Vintage Mini Reviews – Bal a Versailles, Paris and Magie Noire

My Aussie friends gave me so many wonderful gifts when I visited in July. These included sweets, skincare, earrings, boots (2 pairs!) and of course, perfume.

The lovely Scott is a pal of Portia’s and a fragrance fiend like the rest of us. At my last evening attending Turbo Trivia he very sweetly presented me with a selection of decants from his collection which all feature rose to some extent. This was incredibly thoughtful, given my obvious love of the note. They were all perfumes that I didn’t know well – if at all – and I was excited to try them.



Portia, Jin, me and Scott


There were five decants in all  but I’ve decided to focus on the three that impressed me the most. (The other two being Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur and Parfum de Peau by Montana).


Bal a Versailles Vintage EDC, Jean Desprez

Rosemary, orange blossom, mandarin orange, cassia, jasmine, rose, neroli, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, lemon, sandalwood, patchouli, lilac, orris root, vetiver, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, leather, Tolu balsam, amber, musk, benzoin, civet, vanilla, cedar, resins

Bal a Versailles is a busty oriental from the days when you could find animalic perfumes on the high street. I thought it would be a real ball-buster: loud and skanky. On me however, it radiates a warm and furry hum that is suggestive rather than obscene. I’m not at ease in pornographic perfume but on me, this is lightly draped curves and candle-lit seduction. I actually find it rather comforting in small amounts, though I have little doubt spraying liberally from the bottle gives you a decidedly different effect.

The musks are silky, fuzzy, moreish and of course, sensual. The powder is pitched just right. It’s the kind of perfume that I imagine being dabbed on the décolleté and mingling with the wearer’s skin chemistry. It positively blooms with body heat. The musky base is embellished with flowers and gilded with aromatics, woods and sweet resins. Bal a Versailles is enticingly intimate and gloriously lavish.


bal a versailles


Paris Vintage EDT, YSL

Bergamot, orange blossom, rose, mimosa, cassia, hawthorn, nasturtium, violet, hyacinth, geranium, violet leaves, jasmine, orris, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, lily, linden, sandalwood, amber, musk, moss, heliotrope, cedar and ambergris

I flip over good powdery rose/violet perfumes. They tend to be feminine, glamourous  and often reminiscent of vintage cosmetics. In short, they give me my pin-up girl moment.

I imagined vintage Paris would overwhelm me with chilly and jagged aldehydes, but it is surprisingly warm and velvety.  That’s not to say it is a quiet perfume – quite the opposite. A full spray from the bottle must envelop you in a dazzling pink cloud. Its personality is charmingly optimistic, carefree and elegant. The only thing that puts me off seeking out more juice, is the tell-tale Playdoh effect caused by heliotrope. For some reason the dominant presence of that almond-tinged note gives me a headache.

Although I may not be able to wear it, Paris is still a standout fragrance.



Magie Noire Vintage EDT, Lancome

Bulgarian rose, blackcurrant buds, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, amber and patchouli

I remember sniffing this at the very, very beginning of my slip into perfumania. I didn’t get it. It seemed too sour and austere.

Now I’m ready for it.

This sophisticated virago brings to mind black and white movie femme fatales like Bette Davis. Maybe not conventionally beautiful but absolutely magnetic. The individual elements shouldn’t work but the overall effect is compelling. As time wears on, I find myself constantly bringing my wrist to my nose. This potion is bewitchingly good.

There are hissing blackcurrant buds and dark, bitter greens tempered by white flower petals. It’s like escaping to an enchanted hideaway, concealed by a curtain of moss. Originally released in 1971, I can’t envisage Lancôme launching something like this today (more’s the pity). Vintage Magie Noire is magnificent.





Huge thanks to Scott for sharing these fabulous decants with me. I know these perfumes are dear to his heart and in short supply, which makes it all the more special. It’s been a real education and filled a lacuna in my knowledge. An added bonus is that I’ve found more fragrances to covet.

Do you know and love any of these treasures?


Filed under Perfume Friends, Perfume Reviews

29 responses to “Vintage Mini Reviews – Bal a Versailles, Paris and Magie Noire

  1. Oh yes I love the Magie Noir!!
    I used to wear Paris in the 1980’s
    It’s true you have to be ready for some perfumes and also body chemistry. I don’t think I could have worn Magie Noir 20 years ago!!


    • Oh my goodness, I can imagine 80s Paris suiting you down to the ground, Anna Maria – and now you’ve been there!
      Sometimes the timing has to be right with certain perfumes. When it finally clicks, it’s wonderful.


  2. matty

    I wore Paris in the 80’s as well. Does it smell like that now ?


