Iris Ayes

Hi, Posse!  Today we’re going to discuss Iris because we’re finally in Iris weather (for me – ymmv).  For iris to work for and on me, it has to be cool/wet; too hot and it feels weird, like the iris is struggling to stay atop all of it.  Too cold and it makes me feel like I’m in a cooler – and somebody has just run an icecube down my back.  Believe me, that is NOT a good thing.

So right now, in the high 50s-low 60s (to low 70s) is the sweet spot for all irises, even the rooty/carroty ones. This is actually the ONLY time the… hey, did I ever tell you how I came to love those rooties?  (yeah, that was a ‘squirrel’ moment – deal with it!)… so.. way back in the wayback, Miss Patty came to Chicago and we had dinner.  This was back in the days when Lydia was still at L’Artisan and L’Artisan was still a standalone boutique – lordt, but I do miss those days… anyhoo, Lydia had been trying to get me interested in Iris Pallida, to no avail.  Try as I might, I simply couldn’t reconcile myself to that rooty note.  Le sigh.

Then Patty and I met for dinner…and she brought a little vial of Xerjoff Irisss.  Placing a dab on my inside wrist she instructed me to ‘hang on and wait a minute’ – so I did.  Then, as instructed, I brought my wrist to my nose.  And was transported.  Xerjoff had managed to tame the rootiness juuuuust enough to make it sweet – without tipping it over into the saccharine.  It was – and remains – sublime.  WAY above my paygrade – but gorgeous!  But even more important, Irisss reeducated my nose to the rootier iris scents, teaching me how to parse them.  Once taught, I kept that lesson and now feel much more able to understand them.  I don’t always feel comfortable in them – but I kinda like that, like having a slightly difficult friend you only see for lunch every now and then – or a very intense lover who transports you in bed – and then gets the hell out of that bed and goes away.  You’ll get back with him (or that fabulous, difficult friend) when you’re ready – but they’re definitely not daily fare.  Le Labo Iris 39 is one such ‘difficult friend’ – it does better for me on fabric than on skin, but there’s no denying its gorgeousness.  A degree too hot (or too cold), though… and it’s an instant ick.

Iris by Parfums Laboissiere – this, late of the much-missed Jacqueline in SF (hey, he was always lovely to me)… it’s one of those weird irises that bridges the gap between rooty and floral.  Try as I might I cannot find anything on the notes but I detect a hint of violet therein.  It starts out very sharp and green, then softens to a near-soliflore.  It’s perfect for a mid-Spring afternoon.

Irisss by Xerjoff – as mentioned above this was my gateway iris (thanks, Patty!) and it is glorious, indeed, nearly wearable in all temps (nearly).  Composed of ‘butter of iris’ (The dried roots of the plant are ground up, distilled and extracted into either a resin, an absolute or a butter. They have a buttery-soft, smooth and skin-like scent. Its powdery aroma is undeniable and can also be reminiscent of suede or even freshly-baked bread. carrot seeds, rose, ylang ylang (along with a host of other yummies) it’s one of the softest, warmest of the rooties.  I would spring for a bottle but, like Tom, there is car insurance looming – and I have to pay my Cranky Contractor.  Le sigh.

Iris by Donna Karan.  The most mutable of all my iris perfumes, it really does function as the Expensive White Shirt in Sergey Borisov’s Fragrantica review.  I cannot remove it from my Iris oeuvre because well, the name (I’m easy).. but also, like that shirt, it does evoke ‘class’ in that way a slender vase of white irises does.  There isn’t even a hint of rootiness in this one, which makes it suitable for mid-range temps and pretty much any situation.  Luckily it doesn’t evoke the Donna Karan Bodysuit, for which I am forever grateful.  I told y’all about the time I got stuck in one of those, halfway through the trying-on…right?  omg.  I. Magnin.  Size 4 me, stupidly forgetting that Ms Karan LIES about her sizes.  Trying to wrestle my way into a Size 4 bodysuit (in that signature DK midnight blue – I now HATE that color).  I needed a size 8.  Definitely. Took 2 people to get me unstuck.   Mortifyin’.

Last one, because otherwise we’ll be here all damb day and I think Tom is going to opine on some later in the tomorrow – Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile (the original 2006 version).  This is my HG Iris.  It’s delicate but the iris is never lost, making a quiet-but-firm statement from the first spritz.  I have a butter yellow iris that always reminds me of this perfume; I’d like to say the flower is better – but I’d be lying.  This is that butter yellow iris, surrounded by early Summer yellow roses (I think it’s the tuberose and mimosa that replicates the notion of the roses, because roses really aren’t in the perfume at all) – this is more about the whole garden than the iris as soliflore.  I would wear this daily!  The body creme is one of the most divine things on the planet, btw.  Trust me.


What are your thoughts on iris perfumes?  Are you a Rooty rooter…or a Floral fan?  Both?  What about weather – do you have temp requirements to make them work?  Do tell!

Btw…Iris Pallida?  Still a Nope.  Dunno why… any ideas?


  • MzCrz says:

    I think Hermes Hiris is a nice showcase for the rootiness of iris. The musk used in SL’s Iris Silver Mist kills it for me. I had to rehome my bottle almost as soon as I got it.

