Beauty in disguise, Le Galion Iris

I have not heart of Le Galion – Maison de Parfumerie until March of 2014. That’s when I met with their name for the first time, noticing their stand at Esxence fair in Milan. What attracted my attention back then were very elegant, shiny and glossy bottles. Curious as always I approached them and started sniffing. I liked almost every single fragrance in the collection, but samples were not available at that time. That’s the reason I didn’t tell you about Le Galion earlier. Writing from memories based on a single sniff wouldn’t do justice to the scents. Luckily Pitti Fragranze gave me a second chance to try this maison and this time I had an invitation to come to their stand.

Turned out that Le Galion is a historical perfume brand, originally founded in Paris in 1930. It was created by Prince Murat (Joachim Murat – Napoleon I brother-in-law) and 5 years later the maison was bought by perfumer Paul Vacher. He had many years of success in creating perfumes for his own brand and for Dior (Miss Dior, Diorling). In 1980 Le Galion was sold to American group but due to the poor managing skills the group went bankrupt causing Le Galion to disappear from the perfume map of the world. More than 30 years later, thanks to the passion of Nicolas Chabot and Thomas Fontaine the brand was brought back to life – like phoenix from the ashes.

Le Galion Iris, the perfume which stole my heart from the moment I sniffed it for the first time, was originally designed in 1937. This is a magical creation that requires the right amount of time because the longer you wear, the more beautiful it becomes. At first Iris presents a slightly carroty facet of the main ingredient. The carroty iris never was my favorite, but this one is quite fresh, not the boiled or rotting one. And there’s also something about this perfume that is like a promise of the unforgettable experience if you wait for a while longer. And Iris will fulfill its promise.

Just 15 minutes later the composition receives a very gentle touch of citrus aromas. Combined here are bergamot and cedrat, with their joined forces they create a beautiful citric impression – more aromatic and brisky, rather than juicy. Galbanum resin obtained from Ferula gummosa adds a very sophisticated twist of verdancy. But this is not a pungent green aroma, it’s very elegant and subtle, bringing enough of green molecules to make them noticeable but not overpowering.

After that phase, which lasts for another 15-20 minutes, here comes the time to experience the iris at its best. Iris in Le Galion Iris is incredibly good and it somehow manages to combine the richness and the lightness of this precious raw perfume material. When I speak of richness, I mean the saturation, this kind of buttery facet that at some point evolves on my skin into the most delicate, most refined suede-like aroma. On the other hand there is the lightness – iris dances on my skin like it had no weight, like it was floating, casting its mysterious spell on me. It’s like a beautiful trance… Addictive.

After a few hours the iris note becomes less prominent on my skin, but it’s still there of course. At the moment it presents a more powdery aspect of its own personality. There is a little bit of cosmetic vibe to it, just a tiny bit. The poudree sensation is highlighted with the aroma of green mimosa (which by the way introduces a little bit more of yellow floral tones too) and by ambrette seed that adds some vegetal qualities and warmth that effuses all around, surrounding the wearer.

Many hours later I can still smell the iris. Both powdery and suede-like facets are with me, bringing so much pleasure to my nose that I could just sit all day doing nothing else but wafting this incredibly charming aroma again and again. But at a certain point Le Galion Iris has to move on. As the time flies it becomes more musky, balancing between clean musk (not soapy) and sensual musk (not sweaty). Hints of royal lily introduce a slightly sweet and milky/creamy sensation which blends in the whole composition really well. After 6 hours the base notes start to emerge.

The drydown is focused on woody and ambery tones presented in a very sensual and soft way. There is quite a lot of cedarwood and this has nothing to do with dryness, sweaty aroma or roughness. It’s rather smooth and pleasant in touch. Amber brings even more light to Iris by Le Galion, as the note is sparkling and luminous. It’s also very warm and embracing, having this fantastic feel of fluffy cashmere sweater. In a state like this Iris can last even for 4 more hours.

Now that you’re finishing to read this review, you’re probably not surprised why this perfume stole my heart the first time I tried it. Not only because the perfume is incredible, both in terms of composition and lasting power and not only because I’m an iris lover. It’s just that Le Galion Iris feels very me. This perfume is a fragrance interpretation of my own aesthetics, when I wear it – it feels like the second skin. Perfumer Thomas Fontaine did an amazing job re-creating this perfume and adapting it to current times. The formulas of all Le Galion scents are said to be as close to original recipes as it was possible. Iris has a moderate sillage (I call it an elegant sillage – few inches above the skin) and it lasts for around 10 hours. In the end it blends with your skin. I’m officially in love.

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10 thoughts on “Beauty in disguise, Le Galion Iris

  1. jillie says:

    This does indeed sound absolutely beautiful and I am not at all surprised that you love it so much.

    I remember Le Galion from when I was a little girl and various bottles with this name would stand on my aunties’ dressing tables – the epitome of discreet elegance, both the perfume and the ladies!

    • lucasai says:

      I bet you would fall in love with this perfume.

      That is so great that the brand has a place in your childhood memories, that is always a good start to rediscover it.

  2. poodle says:

    I must not have read that right. Carroty iris and that you’re in love with it? Really? They must have worked some serious magic with that perfume. I see the words carroty iris and I hide in the corner. Iris Siver Mist traumatized me I think. I’m happy you have found another love. Did you get a bottle of it?

    • lucasai says:

      You read it right my dear. The trick is that the carroty vibe doesn’t last for long and it develops into something much more than that. You’d like it too I suppose. ISM is a trauma for me as well but Le Galion Iris is much more beautiful and not even 1% carroty as Lutens iris.

      No, I didn’t get a bottle but I’m going to purchase it for sure

  3. hajusuuri says:

    Oh my God. You weren’t kidding when you said I will love this one. Just by your description alone, it sounds sublime. As someone who LOVES Iris Silver Mist AND other irisses, this sounds like the best of both worlds.

    What have you learned about their U.S. distribution? I feel a Full Bottle blind buy coming and it will be my first FB blind buy this year although I won’t swear to it.

    Super review, Lucas!

    • lucasai says:

      I know our tastes are close and I know you a big too so I had a hunch you might be into this one as well. You love ISM, Le Galion Iris is not that carroty but is much more elegant and sophisticated. The perfume falls for me in the same “timeless elegance” category as irises from Prada.

      I don’t know what is Le Galion distribution in the US. Check their website, there’s a points of sell tab somewhere there. If you have trouble, I can help you to get the bottle. I will have to order mine from Germany or directly from Le Galion, will have to ask Nicolas if that’s possible

  4. LOL… Color me not surprised that you are in love with an Iris perfume. Good to know that the line is up to par. I have wanted to try Sortilege for some time and was looking to see if I could find a vintage bottle worth buying. Would be fun to compare the old and the new.

    • lucasai says:

      I know, I’m predictable for iris for most of the time!
      Sortilege is a classic beauty, it would be a great lesson to compare the old version with the one recreated this year. Didn’t Fragrantica post recently an article like that?

  5. rickyrebarco says:

    Lucas, this sounds SO beautiful, a gorgeous iris. I will have to hunt this one down. Have not seen it in the U.S., but I have a pal who is a personal shopper- hopefully she can find it in Paris. I have to try it now! I’m so glad you were able to meet the perfumer and try this lovely juice.

    • lucasai says:

      Hi Ricky!
      I know, it does sound pretty. But you have to smell it and experience it on your own. So far there is no US distributor but I guess this might change soon. It’s definitely available in Parisian Jovoy.

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