Guerlain L’Instant Eau de Noel Iris Millesime : Perfume Review



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

Limited edition fragrances, especially when they present a variation on the existing composition, lead one to regard them with suspicion. Whatever the changes made, one cannot expect the effect to be dramatic. Yet, while L’Instant Eau de Noël Iris Millésime released for the winter of 2005 is not an altogether different fragrance from L’Instant de Guerlain (2003), the addition of woody iris and dewy floral notes results in an interesting twist on the original.

The original L’Instant was created by Maurice Roucel, the nose behind fragrances like Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne and Parfum, and Gucci Envy. L’Instant is both of Guerlain tradition and of modern trends. …

The classicism of the composition rests on its pairing of sparkling cool top accord with the warm vanillic base, with variations on this theme being evident in Jicky and Shalimar. Yet, these accords are constructed in a modern manner, with mandarin sweetening the velvety tartness of bergamot in the top notes, and powdery musks and sweet amber replacing dark animalic and balsamic notes of the base. Creamy richness of classical Guerlain vanilla is made even creamier and lighter, almost like a soufflé.

Both the original and Iris Millésime layer sparkling hesperidic notes over an elegant jasmine sambac and ylang ylang pairing. While in the original, the effervescent citrus fade quickly displaying the rich powdery main accord of amber, vanilla and musk, Iris Millésime prolongs the development of its composition. Woody amber shines through the layers of sheer floral notes, with the earthy tonality of iris lending a cool effect. A delicate spicy touch, almost like a faint whisper of green sweetness of tarragon, appears slowly, persisting stealthily into the drydown. Cutting through the richness of vanilla is a translucent lemony note, which harmonizes nicely with the citrusy aspect of magnolia.

The drydown of the original is comprised of musks, with a rich and powdery feel. However, Iris Millésime dries down to a drier composition, with the iris note lightening the final result. While L’Instant Eau de Noël Iris Millésime will not convert those who disliked the original, it is an interesting option that moderates the creamy vanillic character and instead emphasizes the floral twist of L’Instant. Having vacillated on L’Instant because of its richness, I find Iris Millésime to be quite a successful variation.

L’Instant Eau de Noël Iris Millésime is available at Sephora as well as any retailers carrying Guerlain such as Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodmand, Saks 5th Avenue.



  • parislondres: Thanks dear V for the lovely review. Need to test this soon – I always go upstairs at the Champs Elysees boutique and test all the exclusives and play with their make-up etc. Next time I will ask to try this. The Iris note sounds lovely. As you know, I am not a fan of the original L’Instant. November 7, 2005 at 3:33am Reply

  • Robin: Well, I didn’t dislike the original, but nor did I want it, LOL — do I need to try this one? November 7, 2005 at 10:06am Reply

  • Laura: I remembered after trying this again with you this weekend why I didn’t like this the first time. The topnotes are very pretty and in both instances I was pleasantly surprised, not having liked the original l’Instant very much. The drydown is where my disappointment lies. It turns murky and headache-making for me. Slightly sad, but good not to want yet another bottle of perfume! November 7, 2005 at 5:23am Reply

  • linda: V, I haven;t tried either one, but I will. Your descriptions are tempting. Is it heavier on vanilla than Shalimar? Sorry if it’s a stupid comparison. I didn’t test many of the newer Guerlain ‘fumes. November 7, 2005 at 11:16am Reply

  • Marina: You make this sound so very appealing, Vikochka. I am quite underwhelmed by the “regular” L’Instant, but this sounds like a much more interesting version of it. November 7, 2005 at 8:36am Reply

  • Katie: L’Instant itself made no impression on me whatsoever – I can’t even call to mind what it vaguely smells like at the moment. You do make the NIM version sound so lovely, V, though. I’m afraid the only sequelized scent I’ve really had any affection for lately is the Ysatis Iris. I suspect I’ll probably just skip over this one, but I did enjoy reading your take on it and your impressions – thanks 🙂 November 7, 2005 at 9:36am Reply

