The base for what we originally called Black Iris, has now been transformed into Green Iris. Lovely as it is, the perfume still needs a top note.
I feared citrus would interfere, but grapefruit has aspects I thought might keep it from being too domineering. I added pink peppercorn absolute to balance the grapefruit and when I added the top-note mixture to the base/heart mixture, it popped right out, giving the iris a moment to emerge while the top note evaporated.
Excitedly, I showed it to Kate who loved its clarity and brightness. The only thing she thought, was that it needed a spicy note. So, I experimented with iso-eugenol (clove) and cinnamic alcohol (cinnamon), but they distracted from the central theme rather than enhancing it.
On her next visit, she suggested cardamom. I tend to avoid the stuff because it can be aggressive and asserts its own character too strongly, but, bless her heart, the cardamom gave the top note punch, and the requisite spiciness.
Never one to let things alone, I decided on a couple more experiments.
I added musk, but I neither wanted to add my musk, which is funky and would get me in trouble with Kate, nor any of the modern musks typically used these days. I tried musk ketone, one of the oldest synthetics, and while it helped the persistence and gave the perfume a vintage style, in the end, its own character dominated the dry down. Had this been natural musk, that would have been fine, but this musk left me with unpleasant associations with other, less opulent, perfumes.
Last, I’ve added sandalwood. It‘s hard for me to smell sandalwood in a powerful mixture, but I can perceive what it does—it smooths things out and lends a particular elegance, as though there were a beam of light shining through the perfume.
Excited, I went over to The Twisted Lily, a high-end perfume boutique that just happens to be just up the street. They were very busy and hadn’t much time to spare, but the first person to smell it, exclaimed: “It has iris in it, a lot of iris!”