Iris is My Favourite Note

Did you love the smell of your mother’s lipstick when you were growing up? Did you ever want to smell like an old-fashioned face powder? Did the musty smell of your grandmother’s trunk fill you up with joy? If yes then you, like me, will LOVE iris.

When it comes to fragrances we always focus on the most obvious scents such as jasmine, rose, sandalwood, and tuberose. But while tuberose was, at one time, my favourite, I find myself drawn todry, old-lady scents more than ever before. It all started with a bottle of Chanel Misia back in 2015. I was sent a bottle when it launched, and when I first sprayed it on I got a whiff of lipstick, and plastic, and pearls. And you know what, that was exactly what the perfume was supposed to smell like.

Misia was the muse for Coco Chanel (imagine that!), and she was also the main patron of the Ballet Russe. The perfume is supposed to smell like the dressing room of the ballet - perfume mixed with lipstick, mixed with pearls, mixed with sweat. It was also a shift for the house of Chanel who usually employed jasmin and rose as the headlining notes in most of their fragrances. For Misia, Olivier Polge (the new nose at that time) used iris and violet.

When I researched more about this note I found that it was used heavily in lipsticks and powders decades back when perfume was acceptable in colour cosmetics. Misia made me feel like I was a film noir heroine in the 20s. It left a trail everywhere I went and I was showered with compliments. 

This made me look at other Iris fragrances. Some of them smelt too dry and musty, while others hit the mark. I loved Prada Infusion d’Iris, a fresh, powdery, sophisticated day scent. Then there’s Chanel’s No 19 (the original, not Poudre), which is a fresh, green, zesty iris. Next on my list (even though I haven’t tried it) is Le Labo’s Iris 39. I just iris such a clean, distinctive note. It’s luxurious and decadent on one hand, and intellectual and elegant on the other. It smells sophisticated, other-wordly and refined. It smells like the woman that he can’t have.