  1. Lilybelle

    I have Bal a Versailles in a vintage edc formula. It is animalic, yes, but for me it is a little mammal cub, perhaps a fox’s kit, curled up sweetly sleeping as I carry her around tucked inside my shirt. 🙂

  2. rosestrang

    Elizabeth/LizTaylor, R.I.P.

  3. This is a hilariously spot on review! It IS indeed a menagerie and not an orangerie! TOUCHE! I have the greatest sympathy for your animalic amplifying skin since mine does the same. I remember wearing the vintage version of this touched to my wrists, behind my earlobes, and in my overdeveloped 17 year old cleavage causing quite a storm. Those were the days. But no more. I have retreated into restraint and delicate florals due to the overly amplifying animalic tendency of my chemistry now. I thank you again for that fabulous review, actually brings back wonderful memories. Cheers!

    • My Goodness My Dear Rosa
      Your tale of a juvenile you bedecked in Bal has brought a little colour to the Dandy’s cheeks!!
      Another correspondent – at The Twitter club, told me she received her first bottle as a pre-teen then progressed onto Opium, Shalimar and Palomo Picasso whilst still at High School. Ever forfend, when I was a boy girls wore nothing but Anais Anais, mostly on account of the pastel faux porcelain bottles.
      How the world turns.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Oh my, this one really is spot on! I have a little decant of vintage edc and, while perhaps milder in disposition than other formulations, it is one dirty beast (in the best possible way)!

    • Dear Nadja
      I’m so glad you have stumbled across this review, it is one of The Dandy’s personal favourite perfumes.
      This is a dirty beast, but for me somehow a strangely and decadently comforting one…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Reblogged this on The Perfumed Dandy. and commented:

    Happy New Year once again! If you’re clearing up after a party today, this sumptuous slice of sheer sacrilegious decdence shows the way. Don it an be damned says I!

  6. rosestrang

    Have fun at your party Sir Dandy! Some people say Bal a Versailles has something in common with L’Air de Rien, what do you think?

  7. rosestrang

    Oh, and I’ve been inspired by your example and have now exchanged the polite Eau Des Merveilles with Tauer’s Un Rose du Kandahar, delightful!

  8. Dear Mr Dandy,

    This is spot on. There is something both decadent and slightly menacing about Bal A Versailles. I was disappointed not to get the notorious carnal note, since I seem to get it everywhere else (Feminite du Bois, Worth Courtesan, Ivoire de Balmain).

    However, your review sums up the aura of “powdering it” instead of “washing it off”.

    Your Impressed Friend

  9. Cheryl

    I got behind Bal’s drift on the staircase of L’Hotel a million years ago, and fell so hard, that it’s been a favorite ever since. Beautiful memories that continue. For me, L’Air de Rien, is Bal’s baby sister.

    Many thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s