  • linda: Thank you for your clear explanation! 🙂 This makes sense. November 7, 2005 at 2:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, I liked the floral aspect of the original, and it is magnified here. It is definitely worth trying, and I would love to hear your thoughts. November 7, 2005 at 10:25am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I think that I know what you mean, however its woody-musky base does not seem to bother me. Try appying it on fabric or paper, by the way. It is a nice way to experience the floral notes longer. Not that it is a selling point for you, but a nice little experiment. 🙂 November 7, 2005 at 10:29am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, it is definitely more interesting, however I do not see anyone who disliked L’Instant to be head over heels for this one. Worth trying though, if you have Sephora nearby. November 7, 2005 at 10:30am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, oh, you mention my latest discovery Ysatis! I only tried the original, but it made such a great impression on me. Other than you, I do not see anyone else mentioning Givenchy fragrances much. May I ask what other favourites do you have (masculine as well)? November 7, 2005 at 10:35am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I do not dislike the original, but it is a tad too rich and heavy for me. The iris/magnolia in the limited edition is a nice touch, and it manages to lift the final result. I would not dissuade you from trying it, especially since you can easily find it at Sephora. November 7, 2005 at 10:41am Reply

  • Katie: Well, from Givenchy, my absolute faves are Organza Indecence and Xeryus Rouge. Givenchy Gentleman is a satisfying, slightly old-fashioned and clean scent I like very much. Their Pour Homme is also nice (though imperfect in some way I can’t quite articulate at the moment.) Some folks like their Organza a lot, and while I have to admit it’s sure purty, I think it’s worth mentioning that I find it sweetly evil (honeysuckle that might take over the world if left to its own devices.) Amarige is NOT to be missed. I cannot wear it really, but it is something to really admire even if I can’t carry it off. I am glad you dig Ysatis – also one I cannot wear, but it is a thing to behold. Do you have Amarige already? (If not, mail me – I’ll send you a sample.) November 7, 2005 at 11:34am Reply

  • Diane: Iris always improves matters in my book. On the “to try” list it goes, dear V. November 7, 2005 at 11:42am Reply

  • Diane: Thanks a lot, K… now I’m craving some Organza Indecence ’cause as you say, it’s “purty” and I have a sweet tooth (can’t remember if it was too sweet for me though, darn it, now I HAVE to retest it…)

    V, so glad that you love Ysatis. I agree that it’s a beaut. Hmmm… if I can find it, I may have something for you. 🙂 November 7, 2005 at 11:49am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, not a stupid comparison at all! It has creamy Guerlain vanilla, however while in Shalimar the base has civet and castoreum, which give it a dark and leathery feel. It is not gourmand vanilla of the modern fragrances, although it still has a creamy quality. Hope that this clarifies it a little. November 7, 2005 at 11:50am Reply

  • Katie: Ack – just wanted to clarify: Organza Indecence is one of my faves, primarily for it’s cashmere sweater-like enveloping comfort of dry woods and soft vanilla. I don’t find it overly sweet by any means. Organza is another scent entirely, and it is the one that’s sweetly evil with the honeysuckle! November 7, 2005 at 11:54am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, thanks very much for the descriptions! I have Organza Indecence mini as well as Amarige samples at home. I always confuse their Givenchy III (or is it II) with Gucci II. Ysatis is such a great name, which means nothing specific, yet evokes a certain image. Something of a Greek goddess. November 7, 2005 at 11:58am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, you are so right! Orris is a beautiful scent, hence my recent ode on the ionones. I love both violets and iris, as you already know really well. 🙂 November 7, 2005 at 12:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, oh, another Ysatis fan! I find its juxtaposition of several different accords (chypre, floral and oriental) fascinating. November 7, 2005 at 12:03pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, thanks for clarification. I have not sampled Organza lately, but the first time I did, I thought that it was rather heady. I need to revisit. November 7, 2005 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Katie: And I forgot Eau de Givenchy. Sigh. How could I?? It’s a beautiful scent. Worth trying in both winter and summer to compare how it changes with the ambient temperature outside, I think. Glassy fruit on me in winter, glassy herbs on me in summer. November 7, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Diane: K, no, no, my bad! Not your fault at all. It’s been ages since I’ve tested Organza Indecence and I never went near Organza (too strong for my tastes). I remember fancying the lilac and vanilla in OI. Must revisit this one soon. November 7, 2005 at 12:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Oh, great! Eau de Givenchy goes on the list to try. Glassy fruit sounds like an intriguing description.

