Iris Pallida, Galbanum, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Clove, Incense, Vetiver, Labdanum, Musk, Benzoin and White Amber
When I visited the Serge Lutens flagship store in Paris back in April, I was talking to a member of our group about how we loved fragrances that evolve on the skin. Then I promptly purchased a perfume that pretty much stays consistent from beginning to end: Iris Silver Mist. It’s a reminder that we don’t always need twists and turns. Sometimes consistency is what we crave.
The sleek black atomiser of ISM I bought in Paris
I owned a small decant of ISM maybe 5 years ago and wanted to fall in love with it quite badly. Howver, it was a bit too metallic; as if a cold knife were pressed against my skin. Like a lot of the Lutens fragrances, it appears to have been reformulated since then. It is not only less metallic, but less reminiscent of freshly dug carrots. For once, reformulation had worked in my favour to make Iris Silver Mist considerably more wearable.
While it may not be as evocative of orange vegetables as it used to be, it is still satisfyingly rooty. I love this about it because when I’m in the mood for iris, I want it in all its raspy, rootsy glory.
Released in 1994, I’d forgotten that this Paris Exclusive was composed by Maurice Roucel and not Christopher Sheldrake.
It’s not worth spending much time pondering the notes list. This is such a cohesive composition it’s hard to unpick and really, why would you? It’s all about that spectacular overdose of orris. Everything else is merely there to enhance and complement that striking effect.
Iris Silver Mist is likely to cause the uninitiated to take a step back. It’s unearthed bulbs, freezing fog, green shoots, rich soil, purple violets and even a crisp ream of paper. The dusting of powder serves to soften its edges somewhat and gives it a silky feel. However, it is still most definitely a statement fragrance rather than a pretty perfume.
On me, it swathes the skin so closely, others’ reactions are not of any concern.
ISM is as much an atmosphere as a scent. It’s introspective and wistful but it is also rarefied and mysterious. Has a name ever fitted a pefume more perfectly? I doubt it. You inhabit it the way you might inhabit an otherworldly mist at dusk.
It doesn’t need to mutate. It just has to be.
I find it more soothing than sombre, though I lean towards the melancholy so maybe I simply feel at home. Lately my nerves have been on edge and Iris Silver Mist has been s supremely calming influence, grounding and pacifying me. It’s a beautiful, ethereal filter through which to view the world.
When people ask me what my favourite perfume is, I now have an answer: Iris Silver Mist.
When I bought my atomiser the SA at Serge Lutens gave me what I think must be close to a complete set of wax samples. If you’d like them, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do a draw next week and announce the winner on Thursday 28th June.