    • Musette says:

      I have a healthy slug of Hiris – and I do adore it! I didn’t mention it because, as I said in the actual post, we’d be here all. damb. day.

      But I do adore it.

  • Dina C. says:

    Aaahhh, you are talking about my favorite note and some of my favorite scents! Love it! Nodded my head like a bobblehead all the way thru as I was reading! I like iris cool and aloof AND rooty and carrot-y. Chanel uses a lot of Iris in their “base” so it’s no surprise that’s my favorite house, especially Jacques Polge’s work on the original Les Exclusifs. Love 28 La Pausa, 31 Rue Cambon, Bois des Iles, no 18, no 19 (Henri Robert), and so on and so forth. Also love Donna Karan Iris, Le Labo Iris 39, and AdP Iris Nobile. I’ll also throw in Prada Infusion d’Iris, VC&A Bois d’Iris, and PG Iris Oriental. Gucci Tears of Iris is a newbie that’s good; I find it similar to that Donna Karan one. Speaking of…poor you and that wretched bodysuit! What a nightmare! Glad you escaped it. I need to search out the Iris Nobile body cream!

  • monkeytoe says:

    I love both the rooty and the floral, though I lean rooty. Here are a few I love that weren’t mentioned: VC&A Bois d’Iris, AG Heure Exquis, Heeley Iris de Nuit, PG Iris Taizo and Cartier L’Heure Promise. I am a little afraid to see how many of them are still in production or reformulated beyond recognition.

    • Maya says:

      I had forgotten Heeley Iris de Nuit. I did like it quite a bit, but ended up getting Hippie Rose. I must revisit.

    • Musette says:

      Except for the VC&A I’d totally forgotten these!!! Omgosh – I’mo be SO busy!

  • alityke says:

    I only own one Iris forward fragrance, Prada Infusion d’Iris. I know, basic as. I own loads where it’s part of the blend but Iris forward? Nope

    • Musette says:

      If you ever decide to investigate, do try AdP Iris Nobile – I think you might like it. A lot.

      • alityke says:

        Once DH has had his op & recovered enough to not break himself doing not “stuff” too soon, I’m getting a train to Leeds or Manchester & going to do a day of sniffing & treat myself to a Japanese lunch.

  • Maya says:

    I love the rooty smell of iris! Most iris perfumes that I have tried seem to lose most of that aspect and are too floral or too sweetish. The last one I sampled was Jacques Fath Irissime. Nope. I am going to try Fueguia 1833 – Valle De La Luna. It’s iris, sandalwood, and amber. Their La Cautiva is wonderful. I’m loving this line so far but ooh are they expensive.

    • Musette says:

      Huh. I didn’t even know these existed!!! Must investigate (mebbe. I still have to pay Cranky Contractor)…

  • March says:

    Love iris — the note, and the perfume. AdP Iris Nobile and SL ISM are two of my tops. (Weirdly, I can’t remember the Xerjoff, I must have smelled it!) Separately, I love the perfume of actual iris blossoms, which as I’ve said dozens of times on here, I think many (most?) people aren’t even aware of. The public sphere doesn’t bang on about the smell of iris they way they do lilac or rose etc.

    • Musette says:

      Irises have a phenomenal scent (and, obvs, not all are the same) – but I think it’s less obvious and hasn’t been really touted beyond us Strange Perfumistas.
      I’m sure you’ve smelled the Xerjoff – Floyd knows I’ve yarked on about it for lo, these past 200 years…

  • cinnamon says:

    I love the idea of iris. I don’t think it loves me.

  • Portia says:

    LOVE Iris Musette,
    I’ve got a bunch of them but the one that worked best for me was L’Occitane Iris Blue Iris Blanc. It fit, like a glove.
    Portia x

    • Musette says:

      I don’t know that one! Sounds like you found your version of my glove, AdP Iris Nobile. Isn’t it marvelous when that happens?!

  • Tom says:

    Iris is a tough one. I did get an Iris fix from StC, but they didn’t get here until Friday, and I need a little more time with these. So tomorrows post is about.. dial phones.

    I will write that Iris Silver Mist is becoming a must have. Damn it..

    • Maya says:

      Whoo hoo on the Iris Silver Mist!! It is in my top favorite fragrances ever and after your last post, I went to the Serge Lutens site and it was out of stock. I panicked and decided that it’s a must buy when it comes back in, budget be dammed. I’m also with Musette on Irisss! Other than these two, I have not found any other iris perfume that I like.

    • Musette says:

      That is such a gorgeous iris, Tom. I didn’t include it because I know you are falling in LOVE with it – and I want that one to be yours.

      • carole says:

        I love iris! I think it’s elegant-why, I have no idea. So Prada Infusion, a decant of Irisss, and my perfume score-I have three of the black ISM le vapo things. And each 30 ml vial cost-about $40 cdn. Best perfume score ever, and I love that scent.

        Loved this post 🙂

  • Kathleen says:

    Iris Nobile is gorgeous, one of my favorite iris perfumes as well. I had to go get my bottle and spray, divine! I’m more of a floral iris fan. I also adore Chanel La Pausa, more of a powdery iris to my nose.

  • Tara C says:

    I love all kinds of iris: rooty, sweet, powdery, floral. Some favorites are VCA Bois d’Iris, Iris Silver mist, Silver Iris and Iris Shot.