Hermes Hiris : Perfume Review

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Hiris-Hermes

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

The most surprising aspect of Hermès Hiris is the contrast between the softness of its composition and the strength of its character. Created in 1999 by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, it exemplifies the style of perfumery that she went on to cultivate—linear, pastel toned etudes that are nevertheless quite memorable and distinctive. The iris in Hiris is a bold, vibrant note, yet wrapped in a soft aldehydic accord as if in layers of tulle. It appears cool, abstract and luminous. Perhaps this teasing, distant iris, like a vision of something beautiful through the fog, is what gives Hiris its introspective aura.

While the fragrance opens up with the effervescence of aldehydes, their waxy-citrusy nuances are evident even in the vanilla accented drydown. As the aldehydes settle down, other elements of the composition become clear—the violet petals reminiscent of the powder on a swan down puff, the metallic crispness suggesting starched linen, the subtle sensuality of orange blossom, and finally, the smoothness of blond woods. The structure of Hiris is rendered luminous and transparent to such a degree that even the opaque and heavy powdery violet note used to reinforce the iris does not detract from the overall airy sensation. A hint of powder is in fact alluring, as it provides a lovely juxtaposition with the fresh green floral heart.

Smelling Hiris recently made me poignantly aware how much my scent perceptions have changed since I first smelled it 10 years ago. Then it struck me as a sophisticated and mature fragrance, requiring red lipstick and a manicure to match its lady-like demeanor. Today I still find it elegant, but above all, it conveys to me a lighthearted, effortless elegance, a comfort in one’s own skin. Wearing Hiris, I feel serene and content. While it is an unobtrusive fragrance, it is definitely one that makes others lean in and inquire, “What are you wearing? You smell so good.”

Hermès Hiris (fragrance family: soft floral or aldehydic floral) includes notes of orange flower, rose, coriander, iris, cedarwood, ambrette seeds, vanilla. It is related to Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, although it is much more delicate, as well as to Serge Lutens Bas de Soie and Annick Goutal Heure Exquise in terms of setting strong iris notes into an aldehydic frame. In contrast to Hermes Iris Ukiyoe, it is quite warm and soft. Hiris is available from Hermès boutiques as well as from various retailers, such as Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman.

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26 Comments

  • Olfactoria: This is one of the very few positive reviews I have ever read of Hiris. You make it sound so attractive, iI nave put it on my sniff list immediately. Especially the comparison to Iris Ukoiye was very helpful, thank you. December 7, 2010 at 6:39am Reply

  • Marina: I love you put it, “a soft aldehydic accord as if in layers of tulle”. December 7, 2010 at 8:44am Reply

  • Victoria: @Olfactoria
    It is a beautiful fragrance, that is well-done, well-balanced and original in its treatment of iris. Now that we have seen so many linear, minimalistic compositions, its impact may not appear great, but 10 years ago it was a novelty. I remember people saying, “it is not a fragrance, it is an accord, it is not finished, etc….” And yet, here it is still.
    Another thing is that it has a strong powdery violet note, which some may not like.
    Funny, today I woke up craving Dan Tes Bras, and I just saw your lovely review! 🙂 December 7, 2010 at 9:27am Reply

  • Victoria: @Marina
    For such a light fragrance, it is surprisingly strong. I wore it yesterday and sprayed some on a blotter. The room where I left the blotter is filled with Hiris! December 7, 2010 at 9:32am Reply

  • Sveta: I can’t believe that I haven’t smelled it yet! It sounds beautiful, a little bit vintage even. Will try to stop by Barney’s during my lunch break. December 7, 2010 at 11:19am Reply

  • Olfactoria: I have no problem with violet, I love its primness 😉
    Thank you for the compliment, I am honored. December 7, 2010 at 11:27am Reply

  • Victoria: @Sveta
    Ah, you must smell it. Since you found Iris Ukiyoe too cold and dry, you might enjoy Hiris better. Of course, they are also quite different in many other respects. December 7, 2010 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: @Olfactoria
    You are welcome! I love violets also in various guises, even when they are heavy and powdery. I suppose that the retro style is what appeals to me, although Hiris is quite modern. December 7, 2010 at 1:27pm Reply

  • monicar: my husband gave me hiris when we first started dating…whenever I smelled it i was reminded of those early days.. but lately i sort of forgot about it. thanks for this review and for reminding me that maybe i need to get a new bottle. December 7, 2010 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Victoria: @monicar
    Ah, I love those kind of memories. I have a similar memory linked to Serge Lutens A la Nuit. I must say that I also have not worn it in ages. December 7, 2010 at 4:18pm Reply

  • March: I don’t expect you to have memorized The Guide, but I’m still baffled as to why they dislike it so much. I think it’s really pretty, and thanks for the review. December 7, 2010 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: @March
    I just went to check, and you are right, Luca gave it a one star review, calling it “sad iris.” I think that he mostly does not care for Giacobetti’s floral accords, which he finds too timid. I agree that it is hardly dramatic, but Hiris is the one fragrance to which I return over and over again. It just intrigues me–it is delicate and soft spoken in some aspects, and in others, it is surprisingly persistent. Elegant and comfortable is how I would describe it. December 7, 2010 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Zoltan L.: Hi!

