Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles and Miller Harris L’Air de Rien ~ fragrance review

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles perfume

Surprise of surprises. When I first smelled Miller Harris L'Air de Rien, a fragrance named "air of nothing" and made for the breathy-voiced, hippie-chic Jane Birkin, the last thing I expected to think of was Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles, a scent purportedly made of over 300 ingredients and whose bottle features 17th-century ladies in pastel dresses. But from their shared sweet neroli beginning down to their saddle leather, musk, and dirty stable dry down, Bal à Versailles and L'Air de Rien smell to me like twins separated at birth and raised in different homes.

Bal à Versailles grew up in the family that had a maid to keep the vases full and polish the furniture with lemon oil and beeswax. The perfumer Jean Desprez launched Bal à Versailles in 1962, the same year that Guerlain released Chant d'Arômes (and that, incidentally, Jane Birkin turned 16 years old). Notes I've found listed for Bal à Versailles include jasmine, rose, sandalwood, patchouli, musk, amber, and civet. I also smell orange flower and leather.

In extrait, Bal à Versailles is rich with syrupy neroli that fades to a spicy blend of flowers before settling into a disturbing, yet comforting, smell of civet, old horse droppings, and leather. On me the Parfum is silky smooth, but it doesn't have much sillage and only lasts a few hours. In Eau de Toilette, Bal à Versailles sails through the bright citrus and goes straight for dry leather and processed hay, but if you pay attention you'll smell a bar of floral soap in the stable, too. The Eau de Toilette is more raw than the extrait, and of the two it smells most like L'Air de Rien.

The celebrity I associate most with the fragrance is Linda Evans, who played Krystal Carrington on Dynasty. (She's a far cry from Jane Birkin, I know.) In season one, Krystal proclaims that Bal à Versailles is her favorite perfume. In season two, Alexis lures Blake Carrington to Italy and tries to seduce him by wearing Krystal's favorite perfume. "I doused myself with Bal à Versailles," she moans as her advances are thwarted.

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

If Bal à Versailles grew up well to do, L'Air de Rien was reared in a more bohemian household. Lyn Harris created L'Air de Rien in 2006. The Miller Harris website says that Jane Birkin worked with Harris in the laboratory on the scent (their "love child born of the mutual admiration" they hold). This is how I imagine it: Birkin comes to the laboratory and sits on a stool with a dozen or so Birkin bags in various colors at her feet, and she talks about "her vibrant lifestyle" (macrobiotics), "her passions" (Serge Gainsbourg's prowess in the sack), and "her time spent in France" (more macrobiotics and Serge). Meanwhile, Harris darts around in what looks like a mad scientist's laboratory crammed with burbling beakers and tubes full of steam running here and there, and she dips a sample card in a beaker every few minutes for Birkin to smell. After a few hours and a bottle of Pouilly Fuissé, voilà, L'Air de Rien. Or maybe it didn't happen that way.

Osmoz lists L'Air de Rien's notes as French oak moss, Tunisian neroli, sweet musk, patchouli, amber, and vanilla. To this I'd add leather and dried horse droppings. As L'Air de Rien unfurls, its neroli top loses its citrus quality, but the sweetness remains so that when the fragrance dries down it feels like a layer of confectioner's sugar sprinkled in the barnyard without a lot of the middle notes many perfumes show. If Bal à Versailles is a bar of floral soap in the stable, then L'Air de Rien is a thickly frosted cupcake in an adjoining stall. L'Air de Rien is an Eau de Parfum, and a few spritzes last all day.

Side by side, Bal à Versailles and L'Air de Rien smell startlingly similar, and they're both dirty, warm, and easy to wear. However you like your stable — bourgeois or boho — one of the two is sure to appeal.

Note: top image via Parfum de Pub.

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94 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice article Angela. I grew up riding and there's something comforting about the smell of a stable, sweet feed, hay, mixed with leather and the horse. Stables hold very pleasant memories for me.

