If that movie had a perfume, it would be Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles, created in 1962, a fragrance that manages the rare feat of seeming both older and more modern than its vintage. Notes are: jasmine, rose, orange blossom, sandalwood, patchouli, musk, amber, and civet.
I find the EDT of Bal a Versailles to be a bit sharp, and it´s missing the velvety depth of the EDP, my preferred concentration. (Where, you ask, do you find this? You can usually buy dinky little bottles of the EDP online for less than $10, which isn´t much of a risk). The top notes smell like Martian candy – the odd, cinnamon-menthol whiff of Necco wafers – before the florals waltz in, and then the floor drops out and you’re into a deep, dark musky incense base. Bal a Versailles is the smell of high artifice – the girl dressed for the ball who will, if you ask nicely, join you in the back seat of your car for a sip from your flask and possibly something more.
I’d put Bal a Versailles on my Required Smelling List for perfume fans, and any nice girl (or boy) who is looking for something darker than a mass-market fruity-floral could get away with the EDP. But I´ve now had a nibble of the parfum, and the parfum … well … the parfum is only for those who´ve turned pro. I could smell it before I popped the vial open, and the base smells of unwashed panties. There, I said it. I´m guessing it´s the jasmine, which is less indolic in the EDP, and maybe they add more of the civet as well. I´m going to quote commenter Maria B. from last week:
“Last weekend I put on for the first time the full-strength extrait version of Bal a Versailles. I didn´t get even a hint of the…female…odor Patty and others have mentioned. No. What I got was straight animal butt,´ gender unspecified. Perhaps you´ve had experiences of quietly sitting, minding your own business, when a cat or dog suddenly shoved its butt in your face. That´s what it was like. In fact, the image I kept getting was based on my friend C´s story of humiliation: of turning over in her sleep and kissing her cat, only to find she had kissed her butt. I was nauseated, but I stayed with it. I have learned to do that from all you wonderful perfume instructors. Eventually the butt notes mellowed, and what wafted up instead was a reminder of CURED horse manure that has lain about in the sun for days and become mostly sweet. This calls up some pleasant childhood associations. Eventually what I was left with was an amazingly smooth and strong musky amber. Will I be willing to go through the animal butt accord to get to that payoff? Because of all of you, I probably will, but I´ll keep my arms at…well…arm´s length during the early phase.”
Now, you see, this is why I love Maria B., although I haven´t met her. Maria is a true perfumatrix. She smells something that goes from cat butt to cured horse manure, and does she burst into tears? Run away screaming? Saw her arm off? Nope. She takes notes and waits for the drydown, “an amazingly smooth and strong musky amber.” My tiara´s off to you, Maria B. I still get unwashed panties, rather than cat butt, but either way – the drydown´s worth it.
PS My daughters deserve their own blog nicknames, just like their younger sibs Hecate and Buckethead. March the Maleficent decrees: henceforth the elder daughter shall be called Diva, and the younger daughter shall be called Enigma. Diva is in the doghouse because she’s discovered my makeup, so she takes my Chanel pressed powder and my brand-new bronze Laura Mercier eye pencil to a friend’s house and comes home with some Wet n’ Wild crap from CVS. (The difference between cheap makeup and expensive makeup? Losing expensive makeup makes Mom ‘get all up in your face.’) Enigma is: just that. She is delicate and tiny and adorable and charming, and she would make an excellent ruler of a small country with a sufficient national treasury. I admire her pluck while hoping secretly that she ends up not being the kid deciding which nursing home I’ll wind up in. Anyway, I’ll be away from this afternoon to Saturday, celebrating a major birthday (not mine) with a friend. See you when I return!
This is Patty pigggybacking on March’s post — hey, she’s away, she’ll NEVER know, so shh, nobody tell her.
The oddest thing is, as I go around the blogs and see reactions to Chanel Les Exclusifs, everyone is picking a different favorite. And for six scents released at the same time, that says something. Do I think these are ground-breaking, earth-shattering scents? No. And I do wish they would eventually come out with parfums in some of these. So quick, really late at night hits:
Bel Respiro — love, love, love, love, gorgeous at the start, dries to a really clean, crisp, elegant scent, perfection.
Eau de Cologne — if you love SMN Eva, you will love this. Since I adore Eva, I can’t wait for summer so I can spritz this on wildly. This is definitely the lightest of the bunch and the least ground-breaking, but I like it for what it is.
28 La Pausa — the iris scent. This isn’t doing much for me right off the bat, so I’m thinking I need to spend more time with it.
No. 18 — Disappeared! Put it on, digging it, then it was gone. Maybe because I have been wallering in Chanels all night. Will test again later. Could be an anosmic problem to some note in there. (Later) I do get the ambrette. I need to do this one alone, it seems to be one that can easily get swallowed, but it surely is interesting.
Coromandel — I had no idea if I would like this one or not, but I adore it. It smells like the most wonderful, gorgeous earthy hay. Best done patchouli ever. I don’t like patch, except in SL’s Borneo, so this is an accomplishment. The whole time I was decanting this one, I was in heaven. Early favorite for me
31 Rue Cambon — The most complicated of the six, and the one I would most like to see as a parfum. Can’t do a quick impression of it, I need to wear it alone and spend more quality time with it, but I definitely like it, it’s just more of a challenge to get to know, but lots of quirky, fun corners in it.