Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist : Fragrance Review

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Icy_flowers_1

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist is iris to the power of 10. Despite its raw strength it manages to convey the ethereal softness and exquisite silkiness that make iris one of the most prized materials in perfumery. Although Iris Silver Mist is not a classical Serge Lutens oriental like Ambre Sultan, Chergui or Fumerie Turque, it has the distinctive aura and unconventional construction of other fragrances from the line.

Orris butter has a powdery quality reminiscent of violets covered with chalk dust, but Iris Silver Mist manages to preserve an amazing clarity. It opens up on a sharp, vegetal note of galbanum that calls to mind sliced green peppers. Its vibrancy is underscored by an earthy pungency, which like a flash of chili on the tongue serves as a piquant accent. The voluptuous beauty of iris unfolds in the heart of the composition, foiled by rich woods and sheer amber. Although Iris Silver Mist begins with thunder, it takes a turn towards graceful softness. Now reminiscent of the melancholy beauty of Guerlain Après l’Ondée, the composition clings to the skin like silk; its smooth, cold surface hiding a suggestion of sensual warmth.

Iris Silver Mist was created by Maurice Roucel, a perfumer with an impressive portfolio of fragrances. Iris Silver Mist possesses the elegance of other Roucel compositions and above all it is marked by the same radiance that makes his work fascinating. This radiance lights up the form of Tocade’s ambery rose, of Musc Ravageur’s dark embrace and of the metallic edginess explored in Gucci Envy. Iris Silver Mist has always been one of my favorite Roucel compositions because of its unusual combination of elegance and assertive character. Whether one likes it or not, it is difficult to remain indifferent to this fragrance.

It is not a perfume with universal appeal, as it does not attempt to soften the vegetal chill of iris root as has been done in either the floral sweetness of The Different Company Bois d’Iris or the ladylike elegance of Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre. Embellishments, in fact, are unnecessary, for Iris Silver Mist does not attempt to be coy—it is striking and beautiful.

Iris Silver Mist includes notes of iris, clove, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, white amber, labdanum, musks, benzoin, incense. It is available from Les Salons du Palais Royal.

Beautiful photo of Icy Flowers from Knitagarden.

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50 Comments

  • chayaruchama: Oh, Vika-

    Those blossoms in that photo are exquisite !
    Do you know, ISM is the first SL I fell in love with, and bought, after reading about it in the French Marie Claire 10 years ago.
    [They sent the bell jars by mail then, if you called Paris and conducted the entire messy process in French!]

    Nothing comes close…

    Thank you for a lyrical start to my day. November 20, 2006 at 6:40am Reply

  • Christina H.: what a lovely review to such a beautiful perfume. It’s one of my top 5 favorite scents from the SL non export line! It somehow makes me feel very introspective when I wear it.It’s truly a wonderful fragrance.Thank you so much for the review! The photo went perfectly with the review! I don’t know how you match the ideal pictures with your reviews, but you do! November 20, 2006 at 7:35am Reply

  • Dmitri: I am so sorry, not to be able to share your admiration on this particular scent. In deed, it demonstrates all the fine facets of the natural orris butter. Nevertheless, on my skin it smells one-dimensional and a bit poisonous. In my opinion and on my skin, Iris Bleu Gris MPG is a more balanced interpretation. November 20, 2006 at 7:42am Reply

  • Flor: I love this scent! It is one of my HG fragrances. It was love at first sniff with me. Your description of it is perfect. November 20, 2006 at 8:48am Reply

  • Dusan: Yes, Iris Silver Mist is stunning! It is precisely the vegetal chill of orris that I love the most. I used up the sample Patty sent me (((Patty))), and now I miss it terribly. Can’t wait to give the empty vial a sniff once my sinus infection and high temperature have subsided 🙁
    Vika, thanks for making me feel better on this ghastly bedridden day 🙂 And agree with others that the photo is an ideal match! Hugs November 20, 2006 at 8:56am Reply

  • Marina: I too love the fact that it doesn’t hide the strange, raw coldness of iris. That weird little thing that makes ISM a little bit “off” is my very favorite part of it. November 20, 2006 at 9:10am Reply