    I've worn Bal à Versailles for many years and have yet to try L'Air de Rien but based on your boho description this is a must try!

    Happy Friday! :~)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the Friday wishes! If you like Bal a Versailles, you might well like L'Air de Rien, too. Not everyone enjoys the smell of stables, but I agree with you–there's something strangely comforting in it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    L'Air de Rien is the opposite of easy to wear for me. It's all maple syrup over horse manure, and as much as I love the comforting smell of horses, that particular combo doesn't appeal. (Out of all the perfumes I've ever tried, L'Air de Rien and Nahema get me running for the soap and scrub brush fastest.) Thankfully, I don't get the same notes out of Bal a Versailles.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You don't get the horse stable part of Bal a Versailles? Do you usually wear the EdT?

    L'Air de Rien is pretty tenacious, too. I bet it took a bit of scrubbing to get it off.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A very nice MUAer surprised me with a sample of vintage Bal a Versailles extrait, and that's the only version I've tried. It definitely has some pleasant skank to it under all the sweetness, but the barnyard aspect seems a little more “abstract” on me, I guess.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The extrait is a whole different beast (apt word), too. It's much more orange, sweet, and smooth, I think, than the EdT, and the skank is more subdued. What a nice MUAer!

  7. Anonymous says:

    i have to disagree. i started wearing Bal a Versailles at 14 – it smelled sweetish and lovely on me. these days it seems much more dirty to me, but still good (I have owned EDT, EDP and extrait in my life) but L'Air de Rien is revolting and stinky a la MKK. To each her own nose…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey, you! Sitting right next to you on the bench … Bal is varying stages of delicious on me — there is a Necco-candy note and an incense phase in Bal that balances out the filth. The concentrations do seem to vary in their ripeness — and if you are *my* house of stone, you sent me my deliriously filthy Eau de Cologne!

    However, they are all still wearable. Rien is far, far over the line for me. It's horse manure and nothing else. Total scrubber. I think it's the only scent I've tried other than Secretions that appalled me with its stink.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You don't get the sweet neroli sailing on top of L'Air de Rien? Of course, I don't think a little MKK here and there is so bad…

    Well, it's best to like Bal a Versailles anyway, because it's so much more affordable! I cherish the few drops of parfum that I have.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Now I'm starting to wonder if my sample of L'Air de Rien was mysteriously de-stinked! Or maybe my bottle of Bal a Versailles was hyper-stinked. In any case, they smelled a lot alike to me except for the elegant, definitely French heart of B a V.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Honestly, I think it must have something to do with the musks, the variations, and our anosmias? There are plenty of people who think Rien is dee-lightful (if still a little dirty). And plenty who think Bal is appalling.

    Somebody (Vasily?) left a link to musk anosmia somewhere in our comments I need to go read. I wonder if it is inherited, since Diva seems to share mine.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I'd love to learn more about musk anosmia. It makes a lot of sense that it would change how people take in these particular perfumes.

  13. Anonymous says:

    …”disturbing, yet comforting, smell of civet, old horse droppings, and leather”?? Sorry, but my brain simply does not compute! I also find L'Air de Rien far, far over the line for me – sundry sweet aromas blended with eau d'armpit – so if Bal is remotely from the same stable, as it were, I won't be saddling up for it any time soon!!

    (VM I hate civet)

  14. Anonymous says:

    As a civet hater, you should probably stay away from Bal a Versailles.

    Am I the only person out there who doesn't hate L'Air de Rien? I admit that I won't be buying any, especially since I have a perfectly good bottle of Bal a Versailles handy, but I don't hate it. In fact, if there's an aspect of it I don't like, it's the sweetness.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There's two interesting aspects to this, as I was memorably reminded last weekend, during a three way testing session of the same scents on different skin types. There's the nose difference – comprising the whole subjective aspect of liking what you smell as well as what you were saying about musk anosmia – and then how the scent behaves on skin. We spent 6 hours over two evenings doing nothing but appying and mutually sniffing everything on one another's arms. There were HUGE differences in skin response. One person's skin was like an intravenous sugar drip, which actually improved perfumes with austere openings like Nahema, but made already sweet florals unwearable. The other person's skin ate the top notes in two seconds flat like a Venus fly trap or one of those electric sink tidies, and went straight for the base. Thus it was that L'Arte di Gucci was pure civet (or other animalic note) from the off on this girl's skin, but was sweeter and skank-free on my other friend, and normal sweetness and 90% skank-free on me. And you know I pride myself as a skank amplifier, so I have clearly met my match in friend No 1. So could you perhaps unwittingly be a Venus fly trap or waste disposal unit for basenotes, rather than topnotes like her?

  16. Anonymous says:

    My fate: to be a “waste disposal unit” for base notes? Could be. Although I think patchouli comes out times two on me, and I definitely get the civet in Jicky and Shalimar–but then, who doesn't? I'll start paying attention. You may be on to something.

    What a brilliant idea to do testing on different skin, too! Did it happen by accident, or did you plan it?

  17. Anonymous says:

    hey march – there's only one house of stone – at least i hope so. i take the credit and the blame. Necco Wafer! i aways called/identified that sweet note (as) 'Dr. Pepper'!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    OMG! I so agree about the Secretions! This is the first perfume that don't think I could bear to wear again. The metallic salty note just kept coming and going and every time it made it's appearance, I gagged. I haven't tried this one and only own two of the Miller Harris range but but by descriptions, I doubt I would like it. I do own the Bal a Versailles but haven't worn it in years. I just looked for it but can't find it due to the overcrowding!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Angela, straight after posting that comment, I thought: “I should have said 'selective waste disposal unit'”, so apologies for that! The sessions were face-to-face versions of the Lazy Polls ie find “so-and-so a new perfume”, only on this occasion I was helping two people at once, and it was they who asked me to try all the frags I was recommending on my skin as well, as they were already curious about the differences between the two of them, which quickly emerged. So the evenings kind of evolved into a more scientific testing exercise(!), though I am happy to say that they did both find several new scents each.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I've been wearing Bal for years — my first perfume blog entry was about it. (And no, we didn't have full-time household help! I think my mom had a “cleaning lady” once a week.) Now that I have so many samples and decants, my Bal looks a little…lonely, sitting there on the dresser in the brocade box. In a way we've been best friends, but I'm expanding my circle of friends. My favorite is the vintage extrait, but the vintage cologne smells very good too. The modern formula is still nice, but strong and a little strident compared to the older ones. Fortunately, vintage Bal is still relatively affordable. Bal was my first true perfume love and is still really special.

    One of these days I'll get a sample of Rien, but I'm in no particular hurry.

  21. Anonymous says:

    LOL! I can relate to the overcrowding issue – I cannot find my trio of samples from Les Parfums de Nicolai at the moment, but am hoping that like odd socks they will surface eventually.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I really do like the side-by-side on skin test session. All I need to do is find a few willing subjects, and I'll follow your lead!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I feel like it's an orange/sweet note–which is so much like Dr. Pepper or Neccos!–so I thought it might be neroli.

  24. Anonymous says:

    My Bal a Versailles had migrated to the back of my cabinet, too. I ended up knocking over a few bottles to wrest it out. (Someday I'm going to have a custom cabinet built. Wouldn't that be great?)

  25. Anonymous says:

    That makes three of us, then!

  26. Anonymous says:

    You and Krystal Carrington, both Bal a Versailles lovers! I love the shape of the bottle, too. I've never tried the EdC, but in general it seems like vintage EdCs can be so nice, even compared to the old EdTs.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I've had strangely variable experiences wearing L'Air de Rien. Last spring I used up a small sample over the course of a week, finding it quite fascinating, sort of like Dzing! but taking it a few steps further into more sensual and sophisticated territory. Although there were some wild horses galloping around in that sample of L'Air, they were reasonably well behaved. When a larger decant arrived, my nose barely survived the stampede. So, is there a significant variation in different batches of L'Air? Did temperature (cool spring/hot summer) make a difference in what I smelled? Could it be just the difference in the splash sample and the spray decant? Or is the difference due to some weird hormonal fluctuation in my skin? My first experience with L'Air was good enough that I will probably do some further experimentation when I work up my courage. But Bal A Versailles, which I've never sniffed, is sounding pretty good to me right now.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if there are variations in batches of L'Air de Rien, as you speculate? Or, maybe your skin changed somehow?

