All About Irises!
Irises have been around for ages. Paintings of Irises have been found in the Pyramids, dating back to 1500 BC. They were originally grown in East Asia, and are now mainly produced in Italy, Morocco, and China.
The name Iris comes from the Greek Goddess Iris, who was the Goddess of the Rainbow, and the messenger of the Gods. Before Hermes, Iris was the connection between earth and the heavens, and was said to come down on a Rainbow, Irises blooming wherever she set foot.
The name is very fitting, as Irises come in all colors of the rainbow across 300+ species.
Though Irises do not have much of a scent on their own, they are cultivated over many years, during which its buttery aroma reveals itself. The scent comes from the Rhizome, within the root, and needs to mature for no less than 3 years before being harvested.
After the harvest, the Iris roots are cleaned, trimmed, and cut by hand. The resulting tubers are ventilated for 3 days, to prevent mold growing from the moisture, and then stored for no less than 3 years while the Irones (scented molecules) develop. Due to this extensive process, Iris is said to be one of the most precious, and expensive, raw materials in perfumery.
The two main species of Iris used in fragrances are Iris Pallida, found in Italy, and Iris Germanica, found in Morocco. Many fragrances will list Iris Florentina, or Florentine Iris, which is a sub-species of Iris Germanica.
Irises are often found in floral perfumes, as they add a powdery essence, with hints of Musky undertones. They can add a creamy, or buttery, quality to a scent, and are often identified by their ‘cosmetic’ or lipstick-like aroma.
Iris can be listed as Iris or Orris, along with the terms Root, Butter, Absolute or Concrete.
Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France (1547-1559) is said to be the first person to use Iris in her beauty rituals, adding it to her Rice Powder, which many used to powder their wigs, faces, and clothing.
You can find a varying selection of Iris based fragrances that will fit anyone’s tastes.
Interlude Black Iris by Amouage is a smoky, woody scent with a buttery essence that comes from Orris. Violet Leaves bring out the naturally Violet-like essence of the Iris, and Vanilla helps keep things rounded. With the base composition coming from Interlude Man from Amouage, this scent remains rich and intense, though much more mellow.
Opus V: Woods Symphony by Amouage has a creamy, woody essence that blends a Dry Wood Accord and Agarwood with both Orris Absolute and Orris Concrete, with an added hint of Rhum keeping things smooth.
Etoile d’Une Nuit by Goutal Paris is a fresher take on Iris. It blends Iris Powder with Rose and Raspberry. It maintains a creamy essence that remains bright and invigorating.
Rea by Giardino Benessere is soft, and slightly earthy, with a traditional “powdery” vibe. Imperial Iris and Flag Iris, are blended with additional flowers of Magnolia, Lavender, Rose and Jasmine, boosting the elegant floral essence. Hints of Citrus notes give way to a thread of Leather, and the warmth of Sandalwood, Birch and Oakmoss.
Yin Transformation by The Harmonist is a Lactonic Floral scent that takes a step outside of the ordinary. Almond Milk and Ylang Ylang boost the creamy essence of Iris. Rose and Vanilla help to keep things mellow, yet refreshing.
Jardin d’Iris by Sama is more intense than the average Iris scent. A blast of Sandalwood gives way to a creamy blend of Iris, Orange Blossom, and Vanilla, but remains earthy.
You can find all of these, and more, at Parfumerie Nasreen in Seattle.