Mission: Impossible Iris

She is tall and slender, with very feminine forms, humanoid face and unmistakably alien head with tentacle-like protrusions. She walks a little strange, balancing from side to side. With her light blue skin, navy lips and black nails there’s nothing human in her appearance. She looks cold, emotionless and reserved. She’s a monster. But then she starts singing and everything changes: she warms up, becomes alive and you just can’t stop watching her facial expressions and moves of her hands while she performs the composition in [almost*] humanly impossible ranges. She seems really beautiful and almost human.

Diva Plavalaguna

Impossible Iris is a great name for a perfume. How does one live up to such a name? Ramon Monegal found a perfect solution: his Iris Impossible isn’t about iris. Of course, iris is present but not only it is not in its expected and well-recognized earthy-root-y facet but it is also so well blended with other notes (according to Fragrantica – mimosa, raspberry, Ylang-ylang, jasmine and Virginian cedar) that regular people (the ones without a super-nose or a list of notes) wouldn’t be able to identify what they smell. Reviewers are all over the place describing which notes they smell the most prominently in this perfume. I declare my inability to pick out any of them – even though I think I know how those notes are supposed to smell.

Impossible Iris starts strange and a little aloof (especially if worn in the colder weather). It smells… the word “artificial” has a negative connotation, which isn’t my intent, but I don’t know how to describe this perfume better. It smells not natural – similar to how Mugler‘s Angel smells not natural (though I’m not trying to compare scents themselves). I do not recognize the scent of any of the listed elements but the composition smells good. As time goes by, Impossible Iris warms up, loses its otherworldliness and becomes more familiar and approachable. It sings on skin and it is beautiful.

Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris

Impossible Iris for me is that Diva Plavalaguna of the Perfumeland. I got the first sample because I liked the name. When I applied the perfume for the first time, it wasn’t what I expected or wanted it to be. But it was weird and interesting. And captivating. And I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist – all the way through a couple of samples to a bottle in my collection.

I don’t know what it is with me, iris perfumes and aliens: it’s the second time I drew that type of association (the previous time it was Alien wears Prada Infusion d’Iris). If you haven’t seen it yet (or don’t remember it well), watch the clip and tell me if you see what I see:


Images: Diva Plavalaguna – from the video; perfume – my own

* IMDB trivia on this movie mentions that the singer, Inva Mula, commented to the composer that “some of the notes written were not humanly possible to achieve because the human voice cannot change notes that fast” so she performed those notes in isolation – one by one, and they were edited into the aria. Since then there were at least several claims by different singers of performing the same composition live. You can easily find their clips online but I don’t know either if those are really unedited recordings or if they actually are doing it exactly to the original (my abilities are not good enough to hear that).


35 thoughts on “Mission: Impossible Iris

  1. What a fun comparison. With Prada, I couldn’t quite understand the alien idea, but here I get it. Maybe it’s because I love iris as a note, and keep coming back to my sample of impossible iris, and keep not truly getting it.
    On another note, pun unintended, it’s absolutely possible for a voice to change the notes of this tune fast. I can hear especially it’s the quick change in the lower register that has been tampered with, which probably has more to do with her voice type, than with what’s possible or not.


    • I hoped you would chime in on the subject. I was wondering if there was an added difficulty in the duration of the composition: in a couple of videos where singers demonstrated how they could do it, they’d chosen to do it only for the second part.


      • In this case the duration is no problem whatsoever. If the singers choose to do only the second part, it’s because it’s ‘the difficult bit’ so, you don’t really prove anything by singing the opening. That is assuming that if you do record this aria and put it on youtube, in most cases it will be to prove that it is manageable without recording notes separately.
        I was reminded of Thomas Ades ‘the tempest, and the aria of Ariel- she sings for a lot longer and more difficult. And did it live for all performances. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdGD1XQVrag


        • Oh, and I forgot; just to clarify, this is all about voice type. And obviously it is not easy to sing, and not all singers can sing this ( a heavy wagnerian singer probably couldn’t for example), but if you have this specific type of voice, a rather fast and high soprano- coloratura type it should be fine :-)


  2. Gotta love that title! So well thought! Bravo!
    Speaking of Impossible Iris – I find it a to be a nice perfume but it’s not an iris that I’m in love with. On my it smells rather cold, and mimosa and raspberry are the strongest notes on me from this composition, which is not exactly to my liking :P
    I love the concept and I love the name of this perfume but from Ramon Monegal is is Ambra di Luna that I like the most.