    I do love Dzing.

    I'd be interested to know what you think of Bal a Versailles and how it compare to L'Air de Rien, if you do try them again.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I've been a great fan of BaV for almost a decade and it's one of my winter frags. I love it very much – warm and sexy, and I get a lot of compliments on it, especially on the coldest of days. I think it is too overlooked. Everyone should get their hands on a sample of this classic because it smells amazing on skin – mostly warm orange-y leathery patchouli and some musky body scents. It really acts differently on so many especially depending on the formula.

    BaV just reminds me of the situation where your own oriental leathery frag blends with the smell of an amazing man whose body odors have permeated a great wooly sweater….I've never smelled horse poop or stalls in BaV, maybe it's because I've been too countrified, but a steaming pile of poop it is not. However, I am anosmic to most musks, so maybe I'm just delightfully missing out on all that animal bit!

    I wanted to like/love L'Aire, and did, until some smelly socks made their way into the juice in the dry down. It was very disappointing to me, because I like these more complex floral deep woodsy animalic leathery scents, etc. I do think it makes an excellent choice for a men's frag, for the right man.

    I've also noticed that Guerlain's Vol de Nuit “behaves” similarly to BaV in how it acts on my skin to get to the smoky leather animalic bottom end. Although VdN is a much “cooler” melancholy fragrance and doesn't have the rich, exuberant warmth that BaV does. If you have the chance, you should sniff them all to compare how they are similar, and then of course, how they are all different.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I've yet to sniff either of these. Luca Turin's review of LdR made me chuckle – he's not a fan of it, or Birkin. I have fond memories of stables from when I was a girl taking riding lessons, and I once heard a cute story of a mom wondering why her equestrienne preteen daughter's room smelled like a stable, and digging around, found that the girl had smuggled some horse manure into her closet to make the room smell like a stable. No doubt a perfumista in the making. So perhaps these appeal to the horsey set?

  31. Anonymous says:

    I love Vol de Nuit and will have to do some comparing to see how it wears compared to Bal a Versailles. Thanks for the suggestion!

    To me, the horse poop smell is definitely “dried” stable smell–so sort of like dirty hay, basically. It's kind of a nice smell, I think, but not everyone does!

  32. Anonymous says:

    But he does love it! The last words of the review are “I love it”.

    I can't imagine smuggling manure into a bedroom. Now there's a gal who loves her horses. Maybe she even made it to be 15 before she stopped reading Black Beauty and riding and got interested in boys.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting – I just revisited Bal A Versailles today at my favorite perfume shop and fell in love all over again! I hope I have chance to compare these two myself someday.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I'd love to know what you think if you do compare them.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I think the weather & hormones affect how fragrances wear on your skin. Fragrances, like Serge Lutens Daim Blonde wear/develop beautifully in cold crisp weather. The notes separate and define themselves in an amazing way. I would never wear DB when in a hot humid climate but instead, would wear Chanel Cristalle or Guerlain's Jicky.

    By the same token, your skin is an organ, affected by food, ph levels and hormones. I've been on certain medications that affect my skin chemistry (more acidic), that I've had to put the bottles aside temporarily.

  36. Anonymous says:

    With civet, I think there is no fence-sitting. It's either love it or hate it.

  37. Anonymous says:

    True. No waffling on civet.

  38. Anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to look at how scent changes depending on whether you're a vegetarian or a smoker, too. Or even where you are in your cycle.

