Three Best Iris Perfumes For Women and Men
The iris is one of the most well-known and widely cultivated bulbs in the world. Most of us are familiar with the purple species, but iris also comes in many other colors as well. Regardless of the shade of the petals, the scent of the iris is a very distinctive one, quite sharp and fresh. Of course such a gorgeously individual flower fragrance is used in the creation of perfume. The surprise is that it’s never been as widely used in perfume as some other flowers, though that’s been changing somewhat in recent years.
All of the perfumes I’m looking at here use iris as a central note. If you’re in the mood for a floral fragrance that’s earthy yet elegant, and cool but not cold, all of these iris scents will fit the bill perfectly.
Hiris by Hermes
Hermes, a French company established in 1837, are, of course, best known for their gorgeous silk scarves and designer handbags, but they have also been producing fragrances since the 1950s. They have released many new fragrances in recent years. This one is from 1999.
If you’re looking for a perfume that will deliver iris, iris and more iris, then Hiris is a great choice. Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti has used iris in every stage of the perfume, from the opening top notes through the heart to the base, so the iris note develops as it goes along but remains a constant presence as long as the perfume lasts. This perfume comes up often in discussions about iris perfumes, and is a favorite with many lovers of iris fragrances.
Hiris opens, not surprisingly, on a sharp burst of iris. You can really smell the green stalks and the dirty roots as it arrives with a bang. Despite this, it’s not a really overpowering perfume. It settles down quickly on the skin, and turns into something a lot more restrained and elegant. It’s a very cool, light fragrance at this point, so the warm sweetness that gradually creeps into it later in the dry down – courtesy mainly of honey and vanilla – is somewhat unexpected, but works beautifully. Hiris also gets gradually more powdery as it goes along, but if you’re looking for a really powdery iris scent, this isn’t it. Personally, I think just a touch of powder is exactly right for this one.
Other notes include: neroli, carrots, coriander, hay, rose, ambrette seeds, almond wood, and cedar. Lasting power is average.
Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma
Acqua di Parma is an Italian fragrance house that has been in existence for almost a hundred years, but expanded both its product line and its international presence when taken over by new owners in the 1990s. Acqua di Parma is known for producing a variety of scented bath and body products, as well as perfumes including their classic cologne, Collonia.
Right now I’m wearing Hiris on one hand and Iris Nobile on the other. Despite both being iris-focused, the contrast between the two perfumes is distinct, and very interesting (to me, anyway!) Hiris is much closer to being an iris soliflore (a perfume focused on the scent of one particular type of flower) while Iris Nobile is very much a chypre with iris as the central floral note. (Chypre is a family of perfumes that typically feature citrus top notes, a floral heart and a musky/mossy base.)
Iris Nobile opens on a bright citrus note of bergamot and tangerine, but right from the start it’s a touch more sweet than Hiris, despite the similar sharp top notes. Star anise is one of the main supporting notes of Iris Nobile, and as soon as the perfume starts to settle on the skin the slightly sweet liquorice-like anise begins to make its presence felt. As the perfume develops, the floral heart notes of iris accompanied by a distinct but not at all overpowering orange blossom move into center stage. At this point, Iris Nobile is a gently sweet, soft floral with just a bare remnant of the early sharpness remaining. There is a little underlying earthiness present, but not nearly to the extent that earthiness characterizes Hiris and some other iris perfumes, such as Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist.
That slight but distinct sweetness and earthiness follows the iris note into the base, where vanilla and oakmoss take up the tune. Fortunately, it all remains essentially light and cool overall, with none of the musty, swamp-like aspect that oakmoss sometimes brings with it.
All in all, I like this one a lot, and it’s
my personal favorite of these three perfumes. If you’re wanting to try out an
iris scent, this is a great choice.
Iris Nobile comes in Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum concentrations – and of course the EdP is longer lasting.
Infusion d'Iris by Prada
Prada started as a leather goods company in 1913. These days it is, of course, a famous fashion house and producer of luxury goods, and in more recent years has become known for producing perfumes of the more mainstream variety.
Infusion d’Iris is an interesting perfume, at least partly because it comes from a house like Prada, which is not exactly renowned for its groundbreaking and individual perfumes. This one isn’t groundbreaking, either, but it’s definitely individual enough – in a good way – to deserve a place alongside Hiris and Iris Nobile.
Infusion d'Iris opens on a citrus note, similarly to Iris Nobile, but it’s a sweet and juicy mandarin rather than a sharp citrus this time. The iris chimes in very soon after, as do most of the other primary notes.
The main thing that distinguishes Infusion d’Iris is the soft spicy buzz that lies beneath everything else. It’s a very light perfume, but there are definitely some spicy woods lurking near the bottom, and also a touch of incense as well. It gets smoother rather than earthier as it goes along, but that light peppery/spicy buzz never really goes away. I like this a lot: it’s worth applying a little more perfume than usual in order to fully appreciate how well the different notes work together. Despite its lightness, lasting time is actually pretty good. Infusion d’Iris hangs around for several hours on my skin, reminding me just why I keep revisiting it. It's well worth checking out.