Sadness in your eyes, Heeley Iris de Nuit

It was a very special evening for her. It could change her life for good and she knew it, preparing for that moment for the last couple of weeks. She put on a very delicate make-up highlighting the valor of her beautiful face. She didn’t even need a blush as her cheeks were rosy because of the inner excitement. She picked a dress in a color of pastel purple – a bit theatrical but it was a perfect match for her. Her man was supposed to pick her up but he was already late. But she wasn’t ready to give up hope just yet. With or without him it will be her night. Her name was Iris…

The history of Iris de Nuit, composed by James Heeley in the year 2000 that I’m going to tell you is not an optimistic, happy or a smooth one. It’s a little bit more complicated and shifting. I’ve been in possession of this sample for 2 years and my initial impression wasn’t really good to put it mildly. The sample was swapped but some invisible power caused that the very same sample returned to me after some time… Coincidence? Fate? Anyway – I gave it a try again, in the meantime some time passed and I still smell the same perfume but I understand it quite differently than in the past.

My perception of Iris de Nuit is that for the entire lasting power of this fragrance there is this aquatic, watery element which keeps going on and on. The perfume starts with the iris accord immediately. It blooms on your skin quickly with gray and purple petals. The aroma it effuses is mildly powdery and floral at a small level. And there is also something that for a while makes me think of wet laundry hanging on the strings in the middle of the meadow. Something fresh and crispy emerges from the composition. It’s the violet flower. It adds that cold and watery smell that is not happy at all…

In the next 30 minutes the crispiness of James Heeley Iris de Nuit grows stronger and greener. The pyramid of the notes might not confirm what I state, but I suppose that there is also a nice dose of violet leaf in this fragrance and it is the one that provides this effect. At some point the breezy laundry aroma goes to the back row and the voice now belongs to the first row in which ambrette has a VIP seat. It adds a musky, rather transparent and tranquil vibe. Since ambrette (musk mallow) is not an actual musk there really are no similarities between these two. Especially that ambrette has a vegetal undertone which just can’t be mistaken with animal-derived (or lab-produced) musk. As the evolution of the perfume continues it becomes a little bit more woody with a spicy mingles.

You can smell the raw and rugged cedarwood but it’s not overwhelming and it doesn’t have the sweaty smell (thank you!) The spiciness is from angelica which also warms up the composition of Iris de Nuit by a few degrees, no more. After around 4 hours you can experience the carrot seeds accord. You could briefly smell in earlier in the perfume development but now it’s at its full power. Even if it’s seed it actually smells like a mature carrot. It’s a bit muddy, earthy, vegetal and there is that specific dampness too. I would compare this scent now to the weaker version of Iris Silver Mist from Serge Lutens. That latter is the fragrance that I honestly can’t stand! Few hours later you reach the drydown which still smells of watery & powdery iris, some carrots and also of grey amber which serves as a lovely and peaceful base for a perfume like this.

If you asked for my opinion I would tell you thar Iris de Nuit by James Heeley is a very beautiful perfume but it’s not suitable for everyone who adores iris. To me there is some certain sadness in this fragrance. It doesn’t make me want to smile. It’s restrained and elegant in its simplicity. For a men wearer it’s described as: “classical, literary, romantic. ‘Portrait of Dorian Gray’, for women as “sensual, delicate, creative and individual.” Slightly purple color of this eau de parfum cocentrated juice matches its mood really well. The scent doesn’t project much but it has a good longevity of around 8 hours. Available in 100 ml bottle size. If you know Iris de Nuit, what do you think of it?

I don’t know how the story of the girl named Iris continues, but here is the music theme I find perfect for this perfume. It starts with “I see the sadness in your eyes…”

[note] All pictures in this review come from

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28 thoughts on “Sadness in your eyes, Heeley Iris de Nuit

  1. I love perfumes that evoke senses. Although sadness is not something that I would want to wear often. Beautiful review.

  2. hajusuuri says:

    What a beautiful review, dearest! This is tops on my list of samples to procure from Barneys (I think they carry this lime but if not, Aedes has it). As you know, Iris Silver Mist was my first Serge Lutens love AND first bell jar and nothing else will take its place. A comparison to it makes me sit up straighter so you’ve piqued my interest although it was ihadanidea at NST who first put it on my radar.

  3. jillie says:

    A very romantic if melancholy description, Lucas. I think that iris might be another of my love/hate notes. As you know, I adore Silver Iris and Creed’s Fleurissimo, but there are certain iris fragrances that I don’t like at all as they either smell too carroty or like wet dog! Your words make me think of Guerlain’s Apres l’Ondee which I can never quite make my mind up about; I like its violet/iris accords, but it sometimes feels too sad to wear – perhaps because it seems austere to me? However, I have only smelt its recent edt incarnation, and I am sure the old extrait would be wonderful. Just as well we all love different things, though, as it would be a boring world otherwise! And as Houndie says, perfumes that evoke emotions have their place, and it is sometimes good to reflect and wear a fragrance that enhances your mood.

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks sweetie. Carroty iris is a no go for me too but Apres L’Ondee doesn’t smell sad to me and Iris de Nuit is a sad fragrance to me. But we have our Silver Iris to make us happy

  4. rickyrebarco says:

    Good morning Lucas, you have just reviewed my signature fragrance. I’m so excited!

    I adore this fragrance. From the minute I first sprayed on Iris de Nuit it spoke to me. I love the scent of irises, but I do not like a sweet iris. Iris de Nuit is a serious iris for a woman or man of of substance, someone intellectual, someone who may be given to bouts of melancholy, someone who sees life in its glory and its tragedy as well. Iris and violets are 2 of my favorite notes. They are both given to renditions that are too sweet (which I don’t like) and to renditions that are more serious and that can seem sad. I also love Luten’s De Profundis, which is a very sobering and can even be a depressing scent, even though it is very beautiful.

    I totally understand your interpretation of Iris de Nuit, but it never struck me in that way. It has never seemed sad to me, rather it has always seemed to me to be a rendition of true beauty. There can be beauty in happiness and in sadness. But Iris de Nuit always makes me feel happy, confident and calm. It’s a meditative beauty to me, reminding me of a garden by a calm lake, a scent of blessed peace.

    • lucasai says:

      I knew you’d have a lot to say about this perfume.

      It’s great to hear that Iris de Nuit has its big fans out there. Yes, it is a beaitiful perfume and now that you say it suits an intellectualist I think you just used a spot on characteristic. It is serious as well. I find it sad but I’m sure many people find it to be filled with happiness. I appreciate the nostalgia of this scent but it’s not for me

  5. rickyrebarco says:

    Thanks, Lucas. I am going to wear Iris de Nuit today in honor of your review.

  6. I’ve never tried Iris de Nuit, but I had to comment and say that your review is lovely. This sounds like an emotional fragrance.

    Heeleys never seem to last very long on my skin, sadly. Maybe if I try this one it will be different.

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks for chiming in with this lovely compliment.
      Yes, it’s an emotional fragrance 100%.

      I didn’t try much from Heeley, I think one or two more apart from Iris de Nuit but I can’t even remember the names of what I tried.

      If you give it a try, please come back and tell us if you liked it and if it lasted longer on you than the rest.

  7. sanna says:

    I love Iris de Nuit! One of my faves! But I truly love melancholy in perfumes (ah, l’Heure Bleue) and my irises should be sad, aloof and gothic. I adore Iris Silver Mist, too. For me it’s like winter in a bottle. BTW, have you tried it on a cold or rainy day? It doesn’t smell good in the heat, maybe that’s why so many people find it hideous.

    • lucasai says:

      Hi Sanna! Great to see more people showing some love for this melancholic creation. (I like L’Heure Bleue too, but not daily!)
      No, I haven’t but I will now that you asked about it, thanks

      • sanna says:

        No, not daily, of course. I always choose perfumes according to the weather – and my moods. It’s interesting to observe how temperature/humidity enhances some notes. I adore tuberose in the heat; today I’m wearing Fracas.

  8. Anka says:

    I enjoyed your take on Iris de Nuit, a fragrance I like a lot! Interesting that you too detected some violet leaf. Do you know Lightscape by Ulrich Lang? To me it’s the cheerful sister of Iris de Nuit, they share some notes (iris, violet(leaf), ambrette and cedar) but a tiny amount of rose togehter with lemon makes Lightscape jaunty whilest Iris de Nuit is more profound and grey – or (to your nose) sad.

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks Anka, I see my readers enjoy this fragrance a lot. Yes, I do know Lightscape but I didn’t care much for it. Definitely didn’t bring out those emotions that Iris de Nuit brought.

  9. Undina says:

    Iris de Nuit was one of 30 perfumes on the list in my recent statistics post that I haven’t tried and now I’m even more curious to try it.

    The opening story is different from how you usually do your reviews and it makes this perfume even more appealing.

    • lucasai says:

      I know sweetie it’s been on the list in your statistics post: this was one of the reasons I finally decided to review it. Great I piqued your interest.

      True, in the first paragraph I usually introduce the brand and not tell the imagined tales like here. But it felt so suitable to write it that way, differently

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