  39. Anonymous says:

    LOL!! Though I will make allowances for the beautiful L'Arte di Gucci, which has a teeny bit of dirtiness in the drydown. It's like an otherwise lovable spouse with one bad habit.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I think it does, my mom is a heavy smoker, I don't smoke. We can try the same fragrances, and they turn very sharp on her. When on my cycle, I don't wear patchouli well and it smells great on me normally.

  41. Anonymous says:

    And he has to have at least one bad habit to be lovable, don't you think?

  42. Anonymous says:

    It's all so interesting.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I too found a similar quality in BaV and Vol de Nuit! and agree that they “behave similarly” …I do think that VdN is a bit “better behaved” (but like men and children- sometimes the better behaved the less interesting? Not that either one is at all humdrum)

    And yay! A chance to bash Secretions! Oi, that juice is VILE! 5 stars from LT and TS? Smells like someone else's salty snot to me- and does set off the gag reflex…To each his own I s'pose…

  44. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of hay/barn smells – if any of you are a lover of hay smells, barns & horses, you need to get a sample of the Sonoma Scent Studio fragrance Jour Ensoleille – very warm, end of summer floral aldehyde with a great hay note. Laurie Erickson developed it to remind her of end of summer, horses, warm suuny fields, etc.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Oooh, now that one I love…no manure or other unsavouriness with it! I am eagerly awaiting Laurie's gardenia musk release.

    Regarding my civet amplification issues, someone has drawn my attention to a scientific paper, according to which I appear to be in the 6% of the population with MSHM 1 or “multiple, specific hyperosmias to musk odorants”, the 1 being a reference to specific synthetic civet musks. I appear to smell these odorants much too keenly compared with most people, which is a bit of a curse! It is quite a comfort though to have a label now, and not just think I must be a curmudgeon to dismiss so many classic perfumes as gross!

  46. Anonymous says:

    I still haven't tried Secretions, but it doesn't sound like anything I need to rush out for.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Fascinating! “MSHM 1″ sounds impressive.

  49. Anonymous says:

    How interesting! What paper is this? How do you tell from reading it what you may be hypersomic to? I'd love to read it, is there a reference available anywhere?

  50. Anonymous says:

    “someone else's salty snot?” Geez, that's great! I'd love to quote it some day except that…I can just hear the responses now: “Olfacta, how is it exactly that you know the snot is salty?”

    I just looked it up in the Guide. “Bilge note.” I suppose this means I'm not a perfumista yet. Oh, well.

    But Bal on one wrist and Vol de Nuit on the other? That sounds more like it!

  51. Anonymous says:

    I'm with you on the Bal and Vol sniff off!

  52. Anonymous says:

    Oh god. I'm so glad I wasn't eating when I read this! Ick. I can handle everything else, except that! :~)

  53. Anonymous says:

    Here you go – this chap just said I sounded like the minorities described in the paper. See what you think. Any probs with the link, let me know!

    http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/21/4/411

  54. Anonymous says:

    Well Angela,

    I have a partial sample (plenty to go around, I am tellin' ya), if you would like me to send it to you, I would be delighted. Even more delighted if you would consider reviewing it some day (I am sure your literary talents could bust a few guts!)…And who knows, maybe it is the HG you never knew you had to have…

  55. Anonymous says:

    You are very generous to offer!

  56. Anonymous says:

    I, too, am fascinated by the issue of how body chemistry affects scents. This is kind of weird, but I SWEAR perfume smells different to me on my left arm than my right. Has anyone else perceived that? How is that possible? But when I think about it (and excuse me if this is a little gross) one's left armpit can most definitely smell — ahem — more or less funky than one's right, so it's not out-of-the question that the effect can gravitate to the crook of one's arm (my fave place to place scent).

  57. Anonymous says:

    Well, I don't know if my right and left arms smell different to me, but I'm aware enough of my tendency to favor my left arm that when I'm testing something I'll switch arms. When I did this review, for example, over a few days I tested each scent on different arms so that I didn't end up liking my left arm best, just out of some weird habit.

