Rough Beauty – Iris 39

Okay – bear with me here. Apparently WordPress is Not My Friend. They CHANGED the format and y’all know I’m barely able to manage this tech as it is! Iris 39 had better have my back!

Well, okay. I’m goin’ in!

Let’s talk about ‘rough beauty’. That sounds a bit like faint praise but, in fact, it’s one of my favorite types of beauty. I’m not a fan of ‘chocolate box pretty’, preferring a more interesting look – but this isn’t ‘jolie laide’ – this is more traditional beauty – with a twist. Physical iterations are folks whose gorgeousness is made more alien, yet more accessible, because of some anomaly – like Jason Momoa. In his Baywatch days, Momoa was about as gorgeously perfect as you can get, with the perfect skin, shiny black hair and …well, yeah. Okay. Next!

Then came the bar fight, when his face got cut up by a broken beer bottle – and the eyebrow scar that now defines him. Also, add about 15 (?) 20 years, 2 kids and Life, some dreads and a wicked goatee that should be all the better for a decent trim……but somehow works even better in its scraggliness. His roughness makes him much more compelling than any perfect, chocolate box prettiness ever could (Pierce Brosnan is another – that little scar on his mouth? It elevates him to a whole ‘nother level of hawt, imo – as if he’s actually LIVED some of those fabbo Bond moments)

Holy cats & crackers!

That’s Le Labo Iris 39 to me. It’s rough to wear – I can only do it in 45F-55F weather, and the more overcast and mizzling the day, the better. And the carroty/iris-y rootiness, underpinned by the dirty-fabulousness of violet and a faint screech of ginger shouldn’t work – but it works gloriously! It’s one of the few perfumes that is always in my olfactory memory – it’s never not readily accessible – I haven’t worn it in over a week but as I write this it rises, wraithlike, into my nose with perfect recall (I just grabbed the lotion (my favorite way to wear the fragrance) and yep! it’s persackly what I smelled in my mind). There are a lot of perfumes I adore that cannot do that – interestingly, it’s always the most difficult fragrances that have the best recall – for me. Ymmv. And all those ‘difficult’ fragrances have that ‘rough beauty’ in common. I think Mitsouko falls into that category, whereas my go-to, Chanel No5, does not. But as much as I adore No5 I cannot always bring it to my olfactory mind. Mitsouko? Bang on, every time.,

If you haven’t tried Iris 39, you should, just so you can tell me if I’m bone-crazy! I prefer rooty irises to flowery ones (and that took awhile, btw – my first intro was Xerjoff’s Irisss – and Patty had to almost pour it over my head before I ‘got’ it – but once I did, I was hooked. Of the ‘rooties’ Iris 39 is my favorite because it is the roughest. But they are a bit challenging in all but the most perfect conditions – unlike Jason Momoa whom, I suspect, is nearly perfect in almost all conditions (of course, I ain’t his ladywife. For all I know, she is sick of him leaving his socks all over the house – but he doesn’t look like the type of guy to wear socks……..

Good grief, what a babble! C’mon, join in – what are your challenging scents for this transitional weather (which, btw, jumped up to 72F today!)

  • Ariel says:

    Thank you, Musette!

  • Ariel says:

    Siano by Phlur is tricky as the weather warms up. While it cheers me during the grey PNW winters, it gets overly fruity (and not in a delicious, jammy way) and reminds me of scents marketed to pre-teens.

    Right now, I want amber, amber, and maybe some violet. The strongest perfume scent memory I have is Laurie Erickson’s Wood Violet, of which I only obtained one sample before the shop was shuttered. (Fingers crossed, she’s still looking at selling it.) That’s the scent I want every. damn. day. The plum plus violet is not a combination I have loved in any other perfume (and lucky scent folks have really tried to find me an alternative), and it was almost gross-sticky-sweet the first few times I tried it. But-oh, I can recall it. Anytime, anywhere.

  • Brigitte says:

    I am all about “uncomplicated” and “unchallenging” fragrances these days because as of late my life is challenging enough 🙂
    One of my favorite segue into spring scents is 1000 Flowers Fleur No 1. Portia did a post on it many years ago….oh how I wish Jessica September Buchanan would bring this one back!!! It was the softer, prettier “sister” to vintage no 19 (which I happen to be wearing today)

    • Portia says:

      Hey Brigitte,
      I still have a smidge of the 1000 Flowers Fleur No 1. What a sensational scent, so green and crystal clear.
      Always so nice to see you.
      Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      Hon, I am TOTALLY with you there – only with me, it’s TV and books, etc – I’m watching British cooking and gardening shows and reading gardening books. Pretty much all I can manage these days 😉


  • March says:

    Mitsouko! Iris! Jason Momoa! And you’re right — why should the trickiest frags be the easiest to conjure up?

  • Kathryn says:

    My first thought was who needs a challenge when there’s still snow on the ground in April? Even for the wilds of Maine, that’s a lot. Nonetheless, I looked around and found an old sample of Iris 39. I’m glad I did. I recall not being all that impressed with it years ago, but now it is smelling like the most promising part of early spring for a northern gardener. It’s the smell of thawing earth and the first signs of life returning after a frozen world. Iris 39 has all of the earthiness but not the metallic edge of Iris Silver Mist that sometimes puts me off. Maybe I need some more of this.

    • Musette says:

      omg. You Mainers and your snow (sez she who is looking at snow flurries for tomorrow ;-). Early Spring is always so mercurial, innit?

      And I LOVE your description of it – that is absolutely a perfect one for Iris 39.


  • Dina C. says:

    Musette, I agree with you 100% on the LL Iris 39. My only quibble with it is that as it has aged on my shelf, it has gotten stronger. So now it’s nuclear strength, and I don’t think I can handle its aggressive fabulosity. 🙂

    • Musette says:

      LeLabo are, imo, notorious for changing ‘in the bottle’ – Iris 39 is terrifying as it ages – it almost morphs into an Aromatics Exlir clone!

      Which is when I put on the body lotion and dab a smidge of the scent on a cotton ball. 😉


  • Portia says:

    Temptress of temptresses. And to bring Aquaman into this scenario is just UNFAIR! Now I will forever think of the two together. HA! I can think of many less engrossing visualisations as I spritz. If I buy a bottle it may go fairly quickly with that kind of incentive.
    Portia xx