Versailles pour Homme 
Jean Desprez (1980)


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Versailles pour Homme by Jean Desprez

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About Versailles pour Homme by Jean Desprez

People & Companies

Jean Desprez
Fragrance House
Pierre Dinand
Packaging / Bottle Design

Versailles pour Homme is a men's fragrance launched in 1980 by Jean Desprez

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of Versailles pour Homme by Jean Desprez

There are 33 reviews of Versailles pour Homme by Jean Desprez.

These days, the new generation are often looking for perfumes with high feedback, but in my philosophy perfume is first and foremost about you, how you feel comfortable wearing it, and not about attracting men and/or women with it. If you are into those perfumes of today that all smell the same and in your 20s-30s, this will not be for you. And to those that call this an old man scent. I say that is a compliment! There is nothing wrong with smelling like a distinguised gentleman no matter what your age.

Versailles Pour Homme is a true 80's classic that still smells great today. For a drugstore fragrance it is blended very well and goes through many changes on my skin, an underrated gem. It’s an apparently simple, sweaty, balmy, aromatic fougere with some of citrus, oriental and floral notes to give it depth and complexity. Smells great once it starts to drydown on skin. It has a perfect bergamot/galbanum accord that is so polite, unlike so many to follow. Also in the opening, adding a green note to the citrus and marking this fragrance, structurally, as an oriental aromatic fougere; a really splendid. It's soft leather heart accompanies the sandalwood, patchouli and oakmoss bouquet. I always got a little cinnamon. Carnation and geranium leads right into the smooth musk/styrax/vanilla foundation.

Versailles pour Homme by Jean Desprez (1980) was not a work of Jean Desprez himself, who had passed away in 1973, just a year after finishing his final limited-edition fragrance called Jardanal by Jean Desprez (1972). I'm not sure who composed this as information on it is just about non-existent, and it didn't last on the market very long at all, making it not just a unicorn, but a supercalifragilisticexpialicorn that gets vintage gatekeepers and flexers all moist in their drawers, meaning you don't really know what it actually smells like amidst all the "lost masterpiece" and "true perfume art for the TRVE KVLT perfume lover" comments that get left on it in various places across the internet. Well, your old pal Varanis has you covered here, as I am actually going to talk about what this smells like, in detail, then let YOU decide if it's worth the hefty finder's fee resellers charge for surviving bottles of Versailles pour Homme. For the most part, this is an unrelated leather chypre, bearing almost no "floriental" properties that defined the original Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez (1962). If you love things like Portos by Balenciaga (1980) or Lanvin for Men (1979) with that pissy floral woody vibe, this may suit if your pockets are deep enough. On the other hand, if you already have a lot of things in your collection that wear the way Versailles pour Homme does, and you don't get off to wearing fragrances "nobody else has" or whatever, you can safely skip it and just sample it like I have.

First off, this smells like a lot of things, as it is your typical "kitchen sink" fragrance of the late 70's through mid 80's, so there is no shortage of complexity or abstraction to be had here if that's your cuppa. For the most part, Versailles pour Homme registers somewhere between Aramis by Estée Lauder (1965) and Lauder for Men by Estée Lauder (1985), with bits of Estée Lauder Private Collection (1971) tossed about here and there, making me wonder if the owners of Desprez at the time didn't just buy an unused formula from IFF (who Lauder used a lot) that was in the running against others for a Lauder brief. Bergamot, aldehydes, pimento, galbanum, styrax, all that spicy green sour-ish goodness is in the opening that sometimes hints at Dunhill for Men by Alfred Dunhill (1934). Later, geranium and carnation show up in the heart, flanked by jasmine and lactonic fruity notes like those in Capucci pour Homme (1967) and Revlon Charlie (1973). The base is pine, incense notes of olibanum, a terpenous patchouli, oakmoss, sandalwood, labdanum, isobutyl quinoline leather, and a touch of urinous civet rounded by vanilla, to connect this very tenuously to Bal à Versailles proper. The ride down to the incense, woods, leather, and sharp musk base is where the complexity shows up, but the final skin scent is deceptively simple chypre tones like many of the things I mentioned above. Performance is long but projection is rather muted for something from this era, which is puzzling as gentlemanly and discrete wasn't trendy in the age of Studio 54.