  58. Anonymous says:

    very happy to stumble on this wonderful review; just yesterday i was thinking that Habit Rouge smelled like a working horse-barn afloat in a field of flowers. as for l'air de rien, i find it much dirtier than the salubrious aromas of the barnyard, quite deliciously nasty in fact, and not earthy except in the incensey overtones. perhaps it smells like someone getting up to no good with the stable-hand….

  59. Anonymous says:

    “getting up to no good with the stable-hand”–now there's a stimulating thought! I wish I would have thought of it first.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Up to no good? Hadn't thought of that…… :~)

  61. Anonymous says:

    I have finally tried this and must confess to a minor civet epiphany, which I do not admit to lightly, given that my screen name on BN is “VM I hate civet”. I have to confess that the civet here is “sweetly orchestrated”, by which I mean both cunningly and sweetly. It is a warm skanky hum in the background, lending an almost majestic quality to the perfume, albeit in a very grown up and old fashioned sort of way. You would have to be middle aged and up to wear this, I fancy, which happily I am! I actually sprayed this liberally on my person and went out to work wearing it! People shook my hand warmly and even hoped to see me again, so clearly my sillage cannot have been too repellent. It has been a revelation to me, I must say. I am flabbergasted and bemused. I wonder if what may have helped is that every other note is amongst my faves – jasmine, rose, iris, sandalwood, amber etc – I can't recall exactly, but whatever you listed above other than civet, I like a lot!

  62. Anonymous says:

    I have finally tried this and must confess to a minor civet epiphany, which I do not admit to lightly, given that my screen name on BN is “VM I hate civet”. I have to confess that the civet here is “sweetly orchestrated”, by which I mean both cunningly and sweetly. It is a warm skanky hum in the background, lending an almost majestic quality to the perfume, albeit in a very grown up and old fashioned sort of way. You would have to be middle aged and up to wear this, I fancy, which happily I am! I actually sprayed this liberally on my person and went out to work wearing it! People shook my hand warmly and even hoped to see me again, so clearly my sillage cannot have been too repellent. It has been a revelation to me, I must say. I am flabbergasted and bemused. I wonder if what may have helped is that every other note is amongst my faves – jasmine, rose, iris, sandalwood, amber etc – I can't recall exactly, but whatever you listed above other than civet, I like a lot!

  63. Anonymous says:

    So flabbergasted, I posted twice – no, that was actually my computer locking up!

  64. Anonymous says:

    A new door opens! Was it Bal a Versailles or L'Air de Rien that you tried?

  65. Anonymous says:

    So flabbergasted I was totally ambiguous – Bal a Versailles was the minor civet epiphany!

  66. Anonymous says:

    It's a good one, that's for sure.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE Bal a Versailles…… wear it with T-shirt and jeans and boots, make-up and an expensive bag no one around you can afford or wear it to the opera in winter. Its sensual, charming, yet dirty. When they sniff you they simply say OOOoooooooooooooooo…. beautiful. :))

  68. Anonymous says:

    Nice! Yes, it stands in a class of its own.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Polar Bear, Exactly! that's the beauty of Bal a Versailles, don't you think? Dress it up, or down and it works either way.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Yes, SFLIzbeth. But I noticed only last week that the current Bal A Versailles is a lighter version of the old one during my Mom´s heyday. Could it be that it has been reformulated ? Another good thing about Bal, is that compared to present day perfumes, you cant identify immediately the iingredients in it when someone is wearing it. It is an indescribable beautiful complex. THAT is the mysterdy of Bal A Versailles. And the woman who held the bottle before I did was a very young woman, not an old woman, despite the way the bottle looks.

    Bal is a perfume you can wear when you want everyone guessing. It is beautifully intriguijng.

  71. parisa says:

    Have you ever tried this in EdC ? If not please do.
    Dirty stable…horse droppings…and nothing else.
    EdC is shocking.
    I like dirty notes, but this is…stinky

    • Angela says:

      Hmm. Sounds compelling. I have the EdT, but I’ll seek out the EdC for a whiff!

