Balmain Ivoire de Balmain: Sweaty Betty Fills a Room


Have you ever sat on a bus and wrinkled your nose , silently wishing people would wash more and change their clothes daily? Sadly, this was the image that Ivoire de Balmain put into my head.

I was introduced to this by my friend and perfume expert Lisa Wordbird. We were drinking tea and eating Battenberg at the time. She sprayed my arm with Ivoire de Balmain. “Yuk!” I exclaimed, “It smells like an old lady Walk of Shame”. “Really?” said Lisa, “My mother wears it to Church”. Many Battenberg crumbs landed far away from my plate, dear reader.

I hope you don’t recoil from the vivid imagery, but this smells like a hot gusset on a warm day. It’s how hot nylon smells without deodorant, or how sweaty thighs smell after a few  shower free days, drowned in talc to hide the smell. (I am guessing incidentally, my hygiene is of unimpeachable order).

It dries down into a sort of lemon talc, but the 32 notes listed on Fragrantica seemed almost completely absent, bar a few.  I will list the notes that I considered noticeable, since the ones that appeared absent  are too numerous to list here.

Present and correct in the opening notes: Asfoetida, Chamomile, Lemons and Aldehydes. Middle notes that I recognised were Lily of the Valley (although in talc form) and possibly Nutmeg. In the basenote I could smell Sandalwood and Lemon and talc.

Throughout every stage, there was kind of BO staleness. Hot hosiery, poor hygiene.  Not  good, and certainly not something I want to smell of. However, I am reviewing the Ivoire de Balmain with the white plastic lid, labelled “Edition Prestige”. Recently I tried Balmain Ivoire in John Lewis. The packaging and bottle were both different. When I tried it, the smell was different too. There was Imageno scent of sweaty body, it has been sanitised. I was left with a pretty Violet Green scent, admittedly, with less character than my gussety friend here.

I do apologise to any fans of original Ivoire de Balmain, but do please remember that this is only my personal response. Try the new one if my review has put you off the old one. Other Balmains are excellent and being phased out, so if you find one you like, buy it twice.



8 thoughts on “Balmain Ivoire de Balmain: Sweaty Betty Fills a Room”

  1. That episode with the cake going everywhere was so funny! 🙂

    I absolutely LOVE Ivoire de Balmain – I get soapy, white, bright smells from it, so I was astonished that it hits you with the infamous ‘gusset and Sweaty Betty’ note. Hmm. I am beginning to wonder if ALL the fumes I love have a touch of the gusset about them – Courtesan, Iris Poudré, I’Air de Rien… (Oh boy, when you try that one I really want to hear your reaction!)

    The version you tried is very definitely the ‘old’ Ivoire, and the version we smelled in John Lewis was definitely the ‘new’ reformulated and relaunched Ivoire. Balmain perfumes changed hands a year or two back and they’ve been relaunching the frags and discontinuing others (my Miss Balmain!!!!!) I guess it’s been redone to conform to the IFRA regulations and also to appeal to modern tastes. At least it isn’t a bloody fruity floral.

    1. Yes it’s curious isn’t it, how two noses can smell one perfume and have just very different reactions. I don’t know if its chemistry, temperature, olfactory memory, or a combo of all of that. I would like to smell this on you now that i have smelt it on me.

  2. Oh – now this is going to expose my slatternliness to the entire interwebs but… the other day I was getting undressed for bed and I spritzed on a dose of Paloma Picasso, as you do (I often try real whoppers at night when I know I’ll have a shower the next morning). I felt it was quite a powerhouse and very very ‘old school’ – the kind of thing you’d expect to smell on a Grande Dame (even though it was created in the early 80s) and it reminded me a lot of some of the vintage powerhouse chypres.
    Then, as I was pulling on my PJs I caught a little whiff of armpit. OK, quite a big whiff of armpit. It was not good (we have had unseasonally warm weather in Britain lately) and I should have had the shower before bed, I suppose.

    BUT – and don’t judge me here – I swear the PP cancelled out the BO. Next morning I had my shower, but that night I could only smell Paloma Picasso, I couldn’t smell my own stank.

    This got me wondering whether some perfumes were created with deodorant properties in mind back in the days when folks didn’t have showers or baths on a daily basis. Then it was a case of a strip wash that covered all the important bits, but didn’t ever leave you feeling really ‘clean’ clean. I know that in France, that’s wear Eau de Cologne comes into play – to splash over your chest and back both to cool you down and to get rid of that slightly grubby feeling of having sweated between your shoulderblades. Here in Britain, was Tweed created to cover the sulphurous whiffs from underarms at the end of a day?

    1. That’s a very interesting theory and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. However, some perfumes make me smell of armpits even though I know I don’t. One example was Angel, also this one, Ivoire de Balmain, so I don’t know what’s going on there!

      However, having said all that, there’s no doubt at all that anthropology dictates that a whiff of armpit and groin is what keeps the human race going. We need to smell of bodies now and then in order to procreate.

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