Budding Spring, Le Labo Iris 39

I think that every one of us, perfume lovers, has a perfume in their life that they got to know at the early stage of their fragrance hobby and that still has important value for you, no matter if you got a bottle of it or not. Such perfume for me is Iris 39 from Le Labo. The first time I got to try it was thanks to a friend who lives in the US and with who I exchanged perfume samples. Mind you up until today there is no single Le Labo counter in entire Poland which is a shame.

I was really excited back then to try something new and hard to reach for me. I treasured those few drops I got and used just the tiniest smears to enjoy it. On my skin Iris 39 opens in a slightly animalic way effusing the smell of civet combined with patchouli.  This concoction effects in rather pleasant and kind of earthy vibe that has something damp and moist about it. After around 10 minutes I start to smell the iris. On me it’s really really powdery but in a more cosmetic, make-up kind of way rather than smelling like talcum or rice powder. What I really like about this Le Labo scent is the way it changes and develops after some time.

Iris being the central part of this composition doesn’t remain steady but it moves and shifts. After presenting its powdery facet it becomes a little bit more rooty just for a little while. Then it blooms with thousands of flowers… of violets. When they enter the scene Le Labo Iris 39 actually starts to smell really cold and reserved on my skin. Violets introduce this clean aroma that is a bit overwhelming. It feels transparent but it had enormous depth and impressive volume.

After some time a very clean, almost detergent accord of musk comes up from the structure of Iris 39 and that’s when the smell of this fragrance totally makes me think of fresh laundry, especially cotton bed sheets that have been pinned to a string to dry in the air and in the sun – all this in the middle of the flowery meadow. That’s the imagery that I get while smelling this fragrance. The longer I have it on my skin the weaker this violet part seems to be and at some point this blend becomes quite citric on my skin.

I can smell the specific ginger zing that has the vibe of a lemon peel and it’s combined with juicy lime. Musk loses its clean, laundry edge and now it becomes more creamy and sweet. Note of ylang-ylang intensifies this creamy effect which is additionally highlighted by the floralities of this flower itself and also with a bit of dewy, musky rose. Composition of Iris 39 from Le Labo also mentions cardamom but to be honest I didn’t smell any spicy elements in this perfume.

Modern and quite futuristic approach of Le Labo, which is proud of creating fragrances in one of their lab on demand when you order it (so that you get the juice that was just made) got quite a lot of fans around the world. Personally I like the individual touch of having the possibility of having your own name on the label as well as the name of person who mixed the fragrance for you. Funny note – I remember reading somewhere that Iris 39 has more patchouli in it than Le Labo Patchouli 24. To me this is outgoing take on iris.

Le Labo Iris 39 was composed by perfumer Frank Voelkl and the fragrance is getting a little bit old-ish now, as it was released in 2006. I pretty much enjoy this fragrance, its lasting power of 8 hours on my skin is great and sillage is decent as well. Possibly I would buy a bottle or a travel set if that was available in Poland. For the moment, I’m set with my decant (thank you, you know who you are!). This eau de parfum comes in different bottles sizes, travel sets as well as in perfume oil, solid perfume and bath & body range. With recent acquisition of Le Labo by Estee Lauder concern I’ll be curious to see what comes next for this brand.

[note] pictures via press, Saks Fifth Avenue and culture.fiat-auto.co.jp

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18 thoughts on “Budding Spring, Le Labo Iris 39

  1. jocknteam says:

    Thank you for this wonderful review. The way you explain how the perfume develops on skin, makes it easier for people like me to identify each note. I have a penchant for iris and violet notes and have always wanted to get a La Labo fragrance – this might just be the one.

    • lucasai says:

      Hi and you’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed reading my article. Description like this makes it easier for people to understand fragrance and for me it’s a way to learn recognizing the notes.
      If you’re really into iris and violet together, Iris 39 might be just the one!

  2. hajusuuri says:

    I LOVE Iris 39 and your review! On me, it is fizzy iris likely due to ginger. It also has salty undetones. On me, the flowers are so well-blended I could not tease out the individual notes. I also have the shower gel – it is super luxurious (and unfortunately with a price to match).

    • lucasai says:

      I know you do sweetheart! And I appreciate you shared a decant with me 🙂 I also get the fizzy ginger part but on me it’s more fresh-spicy and citric.
      Iris 39 shower gel must be awesome. From perfumed shower gels and lotions I’m mostly curious about Atelier Cologne. Body line in Rose Anonyme, Silver Iris or Santal Carmin… mmm…

  3. seeandsmell says:

    It really is a shame there’s no easier access to Le Labo fragrances in Poland. I’ve never tried any, but judging from reviews they’re interesting. The drydown of Iris 39 sounds lovely. (It’s an iris week for me, not only do I have a little bouquet, but mostly use perfumes with iris… spring!).

    I see above that you use LPM shower gels, so do I — may I ask which fragrances are your favorite? 🙂 My all time favorite shower gel scent is, however, not a LPR scent, but Organique for men. I wish there was a perfume that’d smell like it.

    • lucasai says:

      Yes, but I remember reading somewhere that Le Labo only opens stores in the huge cities with huge sales potential. Apparently entire Poland doesn’t count as one.
      Your iris bouquet must look lovely but I bet it doesn’t smell much. All iris power is in its root 😉
      From Le Petit Marseillais I’ve been using scents like Fleur d’Oranger, Lime, White Peach

      • seeandsmell says:


        It doesn’t smell at all, but it still brings this happy spring aura to my appartment. 🙂 For iris smell, I’m resorting to my favorite Shalimar PI L’eau and my cherished sample of Houbigant’s Iris des Champs… And, some Viktoria Minya’s Hedonist Iris, ’cause I promised myself to write a review sometime soon.

        White Peach smells really nice. I am drawn to the Apricot & Hazelnut one, and recently bought the new Raspberry & Peony smell, but it’s not as pleasant as I hoped (smells like a Mamba chewing candy :D).

        • lucasai says:

          Best thing I love about iris flowers is their intenstive color, I specially like those that have petels in royal blue. You like Iris des Champs? Good, it wasn’t that great for me but eh, I’m demanding towards iris perfumes.
          I haven’t seen that one in stores, gotta check out my Rossmann, maybe they have some new LPM things in stores.

          • seeandsmell says:

            Royal blue iris flowers are lovely. I can’t wait until there’s a lot of them blooming in the botanical garden over here, in Wrocław.

            Yes, Iris des Champs smells heavenly on me! I was given the sample and to be honest, I didn’t have high hopes, but it turned out much better on me than I expected. Very subtle, somewhat buttery, kind of translucent. Out of the three I mentioned I guess Hedonist Iris is most tricky on me. Some days it smells lovely, other days — it just doesn’t stay on my skin at all.

            The new ones are Cotton & Poppy, Raspberry & Peony, and Lilac.

  4. rickyrebarco says:

    Wonderful review of the Le Labo Iris, Lucas. This was my first niche iris perfume so it holds a special place in my heart and in my perfume wardrobe. You did such a good job of describing what makes this iris scent different from others. I really like it myself and am always surprised at its uniqueness when I spray it on. I need to wear this today since spring has sprung!

    • lucasai says:

      Yay for special irises in our hearts 🙂 It’s great to have positive memories of your first perfume love.
      Enjoy Iris 39 today then 🙂

  5. Undina says:

    Iris 39 is one of my favorite irises ever. And since I do not like either the bottle (too plain for the price) or the concept of mixing it “on demand” (frankly speaking, I do not trust SAs and do not think that in the middle of a department store – Barneys in my case – is a proper place for that magic), it’s safe to say that I like the scent on its own merits.
    Your description – especially the opening phase – is very close to what I smell in it.

    • lucasai says:

      I knew I share love for this perfume with you and Hajusuuri. I understand what you mean that the bottle is too simple and that preparing juice on demand in the middle of the store is not a perfect place…
      Glad you find my description accurate

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