  • cathleen56: I love it too, but am I alone in thinking that it’s very, very close to Hermes Hiris? It’s been awhile since I’ve sniffed it, but I remember thinking “Oh, good, I don’t have to search high and low for ISM, because I already have Hiris.” November 20, 2006 at 10:07am Reply

  • Anjali: I love this scent so much (as I would anything created by my perfume-boyfriend Maurice), although I mainly just appreciate it in theory, as I find it too metallic and cool for me to actually wear (doesn’t suit my personality somehow). I long for the day the Salons decide to release a candle in this scent. So glad to read a review of this from you again 🙂 November 20, 2006 at 10:49am Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear Victoria,
    Monday Greetings to you and all. Well, I as rread your beautifully scripted words, I can almost ..almosy think I am actually smelling this fragrance Iris Silver Mist ! Sort of like the 4th dimension. I like “cool” scents . I love Hiris, and yet Opium 9it is cool to me ) .What attracts me is the violet , and amber nites. Also Maurice roucel is a genius – I’m sure i would love this one as I do his other perfume creations Tocade, Musc Ravageur . What do you think dear V ?
    By the way, what is your holiday scent dear Vic ? What do you reach for let’s say on a wintry fete such as Thanksgivibg or Christmas ?
    I’m always fascinnated to earn and most often am in accord with your very thoughtful choices !
    Best To you !
    Madelyn E November 20, 2006 at 11:03am Reply

  • March: Lovely to read your thoughts on such an amazing scent. ISM and I got off on the wrong foot because I got a sample that was a bit “off” — it was all cedar and nothing else. It was wretched. Then awhile later Patty shared some with me and I realized what all the fuss was about! Having said that, it’s a fragrance I prefer to spray in the air in my bedroom rather than wear. I have difficulty applying it lightly enough. November 20, 2006 at 11:09am Reply

  • Robin: Still my very favorite SL, although many see that as heresy since it isn’t very SL-ish. Great picture! November 20, 2006 at 11:18am Reply

  • Leopoldo: This is an exceptional perfume, and you wrote about it in your usual exceptional prose. It has a melancholy beauty that is sometimes just perfect, and at other times too perfect. I simply love it.

    N.B. I’ve found that pomegranate and bulgur wheat salad recipe (in one of the Moro cookbooks) – would you like it? November 20, 2006 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Tigs: This tops Bois de Violette as the SL scent I have the most admiration for (not my favourite, you understand, but the one I admire most as an achievement. Iris is not a “me” note, but this one almost makes me think it is.) It is both diaphanous and bold and I love the counterpoint that is so beautifully highlighted in this review. Thanks! November 20, 2006 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Elle: What a stunning photo and gorgeous review for this exquisite scent! This is one of the handful of perfumes I feel most deeply in tune w/ and if it ever went out of production I would be in extreme despair…well, more like extreme poverty because I’m sure I’d be buying up every last bottle remaining in existence. November 20, 2006 at 2:02pm Reply

  • k-amber: Fascinating review as always. I have recently found myself like iris note along with anise, angelica, incense and frankincense. I would like to test SL’s iris. My favorite iris is Iris Poudre so far. Thank you for beautiful pic.

    Kaori November 20, 2006 at 8:07pm Reply

  • esprit_libre: I ‘m so happy you ‘re reviewing Iris Silver Mist, really love the way you capture with words perfumes so hard to describe. I had a small decant two years ago and will try to have a friend send me an ISM bottle to the US for the holiday.
    I loved all the stages, from the earthy raw opening to the etheral metallic powdery drydown. an exceptional uncompromised olfactory work of art for exceptional moments. November 20, 2006 at 8:56pm Reply

