Monday, June 29, 2015

Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez c1962

Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez: launched in 1962.

As a tribute to the elegant American and French debutantes, the newborn belles of the ball, Jean Desprez created Debutante de Versailles, a limited edition perfume exclusively created for Daggett & Ramsdell. This opulent composition made up of over 300 ingredients was to become the infamous Bal a Versailles perfume in 1962, when it was offered to the public for the first time. The crystal bottles for Bal a Versailles featured an image of the Fragonard painting, Bal a Versailles on the label.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It is classified as an oriental fragrance for women. Although, no one other than the creative geniuses at Parfums Jean Desprez know the entire formula for Bal a Versailles, we do know that these ingredients are definitely in the opulent mixture:

  • Top notes: aldehydes, basil, bergamot, blackcurrant buds and leaves, cajuput, cinnamon, clary sage, coriander, eucalyptus, grapefruit, hyssop, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin orange, neroli, niaouli, orange, peppermint, petitgrain, ravensara, sage, spearmint, tagetes, tangerine, tea tree, thyme, verbena
  • Middle notes: bay, black pepper, Bulgarian rose, cardamom, chamomile, cypress, fennel, geranium, ho leaf, ho wood, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lilac, lily-of-the-valley, marjoram, melissa, myrtle, nutmeg,  orange blossom, palmarosa, pine, rose de Mai, rosemary, spikenard, yarrow
  • Base notes: ambergris, benzoin, cassia, cedarwood, cinnamon, civet, clove, frankincense, ginger, melilot, musk, myrrh, oakmoss, orris root, patchouli, Peru balsam, resins, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, tolu balsam, valerian, vanilla, vetiver, ylang ylang

Click HERE to purchase Vintage 1970s Bal a Versailles 5.5 oz EDT Refillable Natural Spray 
Click HERE to purchase Vintage 1980s Bal a Versailles 5.5 oz EDT Refillable Natural Spray 

Fate of the Fragrance:

Bal a Versailles has suffered from reformulations throughout the years as well as been owned by different companies.

After the death of Jean Desprez at the age of 72, his son Denis Desprez, who worked for the company for 25 years, took over as managing director of the company and preserved the glorious French tradition of the company. Eschewing quantity and respecting the high quality of his perfumes, he respectfully carried on his father's personal mantra: Perfume is a work of art!. Denis' sister, Marie-Celine Grenier worked in the laboratory creating perfumes.

Parfums Jean Desprez was sold several times over the years. In the 1980s, it was owned by Alfin Fragrances Inc. You can tell these early boxes by their sunflower yellow shade. The parfum flacons were housed in luxurious satin coffrets covered in the leaf pattern. Also, the Parfum de Toilette spray canisters repeated this pattern.

 In 1994, Parfums Jean Desprez, S.A. was acquired by "Inter Parfums Paris" which had licenses. On March 19, 1996, the Company sold the trademarks of the Bal `a Versailles and Revolution' a Versailles lines. The aggregate sales price was $4.95 million which included $1.8 million of inventory at cost, to the American company "Parlux Fragrances Inc." It seems that some of the Bal a Versailles products were then housed in either the yellow boxes, possibly old store stock, with a modified look and some in dark blue boxes. The parfum flacons were still housed in the satin covered coffrets.

Parlux then licensed the Bal a Versailles fragrance to Genesis International Marketing Corp of Miami in 1998, and then, it was eventually sold to Genesis International Marketing Corporation in 2001, who renewed the Bal a Versailles trademark under their name. The Genesis boxes were at first a white color and then morphed into the shiny gold foil boxes we are familiar with today.

Genesis licensed the Bal a Versailles perfume to an investment company, SEI Corporation in 2009, which has been in the process of relaunching Bal a Versailles, playing up the hype that it was the late Michael Jackson's favorite fragrance, amongst other celebrities on its website, perhaps to engage new customers, but also reminding us that Jean Desprez was a fragrant genius.

