My Favorite Things: Iris


One of my favorite fall floral notes is iris. There is something about the dual faces it presents sometimes powdery, sometimes rooty and earthy; with all of the variations in between. I’ve written in The Gold Standard that Stephane Humbert-Lucas 777 Khol de Bahrein is my very favorite iris perfume. As we head in to the heart of autumn here are five more iris perfumes I’ll be wearing.

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist was my gold standard for iris until Khol de Bahrein arrived. Released in 1994 and composed by Christopher Sheldrake and Maurice Roucel this was the Serge Lutens I sent someone to Paris to bring back for me. This is an iris like no other as the perfumers provide a metallic edge which eventually becomes the foundation for another metallic note incense. This is why I fell in love with Serge Lutens.

When perfumer Yann Vasnier works with creative director DelRae Roth they produce some very fine perfumes. DelRae Mythique is what happens when they take on iris. What they released was a non-powdery iris wrapped in suede. The suede accord M. Vasnier created for Mythique is one of my favorites in all of perfumery. The choice to stay more to the earthy rooty side pays off handsomely.


When I do want the powdery iris I almost invariably reach for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Iris Poudre. When skiers talk about ideal conditions they talk about deep powder. Perfumer Pierre Bourdon makes Iris Poudre deep powder of the perfumed variety. It is a remembrance of the day when all cosmetics carried a bit of iris as fragrance. The evocation of the cosmetics counter eventually gives way to a woody softness.

The best iris soliflore I own is Chanel 28 La Pausa. This is iris done in an elegant spare style. Perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge combined to create this beauty. At its core is a Florentine iris. The perfumers wisely add in only two other ingredients; baie rose and vetiver. The baie rose helps to keep the powderiness a little more controlled. The vetiver brings the earthy character a little more to the foreground. This is meant to be admired like a fine jewel from all angles.

Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir took a while to really make an impression on me. When it finally did after many months I wondered to myself why I ever resisted. Creative Director Linda Pilkington working with perfumer Geza Schoen have the iris play the heart while darkness swirls around it. The iris shows off all of its character with powdery aspects pushing back against coriander and davana on top. By the time incense, myrrh, and patchouli show up in the base the earthiness is what you notice. This is one of the few perfumes with “noir” in the name which earns the name.

With autumn in full swing if you need a floral to add to your perfume wardrobe give these five iris perfumes a shot.

Disclosure: This review based on bottles of each perfume I purchased.

Mark Behnke

One thought on “My Favorite Things: Iris

  1. it took me a long time to 'get' iris perfumes.  My gateway was Xerjoff Irisss,courtesy of Patty White.  Once I wrapped my nose around that, it was Katy, bar the door!  Iris 39 is a perennial favorite, as is Mythique.  And Donna Karan Iris.  Why is this discontinued?  Such sadness in the world…



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