In the Search for the Perfect Iris


Favorite flowers

Playing with numbers for the Entertaining Statistics post about favorite flowers of Birgit’s (Olfactoria’s Travels) readers reminded me that I planned to write this post for a long time. It was half a year ago. And I haven’t got to it since then. Last week when hajusuuri shared a cute idea of this week being an iris(h) week  I decided it was my cue.

I like iris as a flower; it was my favorite flower before I knew it was used in perfumery (which wasn’t obvious since irises do not have a pronounced scent). A scarf with irises (at least that was the idea, don’t judge my tracing/drawing abilities too harshly) was my first (of three) silk painting exercises.

Silk Scarf with Irises


That day I was wearing my favorite iris necklace and Iris Silver Mist. At an antique shop, as I was paying for two vintage perfume minis, an owner – a woman in her sixties, I guess, – first complimented me on the necklace and asked if it was antique. I told her that it was contemporary and “made by the same designer who made those spoons” (and I pointed to one of the glass displays where a variety of Franz Collection’s porcelain spoons were presented). And she actually remembered the name without looking it up. Then, while wrapping my purchase, she also said something like: “Oh, something smells really good!” She thought it was one of the perfumes I was buying. But actually it was my Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens.

Franz Collection Iris Necklace

Later the same day at Ann Taylor store a sales associate girl in her early twenties complimented me again on the necklace and my outfit. I told her that a piece of it was from the brand and she recognized a blouse. But she really liked my necklace: she told me again how pretty it was and even pointed it out to the girl who worked at the next register. “It looks almost as if it’s made of porcelain!” – she exclaimed. To which I responded: “It’s because it is.” Then she asked me if it was still available and gave me a piece of paper to write down the designer. As I was scribing the name she kept praising the necklace: “It’s sooo beautiful! I’ll try to find it… for my mom – she’ll love it!”

I stepped out from the store and, laughing, told my vSO who waited for me outside about the “compliment” I got. Theoretically, I could be her mother and I can just hope that it’s her mother (who must be at least slightly older than I am) looks younger and not the other way around. But I was glad she didn’t inquire about my perfume: judging by the antique lady’s compliment it could be right up the alley of this girl’s Grandma’s tastes.

Iris perfumes

I found not one but many perfect iris perfumes. Most of them are well-known, well-reviewed and well-loved so I’ll skip the usual part of giving all the details and just name those iris perfumes I enjoy the most.

Iris Perfumes

Infusion d’Iris EdP by Prada (have you read my story Alien wears Prada Infusion d’Iris?), №19 EDT and parfum by Chanel, Iris 39 by Le Labo, Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle (it was featured in two of my Déjà vu episodes; if you’re curious take a look here), Hiris by Hermes (I want to thank again Portia of AustralianPerfumeJunkies for the mini bottle of this beautiful perfume), Orris Noir by Ormonde Jayne, Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens (even if you do not want to read at least take a look at the picture from Natalie’s post; that image stayed with me since I saw it and with which I always associate Iris Silver Mist now), La Femme Bleue by Armani Prive and my most recent perfume crush – Impossible Iris by Ramon Monegal (I think Rusty likes it: it was the only bottle in the group he sniffed for a while).

Rusty And Iris Perfumes

The following perfumes I’ve tried but didn’t fall in love with: Iris Ukiyoé by Hermes, Iris & White Musk by Jo Malone, Iris & Lady Moore by Jo Malone, Iris Pallida 2007 by L’Artisan Parfumeur, Iris Ganache by Guerlain, Bois d’Iris by The Different Company, Iris Nobile by Acqua Di Parma, №19 Poudre by Chanel, 28 La Pausa by Chanel, Irisss by Xerjoff and Iris Noir by Yves Rocher. Most of them were nice and I wouldn’t mind wearing most of them (but Iris Ukiyoé – it smells unpleasant on myskin) if I happen to own them but I do not plan to pursue any bottles from the list.


