Category Archives: Iris

THE DUSKY SLUMBERS: OMBRE MERCURE by TERRY DE GUNZBURG (2012) + LYS FUME by TOM FORD (2O12)

Image

 

 

 

 

Ombre Mercure is a woozy, classical modern – a salted, thicker Apres L’Ondée, diffused with the modernistic fumes of Violet Blonde, a touch of Une Fleur de Cassie, and some of the floral warmth of the first Gucci Eau de Parfum….

 

‘Reminiscent of loose powder, red lipstick and the classic chypres, it is especially designed for passionate characters’ says Mlle Gunzburg, a renowned makeup artist who released her first collection of fragrances last year, and I can quite easily imagine some people falling for this soft, gauzy perfume, which is definitely shadowy, as its name suggests, though not in the least mercurial.

 

Essentially an earthy iris butter with powdered violet over a ducksdown of patchouli, benzoin and musky vanilla, it is a very slow, drifting perfume, like mauve-reflected clouds in a painting. Seamless and unjarring; enveloping.

 

 

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

 

What it lacks, though,  is that indefinable something, or ingredient – wit? – that would take it into the realms of the irisy sublime. On the other hand, its anchored slowness and immediate romantic appeal could easily make it someone’s signature.

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lys Fumé is another immediately likeable perfume, though one that is not remotely worth its extravagant price tag. Having said that, it is an interesting take on the lily. Unlike many spotless, altar-inhabiting lilies, this is more like a lys of the underworld……….

 

As a part of the Jardin Noir collection, it succeeds in being, if not quite ‘smouldering’, then certainly, at the very least,  shifting and quixotic – a hip young Gucci-clad beauty sitting downstairs in some private members’ club, a bit unsure of herself, perhaps, but defiant. This perfume would rise in coils from her shoulders and slowly seduce.

 

 

The lilies are not smoked, as you might expect, but underlying the top notes of lily, mandarin and pink pepper, is a strange dusting of nutmeg and turmeric, an unusual note in a floral perfume that gives it a blurry, caliginous edge. A dollop of rum and a sultry base of styrax, oak and labdanum take this impression even further.

 

 

 

Lys Fumé is not as intriguing as I am perhaps making it out to be – like most Tom Ford perfumes there is something plasticky and self-conscious about the scent. At the same time, I can imagine being sat next to this girl with her fixed, restless gaze, and being intoxicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

15 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Iris, Lily, Perfume Reviews, Powder, Violet

Gardens of melancholy : Amyitis by Mona Di Orio (2008)

IMG_0215

 

 

IMG_0223

 

 

 

IMG_0210

 

 

IMG_0212

 

 

 

 

IMG_0206

 

 

 

 

IMG_0213

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0205

 

 

 

 

Mona Di Orio, whose untimely passing robbed perfumery of a true pioneer of the mysterious,  was to perfume what some avant-garde musicians are to music :  so far beyond mainstream tastes as to be almost indigestible. Though clearly made of rich, natural materials, many people have found her creations to be quite simply bizarre. From the shocking orange-blossomed animalia of Nuit Noire, to the soiled,  tainted bloomers of Carnation and Lux, I was convinced I would never be able to wear a single perfume by this house.  However, Amyitis, one of Di Orio’s less celebrated creations,  managed to continue the perfumer’s reputation for stubborn, curious originality while veering off into cooler, more poetic tangents with an iris and sage creation that is austere, otherworldly.

 

The perfume was inspired by the hanging gardens of Babylon,  and a sense of breathing, living greens across the spectrum of the plant world is captured with a freshly cut top note of verdurous new leaves plus an unusual botanical herbarium of savoury, sage, cumin and caraway. The fresh, soil-grounded iris/violet flowers at the heart also contribute to the composition an intellectual, writerly quality, while touches of saffron and opoponax add flesh.  On smelling Amyitis I was immediately reminded of the character played by Geraldine Page in Woody Allen’s ‘Interiors’ (1978),  a depressive, sensitive artist with a similarly waxen complexion and pallid melancholia. An aesthete, hair scraped into a bun, staring mournfully out onto a trailing, moss-covered courtyard.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0214

 

 

 

IMG_0217

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0218

 

 

 

IMG_0216

31 Comments

Filed under Green, Iris

Iris Silver Mist (Serge Lutens)

IRIS SILVER MIST / SERGE LUTENS (1994)

A nebulous cloud of pallor and refinement, but with very icy substance, Iris Silver Mist begins with a phalanx of iris, soil-wet yet ashen. It is very grey, scary even, before mellowing somewhat with notes of cedar, vetiver, white amber and incense: notes that lend a softer quality to the blend, like sun-warmed motes of dust.

Only available at the Paris boutique.

Leave a comment

Filed under Flowers, Iris, Perfume Reviews

Summer Flowers: Iris

The price of quality iris root being what it is, it is inevitable that niche brands have all been coming up with showcase irises in recent years. Much of current mainstream perfumery is vulgarizing trash, and the cool, powdered elegance of this material presents the perfect opportunity to make an obvious differentiation – iris is aloof and removed. The flowers themselves are even regal: at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo are the famous imperial iris gardens, which flower in late June, guarding the emperor and his wife – tradition has it they ward off evil spirits.

While many irises are almost odourless, some of the purple, white or yellow flowers have a rich, almost oily, deep violet smell hard to imagine in perfume. In fact the scent of iris is not obtained from the flowers but the roots – a labour-intensive process that takes around eight years, from planting the flowers to obtaining the oil. Three years after the bulbs have been planted, the roots are harvested, washed, and sun-dried on lattice trays (the famous Florentine ‘iris saunas’), after which they are dehydrated for about five years. When deemed ready, the bulbs are ground down and macerated in cold water before being steam distilled. Finally, orris butter, one of the most expensive and coveted essences in perfume, is produced, and ready to be made into scent.

4 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Iris