Iris Synthetics

Black Iris is making progress, but new bridges need to be crossed. Should the perfume evoke the smell of orris—the authentic aroma of iris root, or people’s fantasy of it? I fear few people recognize the smell of true orris and my hard work and extravagance may be for naught. 

I ordered 10 samples of iris perfumes and none, except Serge Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist, smells of iris to me. Most open with a citrusy top note with no relation to orris, and one contains maltol, which smells like cotton candy and lasts through the whole dry down. They all are smooth and have top notes that jump right out, but, except for the Lutens, no orris.

I want an orris perfume that projects and stays on the skin. Orris is soft-spoken and profound. It is reserved. It is not ostentatious. It is tenacious.

Because it takes a minute for the perfume to open, it needs a top note that doesn’t smell like a lemon. Carrot seed works some, but I must watch it. Nonadienal makes the accord greener and gets the other notes to pop while a trace of heliotropin underlines the floral aspects of the orris. Santalol, an expensive but powerful sandalwood isolate, provides a deep and woody resonance. 

My collection contains Irival, Orivone, Irisone, Iris O.A, and Iris Givco. To me, Iris Givco smells nothing like iris, but the others each have some orris notes. Combined and balanced, they form an amazing accord, which I finished with a generous amount of orris. The orris filled in the cracks and gave the composition a beautiful naturalness. Artificial musk, a little ambergris, and a touch of humane civet, add complexity, funk and longevity.

Kate and I put some on. She smelled like a smelling strip. I smelled like a baboon.