  • Patty: Beautiful review that fits my beloved ISM. It really is a mixture of offness and beauty that gives it so much charm. I have a pretty heavy hand when I wear this, too, just one spritz is not enough! November 21, 2006 at 7:20am Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Chaya, it is wonderful that you also love this fragrance. Somehow, I always thought of you as ISM woman, and I do not know why. It just seems perfect and in line with your other favourites. November 21, 2006 at 3:25pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Christina, mine too! It definitely tops the list. Thank you for the compliments–I saw the photo on the lovely blog, and I just could not resist. It is quite beautiful. November 21, 2006 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Dmitri, unfortunately, I fail to appreciate Iris Bleu Gris, which strikes me as too woody to capture the beauty of iris. The musk notes dominate much more than I would have liked. November 21, 2006 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Flor, thank you so much. I also loved it at first sniff, and my affection for it only increases the more I wear it. November 21, 2006 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Dusan, please feel better! It is awful to have cold when you have an array of wonderful things to smell. Hope that you recover quickly. November 21, 2006 at 3:33pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Marina, you are absolutely right–it is like a small flaw that makes a pretty face to be a beautiful one. November 21, 2006 at 3:34pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Cathleen56, I can see where the similarity comes from–both are chilly irises, with a rooty quality. Yet, Hiris seems to me very one-dimensional and fleeting, while Iris Silver Mist has a very distinctive and complex character. I also find Hiris very powdery, while ISM lacks that altogether. November 21, 2006 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Anjali, someone once described Serge Lutens as haute couture dresses–beautiful to behold, but impossible to wear. I can understand that, although this has not stopped me to enjoying them. ISM is the one I wear most often, with Rose de Nuit and La Myrrhe vying for the second place. November 21, 2006 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Madelyn, thank you very much! I think that ISM is initially colder than most of Roucel’s other works, but overtime it warms up and acquires an amazing character.

    My Thanksgiving/holiday favourites seem to rotate, but I have started putting them into a sidebar on the left, titled “Fall Favourites.” They are my winter favourites too! November 21, 2006 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: March, a bad first impression can ruin the best fragrance, but I am glad that you found a good sample at last. I find ISM very striking, but then again, I love iris above all else. November 21, 2006 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R, it may not be the classical Lutens oriental, but it has the dark, Serge Lutens spirit. Very fitting, I think. November 21, 2006 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Leopoldo, thank you very much! I would have loved the recipe. November 21, 2006 at 4:28pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Tigs, thank you! Your “it is both diaphanous and bold” comment was so perfect. It captured exactly what I love most about ISM. November 21, 2006 at 4:29pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Elle, I am with you on this! It would be a disaster if it were ever discontinued. November 21, 2006 at 4:35pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Kaori, Iris Poudre is another iris I cannot get enough of. It is just so elegant and beautiful. I wear it often. November 21, 2006 at 4:36pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: esprit_libre, thank you very much! And thank you for sharing how much you love this fragrance. It is always interesting to see how some perfumes just cannot leave others indifferent–it is either love or hate. November 21, 2006 at 4:37pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Patty, I love the initial coldness too. It give ISM a certain edge, something that I find very alluring. November 21, 2006 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Dusan: Vikochka, your wishes already make me feel better, thank you so much! I am wearing the Unicorn Spell today and although the Lion is possibly more to my taste, I adore the Unicorn, it just makes me so happy in the strangest of ways! Hope you’ve seen my comment on Lez Nez regarding the quote from your review that is now featured in LezNez cover letter 😉
    Hugs November 21, 2006 at 6:01pm Reply

  • Tara: I love ISM, often I just pass by the bottle and sniff the sprayer, as for me it is a demanding fragrance, and I have to be in the right mood to wear it. Light application is a must in any event, as lasting power is excellent and it can fatigue me as the day wears on if I overapply. November 21, 2006 at 7:07pm Reply

  • Jason: I think ‘uncompromising’ is the word I think of whenever I smell ISM – as you noted, it IS hard to remain indifferent to this fragrance, unless of course you are indifferent to iris.

    It is just so quintessentially iris; there is no attempt to blend the iris, but rather to accentuate its every facet, whether it be violet sweetness or woody-vegetal-earthiness. Stunning.

    Having said that, it took me a long time to warm to. At first it struck me as overly harsh and chemical, like shampoo. After time, as I developed a love for iris in other scents, such as L’homme de coeur, I came to appreciate ISM for its showcase of iris and its possible appearances. This fragrance is a stunner November 21, 2006 at 9:14pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Dusanchik, I just saw your comment! Thank you, good to hear. I am glad that you are feeling better. Please take care of yourself in order to regain your strength as soon as possible. November 21, 2006 at 11:59pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Tara, you are right, too much and it can be overwhelming for me. I tend to spray once, and it is enough. November 22, 2006 at 12:00am Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Jason, I cannot agree more. ISM is certainly uncompromising. It does not try to be anything but iris. Iris is rarely seen in as such a big, unadored accord. And yet, it works perfectly. However, it is true that it may not be a love at first sniff, but once you fall in love with you, you simply do not look back. November 22, 2006 at 12:11am Reply