  3. It’s so lovely to hear you came back with great presents from Australia. 🙂
    As for the perfumes, I tried all of them quite a long time ago, and only Bal a Versailles is the one I remember being mesmerized by. Then again, the name itself speaks to me. 🙂


  4. Hey Tara,
    Plus your painting! It was a good trip for swag darl!
    Give Voleur de Roses a really big couple of spritzes on the lower back and let it follow you around for a day. It just might change your experience.

    WOO HOO! I’m so glad you enjoyed Bal. My ride is comfort rather than seduction too, very cozy after the first five minutes.

    we are awaiting your next adventure eagerly.
    Portia x


    • Portia, the stunning painting is on the top of the heap. What a lucky byatch I am 🙂
      I will take your tip with Voleur de Roses, thanks.
      Good to know you also find BdV comforting after the opening. I wondered if it was because I wasn’t getting the full effect. Its reputation precedes it.


  5. Ooh, beautiful reviews of three standout scents. Magie Noire was one of the only perfumes I ever bought for myself as a 20-something in the 80s, and I thought I was the cat’s pyjamas. I have a partial bottle of the 1991 vintage, which I think is broadly the same as what I had back in the day. Please note if you ever run out. 🙂

    Paris is one of the scents that kickstarted my interest in perfume – in a negative way – as it was the signature scent of a friend, who wore it in ever increasing doses, as her nose became immune. I had no idea it was the heliotrope that might have been bothersome. Also headache-inducing for me.

    Bal I like a lot, but gave my bottle to Liz M, who seemed to like it even more. Her creation of Salome would tend to bear this out!


    • V, I am here to tell you that you WERE the cat’s pyjamas wearing Magie Noire in your 20s. Highly sophisticated. Thanks for the offer of a top-up. It really has captured my imagination.
      I’d bet a pound to a penny that it was the heliotrope that did for you in Paris. It is definitely the headache-inducing variety for me.
      Oh yes, Salome has a distinct BdV vibe about it.


    • Lady Jane Grey

      Sorry, of topic, as I mostly do, but I’ve always loved the expression „the cat’s pyjamas“… (I can perfectly imagine my cats, wearing tiny cozy pyjamas for sleeping all day)


  6. scottyctl

    So glad you enjoyed them, T! “Furry hum” is an excellent description of BaV. After the opening it does get tamer on me as well. Magie Noire has been a coveted favourite of mine almost since I first fell down the perfumed rabbit hole, and I am glad I got to share the magnificence with you X


    • Great to hear you concur, Scott! Magie Noire really is something special. I might never have revisited it if it weren’t for you. Thanks again for being so thoughtful.


  7. Lady Jane Grey

    Aren’t those Aussie people just amazing?!
    Such a shame I‘ve never tried Magie Noire… And I think I will leave it that way, because I‘m afraid I wouldn‘t like it (I‘m so bad with all those huge womanly vintage parfums. Hah, I probably should rather go for huge manly vintages…).
    Sending lots of Love !


  8. Tara C

    Bal à Versailles was my mother’s evening scent for going out (her daytime everyday scent was L’Air du Temps). It never smelled skanky to me, just elegant. I wore Paris back in the 80’s and loved it. I have a decant of unknown vintage in my collection, it doesn’t appeal so much to me now. My mother had a bottle of Magie Noire, but she never wore it. I don’t recall the smell.


  9. Perfume pals are the best! (We demand the picture of boots! 😉 ).

    Magie Noire is the only one from the three that I’ve tried both in 80s and recently. Back then it was too much for me. Recently… Once it stops smelling of vintage perfume, I like it, so had it been released today the way it was in my childhood, I would have probably liked it.


    • Ha! Undina, I was so cold with the lack of central heating when I arrived, Portia took me to the UGG outlet store and very generously bought me a pair knee-high brown boots. I immediately felt better 🙂
      For me, Magie Noire is such a great antidote to all the sweet perfumes I can’t seem to stomach at the moment. I’ve also been increasingly drawn to green fragrances. I can imagine trying to hunt down a vintage bottle next spring.

      Liked by 1 person

      • cassieflower

        Magie Noire back in the day was just stunning, and nothing else smelled similar, at least around the time I discovered it around 1991 or thereabouts. It disappeared off the market for years and was relaunched in more recent times in a clear glass square shouldered bottle. Do NOT waste your cash on this, it’s a travesty, pale, insipid and dumbed down. If you should get your mitts on a good vintage, then that’s quite another story. I was very lucky to bag a parfum mini this year.


  10. I love BaV, and love your description of it. Good bottles have long been so hard to come by (at an affordable price). My bottle, which looks like the one in your picture, is in good nick scent wise, but like some vintages, what has waned is its lasting power.
    They sure don’t make them like that any more.
    Paris YSL a vintage perfume? I had no idea 😀
    Magie Noire; never worked for me. Thankfully. That’s an expensive itch less to worry about.
    It reminds me, I still owe you a sample of L’Arte. There are no post offices left, let alone letterboxes…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.