This is not your average perfume blog. In each post, I present perfumes or companies as encyclopedic entries with as much facts and photos as I can add for easy reading and researching without all the extraneous fluff or puffery.

Please understand that this website is not affiliated with any of the perfume companies written about here in any way, it is only a reference page and repository of information for collectors and those who have enjoyed the classic fragrances of days gone by.

One of the goals of this website is to show the present owners of the various perfumes and cologne brands that are featured here how much we miss the discontinued classics and hopefully, if they see that there is enough interest and demand, they will bring back these fragrances!

Please leave a comment below (for example: of why you liked the fragrance, describe the scent, time period or age you wore it, who gave it to you or what occasion, any specific memories, what it reminded you of, maybe a relative wore it, or you remembered seeing the bottle on their vanity table), who knows, perhaps someone from the company brand might see it.

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Vintage Perfumes For Sale

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 made up of at least 350 different ingredients, mostly natural. Although, no one --other than the creative geniuses at Parfums Jean Desprez know the entire formula for Bal Versailles, do we know that these are definitely in the opulent mixture:

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

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
  • 0.50 oz
  • 1 oz

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 @ gmail.com


  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?


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