The company was hosting some sort of evaluation of two different formulas for their new Bal a Versailles perfume, these two formulas were dubbed 'Platine' (a modern fruity floral) and 'Gold' (a gourmand oriental). Interested parties had to contact the website owners and purchase one of the evaluation bottles in order to give it a review. I was tempted to do this myself, but at the moment I don't have the extra funds to throw away just for a review, especially since they are large bottles, I might not even like the scent.

DeeHowe at botoblog has mentioned that she received the 'Platine' version and it is...fruity with notes of pink pepper.

The Bal a Versailles trademark was renewed in 2014 by Genesis, so I am expecting one of the new, reformulated versions to be introduced soon, which I can be sure it will be completely devoid of oakmoss in accordance to IFRA regulations. Though I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that it resembles the original in some form as it is one of my personal favorites.

HAPPI, 1996:
"Parlux To Market Bal a Versailles Scent. Parlux Fragrances has signed a letter of intent with two subsidiaries of Jean Philippe Fragrances to acquire the trademarks of Parfums Jean Desprez Paris, makers of the Bal a Versailles women's fragrance."

The Parfum came in various sizes:

  • 0.125 oz mini splash
  • 0.25 mini splash
  • 0.25 oz purse spray

The Parfum de Toilette Deluxe is housed inside of a crystal bottle and dates from 1970s-1980s and came in several sizes:

  • 9 oz. crystal flacon stands 8 1/2" tall 
  • 4.5 oz. crystal flacon stands 7 1/2" tall
  • 2.5 oz. crystal flacon stands 6" tall 
  • 1.5 oz. crystal flacon stands 5 1/4"

The Parfum de Toilette Spray came in metal canisters, with the leaf pattern and the Fragonard image:

  • 2 oz Natural Spray

Eau Bal a Versailles Spray Luxe, a refillable aerosol spray, introduced in 1972:

  • 5.5  oz

The Eau de Toilette Natural Spray came in various sizes:

  • 5.5 oz Eau de Toilette Refillable Natural Spray
  • 3.3 oz 

The Eau de Toilette Spray also came in in the clear, disk bottle, with the lyre cap:

  • 1.7 oz 
  • 3.4 oz 

The Eau de Toilette Splash came in the clear, disk bottle with the lyre cap:

  • 1.7 oz 

The Eau de Cologne splash came in various sizes:

  • 16 oz.
  • 8 oz. stands 
  • 4 oz. stands 7" tall
  • 1.9 oz stands
  • 5" tall
  • 4.75" tall
  • 3.75" tall

The Eau de Cologne spray can be found housed in a white opaline glass bottle as well as a white tin canister with the gold leaf design and Fragonard painting image, this came in various sizes:

  • 3 oz
  • 1 oz  stands 4 1/2" tall

Bath & Body Products:

  • 1 Cake 
  • 2 Cakes of Soap with Dish
  • 0.33oz Bath Oil  
  • 5 oz Bath Powder w/Puff 
  • 5 oz Bath Powder Refill
  • 6.7 oz Body Cream
  • 5.8 oz Body Lotion (lyre cap)
  • 8 oz Body Lotion 
  • 5.8 oz Bath Gel (lyre cap)

Perfumed Medallion introduced in 1982.

Texas Monthly - May 1982:
"Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez. A beautiful effusion of fragrance and florals. Perfume, 1 oz., $150; the Limoges pendant, a fragranced medallion, refillable, $65."


  1. I have a gift box 200 Gr. 6.7 oz made in France with 2 pieces of Bal a Versailles Jean Desprez bars of soap. Searched the internet with no luck. Any ideas what I have here?

    1. Hello, please send photos to me at cleopatrasboudoir @


  2. I own a miniature bottle and am wondering how old it is.... Its parfum de toilette and has no photo on it.
    On the bottom it only sais 0402. Can i send a picture?


All comments will be subject to approval by a moderator. Comments may fail to be approved or may be edited if the moderator deems that they:
contain unsolicited advertisements ("spam")
are unrelated to the subject matter of the post or of subsequent approved comments
contain personal attacks or abusive/gratuitously offensive language

International Perfume Bottle Association

IPBA Annual Convention

Annual IPBA Perfume Bottles Auction

Annual IPBA Perfume Bottles Auction