  72. enidan says:

    I tried out L’air de Rien today. First of all, I love the name and I think it goes very well with Jane B. I also love Lady Birkin, as a public figure, as a singer (some of her albums are great, for real, because she gets all the best people to compose/perform for/with her) and as an actress.
    I like the wishlist JB gave Miller Harris regarding what her fragrance should smell of, too — can’t recall it exactly, but I do remember her wanting her father’s pipe, hair from her brother’s head and floor polish in there.
    Anyway, so I tried it because I’m looking for a really dirrrrty musc, and I do like it, but I find it perhaps too literal (you mentioned stables, I remembered the floor polish and my boyfriend smelled Jesuit living quarters in there, too). I would love to love this… maybe it’ll grow on me.
    I do like the fact that there aren’t any gourmand notes in this, which is the major thing that bothers me with Musc Ravageur, for e.g.

    PS: Apologies if I’m repeating anything any of the other commentators already mentioned; I must admit that I didn’t take the time to read all the comments yet.

    • Angela says:

      Musc Ravageur has that bit of lavender in it, too, which makes it not quite perfect for me. Have you tried Musc Koublai Khan? That one is pretty darn dirty.

      • enidan says:

        Thanks for your reply and the suggestion, Angela!!

        I haven’t tried MKK yet but I’m panting to! I gather it’s only sold in the stupid Shiseido place in Paris? I read a comment in Kevin’s review of it that it was going to be released internationally in winter 2009 — well, I haven’t seen it…
        I’m going to Paris soon, though, so will try it then.

        Also on my list: Le Labdo Labdanum 18 and PG L’Ombre Fauve (love that name! hope it’s true love!).

  73. Butterscotch says:

    I think i would like to try this

    • Angela says:

      It’s definitely worth trying, although a little strange in some ways. But that’s not always bad…

  74. OVincze says:

    I am fortunate enough to be soon getting samples of both; I am really curious as they send like fumes that could appeal to me. I will let you know my thoughts once I had the chance to test them, cannot wait.

  75. OVincze says:

    I really really love the BAV, I have used it several times now and am totally hung up on it. I have known that I am really into civet but this fume is just sooo dirty and intoxicating and unique, definitely a fume for those special occasions, nights and special moods. I am getting a vintage EDC as a swap and cannot wait. I have only sniffed L’Air de Rien and need to give it a full wearing but by just sniffing it I can tell that the BAV is definitely what I prefer out of the two.

    • Angela says:

      Congratulations on the swap! I hope you love it. The parfum is wonderful, too, if you get the chance to try it.

  76. OVincze says:

    Oh and forgot to mention that I too smell leather and in fact really strongly in the BAV but I have not found it listed among the notes though I guess I should try different sources, they never do tell you all the notes though, I am absolutely sure that there is leather in it.

    • Angela says:

      I agree–I smell leather, too. No doubt about it.

  77. OVincze says:

    Ok, I got it and it is the vintage EDT actually and yes I am extremely attracted to this fragrance, to me it smells of passion and is very erotic and memorable.

  78. OVincze says:

    My current collection of BAV includex three versions:))), for months it was my big fave and passion, vintage EDC, vintage EDT and current EDT, originally I thought I really found the current EDT the most complex and while it may be the case, it obviously is a lot more synthetic, sharper, less sweet and much more leathery and spicey, my fave is the vintage EDT which is just so gorgeously smooth, vanillic, it is civety, very velvety and natural, the vintage EDC is the most civety which I love as well. I have just purchased L’Air today as well and that one is wow big time too, I first found it a lot stranger than BAV and liked it much less but now I feel intrigued, I also find it oddly comforting, perhaps my love of animals:))) It may be the most unique fume I have smelled to date. It does smell very dirty on me but also warm, however, not sweet. What beats me is that I keep smelling leather and something else animalic not listed not sure it is civet though, perhaps just the overdose of musk and amber? I am very surprised that only 5 notes are listed as it smells more complex than that to me but perhaps it is just a really well finished creation and the proportion of the notes makes it so interesting.

    • Angela says:

      Thanks for the mini-reviews of all the formulations! It’s so nice to have a comment from someone who has tried the gamut.

      I bet L’Air has lots more notes. You know how company descriptions are–they rarely list everything, and even the notes listed can be misleading or not the most dominant notes.

  79. OVincze says:

    Yes it just annoys me that I cannot find any more notes listed anywhere, it is unusual and I am pretty sure it has more.:))) Have you liked any other Miller Harris fumes Angela? I received a sample of La Pluie and it also smelled interesting even if it may not be in my comfort zone, we shall see.

  80. sweetgrass says:

    I haven’t tried Bal a Versailles, but I’m wearing a bit of the L’Air de Rien sample I just got today, and I’m really liking it. It’s dirty but pleasantly so. I got the barnyard cupcake thing for a little bit, but as it dries down, it’s like a sweetish labdanum incense, leather, woods, and a bit of barnyard that’s definitely present but not overwhelming. I think I got this sample at the right time of year because it seems perfect for fall.

    • Angela says:

      It really is one that’s perfect for fall–the crisp leaves, firewood, even a light rain.

  81. kate says:

    I sent for a decant from ebay and its AWFUL! After reading lots of reviews about L’air de Rien I was so curious and also intrigued that a perfume can smell SO different on different people and also to me what is more interesting are the descriptions that people write, the inspiration and memories evoked by a perfume like this one. For me it was horse piss and carnations with a bit of dirty placticine from early school days (unhappy memory for me) so I’m afraid I wont be buying it. I much prefer Lyn Harris’s Fleur de Sel – for me fabulous and rich and evocative:)

    • Angela says:

      L’air de rien is definitely worlds away from Fleur de Sel…

  82. marmalade says:

    I’ve had L’Air de Rien for about 6 months now. I find it very comforting indeed, and yes, I loved horses as a youth! I get a kind of Nag Champa Indian Incense with a touch of sweet fruity/dry sherbet, as well as horse droppings and a hint of saddle (also saddle soap).

    Whether it’s sexy or not is probably dependant on who you want to attract! A man who wants a woman to smell like a clean flower or baby lotion is probably not the kind of man I could have a lot of fun with to be honest! I think this is the perfect perfume for a bohemian style music gig in the extensive gardens of an English mansion

    • Angela says:

      Which is such a Jane Birkin image! My father is a horseshoer, and I, too, love horsy smells. I think L’air de rien is one of those love it or hate it fragrances.

  83. Ive tried three versions of BaV: current edt, vintage edp and the extrait. The first time I tried the modern edt, I was totally put off by the powderiness and sharpness of the opening. This was probably due ti the fact that it was 99 degrees in the heat if summer. I put it away until the weather cooled. Now when I sample the edt, I get sweet orange flower, sweaty leather, dried horse droppings , incense, amber, and civet. The edp is more rich and to describe it as a texture, it wiuld be like velvet compared to the thin cotton sheets of the edt. The extrait is sweeter and smoother. I dont get any raunchiness compared to the edt and vintage edp. The extrait is sweet, leathery, ambery and has a syrupy honied vibe to it which is quite nice. LdR is kind of nice as well. To me its skanky leather, musk and neroli very similar to BaV in my opinion. But for the price BaV, beats LdR hands down. Its skanky, and the drydown its incredibly rich with sandalwood, civet, amber and spices. I will enjoy my bottle of edt this fall/winter and have people smell my sillage of dried horse droppings, sweaty leather, musk and orange flowers . I have a bottle of edC coming very soon from an ebay auction. I cannot wait to try it. More skankiness than the edt? Oh yeah! Bring it! I’m so excited!

    • Angela says:

      What an excellent mini-review! You compare the different BaV formulations so well. I hope the BaV EdC is everything you expect and more.

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