The early Sixties was a good time for French fashion. (Then again, what HASN'T been a good time for French fashion?! With the possible exception of the "New Look" period if, like myself, you have a waistline highly averse to being heavily nipped in...) In 1961, Yves Saint Laurent - my favorite designer of all - was just starting to shift into high gear with the opening of his own couture house. And another French master - this one of fragrance rather than fashion - was about to introduce his newest creation, Bal a Versailles. This perfumer, Jean Desprez (who had a long career - his work spanned from 1939 to 1972) formulated Bal from more than 300(!) ingredients, with Italian bergamot, lemon, neroli, ylang ylang, cassie, jasmin, rose, opoponax, orris, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, mousse de chene, cistus and incense among the many, many notes. Now that's perfumery! To my simple nose, it's a beautifully delicate yet not exxageratedly refined fragrance, something so applicable to so many different moods and occasions that I could easily make it a "holy grail" scent if I were so inclined. The opening is primarily smoky incense to me, with perhaps a sidenote of citrus, and the drydown combines the best kind of light and powdery floral with a balsamic, ambery, vaguely spicy base. (I am referring to the EDT, BTW.) Regardless of your fragrance preferences, I wholeheartedly encourage at least trying this one if the occasion arises. It's a truly special classic and a tremendous tribute to the talents of Monsieur Desprez.