Iris is one of those materials that you either love or find a bit tricky in perfumery. I have come around to it now but it took a while. Iris perfumes encompass a wide playing field as there are a multitude of ways in which iris is styled in a fragrance. Sometimes the fragrances are metallic, sharp and cold. They can also smell very carrot like and earthy. The perfumes may also be thick, buttery and creamy.
The queen bee material in the iris kingdom is iris pallida or orris, a very expensive natural. The power is harnessed from the roots of the flower, called rhizomes. It takes three years for the plant to be ready for harvesting and the roots are then dried for a further two to three years. Only then is it time for the complicated extraction process, when the deliciousness arrives in the form of a wax or iris / orris butter that can sell for 100,000 Euros per kilo. Orris smells powdery, woody and very distinctive. As you can imagine, due to the price, the real deal probably doesn’t make its way into a perfume that frequently. If it does, it will probably be quite special.
Iris Silver Mist, one of the great Serge Lutens fragrances was my first experience with iris in perfumery. I had the black wax sample and the scent was so appalling that I didn’t try any iris scent for a long time after. Yet somehow maybe six months down the track when I encountered it again, the scent smelt so different, so breathtakingly beautiful that there was a moment of cognitive dissonance. How could this have been the same perfume? This iris has a metallic gleam that could be described as somewhat chilly, although I find this fragrance absolutely stunning. An A.I. iris for the future.
Subsequently, other iris fragrances have come my way and I’ve loved many of them. L’Attesa from Masque Milano is a favourite and the charms of Chanel‘s No 19 are well known. I even like the Poudré version that I don’t believe gets a good rap amongst fragrance lovers but it’s absolutely exquisite, warmer and softer than the original.
Now when Tanja Bochnig from April Aromatics said she was working on an iris, I was intrigued. What path would she take? She noted that the iris pallida from Italy was used so I was particularly excited about that. I’m a huge fan of Tanja’s work. Her perfumes are really well crafted and her natural brand is one of my favourites. Her fragrance Pink Wood is one of her best works and it is the most beautiful perfume to wear.
Irisistible (EDP) : from April Aromatics // Perfumer : Tanja Bochnig // Year : 2018 // Notes // Top : Lemon, Orange Cassia Tree : Middle : Iris Pallida, Jasmine Grandiflorum, Bulgarian Rose, Indian Tuberose : Base : Sandalwood
The Low Down : A joyous earthy, floral iris perfume.
I will first say that this is not a paint by numbers iris perfume and I probably should have expected this from April Aromatics as this brand always manages to make something a little special and out of the ordinary. The range is all natural too which I do believe adds a point of difference and fits into current trends for clean and green. Irisistible doesn’t run rooty or metallic. There’s no cool flash of steel to give you a jolt as per the invigorating Iris Silver Mist. It is also not one of the warm, cuddly oriental irises like Iris Fauve from Atelier Des Ors or Khol de Bahrein courtesy of Stephane Humbert Lucas. This is an iris perfume of the like I’ve not smelt before, and it brings something new to this vast category.
The opening is a huge overdose of bright lemon with an intoxicating swathe of iris that overwhelms (in a good way). The iris feels even better than the real thing. Threading through the fragrance after this joyous opening is a slightly bitter, fuzzy scent, although not overwhelmingly so. I presume this is the cassia, a note that I’m not overly familiar with, although it does have a bitter facet. Irisistible then unfolds to create an expansive space that feels like a visual representation of Georgia O’Keefe’s White Iris with multi hued pastel strands of colours and florals that sing in perfect harmony.
If at first the perfume feels bright and juicy, as it wears there’s more of a powdery aspect and at times earthy elements rise to the surface too. The sandalwood base is wonderful and provides support to the jasmine, rose and tuberose, though to be fair I find it hard to pick out each individual strand here, so it’s definitely more of a mix that we’re smelling.
Irisistible is absolutely unique and unlike any other iris fragrance I’ve tried. If you’re a fan of the April Aromatics line then you must try Tanja’s latest perfume. If you are also bewitched by iris fragrances then give this a whirl as it is very much a different take and one that you just may just fall in love with and find irresistible. Irisistible was one of my favourite perfumes from 2018.
Other iris perfumes I recommend : Hiris (Hermes), No 19 (Chanel), Khol de Bahrein (Stephane Humbert Lucas), L’Attesa (Masque Milano), Dior Homme (in all its versions), Iris Fauve (Atelier Des Ors), Heure Exquise (Annick Goutal), Bas de Soie (Serge Lutens).
For where to purchase : Please see the April Aromatics website for further details. The 30ml EDP is 239 Euro. //
Images : Cover art is White Iris by Georgia O’Keefe // Image of Irisistible from April Aromatics.//
Disclaimer : Samples gratefully received from April Aromatics. Opinions my own. //