Aedes de Venustas Iris Nazarena : Perfume Review

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Andy’s take on Iris Nazarena.

Some fragrances make me dream of faraway places, others awaken long forgotten memories. But Iris Nazarena, the second launch from New York-based fragrance boutique Aedes de Venustas, evokes various shades of the color grey (and no, I don’t mean the book by E. L. James). Grey is my favorite color, one that fascinates me in all its beautiful tonalities from light to dark. Likewise, there is nothing bleak or dull about Iris Nazarena, and as I smell through its layers of woods and incense-tinted iris, I’m taken by its complexity.

iris-grey

As it unfolds on skin, Iris Nazarena remains fairly linear, with the focus on iris throughout the entire development. As it wears on, the iris is subtly transformed by various accompaniments, incense being one of them. Perfumer Ralf Schwieger reportedly composed Iris Nazarena with Chanel No. 19 in mind as a point of contrast, attempting to create a fragrance that interpreted iris in a different manner.

For lovers of this iconic predecessor and iris in general, Iris Nazarena is worth seeking out. This beautiful, comforting iris is wrapped so cleverly around leather and incense that it seems unlike any other iris I know. Some iris perfumes can seem a touch aloof and formal, but the best part about Iris Nazarena is that it’s neither. The perfume is as fitting for a casual afternoon at home as it is for more elegant occasions.

The opening of Iris Nazarena has a pleasing crispness, suggesting woods and moist roots. There is a cool, slightly aromatic greenness like pine or juniper, but which quickly subsides to make way for a dry iris to come into full focus. As with many iris perfumes, this one at first reminds me of cool, damp earth, and as  it warms up on skin, the iris becomes inviting and cozy. It feels more like a soft blanket than a chilly breeze.

As the fragrance develops further, it gets to the part I love the most. Iris melds into a warm embrace with leather, and the perfume now takes on a soft, sensuous character. As the fragrance lingers on, the incense and woods of the base continue to warm up the composition.

I see Iris Nazarena as a comforting sort of perfume, one that has a moderate, but noticeable sillage. It is understated yet still interesting, and if you’re an iris lover, you will appreciate its nuances. Packaging doesn’t typically interest me, but in this case, the flacon seems especially fitting—the glass is grey and transparent, two qualities that seem to describe this fragrance perfectly.

Aedes Iris Nazarena

Aedes de Venustas Iris Nazarena Eau de Parfum features notes of iris, ambrette, juniper berry, star anise, leather, oud, clove, rose, incense, woods, musk, and vetiver. Available at Aedes.com, ausliebezumduft.de, Barneys New York, Jovoy in Paris, Liberty in London (for other retailers, please check Aedes website). $245, 3.4oz

Sample: Aedes de Venustas

Image: Iris by dottieg2007 via flickr, some rights reserved.

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52 Comments

  • theperfumeddandy: Dear Bois
    This sounds heavenly… a warm inviting iris that melts into a subtle grey leather with just a hint of greenery in the background.
    I adore iris and find no colour more comforting than grey, indeed grey and purple together is an exquisite combination.
    If this perfume is an olfactory representation of that, then this Dandy is sold.
    Oh and isn’t starting with a classic perfume in mind as a counterpoint an inspired way of working?
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy July 31, 2013 at 7:30am Reply

    • nikki: You inspired me to wear grey and purple today, merci! July 31, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

    • Andy: If the idea of warm grey leather and iris are a comfort, then I think you will definitely like this perfume. I have always been somewhat synesthetic when it comes to fragrance, but this one immediately struck me as grey and soft, without a doubt. July 31, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

  • Lucas: Isn’t Iris Nazarena a gorgeous iris, Andy?
    I managed to scoop a sample in a split and I’m very happy about it.

    This perfume is very unusual, interesting and thoughts-involving. I also get the smell of ash in it.

    There’s one funny fact about Nazarethan Iris species, but I’ll leave it for my own review I’m planning for next week. July 31, 2013 at 7:39am Reply

    • Andy: I felt very lucky to have a sample of this too, especially when I realized how much I adore it. The layers of iris, incense, leather, and woods are just gorgeous. In addition to reading your take on this beauty, I am now intrigued to find out more in your review about the iris that inspired this perfume. July 31, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

      • Lucas: I’m dreaming of a bottle! Haven’t seen it in person but it looks gorgeous on the pictures and photos.
        On my skin iris and incense are getting the most of attention.

