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.