    Sorry, didn’t find contact email email, that’s why I’m writing this in a comment.

    I would like to advertise on your website. Willing to start immediately.
    How much would it cost?

    Thank you!
    Zoltan December 7, 2010 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: @Zoltan
    Zoltan, thank you, I do not take on advertising, only google adsense for now. December 7, 2010 at 7:12pm Reply

  • Musette: V,

    I was just in Hermes last weekend and considered Hiris but moved away, as we were hoping to test Portrait of a Lady and I wanted to stay commando for that. My first Hiris exploration was ‘meh’ but I am largely anosmic to a lot of irises. Lately, though, they have been coming through (Iris 39, which I love as well as Mythique and Bas de Soie) so perhaps I will revisit it!

    Beautiful review, as always. “Layers of tulle” – very evocative…. December 8, 2010 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, how did you like Portrait of a Lady?
    I just realized that I still have not smelled Mythique. Sometimes I find that a note becomes so trendy that I lose an interest in it (must be the contrarian in me!) It almost happened with iris. Out of all new iris, many of which are objectively quite good, I do not like anything that much. I am remaining true to Hiris, Iris Silver Mist and No 19. December 8, 2010 at 2:41pm Reply

    • bluegardenia: tonight i am smelling hiris and iris silver mist together. remember hiris from the hermes store years ago and loved it then, but never bought it. and of course have heard amazing things about iris silver mist for years now, but never tried a sample until now. comparing them side by side, my impressions are – hiris: opens with fresh carrot, settles to a softly medicinal dough scent. something approaching semen (!) with a touch of that fresh ‘demeter dirt’ note. and very occasionally, a waft of pepper? interesting. very much smells like plants but not flowers, which makes sense as i believe iris root is what’s used in iris perfumes?
      next to ISM, hiris smells nothing like i remembered it. i don’t smell any iris, just sweet lily of the valley. almost like a downmarket perfume (i’m thinking of jessica mcclintock and/or laura ashley number one, both sweet lily florals from the 80s).
      i suppose will have to test hiris on it’s own tomorrow with ISM next to it!
      (to complicate matters, there is a vase of tuberoses a few feet away…ha!) June 6, 2012 at 1:54am Reply

      • bluegardenia: oh i’m sorry! i meant to review ISM first, not hiris as i mistakenly wrote! June 6, 2012 at 1:55am Reply

        • bluegardenia: oh dear. i also meant to say i should test hiris withOUT ism next to it. apologies for typos! June 6, 2012 at 1:56am Reply

          • bluegardenia: ps. do i also detect a hint of leather in the ISM drydown? the plot thickens! June 6, 2012 at 2:34am Reply

  • March: V, thanks for your thoughts. Hiris was, I believe, the first iris scent I tried, or at least the first scent I could consciously identify as “iris,” so it holds a place in my heart. And you’re right, I think in general they are not fans of Olivia Giacobetti … it *is* elegant, it conveys to me an oil painting of a group of iris hanging in a quiet corridor in the National Gallery of Art, rather than the actual rooty plants themselves, if that makes any sense. December 8, 2010 at 4:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: March, same for me, I keep thinking of it as the olfactory equivalent of Monet. I still remember how surprised I was by Hiris when I first smelled it, because it was very different from other fragrances I have smelled up till that point. Maybe, if I had smelled it today for the first time, I would not have been as impressed. December 8, 2010 at 6:52pm Reply

  • Carla: Always liked that bottle shape from Hermes, and especially in that color for Hiris. I was always too busy spraying the Jardins to try it, though. I look forward to trying. December 10, 2010 at 7:14am Reply

  • Victoria: Carla, this is by far my favorite presentation from Hermes. The wrap of that crinkled purple paper looks like an iris petal. December 10, 2010 at 10:02am Reply

  • Inma: Hello Victoria,

    This is an old post, the thing is I am exploring Hiris right now and I wanted to know your opinion about it. I’ve enjoyed so much reading it. Now I want to know more about Oliva Giacobetti.

    I am a psychotherapist and I am curious about wearing a perfume that is unobtrusive, as you say about Hiris.

    I´ve already tried it twice. For me it is beautiful, soft, elegant, and it has a “presence”, in some way, you can´t ignore it.

    It doesn´t play openly with seduction and, at the time, that way of saying “I am here” may include the part of all of us that plays with seduction. In a very soft way it seems to allow the existence of many parts of you.

    So this comment is only an excuse to talk about something, perfume and psychotherapy, that I don´t find many places or people that are interested in both of them together.

    Thank you for the opportunity to express, to share! November 21, 2016 at 9:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for putting your thoughts so beautifully. You captured exactly what Hiris such as an extraordinary perfume for me. It’s delicate and subtle, but it’s far from bland and forgettable. In fact, I can recall its scent so easily. Also, interestingly enough, it’s one of my most complimented perfumes. November 21, 2016 at 12:27pm Reply

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