August 21st, 2007
Iris Pallida is the upcoming edition in the L’Artisan Parfumeur exceptional harvest collection for the year 2007 (the previous editions were Fleur d’Oranger in 2005, and Fleur de Narcisse in 2006). You might have noticed there’re quite a few iris fragrances released this year which I personally quite welcome as there can never be too many. In my perfume-illiterate years, I sort of assumed all the floral notes used in perfume conveyed the actual scent of the flower they represented. Little did I know it is not so with iris – what we smell is actually the root or the rhizome that’s crushed into powder and treated with alcohol to produce the extract. What I’ve also learned recently (from the Iris Pallida press release) is that it takes three years from planting for the rhizome to reach the right level of maturity, and a further three years are necessary for the olfactory principle of iris to slowly emerge. Plus, several more weeks are required after grinding to distill an essential oil that eventually solidifies (hence the name iris “butter”). All I can say is that I’m in awe of such a process and would love to have me some iris butter. Meanwhile, I cherish my favorite iris perfumes, and Iris Pallida has quickly earned a special spot.
Up until recently, I divided iris based fragrances into two groups: 1) the deep-earthy ones (Bois d’Iris by The Different Company, Hiris by Hermes; 2) the powdery-metallic ones (Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens, Dior Homme, Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle). Along came Guerlain’s Bois d’Armenie and Iris Ganache, Cristiano Fissore Cashmere for Men, Iris Nobile by Aqua di Parma, and even Chanel 19, and my iris world had suddenly expanded. I’ve discovered iris can also be quite woody and velvety. Iris Pallida is exactly that. It starts off all sparkling floral, then goes all buttery-fluffy, and finally wraps around you like the softest pashmina. I particularly enjoy the dusty, marshmallowy cedar accord in the drydown. It very much reminds me of Bois d’Armenie, just a little more sheer perhaps. It doesn’t seem to have any sillage (although spraying from a bottle can prove otherwise) and is quite tenacious, even if it does appear a bit muted as it dries down. Of all the exceptional harvest fragrances, it’s probably the most understated and instantly likable.
Iris Pallida features the notes of rose essence, orange blossom absolu, violet leaf, anise, iris absolute, cedar, vetiver, patchouli, guaiac wood, ambrette seed, white musk. It will be available in limited quantities retailing $295 for 100 ml bottle.
Image source: iriscolorado.com, press release.
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