        If you’d like I can let you know when I press the review. It’ll be probably on Tuesday next week. July 31, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

        • Andy: I agree, the bottle looks like it would be quite beautiful. Thank you for letting me know about your review, I will definitely be reading it! July 31, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

        • Amer: is it that the Nazarena species’ root is in fact scentless? August 1, 2013 at 12:57am Reply

  • Eva S.: This one sounds like a true beauty… July 31, 2013 at 8:15am Reply

    • Andy: It definitely is! If you like the idea of incense, iris, and leather wrapped in a warm embrace, then this one will surely please. July 31, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

  • Martha: I’m unfamiliar with iris though I’d like to know it better. It seems to me that iris might be dry and a touch bitter somehow. Not a sweet flower like ylang or jasmine. I’m curious about how the ambrette seed plays out in this blend. When I wear something that contains ambrette seed, that vegetal/musk odor is amplified in my skin. July 31, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

    • Andy: For me, I don’t even really think of iris as a floral, but rather as a wood or earthy note. Especially in Iris Nazarena, it never seems very sweet. And in this case, I noticed the ambrette in the top notes, where it blends well with the other notes present to create a mysterious effect. July 31, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

  • nikki: Lovely review, Andy! The color grey and Iris…the packaging is gorgeous and it looks like a perfume I would like to take to Venice in winter. July 31, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

    • Andy: I don’t usually take much notice of packaging, but in this case I thought the bottle was gorgeous and just had to mention it. And I think you are right, this would be a perfect perfume for a winter in Venice! July 31, 2013 at 11:28am Reply

    • Annikky: I’ve never been to Venice, but visiting it in winter has always seemed a wonderful idea to me, despite the dampness and chill. July 31, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

      • Andy: I don’t know if it’s accurate to the actual winter climate of Venice, but all of this makes me think of a song, called Snow in Venice, by a singer who goes by simply by her first name, Elizaveta. The song is about being stuck in Venice over the winter without ones lover, and the longing to reunite. And now I’m picturing the subject of this song wearing Iris Nazarena. I think the whole story is complete now…

        In other words, sorry to ramble, but I love when I can make connections between various modes of art—in this case, perfume and music. 🙂 July 31, 2013 at 11:21pm Reply

        • Annikky: Went on Youtube, found the song and liked it. Thanks! And I’m all for connecting perfume to other things, it’s a big part of the fun for me. August 1, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

          • Andy: Making a story is a big part of perfume for me too—glad you enjoyed a glimpse at mine for Iris Nazarena! August 1, 2013 at 9:09pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Iris Nazarena is iris at its best. A true beauty indeed. I love its understated earthy and chilly aura. Together with Iris Silver Mist, Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida and Heeley Iris de Nuit it will be a part of my autumn scent wardrobe. July 31, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

    • Andy: What great choices for autumn! All in all, I think iris is a perfect note for cooler weather. The nice thing about Iris Nazarena, as I’ve recently noticed, is that it is transparent enough to not seem overwhelming in the heat either. July 31, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

  • Hannah: I just received a sample order from Aedes, and I almost asked for this but then I decided not to get anything out of my price range.
    It does sound like something I’d really love, though. July 31, 2013 at 11:11am Reply

    • Andy: It is a really nice perfume, but I have to agree with you. I always feel very fortunate to have even a sample of perfumes like this, because a full bottle of Iris Nazarena would definitely be out of my price range. July 31, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Andy,

    The iris as you describe it, sounds like the icing on the cake! I love irises — be it the bold headed flowers that are produced from the unassuming bulb/rhizome to the fragrances created and in this case (based on your review) Aedes or Swieger became an “unpowdery” overlay to the other notes. Tx for the lovely review. July 31, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Andy: I too love irises in all their many forms. The flowers are some of the most majestic one could have in their garden. And when it comes to perfume, Iris Nazarena is certainly a beauty. July 31, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Andy, as you said, iris in perfumery is not really a floral note (and the essence is derived from its roots, rather than petals), but do you know any chance which varieties of iris have scented flowers? I remember my grandmother grew irises that had a sweet caramel and apricot scent, but I was never able to find their name. July 31, 2013 at 12:02pm Reply

