Iris – the most intriguing floral fragrances you can find…?

Oh how we adore iris – the flowers, of course, but also the fascinating fragrances conjured from what has to be one of the most unlikely-looking ingredients in perfumery (but happens to be one of the most expensive)…

Because it’s not the flowers that grant us the ingredient used in iris scents, it’s a rather unprepossessing looking root with a heavenly, suede-like aroma. You might say that curiosity combined with ingenuity altered the history of perfume forever. Who was the first person rootling around in the earth beneath the gloriously flowering iris, discovering the fleshy, creeping rootstocks (known as rhizomes) that look for all the world like the key ingredient in a fairytale’s curse, and pondering, “what if…?”

Taking those roots, putting them in a cave to age further (the older iris rhizomes get, the more pungent they become), and grinding, distilling and extracting the essence, only then does it transform into the uniquely powdery, skin-like, sometimes almost bread dough-esque scent that lingers and clings low to the skin for hours.

 

 

 

 

Lauded for centuries as a symbol of majestic power, dedicated to the goddess Juno and revered by Egyptians who placed the flowers on the brows of the Sphinx and scepters of kings – the three petals of the blossom supposedly representing faith, wisdom and valour. In both ancient Greece and Rome, orris root was already highly valued in perfumery, with fragrant unguents of iris widely used in Macedonia, Elis and Corinth, for which they became famous.

Iris fragrances can smell as sweetly innocent as freshly laundered linen, or hint at the siren call of the boudoir – lipstick, powdered skin and silken underthings that gradually take on the body scent of the wearer. This is an ingredient you’ll long to snuggle in the bosom of, and once truly appreciated you’ll never want to be without.

Intrigued? You will be by these…

 

 

MALIN + GOETZ Strawberry

Banish thoughts of any strawberry (or iris!) scent you’ve ever sniffed and imagine a freshly picked garden strawberry with stalk still attached, orris root adding soft spring floral notes with a flurry of jasmine petals and soft musks.

£86 for 50ml eau de parfum malinandgoetz.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Vyrao I Am Verdant

Sprouting acres of grass and green verges with every spritz, cyclamen joyously bursts through the undergrowth, swags of moss-bedecked ivy draping the powdery comfort of iris, and bergamot bolstering the brightness of orange flower

£135 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com (Try a sample in the Vyrao High Five Set for £79)

 

 

 

 

Prada Infusion d’Iris

Allow your mind to drift from the fragrant sensation of wearing an immaculate white shirt line-dried in spring, to crisp sheets on bare flesh: the allure of clean linen waiting to be sullied. Achingly lovely, it begs to be billowed.

£135 for 100ml eau de parfum prada.com

 

 

 

JULIETTE_HAS_A_GUN_LIPSTICK_FEVER

 

Juliette Has a Gun Lipstick Fever

Capturing ‘mummy’s handbag’ in fragrant form a slash of iris, violet absolute and raspberry softening to the woodsiness of patchouli and cedar-swathed vanilla. Echoing the scent of vintage makeup amidst leather, it’s simply mwah, mwah!
From £130 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com

 

 

 

 

MAISON_CRIVELLI_IRIS_MALIKHAN

 

Maison Crivelli Iris Malikhân

Iris’ innocence unfurls into something altogether more sinful, the opening a gentle stroke via galbanum and cypress, then a tickle of incense, a hint of skin. The heart purrs, powdery iris then the throb of the mimosa-infused leather. Oh my.

£175 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale