Category Archives: perfume review

Queenly Jewel, Jacques Fath L’Iris de Fath

Among hundrets or even thousands of ingredients used in perfumery each fragrance enthusiast probably has a list of their favourite ones. I love iris. It started to fascinate me at the very early days of my scented adventures but to be honest with you I have no rational explanation why iris or how this love started. It just did… and continues to these days. Despite being a difficult material to work with there are numerous iris perfume on the market. Some are better, some worse. I like many, some I don’t. One is even my nemesis. But among them there’s one that every iris lover should covet. A fragrance legend, a holy grail of all orris. Its name –  Iris Gris, by Jacques Fath.

Composed for house of Jacques Fath by perfumer Vincent Roubert, the perfume was  introduced to the market in 1947. Only 7 years later, in 1954, a year in which Mr. Fath died, the perfume stopped being made. Despite its short lifespan Iris Gris managed to carve its name on the pages of history of perfumery. It was the most expensive perfume in the world due to unprecedented amount of iris used in the formulation. Sadly its fate was to be gone forever. Over the years many tried to copy the masterpiece but nothing could rival the original. In 2018 Panouge, current owner of Jacques Fath label, announced the finale of their big project to bring back the glory days of Iris Gris.

iris-de-fath

The competition was an open brief, any perfumer who was up for a challenge could submit their vision of Iris Gris of modern day. Using their nose, intuition, Osmotheque reproduction and vintage bottles, perfumers tried to revive this gem. Finally in a blind smelling a panel of experts unanimously decided on the best interpretation. It was one by Patrice Revillard, who only just finished his perfumery training. Yohan Cervi assisted him on a creative direction part. That way L’Iris de Fath was born (reborn?) last year. The composition opens with a petitgrain note that except of being green also has something dusty and dusky to it. Imagine entering attic that was unused for years.

There’s something decadent or rustic about it. For a moment I could notice a hint of well-hidden bergamot and its sour scent but it disappeared in a blink of an eye, literally. After around 5 minutes L’Iris de Fath becomes more playful. When peach joins the composition it feels kind of fluffy. The fuzziness of the peach skin and the juicy aspect of said fruit nectar introduce more vibrancy and brightness to a rather dimmed beginning. But in following minutes peach starts to evolve into a creamy, relatively lactonic self. Along this fruity milkiness the initially undefined fatty element emerges. In my skin it’s intensely textured, kind of wrinkled, kind of grainy. Alluringly odd.

iris-fath

Fattiness eventually drops a disguise and reveals itself as a very buttery iris. The scent is rich, concentrated but at the same time it’s inoffensive. On the contrary, it spreads a very elegant aura, the scent associated with luxury and wealth. Without a doubt L’Iris de Fath gives off an old-fashioned vibe but for a perfume of this kind it’s a compliment. Peachy tones melt together with orris and fuzzy skin reminds me of suede. In fact the perfume also has a slightly sueded facet. It’s a soft and plushy one. Orris is hard to describe here as it has a certain softness but at the same time it’s more solid and viscous. I suppose the texture is like an actual butter. Solid but still soft.

Those creamy and rooty iris tones become lighter over time and at some points those irone molecules become fresher and more floral. When they do L’Iris de Fath changes the color from grayish to a dusty purple. Violet flower introduces a supple floral sensation that is accompannied by a crisp violet leaf. Both have some kind of freshness attached to them but the scent on my skin also makes me think of edible, candied violets. Slightly sugary but far from anything gourmand. As hours pass the scent becomes more mellow and smooth like a silk. Carnation adds a more defined flowery feel with its warm, gently fiery spiciness that reminds me of characteristic smell of clove.

fath-iris

Among official notes of Jacques Fath L’Iris de Fath there are also jasmine from Grasse and Turkish rose but both slipped my attention and after I was focused on the orris I observed carnation to be the next noticeable change. The luminosity of various facets becomes a bit darker due to presence of oakmoss which introduces a dry, slightly parched smell of lichen. Sandalwood together with bourbon vetiver create a substantive base that on one hand is creamy and polished and on the other hand it’s more rooty, aromatic and with uneven surface. Musky tones cement everything together with a slightly dirty, animalic and sensual fragrance. It’s subconsciously carnal & consciously attractive.

It takes a whole lot of courage and a pinch of craziness to try to revive a perfume that is this iconic. Of course there’s only one true Iris Gris but in my opinion Rania Naim as a creative director of Jacques Fath, together with Patrice Revillard and Yohan Cervi, they gave us a perfume worthy of being called its 21st century successor. L’Iris de Fath is a very luxurious and tenacious parfum, subtly elegant. Precious liquid is housed in a crystal-like bottle styled to look similar to original Iris Gris packaging. The flacon rests in a wooden coffret covered with grey leather. Due to extraordinarily high content of natural ingredients 30 ml of extrait is an expense of almost 1500 euro. With this price it’ll continue to funcion as a museal object for most of us but at least we know it exists.

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Monday Quick Sniffs, part 56

jasmin-angelique

I’ve been a fan of Atelier Cologne since 2010 when the brand was established. Over the years they released many fragrances that I liked and have in my collection. When Jasmin Angelique was introduced 4 years ago I got a travel spray as a freebie when swapping with someone. But I didn’t like it at that time. After spending years in purgatory drawer I found it while looking for something else. I tested it once more and to my surprise I find it pleasant now. The opening combines spicy sharpness of sichuan pepper with a brisky smell of lemon, both its juicy flesh and aromatic zest. After a few minutes angelica joins the composition and from that moment the scent will remain green until the end. Angelica introduces stem-like kind of green, quite crispy and warm at the same time. Addition of fig makes Jasmin Angelique more fruity and milky, therefore rounder and more approachable. Galbanum is a source of more sappy & resinous variety of green note, there’s something tad more dark behind it. When jasmine appears the perfume is very verdant, like a secret garden in which white flowers begin to unfold their petals. Jasmine is rich and strong, heady a bit but not indolic. In dries down revealing notes of soft and sensual tonka mixed with frankincense and amber. It’s a rather elegant and unobvious take on a green theme.

orange-x-santal

Essential Parfums is a new brand that debuted in 2018 and in the world of niche perfumery, where price increases are seen almost everywhere, it’s like a breath of fresh air. The brand works with perfumers of well-known names, their packaging is minimalistic, fragrances are totally fine and yet they charge less than 70 Euro for a 100 ml bottle. At Esxence I tried the entire range of five compositions and I liked Orange x Santal the most. Welcomed by a duet of super juicy and naturally smelling Italian orange and bitter orange, I can smell the pulp, the juice and the rind. It’s an uplifting and invigorating opening that is sure to wake you up. It’s almost as if someone served you a glass of freshly squeezed juice. A touch of basil introduces and aromatic vibe of green, Mediterranean landscape. This picture is even more visualized in my head thanks to cypress which brings forward a slightly different aspect of verdant note, more dry and shrub-like. Cypress is also like a prelude to the woodiness that Orange x Santal has to offer. Sandalwood (from Australia) in this perfume is really pretty. It’s more on a dry and rugged side rather than on creamy side and there’s something about it that makes me think of color red. It combines nicely with the juicy fruitiness of orange. Oakmoss introduces a parched, aromatic vibe that’s slightly like a chypre. It’s a nice option for summer days.

memo-oriental-leatherThe collection of Cuirs Nomades at Memo Paris has just gotten bigger thanks to Oriental Leather that joined the family very recently. As someone who thinks that all 6 (now 7) leathers are well done, I’m quite eager to smell what new ideas Memo might bring to this range. Oriental Leather opens with a soothing scent of aromatic lavender. The smell is quite deep, relaxing, inflected with fougere elements. Geranium introduces a green-aromatic and crunchy facet. Pimento and coriander bring something spicy and dry to the scent. Very soon patchouli joins the composition and completely changes the scent. Oriental Leather becomes dark and mysterious. Patchouli is very earthy and damp here, also carrying the facet of rotting vegetation. There’s an impressive depth and multi-dimensional effect to it but the scent is specific. Finally leather appears – it’s quite bulky, rugged and still smelling slightly of the chemicals it was treated with at the workshop. It blends with patchouli making these 2 hard to separate. Later on things get more round and smooth. Cinnamon adds a nice fizziness and clove appears next bringing a spicy vibe that is more tenacious. After a few hours there’s a vanillic trace hovering in the background but it quickly gets lost under a resinous, balmy, slightly caramelized benzoin. To me it’s probably the most oriental part of Oriental Leather. Additional notes include anise and tea but I didn’t notice either of them. Some will like this one, some will like it less.  It sure is far from the one I like the most. I’m ready to forget it.

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