Jean Desprez’s Bal a Versailles (1962)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

As I was about to open the shrink-wrap of my bottle of Bal a Versailles (1962), I looked at the box art and laughed. I wasn’t laughing at the packaging, but rather at myself, that I couldn’t believe I would hop from one perfume shop to another hunting for something that I would consider kitschy and granny-looking. (No offence to people who appreciate the packaging.) Have perfumes altered my integrity or I finally can see beyond the surface of things?

I was always aware of the existence of Bal a Versailles because of the gold-brick box and the painting used in the packaging design. I thought, “wow, a Holy Mary perfume, must be the first celebrity designer scent ever”. But, on closer examination, it’s a group of very well-dressed women in the Renaissance period visiting the Versailles. (Just a guess.) Not-so-surprisingly, the scent is a perfect match. In fact, this perfume smells like it belongs to the Guerlain vintage/classic library. It reminds me of Mitsouko and Vol du Nuit, but better! Every note is hitting the maximum level like you have played with the settings of your TV with a remote control and don’t know how to revert them back to their original settings – the colours are super saturated and almost bleeding, and that supposed to be cute little cat on the screen is now a hissing civet. A classic perfume seen through a nostalgic lens, powerful!

Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit or for more info!

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