      • Andy: Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about irises to name specific varieties that smell good. But I’ve smelled irises before that share a fragrance just as you’ve described, caramel and apricot. Or others that smelled like creamy leather and apricots. So I wonder if many different types of irises might feature a scent like this? July 31, 2013 at 12:30pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: I have several scented irises in my garden. They have a sweet caramel scent just as you described. I really love this scent but I wasn’t able to find any perfume being to able to reproduce this wondeful smell. The irises I grow belong to the tall or medium bearded iris variety (iris barbata eliator or media). My favourites are called Louvoise and Codicile. There is a nursery specialising in irises in Germany – Gärtnerei Gräfin von Zeppelin – that’s where I order my rhizomes but actually most of the varieties originate from the US. July 31, 2013 at 4:39pm Reply

        • Andy: Thank you so much for sharing all this! I am glad to learn more about irises, because I think they are absolutely gorgeous, and would love roads some to my garden. July 31, 2013 at 11:22pm Reply

          • Andy: Sorry, I meant to say I would love to grow some irises in my garden. Though, come to think of it, roads lined with irises don’t sound like a bad idea either! August 1, 2013 at 12:04am Reply

            • rainboweyes: Definitely not a bad idea – it makes me think of roads in Southern France which actually are lined with these beautiful flowers! August 1, 2013 at 3:03am Reply

              • Andy: It sounds beautiful! August 1, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

        • Victoria: Jotting it all down. Mind you, my current garden consists of a pot of basil and a pot of dead chives, but I might as well fantasize. 🙂 August 1, 2013 at 7:07am Reply

          • Andy: In a city, I think one is very lucky to grow a pot of anything, given the lack of space available. Basil is a great choice! August 1, 2013 at 10:11am Reply

  • Natalia: It’s a lovely review, so tempting! I almost feel like getting a bottle without even a try 🙂 Although this would never do considering my unfortunate relationship with iris. “Unfortunate” – because no matter how much I try to tame this note, it refuses to surrender. Now, I love it when iris is just a part of the composition, the second violin so to speak, and fragrances such as Chanel 19 are among my alsobute favorites. It is when iris sings solo or rather plays the first violin, the problem begins. I entirely agree with your description of iris as an “earthy”, “woody” note and so much a flowery one. That’s exactly what the problem is for me. On the one hand, the iris perfumes seem “dark”, detouched even, on the other, they can be a little suffocating (such as Iris Nobile or Iris Ganache, for example). Cold, yet overpowering. But I must try Iris Nazarena as a part of my quest to find… well, if not perfect but, at least, a “working” iris for me. July 31, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

    • Natalia: Sorry, I meant to say
      “I entirely agree with your description of iris as an “earthy”, “woody” note and NOT so much a flowery one” July 31, 2013 at 12:14pm Reply

    • Andy: I’m not sure, but this might be a good iris to try. I found Iris Nazarena transparent, rather than suffocating, and, with the addition of incense and leather, quite warm too. July 31, 2013 at 12:32pm Reply

  • maja: Andy, you write beautifully. And this Iris sounds great. My favourite iris would be La Pausa if it lingered more but unfortunately it disappears quickly. There is a sort of meditative quality about the scent of iris that I don’t know how to describe properly. A kind of metallic sharpness and precision it requires and offers at the same time. Or at least that is how I perceive it. Definitely complex but comforting. Would love to sample Iris Nazarena. (And I like the sound and the metaphor behind the name, too.) July 31, 2013 at 1:46pm Reply

    • Andy: Thank you, maja. Your description of iris is very accurate to how I feel about the note. While I ultimately find iris quite comforting, it certainly has a precise, crisp-edged quality that makes it smell (and me feel, on days my mind is cluttered) very neat and put together. To my delight, Iris Nazarena definitely delivers on all these loveable aspects of iris. July 31, 2013 at 2:00pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I have many Iris fragrances but this one is very different from any of the others. A wonderful SA from Barneys sent me a sample and I just had to buy a full bottle. (I hadn’t bought anything in months–even samples, so I justified the price, plus my birthday is coming up in August and I usually try to treat myself to something.) The bottle is beautiful and I love the juice inside. Andy your review was spot on and made me even happier that I bought it. July 31, 2013 at 2:06pm Reply