  • millionairess: Unfortunately for me, ISM did not go well on my skin at all. I seem to gravitate towards unisex or flowery male fragrances but I found the initial blast too much. Acrid and dry. It wasn’t a pleasant 15 minutes. Then, as if it had suddenly lost its strength, gently morphed into a soft powder. I could not take the acrid and sharp burst initially so I preferred the softness of drydown even though I found it ordinary with nothing to pique my interest and pick at my nose thereafter. I loved your review very much but I guess to each nose it’s own. December 4, 2006 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I’m finally smitten with the strange beauty of ISM. My relationship with it has resembled my relationship with Camembert cheese. The first time I tried Camembert , I thought “Why on earth would anyone want to eat something so strange and smelly?”. I was especially put off by the downy white rind. So I started with mild brie which was more tolerable. But then I found myself slowly craving for more pungent Camembert. Now, it’s one of my favourite cheese (the stinkier the better :-)) and rind is by far the best part, with the tang which balances out the creamy core.

    The first time I tried ISM, the initial galbanum punch almost numbed my nose and I found it extremely unpleasant. Even when it softened, I still didn’t like it because I couldn’t really see any beauty in rooty, earthy iris. It simply wasn’t the smell I was used to. But I was still curious and I started testing other iris fragrances like Prada Infusion d’Iris. I tested ISM intermittently to see if I like it better. I “tolerated” it better but I still didn’t find it pleasant and I hoped that the scary opening would be over soon.

    But then there came a moment when I was testing vintage Chanel No. 5 parfum. I finally ‘got’ that bitter-sweet iris note and I could only marvel at its beauty. Since then, I got cravings to smell iris. Muted, sweet and powdery iris wouldn’t do. I wanted something raw, stronger and of course, ISM was exactly that. Like the rind of Camembert, the sharp, striking opening is what makes this fragrance beautiful and truly unique. Every time I experience that opening, I’m thrilled and excited. Even in the drydown, I love how it remains cold and austere with only hints of warmth underneath.

    Now I can appreciate it for what it is and I think I’m even addicted to it. It was really worth courting this fragrance and thank you, Victoria, in many ways! January 31, 2014 at 8:55am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Spending another day with this gem. I’m so amazed that one spritz lasts all day on me and I love smelling it on my wool jumper the next day (or even a week after!). It’s extremely tenacious! February 10, 2014 at 8:20am Reply

      • Victoria: I’m so glad that you’re enjoying ISM at last. It’s definitely worth being courted, and I’m sure you’ll discover even more facets the longer you wear it. It’s a beauty! February 10, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

    • katie1119: Loved your review A of GG – I too just didn’t understand ISM when I first tried it – but SL will change the way you perceive fragrance – its a journey that will take you away from the safety of generic perfume to the furthest shores of genius and creative excellence that takes maturity and openess to understand. I adore ISM for its exquisite beauty for the ability to take you another step on that journey – a Masterpiece!! February 26, 2015 at 6:38am Reply

  • Kat: The opening, which has been described as raw and earthy, reminds me of carrot-seed oil…would this be the labdanum? In the dry down, I do smell the similarities with Apres l’Ondee…but it seems to take a while to get there! August 6, 2014 at 5:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s the iris! Iris and carrot seeds share some elements in common, so that’s what you are picking up. August 6, 2014 at 5:53pm Reply

      • Kat: Ah…thank you, Victoria! Sometimes my ‘newbie nose’ needs some help understanding what’s going on! 😀 August 6, 2014 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Arya: It’s official now and this is happening for the first time in my life! I’ve just finished a 75ml bottle of Iris Silver Mist, in one month!! It’s a such a relaxing fragrance for me. I’m having a bit of hard times recently and it helps me to calm down a lot. I don’t know how Mr Roucel managed but it feels like the scent is getting amplified as time passes instead of fading away or I just use a lot 🙂 October 4, 2015 at 10:35am Reply

    • Victoria: You smell wonderful, Arya! 🙂 October 4, 2015 at 2:50pm Reply

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