    • Thank you, Lucas.

      Some of the perfumes on which hajusuuri, you and I do not coincide make me think that the difference might be in male/female skin.

      I need to try Ambra di Luna.


      • My pleasure :)

        Yes, I guess that male/female skin might be one of the factors. Especially when you and Hajusuuri like something and I don’t like it (and vice versa)

        Just in case you have trouble finding it, I will make you a sample from my bottle.


    • Your review, actually, was the first one that attracted my attention to this perfume. I didn’t link to it (or any other reviews I read) only because of the difference in how we smelled the perfume.


  3. My favorite sci-fi movie of all time, and the very scene that haunted me most! AND… a perfume (haven’t tried any Monegals yet) that reads like that aria sounded! Wow! :) Now, how do I find it? ;)


  4. Undina, what a splendid pairing! Mark and I have The Fifth Element on dvd, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen it, and seeing this aria on its own (in the YouTube clip), without thinking about the movie itself, it really made me realize what a mesmerizing voice and piece of music that is.

    Interesting how this is the second time you connect an iris-centric perfume to the concept of an alien … but I can understand it: iris can be cosmetic, and often does become beautifully powdery as it wears on the skin and segues into its drydown stage, but before it gets to that stage, it can be very ethereal and cool, sort of with a queer or otherworldly type of reserve (depending on the composition). It’s one of the more fascinating notes in perfumery, since it is a note that, in and of itself, seems to undergo a transition. (Or at least it does to my nose.) :D


    • First of all, thank you, Suzanne.
      Second, I have to say that oftentimes while reading your comments I think that you’ve said exactly what I would have if I could :-)


  5. What a fantastic association. Impossible is too alien for me but it’s great you can appreciate this about it.

    (Think there’s an errant “n” in the word “singing”. I wouldn’t point out normally but it’s a pivotal word here!)


  6. I love Impossible Iris and I enjoy wearing because it is like a chameleon on me. The big raspberry blast at the start quiets down rather quickly and then the rooty iris comes out to play and then soon enough the rooty part disappears and a Le Labo Iris 39-like vibe enters and then back to raspberry. Impossible Iris is primarily a summer fragrance for me but I do occasionally wear it in the Fall.

    As to the clip and the aria….I don’t have a good ear for music but I quite enjoyed the clip. Oh, and Bruce Willis looks handsome, quite different from his usual slobby-machine-gun-toting self.


    • Wait… You are not saying you haven’t seen this movie, are you?

      I remembered that you liked this perfume (we got the last 2 bottles of it from that store that closed a year later). It’s interesting about Impossible Iris: I never get Iris 39 from it.


      • :-) Yup, never watched Fifth Element. Will you still be my friend? (This reminds me that my sister-in-law told me way back before she became my SIL that she will not talk to me unless I read Gone with the Wind…well, 25 years later, I have not read Gone with the Wind and we ARE still talking.

        Impossible Iris really seemed impossible to me with it changing so much through one wear! I love it! By the way, I do enjoy the perfumes that stay the same from beginning to end.


  7. I have been resistant to this line of perfumes, but I like the idea of an alien not-iris. I may have to smell this the next time I see it (and I’ll definitely put it on skin so I can really experience it). It’s interesting that there are two iris perfumes that remind you of alien life forms. :)


    • I didn’t like that the brand came out with 14 (fourteen!) perfumes. But I was tempted to try this one because of the name. And I liked it. And a couple more (I liked Cuirelle). So definitely try some when you get a chance. Just do not stop at sniffing the bottles: the difference is huge, even if you just spray paper strips.


  8. I haven’t tried the perfume or seen the film – sci-fi is not my genre but I enjoyed this clip, also the grumbling aliens manhandling the boxes, and the redhead’s backflipping ;) – but this performance seems a perfect theme for it. So many RMs I need to catch up with / try again. Funny you should mention difficulty determining the specific notes – I am currently wrestling with that in another perfume which I have been wearing for four days, but I’m none the wiser!


    • I routinely cannot tell notes in perfumes, so for me it’s usually a surprise when I’m able to recognize anything. But in this one they all smelled… well, alien : -)


  9. I can so understand the association with the movie! Impossible Iris definitely has some kind of other worldly feel to it :) It’s not my favourite but I like it. Did Rusty like the smell? :)


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