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Bal à Versailles – For real (naughty) women... (January 27, 2012 New Fragrance Listing)

Photo - Wikipedia - Postcard of Mata Hari in Paris, 1906, by Lucien Walery

I don’t think of myself as old. I’m older. Older starts at 50, well, maybe 55 and lasts until....when? I’m supported in this notion by my grown daughter, the long-legged fashionista, who is my greatest fan and severest critic.

“Mum, you look fabulous for your age, no one would ever guess how old you really are”.

“Thank you, darling. I’m not old, I’m just older”. 

“Right. Except for when you wear those old lady perfumes”.

My head snaps up. “Old Lady perfumes?” She’s obviously looking for attention.

“You know – the ones that smell weird. Sort of skanky.” She’s waving the red flag and I charge right in.

“I keep telling you that what you’re smelling on me are REAL perfumes, not synthetic fruity-floral blackberry coolers. You’ve learned to like single malt Scotch, rare steak, you love abstract design – it’s about time you learned to appreciate real perfume. For real women. It’s art.”

I can’t believe I’m hearing these words come out of my mouth. I sound just like MY mother.

“OK”, she says. “Let’s start with the one you’re wearing right now! It’s definitely got the old lady vibe. What is it?”

Bal à Versailles – by Jean Desprez, French fashion designer. It’s his one-off claim-to-fame which was launched in 1962 and is still going strong.”

“I don’t need to know all this info. Just tell me about the notes.”

“Yes – you do need to know this info. It adds context. The 60’s – the Beatles, hippies, jeans, sexual revolution, Womens’ Lib. I’m sure you studied this era in your Modern History course. I lived it.” I get the bottle of BdV and spritz some on her wrist.

“Whew!” she says. “I can smell orange, and spicy flowers – and something not sweet. What is that?”

“Probably the rosemary and white flowers.”

“Right”, she says. “Indolic. That smell of rot.” She’s a florist, a gardener – she knows all this stuff.

“Here’s the full list of notes”, I say, and I read them from the Jean Desprez website. “Rosemary, orange blossoms, Cassia, Jasmine, Rose, Neroli, Bergamot, Bulgarian Rose, Lemon, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Lilac, Orris Root, Vetiver, Yiang-Yiang, Lily, Tolu Balsam, musk, Benzoin, Civet, Vanilla, Cedar, Resins.”

“M. Desprez didn’t take any chances, did he?”

“Ha! Funny girl....apparently he used three kinds of roses, and the story goes that there were over 350 essences in the original juice. It was reformulated in 2002 but hasn’t changed much, thank god.”

 A few minutes later, she’s sniffing again. “Mmmm, getting sweeter, and there’s a sort of sour undernote that I’m actually liking – like vegetable greens.” She looks at the note list on the screen. “Do you think it’s the iris?”

“Could be the iris mixed with the vetiver and resins,” I offer.

“This is really interesting. I’ve never taken the time to follow a dry-down through to the end”.

“Just wait – the best is yet to come,” I say, and twenty minutes later she’s back at my desk, with a knowing smile on her face.

“This has gotten really luscious and skanky all at the same time! I can smell roses and woods and soft leather, and incense, and... what IS that smell?”

“Processed hay - horse manure. But not fresh – dried up from the sun. It’s the civet and musk in the basenotes – strong animalics that kind of vibrate under the florals and woods. And then patchouli and vanilla make it dark, rich and so smoooooth.”

Her face registers disbelief. “Manure and vanilla? That’s what I’m smelling?? It actually smells sensuous, kinda sexy, like wearing perfume in bed – if you know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean, sweetie. Been there, done that.”

“I like Bal à Versailles. Give me another shot – I wanna go through it again from top to bottom!” I can’t believe my ears, and as she sprays herself with a couple of hits of the EdT, I’m thinking that now she’s beginning to understand that the “old lady” thing is a crock.

I start my lecture: “ There really is no such thing as an old lady perfume. The thing is that your generation hasn’t experienced perfume in the classic style. It’s the smell of animalic ingredients such as civet and musk which are strange to you – modern perfumes don’t use them, or they use synthetics, synthetic musks, which they also use in laundry detergents, BTW. Real animalics give such depth and nuance to scents, and make them smell human, alive and sexy. Bal à Versailles is the total opposite of all the fruity, sweet, girly-girl scents that you’ve grown up with, which are marketed as sexy, but are anything BUT!”

“I know. That’s why I hardly wear any perfumes.”

Bal à Versailles is a woman’s scent. Dare to be different from your friends, surprise your boyfriend. Wear a real perfume. I have several you can choose from, you know.”

I get an amused look, accompanied by a kiss on the top of my head. “No, I’ll decant some Bal à Versailles. I LOVE vanilla horse poop. And I wanna smell naughty, like a real woman.”

“Aren’t you scared that you’ll smell like an old lady? Or older, like me?”

“Well, older women are real women, too.”

“Thank you, darling girl. You say the nicest things.”


Today, we’re adding Bal à Versailles to our decant sample offering. Decants are $4.00.