If you like iris in perfumes what are your three top choices? (You won’t have to give up the rest, I promise!)


Images: my own


75 thoughts on “In the Search for the Perfect Iris

  1. A lovely post, Undina! Let me throw out a few of my loves not touched on above:
    Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Bleu Gris,

    Keiko Mecheri Iris d’Argent and Iris Pourpre, and

    Gianfranco Ferré Ferré edp.

    The latter is sometimes compared to Iris Poudré, which is also by Pierre Bourdon, but the Ferré is less formal and more fruity. It also has an interesting rice note… Oh, one more: Heeley Iris de nuit.

    Hurray for iris!


    • Thank you, sherapop!

      From your list I’ve tried only Iris Pourpre but only once: there was something unpleasant in the opening so even though it was very pleasant in the drydown I keep postponing the next testing. But I will. And I added other recommendations to my “to try” list.


  2. I will follow Rusty’s suggestion ;) and look into the Monegal. After all, I have to trust my Opium-loving feline alter-ego, non?

    OT: I snorted and laughed at your comment: “I was glad she didn’t inquire about my perfume: judging by the antique lady’s compliment it could be right up the alley of this girl’s Grandma’s tastes.” Oh dear. *grin* And you draw very well, cherie!


      • I wouldn’t want you to give up any of your favorite perfume, sweetpea, especially as I’m not too sure of my own relationship with iris. LOL. Amusingly enough, you *and* iris perfumes have been on my mind all afternoon as I’m wearing one and, actually, have been thinking of you.


  3. There’s no need to search, I’ve already found my three holy grail iris scents. No 19 EDP (vintage formulation only) bone-dry chypre, with a touch of leather and orris in the dry down. Jacques Fath’s Iris Gris, bright woods and floral, with heliotrope, peach and iris

    Last but not least, Shiseido’s Murasaki (burgundy bottle). Heartbreakingly beautiful, ethereal iris with gardenia, galbanum and violet over a vetiver, incense and leather base.

    The runner-up is the only newbie, Le Labo’s Iris 39.


    • I had a sample of vintage No 19 EdP but either it was off or I didn’t like that version so I’ll stick to the modern EdT and extrait. Unless I come across the EdP version by chance.


    • Thank you, Birgit. You’re very kind.

      Iris Poudre – check! (I wear it today)
      La Femme Bleue – check! (at least partial thanks to you ;) )
      Equistrius – almost check (I’m getting a decant in a friendly swap).


  4. Seconding B’s comment – you are very talented at drawing. That could be a scarf from B’s Hermes collection! Looks a bit Monet / Van Gogh / Matisse-like – very well done!

    Love the shot of your favourite iris scents against the backdrop of flowers – with and without Rusty!

    And your association of irises with St Patrick’s Day amused me. :-). Anyway, to answer your question, you have already named my top three iris perfumes – Orris Noir, Hiris and La Femme Bleue.


    • Thank you, Vanessa.

      Van Gogh’s Irises are there on the pictures – a silk scarf (from a museum store) that I’ve used as a backdrop. For whatever reason Rusty actually didn’t like the texture of that scarf and was hesitant to touch it.

      I’m glad we have all three iris favorites in common.


  5. The painting is beautiful as is the iris pendant! I can see why you garnered so many compliments :) !
    I have not tried as many iris perfumes as you have but my favorites are no 19, Gianfranco Ferre and Infusion d”iris.


    • Thank you, brie. I love that pendant. It looks even better in real lifw: it’s hard to take pictures of objects with reflecting surfaces without special lighting.


  6. I don’t have a favorite iris scent. Iris Silver Mist is the stuff of nightmares for me so I think I prefer a lighter approach to iris than that one. I love the flower though and have lots of them in my yard. They are gorgeous when in bloom.


    • There are so many different interpretations of this note that sooner or later you’ll find a scent to love.

      Irises are beautiful. I always take pictures of wild irises when we’re hiking.


