Balmain Ivoire, 1980

ivoire 2

Perfumer Michael Hy.

Ivoire is a soapy floral from 1980. Soapy was probably a hard sell in 1980, so how on earth has this survived the intervening years? I suppose that being out of fashion could actually make it more likely that you’d survive the fads of the day. Being inexpensive must help, too.

However it worked out, I’m glad Ivoire is still with us. It’s got the backbone and poise you’d find in the best women’s perfumes that make many men’s fragrances look as if they’re meant to bolster a limp masculine confidence.  Ivoire also demonstrates a notion that might baffle us today: that a downmarket, department store fragrance should be expected to have the virtues and quality that we believe we must look to niche to find. It doesn’t smell unexpected or outrageous, it smells spectacular and pleasing. Current florals don’t seem to venture in this direction, so Ivoire continues to remain above trends, and holds its own turf. Let’s hope its difference guarantees its continued production.

(Every time I smell Gucci Envy, I imagine it wanted to smell like a streamlined and updated version of Ivoire but somehow couldn’t escape the ruthless unpleasantness of the 1990s fashion sensibility and wound up instead smelling whiny and pissy and then was named accordingly.)

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