Frederic Malle Iris Poudre : Perfume Review



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

My first thought when I tried Frederic Malle Iris Poudre was of Anna Karenina and Tolstoy’s description of a lovely black gown she wore for that fateful ball. Rich sumptious velvet, black with a slight purple iridescence is how I envision this fragrance from Frédéric Malle collection. The top notes of soft aldehydes are richly ornamented by ylang ylang, magnolia and jasmine in a classical manner that recalls Chanel No. 5. The sonorous chord of iris slowly unfolds against this shimmery aldehydic backdrop. Iris becomes more pronounced in the heart, where it is sweet and lush, without a metallic overlay that often accompanies iris notes. The warm base of vanilla and sandalwood envelops the silkiness of iris petals dusted with delicate aldehydic powder, lending a gentle and elegant feel to the drydown.

The fragrance was created in 2000 by Pierre Bourdon, whose some other fragrances include Yves Saint Laurent Kouros (1981), Davidoff Cool Water (1988), Shiseido Féminité Du Bois (1992, with Christopher Sheldrake), and Christian Dior Dolce Vita (1995, with Maurice Roger).

Photo: Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina in Bernard Rose’s film. Still by Keith Hamshere from I cannot say that this is my favourite film version of my beloved novel, but Sophie Marceau is stunningly beautiful in it.



  • julien: Very sophisticated fragance,but it has something cold,like mitsouko from guerlain which is a cold chypre even though it is velvet fruit on the skin,Iris poudré is a cold aldéhyde…so chic,it looks like a perfect diva or dandy wear…
    Then,few hours later,the diva begins to be more human,with the powdery oriental background.
    Then,it is warm…at last.

    Don’t you feel it that way too?

    Too beautiful at first that it looks like a rose under the snow,then the snow vanish and all we have is the truth of a delightful scent.
    For me,Iris poudré is the same,it is a fragance someone must deserve to learn all its complexity.

    Kisses dear,
    J. August 2, 2005 at 4:00am Reply

  • Atreau: I really like Iris Poudré, such a beautiful going out fragrance, it reminds me of my Grandmother for some reason. August 2, 2005 at 12:53am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I must admit, I don´t like Iris poudré too much…On my skin it becomes too green & overwhelming, I can´t smell anything powdery at all. This is rather sad because I really wanted to like after hearing so many raves about it. I have never smelled an iris scent that I found bottle-worthy – perhaps I just don´t like iris – who knows 😉 August 2, 2005 at 6:39am Reply

  • parislondres: Hello dear V! This was one from the FM collection I think I enjoyed wearing the most. It can be a bit heavy but the drydown is pretty and powdery.
    xoxo August 2, 2005 at 3:44am Reply

  • Anya: V, I’m another who has to vote against Iris poudré. It seems very one-dimensional to me, has the granny link, and is also too “cashmere and furs in the snow” for this tropical woman. It is beautiful, but totally unwearable on me. August 2, 2005 at 8:54am Reply

  • Tania: That was one recommended to me after I took the Malle quiz, and like the other one (Noir Épices), it just didn’t work for me. Who knows why? It was lovely, but utterly not my style. I don’t think of it as a Mondrian, to use your metaphor; it’s more of a Manet. August 2, 2005 at 10:27am Reply

  • Michelle: What a lovely review! I love this scent – it’s one of two that feel as if they were made for me (the other being Jicky) – as if they knew something deeply personal about me and were able to distill it into a scent. Iris Poudre makes me smile inside – makes my heart sing. And it is the most satiating scent I have ever smelled – I felt I could live without all other scents the very time I smelled it – it was that satisfying an experience. It verges on the gourmand on my skin – sharing the same nearly edible quality that Caron Tabac Blond and Dior Cologne Blanche have in the far dry down stage. That may be why I find it satisfying. It never brings to mind No. 5 (which I love) – even though it shares the same aldehydic heritage. And I don’t get an obvious “powder” note from it (which, for me, is a blessing). It has an “alive” quality – as though the plants are still breathing, still bending, still soaking up sunshine. Thanks for reviewing it! August 2, 2005 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Laura: While I don’t care for this FM iris, I do like other irises, in particular, Hermes Hiris and recently, Miller Harris Terre d’Iris, sent to me by darling Parthenope. V, this is a lovely, story-telling iris, with a slow denoument that is both comforting and feminine. Have you tried this one? The dreaded iris powderiness raises its head only briefly here, by the way. August 2, 2005 at 9:42pm Reply

  • Victoria: Ah, a long day in NYC, but so much fun. New York shopping article will be coming soon!

