iris: 61 posts

Three Ultimate Iris Perfumes

Once, as I was telling Maurice Roucel how much I loved his Iris Silver Mist, a perfume he created for Serge Lutens, he laughed and explained that Lutens kept asking again and again for more iris, so he ended up using all the iris aromatics in the catalogue of his company and essentially “mixing them together.” Roucel can be refreshingly self-deprecating about his work, but I knew that achieving the precise harmony of Iris Silver Mist took much more than just blending all irises in sight. For me, it evokes the cool, frozen beauty of this complex note in a way that few other iris perfumes can.

In my recent FT column, I examine three iris classics, describing what makes them compelling and memorable. Above all, iris as an ingredient deserves attention because it’s one of the most layered, rich but difficult materials available to perfumers.

The first time I smelled iris essence, I stood for a few minutes with a perfume blotter under my nose before I regained my senses. In an instant it conjured up frozen petals and snow-covered trees, and while this image of a winter garden was vivid, I couldn’t easily describe the fragrance. It was like nothing I had encountered before, and pinning down its radiant but surprisingly potent scent proved difficult. To continue, please click here.

What are your ultimate iris perfumes?

5 Iris Perfumes and One Dumas Novel

Iris has the reputation of being a cold and austere note. Obtained from the roots of iris pallida, rather than flowers, it smells of its source–more like a sliver of frozen woods than petals. (This is why iris in perfumery is not quite a floral note, and it’s classified separately, between woods and violets.) And yet, it’s my favorite scent for winter. It fits so perfectly into the wintery panorama of scents that I can hardly imagine these cold days without an opaline sillage of iris. On the other hand, a beautiful perfume is beautiful all year round, so I’m slowly transitioning to spring with my bouquet of irises.

The indisputable gold standard irises are Chanel No 19, Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, and Annick Goutal Heure Exquise. Hermès Hiris is another notable fragrance, often referred to as “a cult favorite,” whatever that means. Although I enjoy No 19, Iris Silver Mist and Hiris, my personal iris cult is more varied, a testament to the allure of this ingredient.

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Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia : Perfume Review

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Misia Sert and Coco Chanel shared deep affection for each other. Sert comforted Chanel when her lover Arthur Boy Capel died in a car accident. She inspired the designer and introduced her to a glittering circle of artists, writers and musicians. Misia’s salon in Paris attracted such luminaries as Marcel Proust, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Claude Debussy, Stéphane Mallarmé, and André Gide. She was a talented pianist, captured by Toulouse-Lautrec at the piano, but she was also a cultural icon and a muse. In this last role, the spirit of Sert returns to the house of Chanel in the form of a new perfume, Misia.

misia sert
Imagine a vintage silk purse that still holds the aroma of violet bonbons, rose scented lipstick and rice powder. This, in a phrase, is Misia. Tender and romantic, the fragrance settles on skin in a soft powdery layer, and if it suddenly makes you feel like painting your lips a retro crimson and watching The Red Shoes, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a perfect vintage vignette fantasy.

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Chanel 1932 Extrait de Parfum : Perfume Review

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When Chanel announced the launch of Beige, Jersey and 1932 in Extrait de Parfum, purportedly the richest and more luxurious concentration, I was excited. Although neither Jersey nor 1932 caught my attention in the Eau de Toilette versions (Beige, by contrast, is one of my staples), Chanel often has a few surprises up its sleeve, and I waited impatiently till my local boutique received the testers.

1932

There was some speculation as to the reason why Chanel launched the “deluxe” versions of particular perfumes in the Les Exclusifs collection. Shouldn’t the exquisitely beautiful 28 La Pausa, sultry Coromandel or polished 31 Rue Cambon receive more attention? Chanel itself said something about the noble materials and other romantic things, but the truth is that Beige, Jersey and 1932 are the best sellers in the collection, and it made more business sense to focus on them first.

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Christopher Sheldrake on Chanel and Iris

In a video made for the launch of No 19 Poudré, Christopher Sheldrake of Chanel describes iris used by the house in its fragrances, from the famous No 19 to the exquisite 28 La Pausa. Speaking about dried iris rhizomes, Sheldrake says, “They have that characteristic scent: powdery, clean and fresh already. It’s very strange for dried materials to smell fresh.”

I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you to Geneviève for sending me the link!

Extra: reviews of iris dominated perfumes (not just Chanel).

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