Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Iris Trilogy

None of us has doubts about the fact that the world of perfume is a vast one and that no matter how many years have passed since you jumped down the proverbial rabbit hole, it still has many mysteries and secrets that maybe never will see the light of the day. For me one of those mysteries is American perfumery. There’s so much happening in European perfume market that I never had a priority on trying the fragrances from across the ocean. Plus living in Poland makes it harder to put my hands on any samples. But sometimes I get a chance to try something thanks to some good souls that take their time to send something to me. Thanks to Dawn Spencer Hurwitz herself today I have an opportunity to smell The Iris Trilogy. I’m flattered because she knew I was a huge iris fan.

L’Or{ris} starts with a clean, delicately soapy yet fizzy aldehydes, that feel slightly starched and talcy like white towels waiting for you in your hotel room. In no time a bubbly smell of prosecco invites you to take another sip (and possibly another deep whiff of a perfume as well). This champagne-like accord feels sparkling and filled with optimistic aura. On the skin it’s warm and rounded, with a golden halo. Later on the warmth is contracted with a colder, metallic note that forms a sort of a silver lining underneath the top layer of L’Or{ris}. Following the idea of a prosecco bottle I could compare the metallic tones to an ice bucket. Are we a VIP or what? Heart of the composition reveals a bounty of orris in its multiple incarnations. There is a gorgeously buttery iris concrete blended with an earthy aspect of the orris root. Dawn even included some Florentine iris which is a very precious material. It’s more velvety, violet-like fresh & more floral. Rose absolute and rose attar from Bulgaria make L’Or{ris} more sensual and adds a floral smoothness to it. Angelica and ambrette (vegetal amber) intensify the perception of iris but with added verdant inflections. Sandalwood notes together with ambergris create a comforting, creamy base that marries woody and powdery nuances in perfect harmony. Addition of oak wood note makes this DSH creation to last on your skin for many hours. L’Or{ris} is a golden lace iris.

Iris Tuxedo was actually the first fragrance that was born in what later became an Iris Trilogy. Compared to L’Or{ris} described above it is a much darker fragrance but has a common structure that links both of them. The opening brings a raspy and slightly acrid smell of black tea assisted by a rich & smoky aspect of plum, or should I say prune since it’s more like a dried fruit. Blackcurrant bud makes it a tad more juicier but it doesn’t change the fact that this Lapsang Souchong resembling smell rules the opening. As time flies the orris comes to the fore and it’s very similar to what I could smell in L’Or{ris}. The most significant difference is the fact that here in Iris Tuxedo there’s a big (relatively) beeswaxy impression that has been woven into the silky fabric of orris. It carries a specific odour, a bit like a natural candle but also with a royal milk facet. The drydown directs a lot of our attention on ambrette which gives this fragrance a vegetal, kind of marshmallow-like (minus the sweetness) muskiness. Angelica adds some succulent green vibe with a hint of spiciness while oakmoss adds a characteristic sylvan touch which is very pleasant. Butter CO2 extract enhances the creamy richness of orris root and the latter one gradually melts into a balsamic layer of resinous & slightly sweet myrrh. Iris Tuxedo lives in its own category of glamour. It surely conveys the idea of contrasting black & white elements of tuxedo if you ask me.

The final fragrance in Iris Trilogy is called Man Root and this is Dawn’s more masculine interpretation of orris. First thing that reaches my nose is the aroma of freshly washed carrot – it gives off a clean, kind of cold and vegetable aroma that shortly gets surrounded by a number of other scented impressions. There’s a hint of bergamot that adds more tartness with a lightly acidic backnote that plays nicely with the carroty smell. There is, once again, angelica in this perfume, which gives that sturdy, green vibe with a glimpse of something metallic. Followed by pepper that spices up the composition and a dry immortelle note that smells like hot sand to me. The heart of Man Root provides the same combination of smooth orris butter, chilled silk impression of Florentine iris surrounded by a bit of Bulgarian roses, some jasmine (that is hard to detect on me). What has changed here compared to previously discussed fragrances is that in Man Root violet plays a more significant role. It smells almost ‘blue’ to my nose, with a lot of elegance and is almost like an irones infused cologne. Additionally turmeric gives it an orange-tinted lining with its specific smell. Think of typical Ayurvedic cosmetic lines. The drydown once again has a similar structure, that’s another common thread in the Iris Trilogy. Plus Dawn has added a ginseng accord which can have a human-like shape (mandrake), so that’s probably where the name came from. The earthy and rooty character is additionally emphasized with vetiver.

The Iris Trilogy is a series of very well-made fragrances that really are like a treasure vault to anyone who loves orris. Only superficially the 3 perfumes seem to be similar but once you wear them for some time you will realize that there is some uniqueness in each and every one of them. For me it was even more exciting to smell them because I watched a couple of Dawn’s live sessions on Instagram when the fragrances were still in development and people kept sharing their ideas and suggestions with her. She actually used some of those while composing. Personally I’m drawn the most towards L’Or{ris} because it feels the most polished among the three and it’s the most ‘me’. I highly recommend trying it along Iris Tuxedo and Man Root if you have a chance.

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22 thoughts on “Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Iris Trilogy

  1. Perfumelover67 says:

    Thank you, Lucas for such great review on the iris trilogy! Looking forward to trying them, especially L’Or(ris).

  2. Jillie says:

    How fascinating – a trio of irises! I imagine that L’Or(ris) would be my favourite too, and just knew that it would be yours.

    I have come to realise that the more you learn in life, the more you realise that there is to learn, and this is very much true of the world of perfume. Just look at all the ancient natural essences and the modern amazing notes that are created in the laboratory, then add to this the skill of the perfumer who performs magic to create a fragrance from these ingredients – it’s quite wonderful and always an interesting voyage of discovery. With so much still to come.

    • lucasai says:

      Yes, Dawn seems to also be fascinated by iris to spend more time on this material.I will be more than happy to send you L’Or{ris} but I suppose that will have to wait until UK ends the just started lockdown, right?

      Yes, I think it’s always like that. The more you learn the more you realize where to seek more knowledge and that there’s still a lot to discover.

  3. MMKinPA says:

    How fun for you to try some of the DSH irises. I am a huge fan of Dawn’s work – have sampled many but of course her catalog is huge so I haven’t made it to any of the irises myself. Current favorite: Colorado for The American Perfumer.

  4. rickyrebarco says:

    I have one of these and it’s really lovely. Now I want to try the others! Thanks for a wonderful review.

  5. hajusuuri says:

    Your post / reviews inspired me to wear my sample of DSH L’Or{ris} and you are absolutely spot on! Tomorrow, I will wear Iris Tuxedo in honor and in memory of the classiest Bond. James Bond. Sean Connery (R.I.P.).

  6. Undina says:

    I got the samples for the first two irises when I recently bought the next batch of hand sanitizers (I asked for 1 sample, for which I qualified for the amount spent, and was sent two!). I need a couple more times, but it looks like I will be getting L’Or{ris} soon: it is beautiful (and who doesn’t want to feel like a VIP, right? 😉 ).
    It pleases me that we both liked the same one.

    • lucasai says:

      As expected from the triplets, Hajusuuri likes it too.
      Which concentration and size do you plan to get?
      And I see that you’re really into those DSH sanitizers, aren’t you?

      • Undina says:

        Not sure about the size yet, but I definitely like EdP: something bothers me in that non-flammable base that DSH used. I’d rather have oil if an alcohol version isn’t available.

        Those sanitizers… I don’t use them often since I rarely leave the house and, in general, prefer to wash with soap and water when available. But if I have to use one, as well it can be something from the brand I like 🙂

      • Undina says:

        BTW, I found this post by searching in Google (I kept checking for the blog name from time to time – and finally found your blog in the first 10 results).

        • lucasai says:

          This is sort of a good news. But if you search for the blog itself it doesn’t come up in results. It does when you search for a specific review… Too complicated for me.

          • Undina says:

            It’s not how I see it here. When I do a search for “chemist in the bottle blog,” I get your About page #4 or #5 in the Google results, followed by the link to this post. So, I think it might be different for different locations. But it means that it’s on the right track!

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