The iris has been called funereal. That may be true, the scent of irises is a bit dark and a bit heavy, but that is only one aspect of the scent to be sure. There are others: the creamy soft note that is in the orris butter itself. You find that in few perfumes because the synthetic irises do not mimic the butter note successfully. The only place I find the note in all its unctuous spread on bread glory, is in my bottle of Parfums de Nicolai Balkis, and my bottle is an old one, presumably the first version of that fragrance. The fat deposits of iris, the gourmand part if you like, are there in the scent after the initial raspberry note subsides. Then all of a sudden you catch the soft malleable scent of orris butter and this is a creamy scent that practically makes my mouth water. Only later do the purple crepuscular aspects of iris creep in like twilight at a pastry shop. In this case the intermingled scent of raspberry jam, bourbon roses and abandoned coffee cups lingers
on like ghosts at a Konditorei.
I’m not sure whether you can call an afternoon at a coffee shop romantic, but if you can, then Balkis in its first form brought the atmosphere to life. Balkis was a romantic perfume that was also gourmand. Patricia de Nicolai seems to specialize in this sort of fragrance, consider Kiss Me Tender, a scent of dragees and heliotrope, or her Sacrebleu, the red berried, cake battered re- think of L’Heure Bleue. Balkis though, whether it conjured up the interior of a Patisserie at dusk or a mid morning breakfast of coffee, raspberry jam and buttered croissants in a June garden crowded with iris and roses, is unfailingly feminine and charming.
28 La Pausa is not what anyone could call a gourmand except fleetingly in the beginning. But then this Chanel perfume succeeds in doing what no other Chanel does: it makes me hungry. I’m referring once again to the butter aspect of the iris root, and that visits this perfume only briefly. I wish that it could linger, but my guess is that the butter note is an expensive one and consequently the public rarely enjoys any iris butter at all. The next note that you can’t- and shouldn’t- miss in 28 is the bread note. This is so seductive, it reminds me of the scent of fresh rolls, and there is something so appealing about this great big farinaceous iris, that you really feel as if you’d been snacking on iris rolls slathered in iris butter instead of wearing them. Anyway I do, enough to stop and check myself for crumbs. I find this one of the most delectable of the Chanels- which are not ordinarily food centric scents.
Then there was Iris Ganache, rather less appetizing to me than the Chanel, but the buttery part of iris is impersonated cleverly here in a more synthetic iris perfume by white chocolate. I don’t think that the butter of white chocolate is as beguiling as the natural fat of iris, but a lot of people differ with this opinion because of all the recently discontinued Guerlains, Iris Ganache most closely approaches cult status. If you liked Insolence but wanted more of the Guerlain gourmandizing, then surely Iris Ganache was a treat. I found the fragrance a tad too thick, a shade too dark, but ultimately a clever way to balance old and new Guerlain notes, principally the old L”Heure Bleue nougat with chocolate, iris, and the violets of Insolence. Too bad not everyone loved this confection, but Iris Ganache was sweet enough to go home with buyers on a paper doily, tied up with ribbons in a pink pastry box. Maybe that packaging would have been more appealing, it certainly would have been truth in advertising.