Notes: Bergamot, Orange, Palisander, Rosewood, Magnolia, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Violet, Rose, Carnation, Lily, Aldehydes, Iris, Musk, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Amber, Ebony Tree, Sandalwood and Vetiver
I don’t think there is a niche fragrance line I admire more than Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and the perfume among them I love the most is Iris Poudre. I have sunk into it over this autumn/winter: there was a desire in me to take on its character as my own. It’s one of those rare fragrances that has become a part of me, managing to get under my skin as well as on top of it.
Iris Poudre was created by Pierre Bourdon and released in 2000. I can safely say it has pushed Hiris off the top spot as my favourite iris scent.
When I’ve read reviews of Iris Poudre over the years they have tended to focus on the perfume’s old-school glamour. This is because it eschews the more familiar metallic and vegetal facets of iris root in favour of something infinitely more refined and alluring. It highlights the pure luxury of orris butter which is prettied-up by the accompanying florals and given sparkle by a sheer veil of aldehydes.
Despite its name, Iris Poudre is not a powder-bomb but has just enough to make the link with the golden age of Hollywood; all red lips and glittering jewels. It strikes the perfect balance between classic and modern. It has a retro flavour but doesn’t read as vintage.
It starts out cool with gentle aldehydes tickling the senses like an icy chill. These aren’t the overly soapy or intense kind that can be off-putting, but silky and shimmering.
This is not a challenging perfume to wear – file under “effortless chic”. It’s curvaceous and figure-hugging but never restrictive. It’s rare to find a fragrance that has an aura of sensuality and glamour but still feels comfortable. Iris Poudre is satisfyingly complex and the kind of perfume you can still get a thrill from time and time again.
The fragrance possesses style without being aloof or prim. It’s a boudoir scent extraordinaire, reminiscent of make-up, silk stockings, fur and supple powdered skin.
However, there is even more going on in Iris Poudre than that. There is greater depth and substance than the soft-focus image of a movie star would suggest. I’ve found there is strength behind the feather boa and a wilfulness beneath the come-hither eyes.
I suspect it’s the ambrette seed that does it. That vegetal musky essence which imbues fragrances with a subtle sexuality. It has a very distinct character which warms on skin over time and the pairing with slick musk amplifies the effect.
When I first owned Iris Poudre the ambrette eventually put me off enough to sell my bottle. I’m not sure if in the intervening years whether Iris Poudre has changed, or I have (probably both) but in any case, we are now a perfect match.
If you’ve missed it, be sure to check out Undina’s Entertaining Statistics post covering February’s Month of Iris.