Friday, April 7, 2017

Standout iris: an overview on some of the greatest irises I met in 2016

To talk about iris (or orris) is to talk about a material that deserves carrying a coat of arms itself, not only for being such precious in monetary definitions, but also for its celestial earthy render. Iris is the most artistic part of perfume world, an absolute melancholy, prominent in identity and at the same time fragile, compared to other ingredients.

What makes iris an extraordinary material, first, is its tremendous price, which allegedly doesn't necessary make it a noble material. A proof of such claim is iris can be replicated (though not hundred percent) with masterly use of other substances. But after all, iris is ultimate luxury, and a tribute to this fragile bloom of earth takes huge budget and skillful knowledge of perfumery.

In this post I want to share my impressions about some standout iris fragrances with bronze and gold quality that left great impacts on me. To avoid lengthening the actual review I kindly invite you to read my impressions on Masque L'Attesa on its post and accept my excuse that I don't add this noble fragrance here.

Iris Silver Mist
Allow me to introduce the eternal iris reference that deserves heredity titles. It's Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist; hats off. Lutens released this unique gem in a collaboration with great perfumer Maurice Roucel whom we know with Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, Hermès 24 Faubourg, and Amouage Reflection Woman. Considering the date of release, 1994, I feel goosebumps all over my body. How happens Lutens makes a fragrance that two decades later everyone strive to replicate as it became a trend?!

©Pierre de Nishapur
A jar bell of Iris Silver Mist, photo provided by the house of Serge Lutens

Iris Silver Mist is a fragrance with powerful emotions and drama much above hierarchy of ingredients. It's a solid fragrance with least possible change from a to z. Kind of green and resinous in opening with play of galbanum on top of a swan feather pillow of orris, that transfers into one of the most silky and light iris fragrances ever in dry down.

The fragrance has an incredible touch of tactile silk like a soft play of dense fog on face in a spring height where nothing is seen unless sound of sheep bells in distance. I don't want to give feeling that I'm eulogizing Lutens cause I'm his fan, but I seriously cannot neglect the richness of emotions in his fragrances. This creator put his best efforts to bring the very message into liquid form.

Iris in this composition appears quite young and brittle (though in opening it smells metallic and a little oldy and near to smell of cocked carrot), and silkier than Lutens' famous silk stockings. In collaboration with earthy galbanum, soft musky nuances, woody notes and prominent vetiver demonstrates an unbearable elegance. In a brevity: it's an iris to die for! A sheer and polished soapy iris with soft ambrosial woody base that has nothing extra, no ornament, no other face, it's just a nude iris fragrance, straight and silky and as light as not there just like air itself, but huge like a mountain. In a poetic way it perfectly mirrors ephemeral and dramatic life of an iris flower in olfactory framework. Lutens' iris manifesto, in unity with his other creations, exhibits same Gothic and sinister spirit with a shine through its darkness. The impact of such melancholic art is that huge to be absolute reference of iris for works of decades ahead.

The second extraordinary item is a giant iris work by house of Xerjoff which I discovered last spring while I was preparing perfume descriptions for new website of the house. Made by in-house nose of Xerjoff, Chris Maurice in 2008Irisss is a part of Xerjoff's prestigious collection; XJ 17/17 which gathers the most notable compositions of this house based on traditional skills of Grasse and supreme materials.

©Pierre de Nishapur
Say hello to new face of XJ 17/17 bottles, photo provided by the house of Xerjoff

In Irisss there's no sign of iridescent play of notes. Even unlike many iris-optimizing fragrances that showcase shy face of the root it brings it to a vulgar level in opening and self-confident characteristic in base. Irisss seethes with an unusual medicinal irritation that hurts no one but keeps beauty on intriguing level. Just the way it stresses on letter "s" in its title, carrot seed and wet violet emphasize on angular musty earthy vibe that makes it an iris fragrance with fangs and claws. Irisss demonstrate a mate for orris and it's a tricky, hidden and smart use of sizable aldehyde that uncovers exactly in the base when sharp metallic floral edges of top are turning to curvy and raunchy ylang ylang, rose and smoky woody theme. Aldehyde looks very close to iris to the point that I suspect it's replicating iris with carrot seeds and violet!

Irisss is a supreme piece of art with very special smell and characteristic that doesn't bother to be mass-pleaser but it's charming anyhow. A different take on iris which does not underline the powdery features of the root, while it's an iris and resembles some iconic works in this range.

Of course there’s this question of price. Irisss sells north of $700; an astral price that brings every drop to a tangible value. And this is the price of a regular Stone Label 100ml bottle. The price considerably exceeds volume of wallet in Murano or Quartz series. But here's a good point to clarify why I usually avoid discussing price of perfumes. I believe every product has its customer, specially such high-end and unique products who target only few selected audience. So I don't bargain whether if price fits quality and massive longevity and sillage of Irisss or not. This is what my reader should personally evaluate.

Iris Cendré
Last but not lease, now this is a new case, a new iris with some strange habits. First things first, Naomy Goodsir's Iris Cendré is not the innocent, divine and aerial powdery iris you know. It's iris' muscled face, twisted and grew in mean streets, kind of criminal iris with smoke-smelling jacket and torn jeans.

The fragrance begins with rubbery orris root and violet that exhibit soft nastiness of kerbside irises and violets. This beginning aligns with some sweet citrus, a floral shut, and saporific notes that promise for a lush warm and smoky heart where iris mingles into a giant aura of tobacco and incense (the same un-oriental smoke of Bois d'Ascèse), which bring out a different take of the root with smoky and warm velvety texture. This supporting blast of floral shut, unzesty tobacco and suede-like leather act on iris like irrelevant mix of cigarette ash and marigold, yet the sum of this combination is quite a stylish scent that takes iris totally away from its spiritual and divine innocence and brings it to a fashionable lumbersexual identity. Rough in appearance but smooth in soul.

It has a strong longevity but the iris is not that steady to watch what happens in base. It's a half-way iris that lefts and lets smoky incense and leathery side grow. Experimentally seems it has soft and medium projection, according to feedback from people. Good experience in iris-oriented fragrances. Oops, it's not an iris-oriented like the other two members above, it's an exceptional, fat powdery, dark smoky iris perfume with extra facets in harmony to a core veiled under ashes.


In a calculation, iris is a fragile ingredients which matching it with other elements needs skill and patience. On the other side, this selfish ingredient awkwardly tends to occupy core of component. For me iris is a matter of zero and one logic. I am not comfortable with it but I love it... I miss it sometimes.

Carpe Odor!

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