Some perfumes seem to have been created with the explicit intention of making the wearer rise above, of making him or her feel unarguably superior. And iris, that olfactory epitome of flowered, powdered elegance, would seem to be the obvious choice for the person wanting to distance themselves, with an immaculately selected scent, from the addled, oversugared, crowd.




La Pausa (named after the iris-filled gardens at the summer estate at Roquebrune Cap Martin on the French Riviera, where Coco Chanel, that unstoppable engine of taste, talent and desperate, angry desire to put her shameful lower class origins behind her, entertained the who’s who of society) embodies this ideal perfectly. If any perfume smells supercilious, of a person ready to assume glassy, entitled airs of betterment, it is surely this.




28 La Pausa, in many ways, is very beautiful. When I open my miniature bottle, bestowed upon me beneficently by a cold-eyed assistant at the Chanel boutique on Rue Cambon, Paris, I smell immediately that the opening notes are flawless :  a grassy, green, vegetally cool iris that transports you instantly away from the mundane, the everyday, to some verdant grove of the privileged; a place where plebeians and their grindstone problems are left definitively behind, and grace, and the cool allure of money, work their undeniable charms. The iris accord in this Chanel perfume simply breathes high class, which is, obviously, the entire point of its existence. The base notes, an hour or two later into its development, are also some of the most delicately done I have ever smelled: bend slowly down towards this lady’s neck, will you – smell her: she has become, now, the very essence of sleek, feminine, papery refinement: leaf-touched; rarified; beautiful.


All that is two hours or so from now, however. Unfortunately, from top to middle  –  and this stage lasts quite a while in 28 La Pausa –  there is something rather pickled – an overly piquant, sour, thin and unpleasant note, like a chip-on-the-shoulder of resentment, that seems to somehow perfectly embody the snobbish look-down-the-nose the perfume seeks to emulate. A grimace of superiority; a mutual wrinkling of noses.




Who the hell do you think you are?




In short, despite flashes of artistry, beauty and a deftful handling of an obviously expensive and exquisite iris natural extract by Chanel in-house perfumer Jacques Polge, and the fact that as green, fresh, iris perfumes go you will be hard-pressed to find anything better in some regards, I must admit that personally, this is an iris scent that I hate.



If I had to make a choice between Chanel’s 28 La Pausa or Atelier Cologne’s Silver Iris to wear on my own skin, therefore, there is no doubt that I would choose the latter. Silver Iris is a pleasant and easy smell, like a sweet, thicker, ‘unisex’ version of Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, but with less of that perfume’s balance and perfection: a more generic and rounded irisian sweetness that would probably suit virtually anyone who happened to wear it. While the Prada can irritate a little sometimes with its unchanging persistence, at the same time, its indefatigable, powdery luminescence, its shimmering dove-like opalescence, still make it quite beautiful, and the Prada is definitely a perfume I would recommend to the right person looking for something current and pleasant that can hold up to close scrutiny. 


Atelier Cologne is another bastion of tastefulness where one cannot ever put a damn foot wrong in any of its taut, brisk, and carefully calibrated scents, and Silver Iris, essentially centred around a lightweight, but overly clingy and somewhat sucrose accord of ‘white musk’, ‘amber’ and ‘patchouli’, is a typically wearable scent that begins with a nice dose of iris, mimosa and violet leaf that for a very few seconds, very nearly, makes you go ooh. This affectation quickly dissipates, however, modulating wordlessly into a gentle, inoffensive nothing; a nicely done skin scent that will follow you around all day and announce your well-judged presence to all that gravitate towards your orbit, confident in the knowledge that you are giving off all the right messages. Yes, I do believe my dear that you are quite safe.




Could I wear Silver Iris? Probably. If there was absolutely nothing else lying round and I just really needed to be scented, just to be smelling of something.  If I did wear it though, I think I would feel a kind of nagging irritation all day along; feel a bit neutered; battered politely by conformity and ready made restrictions.




Roped in and box-ticked.










Bored to death. 













