Ivoire de Balmain Eau de Toilette

Last weekend, my spouse and I drove westward to the Columbus Farmers Market-- a vast sprawl of outdoor tables and tents containing a dazzling collection of gently (or not-so-gently) used items priced super-cheap. Hatted and shrouded against the sun, I followed my husband up and down dusty pathways in search of secondhand comics and DVDs to add to his collection. For myself, I found a "sassy" suncatcher, a book about brain tumors, and a stainless steel ring to replace the broken one on my Þór's hammer necklace. It doesn't sound like much of a haul, but I was saving myself for the indoor antiques stores. I'd once scored a gorgeous Coty Emeraude mini-bottle in mint condition there. Would I be so lucky this time?

Yes! After a mere fifteen-minute traipse through the cool, shady aisles of the antiques mall, I unearthed a nearly-full vintage spray bottle of Ivoire de Balmain Eau de Toilette. Now, if one were to compare the iterations of Ivoire to Depression glass -- in plentiful supply at Columbus, all you collectors! -- the pure parfum is the "milk" variety, dense and opacified, while the EdT is pale yellow-green "vaseline" glass complete with a mini-dose of uranium. Cut to sparkle in any light, it fluoresces under the ultraviolet; in other words, it truly glows, but only in the dark.

Ivoire pure parfum is a languid delight laced with bitter herbs and sweet honey. Where's all the galbanum, raspberry, and lemon, you ask? Answer: in a different bottle. Ivoire de Balmain Eau de Toilette is a classic "green goddess" fragrance-- tart and biting, as crisply sophisticated as Jeri Hall stepping out of a limousine. The creamy elements of the original have been shifted to the background-- not entirely out of sight, but just enough to let Ivoire remind us that she's a chypre. Her peppery blend of galbanum, tagetes, and acid red berries echoes all the Halstons, Missonis, and Magie Noires that were au courant back in those halcyon days. She's definitively a chypre of her era. Tonight, she parties at Studio 54; tomorrow, she's got finals at Barnard.

Of course she aces them both.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, neroli, raspberry, galbanum, chamomile, violet, marigold, rose, jasmine, hyacinth, orchid, iris, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, carnation, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, artemisia, vetiver, patchouli, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, labdanum, tonka bean, incense, musk. Oh, and uranium.