Perfume Directory

Ivoire (original) (1980)
by Pierre Balmain


Ivoire (original) information

Year of Launch1980
Average Rating
(based on 198 votes)

People and companies

HousePierre Balmain
PackagingPierre Dinand
Parent CompanySelective Beauty
Parent Company at launchCobepa Group

About Ivoire (original)

Ivoire (original) is a feminine perfume by Pierre Balmain. The scent was launched in 1980 and the bottle was designed by Pierre Dinand

Ivoire (original) fragrance notes

Reviews of Ivoire (original)

Scent-of-the-Evening: Pierre Balmain IVOIRE in the vintage Extrait. [1980; Nose: Francis Camail and Michel Hy] Green/Floral/Chypre.

Thanks to Dede Grant for allowing me to try this perfume masterpiece.

TTE: aldehydes, chamomile, asafoetida, mandarin orange, violet, benzoin, artemisia, marigold, galbanum, bergamot and lemon;
COEUR: nutmeg, carnation, cinnamon, narcissus, pepper, orris root, jasmine, Turkish rose, neroli, ylang-ylang and lily-of-the-valley;
FOND: sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, cistus labdanum, patchouli, musk, raspberry, vanilla, oakmoss, vetiver and incense.

Gorgeous, complex scent, with many facets. I am testing the vintage EDP.

I love the liquid/juicy fruity takeoff with "apple brandy" whispers (the Spanish word for chamomile is "manzanilla"= little apple), melded with an undisguised benzoin gum that smells uncannily like powder white cocaine (I'll bet this scent was a hit at Studio 54) and the dusty yellow pollen smell of chamomile.

Then the airy, sunshiny dance of bitter, dusty, pollinated and yellow-green herbs, creating a feeling of both the country and the city. Managing to smell both chicly urbane... yet somehow French pastoral, -l-fois.

In the head is a slight whiff of "sweat + onion", not unpleasant, but rather character-ful, and that is the sly note of asafoetida, a bitter garden herb that has long been used in folk remedies. It is the same note one recognizes in the opening spritz of YSL KOUROS and Carven MA GRIFFE. Too much of this note would be awful, but a delicate hint of it seems to suggest an herb garden in May.

Then, the pristine, feminine (but not "girly-winsome") tea roses... they smell palest pink to me, and they smell very cool to the touch, if not downright cold, like roses from a florist's cooler. Luca Turin was right-- the floralcy in this scent possess a chilly aura, pleasantly so.

A gorgeous chypre base, rich with oakmoss and patchouly, and also (to my nose) possessing some sophisticated balsams, like myrrh and cistus labdanum. Somewhere lurking in the scent is a ghosted, not-there, non-sweet cinnamon. Or it may be balsam tolu? All the hushed spicy notes in IVOIRE remain subordinate, throughout the life of the scent, to the bitter/yellow/dusty herbal notes, and the tart fruit nuances declared in the head.

IVOIRE is an exquisite chypre, with its toes in the "green/aldehydic/floral" vogue of the 1970's. For such a glam scent, I admire its relatively restrained sillage... a rarity for the powerhouse 80's.

To me, this is the more expensive-smelling, more complex, ultra-glam big sister to Balenciaga CIELENGA which I used to adore.

I don't know why, but I feel IVOIRE would suit blondes more than any other type (feel free to disagree). In fact, I somehow picture Sharon Tate wearing this, had she lived to see 1980, walking through Benedict Canyon on a golden afternoon in autumn, her blond, glossily brushed hair doing a "Breck" gallop in the sun.

Or like Catherine Deneuve when she is out in the countryside in BELLE DU JOUR.

It does smell mature and very polished, in no way a debutante/sorority girl/cheerleader fragrance.

I must obtain a flacon of vintage IVOIRE!
29th April, 2019
In the 1980s, my Mum bought the Harrods Christmas Magazine every year; there was always an advert for Ivoire in it, and it was one of the small selection of fragrances for mail order several years running. From the description in the magazines, my Mum loved the sound of Ivoire, and very much wanted to try it (I have to admit, I didn't think it looked or sounded particularly exciting, and couldn't see why my Mum was attracted to it!). Sadly, there weren't any Balmain stockists in the area we lived. Several years after Mum first saw Ivoire advertised, I was very unexpectedly given a free sample of the pure perfume when I bought something in a small, privately owned perfume shop (I hadn't even realised they sold Balmain). When I returned home, Mum was thrilled with the sample, and couldn't wait to try it: however, she absolutely hated Ivoire! She gave me back the sample, and I wore it several times; each time, I liked it more and more! By the time I had finished the sample, it had, very unexpectedly, become one of my favourite fragrances ever (all the more surprising, as I was very much into heavy oriental fragrances, such as Opium at the time; Ivoire's clean, slightly green, subtly spicy, soapy notes not being my type of thing at all!). Over the years, I was to purchase many bottles of Ivoire; sometimes having a break from it for a few years, but always loving returning to it (in contrast, my Mum never liked it, despite having fancied it so much).

A flanker, Eau d'Ivoire was released at one time, but I never got round to trying it - I don't know if it was anything like Ivoire, or simply shared a name.

I was so disappointed when Ivoire was discontinued - it was like losing an old friend; though maybe I should have realised the end was coming, as it started appearing in cut price perfume shops, drastically reduced. However, I have recently, and very unexpectedly, re-found Ivoire, in the form of Estee Lauder's Private Collection: I had never been a fan of Estee Lauder from the few fragrances I had tried, and had never attempted trying more. Private Collection is slightly greener than Ivoire (in fact, for the first hour it is on my skin, it smells exactly like Irish Spring soap!), but once it settles, it is very similar - so much so, it is like I have refound the old friend I thought I had lost forever!

I can't bring myself to try the new Ivoire, as from all I have read, the name is the only thing to link it with the original, and I am not overly fond of other Balmain fragrances - particularly the newer ones.
21st March, 2018
Vintage -

Bitter, clean, aldyhydic, green, floral-spicy. The opening is a blast of bitter green vetiver/oakmoss/soapy aldehydes. The galbanum, oakmoss and aldehyde scent continues throughout the evolution of the scent, though it smooths a bit over time and becomes more floral. The floral heart contains that a touch of that indolic jasmine + rose combo that was in every woman's perfume in the 80's, but the dominant floral notes on me are a slightly spicy white floral that smells of marigold + muguet. Far too soapy and bitter for my modern tastes, though better than some of the chypres from that era.
13th October, 2017
Green (herbal) notes, carnation, and oak moss, from the listed notes, seem to match what I think I'm smelling. This has some overlap with some of my favorites that were also released around 1980.

This one reminds me of a sharp, skin-drying soap, although the smell is sharper, higher-pitched, and stronger than a soap would be.

This develops quite a bit. During the mid, I often thought it smelled better up close than it smelled projecting. The base is woody, just slightly sweet, free of the soapy top, but still retaining the green, herbal notes.
29th August, 2017 (last edited: 30th August, 2017)
An Aldehyde floral. Smells of the 70's. This doesn't stand out amoung others, but it is nice smelling. I'd say it is a night scent, formal. Black dress, clutch purse, and jewelry fragrance.
16th July, 2017
I have a vintage bottle which belonged to my grandmother. I've never worn it as I couldn't get past the BO blast, but either I've lost my sense of smell, or some of the eau de BO has vanished with age. Trying it again after six years, I now get loads of cedar, a touch of tutti fruity, and not much else. Going to try wearing it after all these years and see how it floats. Originally, it smelled like pencil and BO to me. Now it smells mostly like pencil.
19th March, 2015

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