  7. Congratulations to Impossible Iris, it’s definitly also among my top three together with Prada Infusion d’Iris Edp so good and versatile. i also like Creed Irisia, despite Turins rating :-). And of course Hiris oooops tha made four.


  8. I really enjoyed reading your tale of the iris necklace and agree with V and B that the silk scarf design is really well done.

    Iris centred perfumes are usually too chilly for me but I like the warm suede iris of Equistrius. Have you tried Infusion d’ Iris Absolu? I thought it was very good.


    • Thank you, Tara!

      I’m getting a small decant of Equistrius soon, so I’ll have a chance to appreciate its warmth.

      I have tried Absolue version and thought it was VERY good. I do not need it in addition to my EdP version but once I’m done with my current bottle I might go for the Absolue.


  9. How about my Boid d’Iris by Van Cleef & Arpels. Have you made up your mind for it yet?

    My three favourite irises are:

    1. Prada Infusion d’Iris
    2. Carner Barcelona D600
    3. L’Artisan Iris Pallida


    • I knew you’d ask, Lucas! :)

      I’ve tried it only once so far. I rather like it but it needs more skin time before I know if we’re meant to be. But I see why you like it.

      Do you remember I recently promissed you that I’d try D600 again? The very next day I dropped my 2.5 ml sample of it on the tile floor so I just had to get as much of it from the floor on my wrist as possible. So I ended up testing it that way again. It’s very nice. But I want to test it more under the less stressful circumstances, which I will be able to do since I managed to rescue half ml from the wreck.


      • See, I’m predictable ;)
        Glad to hear first impression is rather good but sure, do spend some more time with it and find all pros and cons of wearing it. I do love it but there are days when I can’t wear it because it’s saltiness sometimes is too strong on me, depending on a day and weather conditions.
        So sorry your sample of D600 smashed on the flor! Hope you can get a new one to give it a proper test. I’ll be reviewing D600 next week if you’re curious of my thoughts.


        • I tried Boid d’Iris yesterday again. Not only I liked it (which happens with me and new perfumes from time to time) but my vSO liked it a lot and commented on it three times without me prompting the response (which happens almost never). I’ll test it on him today or tomorrow. But it seems like this one might be the winner for the next shared perfume in our house.


  10. Undina, you crack me up with your dry, sharp wit. I’m glad too that the Ann Taylor sales associate didn’t inquire about your perfume, but if she did, methinks you would have found a fitting reply. ;)

    My three favorite irises:
    1. Iris Poudre – glamourous iris
    2. L’Artisan Orchidee Blanche – tres chic and tres discontinued iris
    3. Amouage Opus V – is-that-a-nekkid-sexy-man-i-spy? iris

    Btw, your drawing is exquisite … and Rusty is looking fittingly contemplative in his profile shot next to your iris perfumes.


    • Thank you, dear.
      You understand that she didn’t mean any offense, right? :)

      1. I’m wearing Iris Poudre today and love it.
      2. Of course it’s discontinued! Grrr! I won’t even try to get it to test.
      3. This was one of a very few Amouages that I strongly disliked and the only one a sample of which I gave away to a fellow-blogger who loved it.

      I hope you noticed the scarf used as a backdrop for his royal profile (I gave a link to the original in my answer to Vanessa above).


      • Oh yes, I shouldn’t have made that snide remark, as I did realize she was an innocent thing who meant no offense.

        And yes again – I noticed that the scarf was of Van Gogh’s irises. Only the best backdrop for Rusty. I have a feeling that’s in his contract. ;)


  11. For some reason I can barely smell the Prada Infusion d’Iris EdP but, the Absolue version is just wonderful and very tempting to me to pick up a FB. My mom is the big iris lover of the family so, I end up with lots of nice decants from her collection. Iris Poudre and Chanel 19 (EdT and Partfum) are probably the only iris scents I own and even so, Iris Poudre was a gift so, I couldn’t say I would even buy that for myself although I do like it. I do love Iris Ganache and Equistrius and the one I covet is Shem el Nessim (the Parfum) by Grossmith, it is just so classy and elegant. This topic is making me want to get out my sample of Iris Silver Mist to try as well… Gorgeous painting by the way!


    • I have no problem with the EdP version but when I’m done with this bottle I might replace it with the Absolue – I liked it when I tried.

      Judging by the prices of Grossmith’s perfumes (and especially parfums), it’s a good thing I’ve never tried any of them and haven’t heard much either :) But, of course, now it’ll stuck in my head.


  12. That is a lovely iris necklace!

    Some iris scents I enjoy a lot are:
    1) Chanel 28 La Pausa
    2) the drydown of Chanel No 19 EdP (I wore this yesterday and the galbanum turned sour on me. Once it disappeared, some 7 hours later, all was forgiven)
    3) Lutens Iris Silver Mist

    Some scent that I don’t “get” are: Iris Ukiyoé (a very agitating scent, why would anyone make such a bore? I don’t get it) and Le Labos Iris 39 (certanly not boring but too sharp for my liking).


    • 28 La Pausa was nice but I could never understand how the same people (I’m not talking about you :) ) could like 28 La Pausa and criticize No 19 Poudre: I tested both in parallel and they were much more similar to me than different. But I’ll give it another try.

      Galbanum turns to be one of my favorite notes but I prefer No 19 in either EdT or parfum. I don’t remember what exactly but something wasn’t right for me with the EdP version.

      I wish I could be bored by Iris Ukiyoé ;) It’s the only one in the Hermessence line that I actually actively dislike.


  13. Dear Undina
    I’m rather with Lucas and others on this, the Prada has it (even though I have very mixed feelings about this house as a whole).

    I’m wondering whether you’ve had the chance to try Chanel’s 1932 – and whether you feel its rather mixed reception is deserved?

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy


    • Dear… hmmm… Am I supposed to use in this case the article or not? Is it “Dear Perfumed Dandy” or “Dear The Perfumed Dandy?” Anyway…

      I did try Chanel 1932 yesterday and it completely met my expectations: it was uneventful. It’s a pity but it seems like a phase with Chanel. Hopefully they’ll overcome it.


  14. Hey Beautiful,
    You are so welcome on the Hiris, I’m glad you love it. My poor collection of Iris includes No 19, Vol de Nuit, Apres Londee and Madame Rochas intense. I’m sure there are more and these don’t seem to be Iris perfumes to me exclusively. I love your Rusty.
    Portia xx


  15. Thanks for the shout out, Undina! Your silk painting exercise looks beautiful…and that necklace is stunning. And I love Rusty’s contemplative pose – he is soooo photogenic.

    We share many of the same iris loves so I will add a few more on top of what you’ve named. These are not in any specific order but I own either a FB or have at least a 9mL+ manufacturer’s travel spray:

    1. SL Iris Silver Mist
    2. Le Labo Iris 39 – this got compliments from a bank teller!
    3. Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris
    4. Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolue
    5. FM Iris Poudre
    6. Diptyque Volutes EDT
    7. FM L’ Eau d’Hiver
    8. Guerlain Iris Ganache
    9. Chanel 28 La Pausa
    10. By Kilian Prelude to Love

    I need to break out my samples of PdE Equistrius, OJ Orris Noir and Chanel No. 19. EDT. I am hoping that I don’t succumb to them but my track record of resisting iris perfumes is pretty bad :-)


    • Judging by your list of your current favorites you do not stand a chance in resisting all of those you plan to test ;)

      Rusty will be rewarded for his effords :)


  16. Dear Undina, I love irises, and am always on the look out for one even better than the ones I already love. I do prefer the warm, suede ones like Tara and Dubaiscents, so to their already great lists I would add Souris and Marron Chic. I love Apres L’Ondee too.
    Still need to try Iris Poudre, that I think I would enjoy and only sniffed Femme Bleue once in Paris, I loved it, and hurried away before I could think of buying;-)
    Hiris is another Iris love.


