Iris Eyes Again, Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Malle Iris Poudre & Jovan Tropical Iris

So, I had earlier written something like iris didn’t agree with me. I should have learned from life that I should never write that about practically anything because in some way I will inevitably run across some version of said thing that will not only be delightful but make me do a complete 180° on it- for instance Brussels Sprouts. For years I was only served them at school on what I like to think of as punishment day: usually some “meat”-esque thing served with brussels sprouts that had been boiled for about 12 weeks and kept hot in the cooking water. I swear they were the same ones throughout the semester: people would just refuse them, and back into the freezer they would do until they were to rise like Dr. Phibes to appear again a few months later. Then I was served a version at the Border Grill in Santa Monica, where they had been shaved on a mandolin, sautéed in butter until browned, then finished with fresh lime juice. Suddenly they weren’t hellish little chewy balls of sulphur!

Now, Iris never achieved the loathing of brussels sprouts, it merely got a “meh” from me. When confronted with so many other lovely things to sniff, I would reach for the usual suspects and give, at best, a cursory sniff to the iris and move on.

Which brings me to Iris Silver Mist.

WTF was I thinking? What was I smoking when I decided this wasn’t all that? I can only think that this was during the time when I had first discovered good old Uncle Serge, by which time (early to mid 2000s) he was in what I think of as his “salad days” when he was coming out every six months with something new and wonderful, whether in the export (Yay! Easy to get!) or “Exclusive” (Boo! Only in Europe!) line that his older ones I didn’t think that hard about. So I don’t think I even gave this a cursory try until the bell jats showed up in full force at the late, lamented Barneys.

Which is why I had a bit of a “where have you been all my life?” moment with this. It starts in a very Lutens way: rooty and oddly metallic, like planting bulbs in the chilly soil on a cool spring morning. As it wears, it warms and becomes ever so slightly buttery as those bulbs sprout blooms. You never quite get away from the chilly metallic sting of the roots and the soil, but honestly, who would want to?

In the StC order I also had Malle’s Iris Poudre, which frankly kind of paled by comparison. I liked it, and found that indeed I had tried it before over 10 years ago, and even posted about it here, writing that after it’s pink and pretty opening “this goes from “Pillow Talk” to “Madame X” with the addition of dark musks, but it’s still a great heaving corseted busom of a fragrance. In a thoroughly modern, pared-down way that while witty, seductive and winkingly sexy isn’t going to gas your partner into anaphylactic shock. I’d never wear it. You ladies should.” Which about covers it.

The last of the three samples was Jovan Tropical Iris, which was apparently from 1985. It’s about as far away from Iris Silver Mist as those cafeteria sprouts are from Susan Feninger and Mary Sue Milliken’s finest. Well, that’s not really fair. JTI isn’t going to gag you, or make you swear off iris, or make you wish you at least went to private school when given the chance. It’s just a big powder puff of a thing, very much of it’s time. You can certainly find it on eBay if you wish, my sample from Surrender to Chance will last me until doomsday.

So, what are your thoughts on these? Other Iris faves? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Iris Silver Mist is available for shipping from the Lutens website, $305 for a 75ml (2.5oz) bell jar (many of which if I ever manage to hit PowerLooto will be bought in bulk and shipped over.) Iris Poudre is available at the usual suspects, $295 for a 1.7oz bottle. Jovan Tropical Iris is available on eBay used starting at around $25. My samples were from Surrender to Chance. Photos are mine and Pixels.

  • lissakate says:

    I really need to re-watch the Dr. Phibes movies <3

  • MizChris says:

    NO to ISM. There is a kind of musk SL uses in a lot of his fragrances and once I apply, it’s all I can smell and I cannot stand musk. A friend bought me a bell jar of this and I wound up giving it back to her. Just writing about it gives me the fantods.

    My 2 favorite irises are the very old Hermes Hiris, which was almost impossible to find when it first came out such a long time ago and the (sadly) discontined Tauer Orris. Orris is like having a heavy, velvety and slightly smoky robe of soft orris roots draped over your self and it lasts forever. Ons spritz and I am good to go.

    • Tom says:

      I love the SL Musk, but I know some shrink from it.

      I loved the Tauer, but I knew it was going to be limited so didn’t let myself fall for it. Which was stupid.

  • Musette says:

    I would hand wash Uncle Serge’s laundry for a month for a jar of ISM.

  • Tara+Mc says:

    I have the Santa Maria Novella L’Iris from a trip to Florence last year, never was a huge iris head until this but am loving it, smells like indecently huffing a blossom.

    • Tom says:

      I love Santa Maria Novella. They have a little store on Melrose Place that’s been there forever- back when it was just antique stores, not the mini-Rodeo it is today. I think my favorite thing from them is the pot pourri, which I need to go get more of.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’m so glad you’ve come around on liking Iris now, Tom. I have the slim black “travel” size of Iris Silver Mist, and I completely agree that this one falls into the rooty, dark, cold aspect of the note. Le Labo Iris 39 does, too. 28 La Pausa, on the other hand, smells like the actual blossom, mixed with a long-lasting musk. SL Clair de Musc is another iris-musk, but that one is even more musk dominant. I know I’ve tried the Malle Iris Poudre, but it’s been a long time. I didn’t acquire a bottle. And I’ve never sniffed the Jovan.

