Another one among historical perfume brands established many years ago is the house of Houbigant. Founded in 1774 by Jean Francois Houbigant (aged 23) the maison quickly became very popular among aristocracy and gentility. Famous names who bought their perfumes, powders and scented gloves at Houbigant include Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Adelaide d’Orleans, Queen Victoria of England, Emperor Napoleon III, Tsar of russia Nikolai II. Over the years he business was run by many different people: Jean Francois’s son, Chardin, Magny & Gabillot, Javal & Paul Parquet. Nowadays it’s the Perris family who decided to put back this historic brand to life.
The Perris family acquired the name of Houbigant in 2005 and since then they focus on bringing this maison back to its past glory. Some new perfumes have been introduced over the last couple of years and 2014 marks the launch of another composition, which is named Iris des Champs. This fragrance starts with surprisingly green aroma consisting of aromatic bergamot rind and lily of the valley. Combined scents of these two materials bring the impression of clarity and freshness. The verdancy I can smell here makes me think of huge grass plains covered with droplets of morning dew. Muguet has that slightly aquatic feel and a pear accords adds a bit to this watery facet in the perfume. This stage unveils on my skin slowly and needs around 30 minutes before it passes and allows the other notes to unveil and enchant your day.
After the opening phase has passed, Houbigant Iris des Champs becomes a woody composition. There is a lot of very smooth and shiny sandalwood that is rich and substantial in a nice way. There are also some other woods hidden under the label of “woodsy notes.” I’m just guessing there might be some cedarwood. Anyway this woody aroma is very pleasant and it has a nice intensity that will be noticed for sure, yet it won’t feel overpowering. After a while you might also start to notice that woody notes seem to become more spicy and piquant. It’s the pink pepper that introduces this nice effect of spicing up the composition. At around 1 hour mark it’s the time to experience the main element of this perfume, it appears out of nowhere and without warnings.
Iris note in Iris des Champs is quite different from iris that I know from so many other perfumes themed around rhisomes of this beautiful flower. At first it smells very floral but it’s not iris but lily of the valley that tries to mimic the iris scent. The actual iris appears few minutes later. It is very powdery and dry, instantly making me think of talc powder or some other powdery cosmetic you could find standing at the boudoir of some older lady. Luckily this perfume doesn’t feel old in overall. It might have some older elements but generally I consider it a youthful composition so don’t worry too much.
The fragrant powder transforms later into something thicker and denser. At some points it begins to effuse more rooty, earthy and buttery scented molecules that wrap around the person wearing Iris des Champs just like snake wraps around its prey. I like this aroma more that the combination of muguet and granny-ish powder, still this is not the kind of iris that I favor the most. I don’t deny any beauty of this composition, it’s just that if I were to wear this fragrance, I would wear it only occasionally, once in a while, not every day. Iris butter note turns into more creamy scent of ylang ylang after another hour of having this Houbigant creation on my skin. There are also very subtle and ethereal impressions of pale rose and transparent jasmine, forming a background of the composition, far behind the 1st plan of the composition.
The drydown of Iris des Champs is consistent to earlier parts of the perfume. There is some resinous amber that adds a bit of warmth to the blend and this blend has a cold feeling in my opinion. Thanks to amber there’s also more light and brightness in this fragrance. Generous dose of musk introduces this soft and fluffy sensation, creating this delicate and creamy cloud of clean and pure elements. Few weeks ago I was translating an interview between Serguey Borisov and Gian-Luca Perris for Polish fragrantica – in this interview Mr. Perris said that Iris des Champs is meant to smell like an imaginary meadow full of blooming iris flowers. I think he achieved his goal. The perfume does feel abstract (hence Neverland in the title) and it does feel like a meadow but mostly because the initial impression of dew and fresh greens…
Iris des Champs by Houbigant is a perfume that might not fit all who love iris. I’m glad I gave it a try but I probably won’t go back to this perfume again, but I might be wrong here. It is definitely different from a standard iris perfume. and in my opinion there’s too much muguet in it! This composition was created by young perfumer Mathieu Nardin (Robertet) with the creative direction of Elizabetta Perris. New creation is available in Houbigant signature 100 ml bottle, the same one as was used for Orangers en Fleurs. Iris des Champs also comes in two concentrations: eau de parfum – with a blue label on the bottle and perfume extrait having a label in gold.