    S, many of Caron fragrances make me think of my grandmother, who is a very elegant woman, and quite a beauty when she was young. I just visited her last month, and I already miss her.

    N, my perfume sister, you are right on the spot about it. Can definitely be heavy, but sometimes it is a quality I do not mind.

    J, your descriptions are always so fascinating. I find that Iris Poudré definitely needs time to drydown, to lose the aldehydic coldness and to reveal its lovely complexity. There are some aldehydic fragrances that are warm and some that are ice cold (like Guerlain Liu), however Iris Poudré is interesting in combining both aspects rather well.

    C, I think that you are right about iris being cold. Iris Poudré is one of the warmer irises, but the note itself can definitely be metallic and green. I do not mind it, but I understand why many would. Have you tried Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate? It has a very flowery iris in the heart, which you might like.

    A, I cannot stop thinking about seaweed absolute you wanted to add to Cuir Beluga. Your description is so wonderful, I have to explore it!

    T, I imagine you more of a Musc Ravageur woman–it is just singularly unique, like you. I am trying to recall which Malle fragrances you liked. Did you care for Angéliques sous la pluie?

    M, thank you for such a wonderful imagery! Whenever people talk about fragrances they like, it is such a joy to read. Even if I were not familiar with the fragrance, I could imagine what veil it creates around you, just from reading your excellent description.

    L, I contacted Miller Harris to inquire whether samples are available outside of their London shop, but I was not deemed worthy of a response. Therefore, I shall pass. There are too many other iris fragrances, like wonderful Divine Homme d’Coeur, to give just one example of a company with an excellent customer service as well as perfumes. August 2, 2005 at 11:09pm Reply

  • Campaspe: Sophie Marceau is my Emanuelle Beart, I drop everything when she’s in a magazine or on TV. God, I just adore looking at her. I even sat through that Bond film for her. But in terms of acting talent, I don’t think Jeanne Moreau stays up nights worrying about Marceau.

    I wish I could like Iris Poudre, as its refinement fits a certain way I wish to be on some days. But it just leaves me cold, alas. Iris Silver Mist, now there we’re talking. August 4, 2005 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sophie Marceau is gorgeous, and for her, like for Emmanuelle Beart I would watch anything. Thankfully, Beart starred in some films I would have enjoyed, even if she were not in the picture.

    There is a new iris fragrance, not yet released, I have to review soon, which I think you would love. August 4, 2005 at 12:31pm Reply

  • Tania: I had written this one off as too girly for my tastes long ago, but since this post, it has been on my mind. I tried it again last night. It is still too girly for me to buy, but this time I couldn’t help but notice that it’s completely beautiful. It reminded me faintly of one of my favorite Guerlains, L’Heure Bleue, but more straightforward. August 8, 2005 at 8:37am Reply

  • Victoria: That is an interesting comparison, because as I wrote about Musc Ravageur, it reminded me of Shalimar. Then, of course, there is L’Eau d’Hiver that is a minimalist version of Après l’Ondée. August 8, 2005 at 8:48am Reply

  • katerina: I smelled Iris poudre recently and I do agree it is interesting. The only think I found disappointing is that I could not smell anything on my skin 30 min. after the application. It reminded me a bit the Dune pour homme. May 3, 2012 at 3:22am Reply

  • johanob: Victoria,I have found MY “perfect Iris”…Iris Poudre….L.O.V.E!!!!! March 27, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yay! Enjoy it! Iris Poudre is definitely an iris beauty, and I love its complexity and all of its interesting nuances. March 27, 2014 at 1:16pm Reply

  • johanob: Victoria,I have found MY “perfect Iris”…Iris Poudre….L.O.V.E!!!!! March 27, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

  • johanob: I said it twice…lol.That’s how much I love it! March 27, 2014 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Notturno7: I don’t know how I didn’t get to try FM Iris Poudre before, but I did today in Paris store. Loved it.
    The engaging and interesting SA told me it was inspired by Catherine Deneuve!! And that she gets a bottle gratis as long as she lives!
    I hope that’s true cause I loved that! January 16, 2023 at 10:04pm Reply

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