Yes, it´s true – I went into the woods for more than a week, beyond the reach of cell phone or computer, and yet … I took along three perfumes. What else would one expect?
They were simple and unobtrusive and felt right – Origins´ ginger roll-on, Caron´s Eau de Reglisse, and Prada Infusion d´Iris.
The Prada came out two years ago (how is this possible?) and my initial reaction was muted. I had trouble smelling it. Then I could smell it, but it wasn´t interesting to me. Then it reinserted itself into my awareness when it became a favorite scent of the train commuters in my area, a pleasant surprise after room-hoggers like Angel.
For something rather subtle, Infusion d’Iris is quite distinctive. (Notes include mandarin, galbanum, orange blossom, iris, cedar, vetiver, incense and benzoin.) I have read more than one comment describing it as smelling like very expensive soap. That’s meant as a compliment in context, and I understand it: it’s not really like soap, but there is something soothing about its slightly spicy seamlessness. My favorite bit is the benzoin-rich drydown that has a habit of wandering off and magically reappearing when I think it’s all gone away.
Having accumulated several sample vials, I took to wearing it on occasion and was surprised to receive compliments almost every time. Maybe I put it on with too heavy a hand (I still think I am partly anosmic to it) but I am surprised to discover, two years later, that there are days when nothing else will do.
I´m going to link to Robin´s review, which I rediscovered when noodling with this post, because it´s spot on in my opinion. (And I´m going to leave that sentence as is, with a giggle, because I notice I appear to be aping Robin´s writing style tonight, consciously or not. I´m not going to fight it.) For a fragrance that seemed so tenuous and disappointing to me at first (and third and tenth) sniff, it has surprising tenacity on the skin and on fabric – I find ghosts of it a week or two later on my sweaters, and it´s never an unpleasant surprise. It also turns out to be one of my favorite irises because it´s easy and it never goes monstrous – not too powdery, not too rooty. Lutens´ Iris Silver Mist is a glorious thing, but I don´t throw it on without considering the consequences; I´d say the same for Hiris and even the annoyingly short-lived 28 La Pausa (on the wrong day it´s slightly metallic, like sucking on a dime.)
In the end I think I fell in love with Infusion d´Iris because it isn´t trying to do or be too much; it is lovely without being either conventional or hip. It is elegant but not snobbish, dry but not austere, sweet but not girly. A man could (and should) wear it with aplomb.
In contrast, let´s look at the new Carolina Herrera CH which just showed up at my Nordstrom, although I believe it appeared at roughly the same time as Prada Infusion d´Iris – mid 2007. Notes are bergamot, orange, pomelo, melon, rose, jasmine, praline, cinnamon, woody notes.
I´ve always loved Carolina Herrera’s clothing but been a little baffled by Herrera´s fragrances. They were never my thing, although I know several women who wear Chic enthusiastically, and her scents are at least age appropriate if inoffensive. The new bottle for CH is gorgeous, the sort of thing I think Coach should have done, wrapped in (okay, probably faux) red leather and very stylish. It would look great on your dresser, and I´ve just hit the highlight, because if I were you I wouldn´t try wearing the actual fragrance.
The first, overwhelming impression is sweeeeet, subcategory gourmand, to the point that I tried reflexively to step away from my own arm after applying it. Why they trotted this out in midsummer is beyond me. The words plastic melon drilled themselves into my brain, thus adding to my appreciation of Chandler Burr´s review of it while I was incommunicado (among other things, he mentions Splenda and Saran Wrap.) Sprinkle a little pumpkin pie spice on top before you pop it in the microwave and Bob´s your uncle. The fragrance on a paper strip two weeks later is surprisingly offputting – an acrid, woody base smothered in the olfactory equivalent of cinnamon Cool Whip. Grabbing from Burr´s review: “Every time I say a perfume is cheap, the perfumers (in this case Olivier Cresp and Rosendo Mateu) protest that the materials are, in fact, expensive. O.K. This smells incredibly cheap.” It´s been awhile but I´m trotting out the Mr. Yuck logo for this one.
In contrast to the Prada, CH is trying to do and be all the wrong things – younger, hipper, sexier – and it fails at all of them miserably. It´s too sweet, too plasticky, much too strong and feels dated in the worst way – the uber-gourmandy thing of two or three years ago rather than, say, the iconic giant fragrances of the 70s that have been out of fashion so long they feel wonderfully fresh. I can only assume this was the brand´s attempt to lure a younger audience and, with all due respect, good luck with that. In fact, if Carolina Herrera youths the brand up before I´m old and rich enough to wear those glorious clothes, I´m going to be cross.