    • I think Iris Poudre would suit you great! I hope you’ll be able to try it soon.

      It was a very wise decision to run away from Femme Bleue: it gets better and better once you’ve decided that you like it and aren’t in the testing mode any longer.

      What is Souris? I found only one with similar name – Une Souris Verte from Molinard – but it doesn’t have iris listed as a note.


  17. The scarf is beautiful. You are very talented (multi-talented)! I have not been in a very iris-y mood lately, and have been reaching for warmer things. But your post has inspired me. I might wear an iris tomorrow.


  18. I’m positive you look much younger than that girl’s mother. :)
    I’m glad to see you included Hiris on your list, I love that perfume (thanks for reminding me to bring it out) and I think it doesn’t get the love it deserves.
    I haven’t tried the Monegal one, but I like the line (what I tried so far) so I believe I’ll love this one as well.


    • Thank you, dear Ines, you are very kind :)

      You should definitely try Impossible Iris. Just don’t expect it to be like anything you know. It’s a very weird iris perfume.


  19. Hi, Undina!

    I’m forever adding bulbs to my garden for the iris blooms, and iris root is one of my all time favorite perfume notes. Without jazzing it up or going all powdery, I think Prada does a terrific job with Infusion d’Iris: clean, simple distinctive. I can ID easily on others–and I do not have a great nose for that. Iris poudre is my go-to, more complicated iris. I love the play of slightly bitter coolness and creamy sweetness. And you know I’m a fan of Iris ganache.–though general, I’m not into gourmands (especially the ones that smell like cake). I find the pairing in Iris ganache divinely grotesque (in the most loving and literary sense of the term). Après l’ondée is an all-time favorite with a classic, nostalgic vibe, , and this year I fell for Dior’s Bois d’argent (which has a classic feel in a very non-Guerlain way).

    Route d’Iris by Dawn Spencer Hurwtiz is great, too. I think of it as a descendent of “Après l’ondée.” Less heliotrope, more iris, some perfect violet–all of the complexity with none of the melancholy. A more upbeat, easy-to-wear blend. And I like the play on words: Route d’Iris, Iris Root. Oh, gosh, I realize the list could go on…
    Thanks for reminding me to stop and smell the iris!


    • Route d’Iris sounds very appealing (on different levels) – thank you for the idea, I’ll look it up on the DSH’s site.

      I haven’t tried growing irises: not only I do not have enough space (and what I have is very shadowy) but all my digits are definitely brown. Once I killed an ivy… ;)


  20. I’m an awful, neglectful gardener with poor instincts and no training. But as long as the squirrels don’t dig up the bulbs, the iris is happy. Sun helps, too. Here the ivy (and any vine) grows like crazy. I once cut the wire to our doorbell by mistake because the electrical cord felt just like the ivy vines through my gloved hands….I challenge you to kill ivy in my yard! :)

    Route d’iris has lots of violet in the top notes, but it plays well on my skin. I can send you a sample.


    • I didn’t know squirrels were digging as well! I’m used to them eating all the fruits in my friends’ gardens but I haven’t heard before of such destructive behavior on their part!

      I won’t refuse a sample, thank you! :) I’ll send you an e-mail.


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  24. I loved Prada Purple Rain ( because of the name too) I like L’instant Iris millesime, sadly discontinued and L’instant Guerlain, that Lutens you wore it’s one of the best Iris so far!!! It make me sad sometimes, don’t ask why, it has a kind of melancholic vibe for me, then I’m very curious about the new Interlude Black Iris from Amouage and Irisoir that it seems that is a masterpiece from the talented Sultan Pasha. I enjoy your blog very much, thank you. 🌸


    • I appreciate your kind words. Stick around: my readers and friends are wonderful people.
      I loved the name Purple Rain… I need to find my decant and wear it again. I’m curious about the new Amouage but since I didn’t like most of their new releases, I’ll wait to get a sample of it.


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