Where would you use something like this? Well, Versailles pour Homme was made in the days when a man was expected to own just one signature scent, so much like Chanel Antaeus (1981) or Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme (1978), Versailles pour Homme is balanced in such a way as to be a Jack-of-all-trades in that it doesn't particularly feel suited to one type of weather or situation, but can slide past just about anywhere you use it. Modern noses will read this as formal at best, or musty and old-mannish at worst; for Versailles pour Homme has absolutely no sweetness or anything overtly pleasant, holding onto the traditional mid-century belief that a man's scent needs to be aggressively masculine, ergo not pleasant or inviting by design. Obviously, this still smells very pleasant as it's still perfume, just don't expect to smell anything but sharp aldehyde chypre accords and punchy citrus-and-woods tropes as per the style once all the complexity fades away into the dry down. Versailles pour Homme is a good example of enjoyable aromatic chypre design, even if some of the density is lost on the final effect. I think if this had been a bit more daring with the animalics like its older sister, Versailles pour Homme may have survived the 80's like Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent (1981); or at very least, this should have been released a decade sooner, although it may have been a very different scent since Jean Desprez himself would have been alive to compose it as he saw fit. Thumbs up

Do not be mistaken, this is not a counterpart to Bal à Versailles; this is a fougere-chypre of sorts. However, there is a robustness that is in line with its classic namesake.

From the start, it is a radiant, bracing, spiced green citrus accord that soon yields to a spectacular floral heart. This is one of those extraordinary fragrances where the diffusion seems to increase as it enters the heart. A projection of carnation, jasmine, and geranium with a somewhat bitter green undercurrent creates a bubble around me. This stage is as blissful to me as a cool spring day.

Further in the development of Versailles, we detect the styrax in increasing volume, the bitter green crossfading into this leathery, resinous sweetness. Styrax as a perfumer's material has the capacity to extend green notes into the base, and this is no exception. Then when the incense hits, it's sort of the crescendo, the piece de resistance, when all the elements coalesce, the true spirit of the fragrance. It's beautiful down to the traces of musk that linger on the skin.

This is niche that predated the "niche" label by 30-plus odd years. Breathtaking.

Stardate 20190214:

It is well liked by vintage folks and I had high hopes. Alas, a big disappointment. Too many notes resulting in a confused composition that goes nowhere.
Performance is weak too.
Musty, dusty and spicy.

One of the great beauties of the early 1980's that defines elegance, reserve and understatement.

The bright citrus opening leads into a very complex heart filled with dry herbs and spicy florals, while the refined woody base mixes with leather, moss and amber fighting for dominance. I've always detected a somewhat dry tobacco in Versailles pour Homme, although there is no reference to this being verified.

One of the joys of wearing this well crafted elusive scent is that it's so rare and unknown that you'll be the only person in the room who is wearing Versailles pour Homme. An exclusive to you and you alone, especially now that it's been long discontinued.

I have always enjoyed wearing VPH with suits for business and formal. When it was discontinued in the late 80's I bought a surplus of various bottles that I safely stored away. Now 20+ years later, I'm down to about two bottles that I use very sparingly.

Alternatively I have found that Tiffany for Men and Corolian by Guerlain are the closest relatives to Versailles pour Homme, and they all share that dry, reserved masculine elegance. A reflection scent of a time when men dressed to impress and their selection of a fragrance was just as important as choosing the proper tie or the right pair of shoes. Sigh.....

Elegance in a bottleThere is an elegant opening, combining citrus with green clary sage as well as a peppery note. In the drydown floral tones and jasmine appear and then merge into warmer aromas, like cinnamon and vanilla. Never really sweet, it is an elegant and convincingy blended and balanced fragrance. Projection is all right, and the longevity over four hours. Traditional but not boring.

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