L’Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida : Perfume Review

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Irispallida Irisroot

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

A complex raw material such as the root of an iris plant can be a perfume in itself. Although iris as a perfumery note is liable to be classified as floral, the scent of orris butter, as the thick, creamy essence is called, is closer to that of green vegetables, wet roots and damp soil. L’Artisan Parfumeur first released Iris Pallida as a limited edition in 2007, and this year, the fragrance has once again been relaunched. Composed around a fine grade of orris butter, it is meant to pay a tribute to the beauty of this raw material.

Although Iris Pallida is without doubt a treatment of a single note, it is far from a solifloral fragrance. Its multifaceted quality is derived as much from the iris itself as well as from the notes that augment the natural elements present in iris. The green vegetal brightness of violet leaf plays up the same vivid verdancy of orris butter, while neroli and hyacinth lend the composition a gauzy feel.

The drydown of Iris Pallida follows the natural curves of iris: the earthy mustiness is accented by patchouli, the milky hazelnut sweetness–by vetiver, and finally, the pleasant pencil shaving roughness—by cedarwood. Soft musk ties the whole into a neat arrangement, both providing an unobtrusive backdrop and prolonging the iris melody. It is a lovely study on the iris theme, yet not without a few flaws. First of all, the metallic, mineral notes which give Iris Pallida its spark, are nevertheless somewhat jarring. The effect is like observing a pulled thread on a beautiful piece of opalescent silk. Second, in comparison to Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist and Chanel 28 La Pausa, two iris fragrances I consider to be gold standards in this genre, Iris Pallida is too limpid and hazy. I appreciate it more as an academic exercise than as a fragrance which gives me pleasure.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida includes notes of iris, lily of the valley, violet leaf, orange blossom, rose, aniseed, patchouli, cedar, vetiver, ambrette seed, white musk, and guaiac wood. It is a limited edition. The L’Artisan line is available from Aedes, Beautycafe, Beautyhabit, and Luckyscent, as well as Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus. Iris Pallida can be also found at the US L’Artisan website, $115 for 50ml.

Sample: my own acquisition

Photo: orris root from MisticalAcScents.com

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10 Comments

  • sweetlife: Thank god for that last paragraph, V! (tucks credit card back in wallet) May 26, 2011 at 9:07am Reply

  • Irina: It war first L’Artisan perfume I smelled in my life. I was … shocked, I believe. From my experience, it smells like rich widow parlor – a lot of exhausting sweet flowers, little bit of brandy and dark wood.
    It sounds funny, but I still keep sample, and sometimes I try it again, and, believe me, in my inner eyes I see Brezhnev’s funeral. May 26, 2011 at 10:04am Reply

  • Victoria: I like it, but it is not that exciting to wear. There are really better irises out there. Still, it is lovely. May 26, 2011 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, I would be intrigued by that too! Mind you, not to wear, but simply to smell time to time. May 26, 2011 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Brezhnev’s funeral?!? Wow, that is a simile to be reckoned with! And strangely, it does sound compelling- “exhausting sweet flowers, brandy and dark wood…” sounds like something I would wear and love. But the violet leaves trouble me- we all know how I despise violets! I worship and adore iris scents- witness Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, which I cannot get enough of, Aqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile, and the ever classic L’heure Bleu… iris is my go-to note for a sense of nostaligia nd romance and Proustian moments, but I suspect it is the violet leaves that make it smell like an old Commie’s coffin liner! Your thoughts, comrades? May 26, 2011 at 7:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: I was actually planning to do a small write up on violet leaves, because it gets confusing. They do not smell of violets at all. They smell green and cucumber like, but dark. Sometimes they can be combined with the violet flower notes, but generally, they give a very different effect. I think that you should like Iris Pallida, if you enjoy iris fragrances. May 26, 2011 at 7:14pm Reply

  • behemot: Oh, this sounds really scary to me!!! May 27, 2011 at 1:38am Reply

  • behemot: I mean , this Brezhnew association.. May 27, 2011 at 1:39am Reply

  • Irina: Believe it or not, I have pretty good association about Brezhnev’s funeral. I was watchin it on TV in school – it was day off, but kids who wanted were welcome at school. So it was very quiet, because most didn’t come, actually, in my class we’re only 8 of us, including my childhood crush. 🙂 And we played a lot, watch TV, and day was good, and we understood that it was end of the era. May 27, 2011 at 10:03am Reply

  • Victoria: Somehow I also have good memories of some of the most unsettling events during the perestroika era. We did not have school and there was Swan Lake on TV all day long… 🙂 May 27, 2011 at 10:56am Reply

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