Thursday, 8 April 2010

A Tale of two Irises

About two or three years ago Iris in perfumery came back into fashion in a big way. It was a bit like what oud is now - you couldn't view a new release that didn't have iris as a note. I have grown to love the use of Iris, but prefer the more woody and earthy styles, as opposed to the powdery aspects. I also enjoy Iris pared with leather, especially when that buttery note emerges, like in the style of Dior Homme for example.

I tested two Iris-based perfumes recently, both by Parfumerie Generale, Iris Taizo and Cuir D'Iris.

Iris Taizo
This opens fairly bright and zingy. There is no citrus to my nose, but it is a sort of sour accord. There's also a rooty iris note that appears almost immediately and that slightly fruity/sour accord lingers beneath. It is pleasant. As the iris strengthens, it comes across just a bit powdery, but is mostly rooty and earthy. This smells slightly dusty as well, and the scent sweetens a bit as what I perceive as a subtle amber note seeps through. There is a spiciness as well, and perhaps what I'm getting as these sweet and spicy notes with a hint of fruitiness is the cardomom, a note that I am not very familiar with, but if this is it, I like it a lot. I wouldn't say this is totally an iris-focused scent; there is quite a lot going on here and I detect a bit of incence as well. However, iris is present at all times, well balanced with the spice and sweetness. I've read some reviews that describe the fragrance as cloying. I don't find it thus - I think all its parts complement each other, without any note becoming too dominant. If you like your iris woodier and less floral, with a slight twist, then I think Iris Taizo may be to your taste. Although marketed as feminine, I think it is entirely unisex and would smell great on a man or a women.

Cuir d'Iris
This opens bone dry, with a note almost like floor polish or wood wax. There is an iris note, but it is so subdued that blink and you may miss it. Within a couple of minutes or so it disappears off my skin and a very subtle, butter-leather note comes to the fore, but it is not obviously leathery, at least not to my nose. It does sweeten, but again, I don't get any obvious citrus or florals. Into the heart and I start to get quite a lot of patchouli. In fact, although not as obviously animalic, it does remind me a bit of that furry accord in Mazzolari Lui, but only for a very short while. After this the scent becomes quite dry and I get a hint of saddle-soap and then all I get for the next hour or so is patchouli, lots of it. In fact, I think this scent is all about patchouli and I get very little leather and even less iris. I know that patchouli is often used in leather scents and admittedly as one gets to the base notes a more leathery accord does emerge, but its a strange one to me. If there is still any iris present, it is very well hidden by the patchouli and I can't detect any. In the dry down it does soften considerably and the patchouli is not as forceful. In fact overall I would say it is a fairly quiet scent. It certainly is different and I can see people who enjoy Cuir Venenum quite enjoying this one.

Overall I think Taizo is definitely the more interesting of the two, for me. I think Taizo is bottle-worthy. I can't think of any other iris scent that is quite like it, so it stands out for me.

Image: Claude Monet - Field with Irises


  1. have you tried TDC's Bois d'Iris?

  2. No I haven't. I have only tried Sel de Vetiver and Rose Poivre. I have been tempted to order their sample set and try the whole line. Do you like it?



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