Hermes Hermessence Iris Ukiyoe : Fragrance Review

Iris ukiyoe

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

Ukiyo-e refers to the Japanese genre of wood block prints that depict nature, landscapes, town life, and pleasure quarters, with the word itself meaning “pictures of the floating world.” An allusion to evanescence, fleeting encounters and ephemeral visions is fitting for the style of perfumery that has become the trademark of Hermès in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. His fragrances are marked by minimalism and refinement, and Hermessence Hris Ukiyoé is no exception. It is a fresh green floral composition that is executed with all of the classical Ellena elements intact—sheer floral notes, watery green accords, subtle accents of woods.

The prelude to the cold vegetal floral accord is set by citrus, specifically a bright, crisp grapefruit note, which Ellena uses in his various compositions, from Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again to Kelly Calèche. Its sharp fizz contrasts nicely with the watery green accord that forms a large part of Iris Ukiyoé. The iris rendition here is neither the floral-violet softness of L’Artisan Iris Pallida or The Different Company Bois d’Iris (also by Ellena) nor the rooty earthiness of Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. The iris is sheer, green, watery and abstract, wrapped well by hedione, a jasmine-muguet aroma material that has a rather luminous, airy character. The acquatic floralcy of the composition reminds me of the effects used in Diptyque Ofrésia or L’Artisan Fleur de Liane, which present different floral treatments, albeit in a similar character. For a light floral, Iris Ukiyoé has quite an impressive sillage and a decent tenacity.

Ironically, ukiyo-e were supposed to be inexpensive and mass produced, to satisfy the demands of those who could not afford the real paintings. Of course, Iris Ukiyoé is anything but; it is priced in the luxury bracket and its ingredients are stellar, like those of other Hermès fragrances. The fragrance will no doubt please Jean-Claude Ellena fans and those who appreciate subtle floral compositions. Yet, I do not find Iris Ukiyoé compelling. Like other Hermessence fragrances, particularly Rose Ikebana and Paprika Brasil, it verges on being overly refined and abstract. While I appreciate the concept behind Hermessence as delicately styled fragrance etudes, I find Ellena most evocative in his more developed orchestrations like Cartier Déclaration, Bulgari L’Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert and Terre d’ Hermès. While those fragrances are marked by haiku-like refinement and elegance, they nevertheless are multifaceted and nuanced.

Iris Ukiyoé includes note of mandarin, water iris, orange blossom, green shoots, green watery notes. It is a part of Hermès Hermessence line and is available from the Hermès boutiques.

Image: Horikiri Iris Garden by Hiroshige (1797 – 1858), from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series; from Fuji Arts.



  • Isa: I usually like Jean-Claude Ellena’s work and I’m getting more and more interested in iris fragrances.
    If Iris Ukiyo-e is somehow similar to Diptyque Ofresia it must be my cup of tea. Ofresia is lovely, in my opinion. And on my skin it lasts forever. December 3, 2010 at 10:56am Reply

  • minette: ah, my dear scent sister. i appreciate his talent, but long for the days when he made opulent scents like vc&a’s first. maybe he’ll rouse himself from this reverie of refinement and minimalism and enchant me once again. December 3, 2010 at 2:28pm Reply

  • all womenstalk: This is lovely! I really love Japanese arts. Oh! I think I’m going Japanese for this week. Sincerely, I’m fascinated with anime characters, and game characters made by some Japanese tech group. Aside from overwhelming action-packed anime movies I watched, I also like their perfumery.They’re very Asian – rare and oriental fragrances. I love their scent! December 4, 2010 at 2:41am Reply

  • Sveta: V, I felt the same way. Didn’t particularly grab my attention, but it sure was well-put-together and pleasant. Of course, I would wear it anyday over most other new launches but to my mind, it’s not the best Hermessence. December 4, 2010 at 10:10am Reply

  • Victoria: @Isa
    You will definitely enjoy Iris Ukiyoe then. It is a beautiful fragrance, I just miss something in a few of Hermessense fragrances. They are almost too cerebral and conceptual. That being said, I love Jean-Claude Ellena’s work, so I might just be grumbling, because I have high expectations. 🙂 December 4, 2010 at 11:29am Reply

  • Victoria: @minette
    Dear scent twin, you’ve pointed out the fragrance that I should have mentioned–VCA First. It is one of my favorite fragrances, without doubt. I also have had enough of minimalism, these days I crave opulence. December 4, 2010 at 11:36am Reply

