Ivoire. It is thename I have given to a dream.
The name of a woman of cool slender beauty draped in pale silk, whom I saw for only an instant descend lightly the stairs of the Opera, and disappear into the night.
Ivoire is the glow of this fleeting vision, which struck me with the force of a revelation.
There will always be a mystery about Ivoire. An unfinished story. The feeling there is another world to know...emotion to touch...feeling beyond the civilized.
And so it came to be. Inspired by her. Ivoire is a tribute to beauty and to woman. Cool and savage as ivory itself.
I dedicate this perfume to all those women in the world who understand the dream of Ivoire so very well.
A fragrance created by Pierre Balmain
(From a leaflet inside an older box of Ivoire)
So very French, isn't it?
Ivoire was launched in 1979 or 1980 (various sources), a couple of years before Pierre Balmain's 1982 death. Leafing through beautiful photographs of Balmain's work throughout the years, it's pretty clear where the dream inspiring Ivoire originated. It's the (perceived) sophistication and romance of the past. And, indeed, Ivoire is much related to Balmain perfumes of the past and even to the green chypres of the 70, and not a harbinger of the 1980s power orientals.
I have a couple of oldish and older bottles of the parfum and also a newer decant of the EDT. In all of them, Ivoire opens up relatively mellow and floral, quite soapy and very crisp. And, yes, it's a French girl in a spring dress and a vintage scarf. I like it well enough even then, but then things like carnation and galbanum happen. Together. At the same time. Ivoire becomes a lot more bitter green and in today's standards quite edgy.
Pierre Balmain dreamed Ivoire with evening gowns in mind, but the quiet elegance and mellow soapiness make the perfume just as wearable with a business suit or riding boots. I think of it as an introvert cousin of Chanel no. 19 especially in vintage EDT and parfum, with parts that are closer to the EDP on its sweeter floral notes (I love all of them). I think a man could just as easily wear Ivoire today, especially considering the classic vetiver-patchouli-oakmoss dry-down. It's dry, dark green and very satisfying to fan of this style.
Notes (from Balmain website): Mandarin, Bergamot, Galbanum, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Iris, Lily, Carnation, pepper, nutmeg, raspberry, Vetiver, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Ladbanum, Tonka Bean.
Ivoire is still in production but you can bet your perfume collection that the formula has changed as a result of IFRA regulations and commercial considerations. However, I don't know what the most current version of the EDT (78.00 €, 100 ml) smells like. I saw it last time I was in Paris in many stores, but here in the US most Balmain perfumes can only be purchased through online discounters. The good news is that the prices are far below $40. The even better news is that from what I can tell from the company's website the current formula only comes in the 100 ml (3.4 oz) bottles, so there's a good chance that many 1.7 and 1 oz bottles are older stock and might be true to the original.
1980 Ivoire de Balmain ad from couluerparfums.com
Fashion photographs of Pierre Balmain's 1950s creations from Dovima_is_Divine_II on Flickr.