    • Tom says:

      You know, I have and love Clair de Musc and never really thought of it as an iris scent.

      The Jovan was a total outlier. I was looking at the StC site and it just looked kind of a fun one to round out the trio.

    • Musette says:

      those musks are deal breakers for me, alas. Once they come on, it’s all I can smell.

  • cinnamon says:

    No ISM for me. Too cold and carroty. I’m sure I’ve sampled the FM but have no memory of it, which means I should try again. The idea of tropical iris is sort of interesting. And then there were all the fun things done in the ’80s. As to Brussel sprouts, I don’t like them much as little round cabbages, but shredded and mixed with something else they are quite nice. Anyway, my fave iris is long gone (Tauer LE Orris). The big purple flags are coming into bloom here. Totally gorgeous.

    • Tom says:

      Tauer Orris was beautiful (like most of his) I don’t remember what the story was with that..

  • alityke says:

    ISM? Icy cold & never warmed up on me.
    IP? Sorry what were you saying? I got distracted by that rosey lipstick thingybob.
    JTI? Never heard of it.
    Iris really doesn’t do it for me. I was with you until the U-turn on iris being meh????
    Brussel sprouts? Absolutely loved them, never had canned & frozen ones are evil but boiled, steamed, fried, bubble & squeaked, just gimme all the sprouts!
    I used to eat my brothers cos he loathed them

    • Tom says:

      I didn’t think I’d u-turn but for ISM, I did. I like the frigid edge.

      You’re lucky never to had canned or frozen. Or ones cooked in a 70’s New England school cafeteria from frozen. Frozen, I’d guess some time during WWII. And sitting in that warm bog water since Kennedy was president..

      Now I adore them. I’ve even turned people back to them with that Border Grill recipe, or Ina Garten, who does the same but with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or roasted.

      I love bubble and squeak. Can’t get it here for love nor money out.

      • alityke says:

        We can even buy preformed frozen bubble & squeak but leftover mash & green veg mixed together & shallow fried. Served with bacon, egg & brown sauce. Yum!
        Even better made with sprouts fried in butter with bacon, chestnuts & a touch of sherry vinegar

        • Tom says:

          So delish! Great hangover food- not that I get those anymore. Now I need to go get some real brown sauce. There used to be a store in Santa Monica called the Continental Shop that had everything from Fairy Liquid to region 2 DVDs but it got killed off by gentrification..

          • MizChris says:

            Ah! Good memories of the Continental Shop! I had a Brit girlfriend when I was living in L.A. and we used to go there to buy bangers (a camping staple), brown sauce (she called it ‘brown rockin’), Bird’s Custard in a can, Cadbury Flake bars, Liquorice Allsorts and Barry’s Tea.

          • Tom says:

            I was so sad to see them go, and the worst part was that the supposed development didn’t even happen.

          • alityke says:

            The best shops are always in slightly seedy areas, if you want Chinese, Indian, Jamaican, Polish food ingredients in the UK? Always tucked away where the housing isn’t all gentrified

          • Tom says:

            Unfortunately our “seedy” areas are the ones being gentrified out of existence.

            I did go by the site of that shop and it’s still nothing. So sad.

  • March says:

    My love for Brussels sprouts is ridiculous. As a kid, all our veggies came from CANS, horrifying. Never had sprouts until I was in my twenties? Probably served to me by my late MIL, most likely they were oven-roasted. I looooved them. Same thing when I tried spinach and asparagus that weren’t from a can! Who knew?!? Oil and/or butter, salt and lemon is the way to go. Maybe some fines herbes and/or balsamic if I’m feeling fancy. Also yes ISM is the bomb. 😀

    • Tom says:

      Except in summer, ours were canned or frozen. It wasn’t until I was working at Dean & Deluca that I had real, fresh veggies, well cooked. Asparagus is in season and I’ve been having it 3 times a week. Soooo yummy.

      But you know, I really still like frozen corn, peas, and spinach. And artichoke hearts from a jar.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    I have a large decant of Iris Silver Mist that I don’t pull out often enough. Chanel no 19 have a pretty strong iris note in it, especially in the extrait form. I haven’t tried the other 2 that you mentioned.

    • Tom says:

      I haven’t done Chanel in a long time. So long that i don’t remember No. 19..

    • Musette says:

      I’m wearing 19 today, as I am wrestling with a damaged fence…I was wondering where that iris note was coming from…


  • Maya says:

    We’re all wonderfully different, but I love it when magic can be shared as in Iris Silver Mist! I tried Malle’s Iris Poudre but don’t remember much about it, except that I was kind of neutral about it and the Joven doesn’t really interest me. I’m about to place an order for a 30ml bottle of PdN Sacrebleu Intense and among the samples I am getting is Fueguia 1833 (iris) Valle de la Luna. Fingers crossed.

  • Portia says:

    OOOOHHH! A tropical iris? Tom, Jovan Tropical Iris isn’t even listed on Fragrantica and Parfumo has a list but zero info. You evil temptress! I’m going to have to grab some in my next STC order.
    I just made one so it will be a while.
    Portia x