Sunday, September 28, 2008

Square Root: Le Labo Iris 39

Frank Voelkl’s Iris 39 for Le Labo came out a couple of years ago. Before someone told me that the number referred to the number of ingredients used, I was thinking it referred to a female character out of dystopian science fiction. You know, Iris 39, the brunette in the Mylar dirndl, the one who replaced Iris 38.

But first the back-story. Since 2006, the mass-market has been flooded with iris scents, many of them soliflores of the chilly, dove-grey, powdered variety. Chanel’s 28 La Pausa comes to mind, along with Hermès Hiris, Dior Homme, The Different Company Bois d’Iris and Prada Infusion d’Iris––each of which shows a distant, if common, progenitor: Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. The most respectable iterations show off the woody character of the iris note––in perfume-speak, orris––that originates in the rhizome, not the blossom, of the iris.

In Iris 39, Voelkl (Firmenich) goes a different route, blending orris root with patchouli, ginger, green spices and a woody, forest-violet accord. The fragrance opens screechingly loud, as if the floral base (the uterine nerve center of any perfume) were being showcased with little elaboration. I get rain-splashed flowers after a few balmy overcast days. Mind you, kitchen-garden flowers, not rarities in the Jardins de Bagatelles.

If the photographer who comes most readily to mind when I think of iris soliflores in Edgar de Evia, Iris 39 is a Wolfgang Tillmans’ still life, by contrast. It succeeds at the semblance of a studied paring-down, a premeditated slice of life. It revels in its of-the-moment digitality.

A certain botanical soapiness lingers in the drydown where I’d rather have smelled the green-muskiness of ambrette seed. For all its fresh-from-the-garden-with-mud-on-her-hands character, I find this lass a bit too cleaned-up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Le Labo is GREAT!

BRAVO Fabrice!

September 29, 2008 at 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about you, but the musk in the drydown of Le Labo Iris 39 smells eau so much like the drydown in Glow by J.Lo. When it comes to Iris fragrances, Heure Exquise EDP does a better job of glorifying Florentine Iris; but you really have to love all of the facets of Iris-- her rooty, bitter, musky and sweet sides--to appreciate Annick Goutal's classic creation.

October 5, 2008 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Michelle, I can't say I've ever smelled Glow. As for glorifying Florentine iris, I don't think that was Voelkl's intention here. Heure Exquise is lovely, but I'd think Giacobetti's rather anemic Hiris and Polge's 28 La Pausa do a good job.

October 6, 2008 at 9:09 AM  

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