    • Andy: It sounds like you made a great choice for a full bottle purchase! When you can find that you love a perfume from all angles—from the packaging down to the very fragrance itself—it makes it all the more lovely to wear and own. Enjoy your Iris Nazarena! July 31, 2013 at 11:28pm Reply

  • Annikky: Thank you for a lovely review, Andy – I absolutely agree that if this perfume was to be expressed in colour, it would be all about sophisticated shades of gray. Despite my love of iris, I initially found Iris Nazarena too dry and dusty. But it was clearly an interesting and intelligent perfume, so I kept trying and I’m now reconsidering my initial impression. Still, it never quite gets to the cosy territory for me, there is a certain austerity there that prevents it being warm on (to?) me.

    Anyhow, I think no iris lover will regret trying this one, I haven’t come across anything else that frames iris that way. I get the feeling that lots of thought has gone into making this scent and it’s something I really appreciate. July 31, 2013 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Andy: When I sprayed it on for the very first time, I too was struck by that bracing dryness you’ve described. It was only until that opening dissipated that I felt some warmth come into the picture. Then, as I wore it again and again, I began to find it comfort in even those dry top notes. And through wearing it, I have to agree, this fragrance smells like it was carefully thought out, truly beautiful example of iris. July 31, 2013 at 11:49pm Reply

  • Emma M: Wonderful and evocative review Andy; Iris Nazarena sounds breathtaking. Iris has recently become one of my favourite notes, though currently under-represented in my collection (I’m lucky enough to own a bottle of Iris Silver Mist though). I now look forward to trying this one and many of the other irises mentioned in the comments above.

    Agree that the bottle is lovely – grey is my favourite colour too. July 31, 2013 at 4:01pm Reply

    • Andy: Iris Silver Mist is a true gem, and I think you will surely find with Iris Nazarena a unique element, that the careful framing of the iris with leather and incense really sets it apart. And it’s always nice to find more fans of grey. 🙂 July 31, 2013 at 11:52pm Reply

  • Austenfan: This sounds like an absolute must try. When I next order samples from ALzD I will include one of IN. I love iris in perfume and this one sounds sufficiently different to at least merit a try.
    The price is a bit prohibitive, so I doubt I will ever get a bottle but it sounds very, very good.
    I love the iris picture! July 31, 2013 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Andy: A bottle of Iris Nazarena would be out of the question for me as well, but it is without a doubt worth sampling. It is truly a unique version of iris among the many beautiful ones available today. July 31, 2013 at 11:55pm Reply

  • Elena: What a tempting review! I am a no. 19 lover, so this sounds intriguing, and as someone mentioned above, perfect for cooler weather. It’s a bit too expensive for me, but I think I will have to try a sample. July 31, 2013 at 9:11pm Reply

    • Andy: If you love No. 19, I would certainly recommend Iris Nazarena. It is definitely a different take on iris than Chanel’s, but a beautiful one nonetheless. And yes, it would be perfect for cool weather! July 31, 2013 at 11:58pm Reply

  • Maren: Oh my, I’ve been reading about Iris Nazarena, and being an iris lover, I’ve been considering giving it a try but hesitated for fear I fall in love with another expensive iris. Well Andy, your review is so thoughtfully descriptive, this is now a HAVE to try. It’s on top of the sample list as I’m intrigued by what you describe as the warmth that it evolves to. I own no. 19 and Iris Silver Mist, and this sounds different enough to enjoy without duplication. July 31, 2013 at 10:53pm Reply

    • Andy: I think Iris Nazarena is definitely different enough from No. 19 and Iris Silver Mist to have a place in an iris lover’s collection. If these perfumes are among your favorites, I am sure you will enjoy sampling Iris Nazarena. August 1, 2013 at 12:01am Reply

  • Aisha: I’m tempted to go out and buy some based solely on your beautiful description and that gorgeous-looking bottle! I must get a hold of a sample…. August 1, 2013 at 9:09pm Reply

    • Andy: If it weren’t for the price, I’d be hard pressed to not buy a bottle myself! As I sampled, I found this to be a unique iris perfume, and I certainly think it is worthy of the praise it seems to be getting from many other reviewers. August 1, 2013 at 9:25pm Reply

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