    What about the original Xeryus? November 7, 2005 at 12:16pm Reply

  • Victoria O: It will be interesting to see how well I like this. I love the original and I do like Iris, but not if it is too dry. I don’t care for Hiris. So we shall see.
    Thank you for the great review. I must also seek out the Ysatis Iris!
    Victoria O November 7, 2005 at 5:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, did you say lilac and vanilla in OI? Now, I am even more curious! November 7, 2005 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Diane: Wellllll, I actually did not smell it on myself when I picked up the lilac and vanilla; it was on our friend R (mreenymo) and it was the EDP. To paraphrase a MUA review, like vanilla wrapped in lilacs <-- doesn't that sound good? I tried it briefly when it first came out and remember it being nice, but a bit too sweet for me (but tastes, of course, do change, as we know). It was woodsy with amber, cinammon-spicy, and lotsa rich, faintly powdery vanilla. November 7, 2005 at 12:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, it sounds wonderful, and the imagery I now have in my mind is probably more delicate than what the fragrance is like. Like you,I revisit fragrances I did not like initially, because taste do indeed change.

    The bottle won some prize, as far I recall. November 7, 2005 at 12:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, you are welcome! November 7, 2005 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Karin: I like Indecence. I don’t like Organza, sweetly evil is right, LOL. I had a friend who wore Ysatis really well, but I can’t. I’ve wanted to try the YIris, because I love Hiris and also Molinard’s Iris (in the blue bottle). I don’t really like L’I. But the L’I EdN sounded good because of the Iris. The Sephora by us did not have it, acted like they’d never heard of it, etc. Oh Pooh! (or oh Eeyore!) November 7, 2005 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Katie: Xeryus always struck me as crisp, but not nearly as interesting as its sequel with the red pepper, so I always pass it over – but Xeryus is nice, too. Actually, I think the company does a good job at men’s frags in general. That may be just me, though, who feels that way 🙂 November 7, 2005 at 4:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I tried some of the masculine fragrances, and I liked some of them. Pour Homme is the one my stepfather wears, and it suits him really well. I tried Xeryus Rouge as well, and I enjoyed it very much. I do not remember Xeryus though, which is why I wanted to ask your opinion. Thank you! November 7, 2005 at 10:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, it is not at all dry, although it is drier in comparison to the original. There is nothing Hiris-like in it either. If you like the original, you might find it very nice. I am not sure if I would need both this and the original though, because they are not that different. November 7, 2005 at 10:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Karin, iris seems to only improve matters for me. I still holding out hopes for Chance EDP, which will feature more iris. Hope that you will get a chance to try Iris Millesime. November 7, 2005 at 10:50pm Reply

  • Katie: I brought a bottle while travelint to the Islands in 2005 and found this fragrance to be a very likeable every time i wear it. the problem that i have is i can’t find it nowhere in the United State. I would like to have another bottler. Thanks for your help
    In need of another bottle. January 14, 2007 at 9:19pm Reply

  • A.T.Simpson: I love the EDT a lot more than the EDP – shall I give Noel Iris Millesime a try? The EDT is really one of my top 5 perfumes, and it really lasts for hours and hours on my skin – I am kind of unwilling to get disappointed with this one, but at the same time I love trying new things… January 3, 2008 at 2:42pm Reply

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