  • Victoria: @all womenstalk
    I love Japanese art too, and as far as Japanese scents, I am crazy about kyara, incense made from agarwood. It is such a rich, warm fragrance, very beautiful. December 4, 2010 at 11:41am Reply

  • Victoria: @Sveta
    Thank you again for sharing it with me. I am glad to have had a chance to try it, because I love iris, and I have been curious about Ellena’s take on it. December 4, 2010 at 11:44am Reply

  • Marina: Grapefruit…trying to imagine…I dunno, I dunno, maybe I don’t even need to try this December 5, 2010 at 8:36pm Reply

  • Carla: Thank you so much, it’s so interesting to have your take. (When I tried it and all I could say at first was “citrus” I felt I was lacking imagination.) December 6, 2010 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: @Marina
    Of course, you need to try it! Did you think that I would do all the work for you?
    Just teasing you! 🙂 December 6, 2010 at 9:37am Reply

  • Victoria: @Carla
    I love when a perfume elicits a strong reaction, even a negative one, but this one just did not move me. There are plenty of other iris fragrances I like more. December 6, 2010 at 1:42pm Reply

  • March: Oh! I just saw this, catching up on my reading, and thanks for the link! I always learn something, reading your posts. December 7, 2010 at 5:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: @March
    Thank you, that is very kind of you to say. I have to say that while I was on my hiatus, I really missed these kinds of exchanges. They really stimulate and inspire me. December 7, 2010 at 8:29pm Reply

  • moniseur: I know this is your old post but I have sample of this perfume I tried again İris Ukiyoe today and I’m neutral for this perfume. I also couldn’t find my perfect iris perfume yet. I’m wearing Iris Poudre but not love for me, I like Iris Silver Mist but sometimes I find it too erthy. I have tried Iris d’argent by Keiko Mecheri and I liked it. I have also, Orris Noir, İris Nazarena and I don’t know what’s wrong with me? 🙂 December 7, 2014 at 4:47am Reply

    • Victoria: There is absolutely nothing wrong with you! 🙂 I guess, you just don’t care for iris. December 7, 2014 at 12:59pm Reply

  • moniseur: Dear Victoria, thank you for your answer. I think that you are totally right about me. But sometimes my nose can be arragont about perfume. İt just about my mood. By the way, I want to buy the perfume of Keiko Mecheri collection and I’m undecided about it. Cuir Cardoba and Iris d’argent on my wishlist and also Umé (I know, you don’t like it). What’s your favorite Keiko from the line? 🙂 December 9, 2014 at 11:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not really familiar with that line, so I don’t have a favorite yet. I know that many people like her Loukoum perfume, but that one was too sweet for me. December 9, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

  • moniseur: I’m Turk and I don’t think Loukhoum smell like Turkish Delight. But I can understand why people like it. Thank you very much again! 🙂 December 9, 2014 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with you. It didn’t smell like Turkish Delight to me at all, just cloying and sugary. Haci Bekir’s pistachio rahat loukoum is one of my favorites. December 9, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

  • moniseur: Wow! I didin’t know anything about this perfume. I will look for it! 🙂 December 9, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Haci Bekir confectionery shop doesn’t make a perfume, as far as I know, although it would be nice if it did. December 9, 2014 at 12:29pm Reply

  • moniseur: I’m sorry! I understood wrong! 🙂 I was very exciting that when I notice Hacı Bekir 🙂 December 9, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • OperaFan in Ukranian Petrykivka Ornaments : Holiday Gifts: Victoria – I just wanted to follow up on this post. I finally did order 5 wooden balls and a bell. The package arrived today and they are even more… February 3, 2023 at 11:01pm

  • Violet in Rose Retreat in Bulgaria May 2023: This sounds like an amazing experience. I would love to go! February 3, 2023 at 2:32pm

  • Ang in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: To improve my mood this winter, I have worn some summery, effervescent perfumes. And in the morning, I open the curtains and watch my neighbor’s cats attempt to hunt. The… February 2, 2023 at 6:41pm

  • Sapphire in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: To boost spirits in the winter, I try to get outside as much as possible on sunny days. I try to exercise really regularly and keep my sleep times as… February 2, 2023 at 4:59pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2023 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy