Created in 2000 by Jean Claude Ellena, Bois d’Iris has fuelled my love of iris, a perfume note often reserved for women or blended with woods and resins in men’s fragrances. Iris plays a secondary role in Christian Dior’s Dior Homme, a scent of leather, wood and vanilla. Gucci Pour Homme is another example where iris is present but heavily masked by other ingredients such as frankincense, amber and vetiver. The scent of iris is distilled from the root or rhizomes of the plant’s fragrant varieties such as Iris Pallida or Iris Germanica. The complex process takes up to 6 years to harvest, dry and produce, making the resulting orris butter one of perfume’s most expensive ingredients. Ellena has chosen to use Florentine Iris (Iris Pallida), which is known for its quality and scent. The growing conditions in Tuscany impart a unique character to the final product that is unrivaled. The Different Company uses 200kg of rhizomes to product 250ml of Bois d’Iris perfume.
Bois d’Iris shares less in common with Ellena’s other masterpieces. I often find a sense of space within his creations. Bois d’Iris is a very intimate experience. Like someone whispering in your ear, you need to lean in to take in the message they want to communicate. When you first release the scent the floral notes are the first impression you receive. Lightened by the presence of bergamot and narcissus the scent is airy and sweet. The geranium is very powdery with spicy undertones. Once these florals begin their evaporation iris takes over, the fragrance becomes weighty and dense. Ellena’s iris is woody, as the title suggests. This earthy scent is further grounded by the use of vetiver, cedar and musk.
Not a scent to appeal to the male masses. Luca Turin lists Lanvin’s Arpege as his third favourite women’s perfume for men. Any man wearing Arpege should be interested in Bois d’Iris if they haven’t already discovered it. It is a wonderfully complex scent that will appeal to the dandy in you. I admit it is a highly feminine fragrance, yet on the right male it is a success. Bois d’Iris’ wearer should be masculine, over 30 and not shy of flowers. It is a different demographic to Prada’s sheer modern take on Iris. On the wrong guy, it can smell like you have been rolling in granny’s talc.
Hermes Hiris, Lanvin Arpégé, L’Artisan Iris Pallida, Prada Infusion d’Iris, Chanel 28 La Pausa, Serge Luten Iris Silver Mist, Chanel No 19 EDT
Perfumer: Jean-Claude Ellena (Symrise)
Bottle designer: Thierry de Baschmakoff
Release date: 2000
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Mossy Woods