Filed under Flowers

21 responses to “THE GOOD LIFE……..28 LA PAUSA by CHANEL (2007) + SILVER IRIS by ATELIER COLOGNE (2013)

  1. Dearest Ginza
    I love your description of La Pausa.
    It brings to mind those English models of the 50s. Upright, bony aristocratic girls who a generation before would have been Debs and married, possibly and American, definitely for money and thought no more, but now (then) have to, oh the bore, work.
    How they glared down the lenses of Norman Parkinson and the ageing Beaton and walked through the ateliers of the last few London couturiers.
    Imperious without and empire…. it’s how I feel about the perfume too, but I’ll save that for another day.
    I’ve no time for Silver Mist and hope no one ever makes me wear it.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy
    PS what is that wonderful picture at the head of the post? Most lovely!

  2. The picture is in a huge, reverential Japanese tome on Chanel, not that I can read it, but there you go.

  3. But don’t you just feel that there is an immense, huge, L A C K in this scent? It feels like just two or three salad vegetables rather than a whole meal or something. I know many love it, but I am in a really bad mood today and needed a victim for my vexations: looking in my perfumed closets La Pausa was just what I needed.

  4. Katy

    I shall happily crash this party and second the notion that many expensive and highly regarded(though I am not certain who the regarders are)perfumes are not worth a second sniff. Certainly not worth wearing if you do not like it. I hate to think, in this second half of my life, I am virtually catapulting towards death, that I spent an entire day with a fragrance I did not love or have a strange fascination/repulsion for, the first bespoke Commes Des Garçons I am looking at you. I like número cinq, but many of the others do not interest me. For me, after a day of sniffing mostly fruity, pinky things and woody marine things at the fragrance counter, the Chanel’s can act as a reset button for my poor bored nose. Does that mean I want to own them in gratitude? Not so much. Bring on the Black Orchid and Bal a Versailles!

    • I am also hurtling towards death at speed, and thus have no time for pickled iris masquerading as good taste.

      Chanel is great, there is no denying it; so many stunning perfumes, but I don’t think that the Exclusifs ever merited that much praise. They always felt rather rushed and half-finished, somehow: too many shallow watercolors.

    • And yes: Bal A Versailles (ALWAYS).

      Black Orchid: I’ll take your word for it.

  5. Katy

    I reluctantly confess, after the above rant, to wanting to get a good snootful of N 22, Coromandel, Sycamore and 21 Rue Cambon. None of these are on the counter at my local Nordstrom. To be fair, I should order samples and then weigh in!

  6. Nancysg

    I always want to love the Chanel Exclusifs. I keep trying them, but the scents don’t call to me and they disappear in a flash on my skin. I suppose the mythical unlimited funds situation would get me to wear some of them as a cologne scent.

    • ‘mythical unlimited funds situation’ : classic!

      If I was going to buy one it would probably be Sycomore, a very elegant vetiver. Never this one. It’s like Bel Respiro, which I think smells really beautiful for the first five minutes then to me is just repellent, sour and weird.

  7. Lilybelle

    When I sampled 28 La Pausa it made me feel very sad for some reason. It wasn’t iris — I love iris, especially in the summer. Some iris fragrances leave me unmoved, but it was more than that. 28 La Pausa made me feel gloomy. Had to wash it off. The other one I don’t know, but due to your gift with language I feel that I can smell it through the screen. My favorite iris scent is Crabtree & Evelyn soap and dusting powder! But not the edt. And on a different scale entirely, I fell in love with Bois d’Iris by JCE for The Different Company. I’m wondering whether the painting at the top of this post is by Milton Avery? I love his work.

    • I should check the name (decipher the Japanese in my Chanel book!)

      Bois d’Iris I also really like: very complex and emotional but not gloomy. La Pausa really feels unfinished to me, but hilarious to think of it as a ‘scrubber’!

  8. jennyredhen

    I have just discovered Prada’s Infusion d’Iris and am really enjoying its cool calm and collected matter of factness. It makes me feel like I have got it all together or there is the possibility I could have.

    • In some ways that perfume is a real stroke of genius. After long exposure to it it does begin to irritate me somehow (perhaps because of its very perfection), but I agree, it definitely has that assured quality, elegant to a point but not vulnerable, modern, and cleverly alluring. As soon as I smelled it the first time I just smiled as I knew it would be an instant classic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s