My recent exploration of Chanel Les Exclusifs and the love affair with 28 La Pausa prompted me to consider other irises outside of my beloved trinity: Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Chanel No 19 and Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre. Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile was created by perfumers Francis Kurkdjian and Françoise Caron of Quest in 2004. It is an unusual iris in that it does not smell of frozen roots like the other irises I admire. Its character is soft and floral, with a delicate sprinkling of delicate ornamentations.
Layering of the iris with the orange blossom results in a composition that most closely approaches the scent of iris flowers. Where the iris butter extracted from iris roots possesses a woody violet tonality, iris flowers range from spicy rose to honeyed jasmine. It is rarely explored in perfumery, which is why Iris Nobile is an interesting fragrance. The Eau de Toilette strikes an interesting balance, offering a warm fragrance with subtle, sweet nuances. Whenever I think about it, I envision Iris Nobile as a scent of an orange iris. The amber comprises the base and lends a certain crispness to the composition, tempering the warm creamy sensation. Yet, as the composition develops, the distinctive floral character begins to blur. It fades into a soapy, indistinct arrangement, losing the edge that initially drew me to the EDT.
In contrast, the Eau de Parfum created by Françoise Caron in 2006 strikes a different chord. If the Eau de Toilette is soft and luminous, the Eau de Parfum is woven out of darker and richer notes. The floralcy of the EDT is beautifully encased within the mossy-woody accord of the EDP. While the EDT touches the skin lightly, the EDP clings to it like angora wool. If the EDT fades into a somewhat flat base, the EDP remains vivid. The image of orange iris that the EDT conjures me for in the early stages of its development stands out even more in the richer concentration. There is no question that I prefer the EDP. While it is still possesses the radiant quality of the EDT, its warm presence, voluptuous drydown and complexity make it more special. Without being challenging, Iris Nobile EDP manages to be exciting.
Iris Nobile EDT includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, iris petals, star anise, cedar flower, iris petals, orange blossom, iris, amber, vanilla. The EDP features bergamot, tangerine, iris petals, star anise, crystalline sweetness accord, orange blossom, ylang ylang, cumin, peach, iris, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, vanilla. Online, Iris Nobile can be found at Fragrances and More and Bigelow Chemists.
Photo of orange iris from The Visual Garden.
Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.