Felanilla 21 fragrance notes

  • Head

    • saffron, vanilla absolute
  • Heart

    • iris absolute, hay absolute
  • Base

    • amber, fruity woods

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Latest Reviews of Felanilla 21

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Felanilla is clear and simple: a three card trick of iris, vanilla and saffron.
But these are complex natural notes, and their contrasts and harmonies form a whole web of nuances.
So, as well as being simple and direct, it’s subtle and complex at the same time.
And this gives it a wide range of emotional tones; aloof and cool on the one hand, visceral on the other.
Very good stuff.
14th January 2020
Iris and hay notes straight away. They combine, creating a sort of suede accord to me. Literally, I smell tiny threads of saffron. The iris seems to perch on top of a layer of something fruity, slightly candied.

All settles into an iris touched, with vanilla, floating on a sea of ambery goodness. Powdery. Graceful.
6th April 2019

Felanilla is an iris-heavy oriental perfume from 2008. It came on the heels of two other irises in the Parfumerie Generale Line: Iris Oriental (née Iris Taizo) in 2006 and Cuir d'Iris in 2007. The three were part of the ‘new iris' trend of the mid-'00s that blurred the line between mainstream and niche. The Parfumerie Generale perfumes and other independent perfumes like Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile and Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir were matched head-to-head by Dior Homme, Prada Infusion d'Iris and Gianfranco Ferre Ferre EDP.

Felanilla hit the scene at a very particular moment for iris. Niche perfumery was exploding and designer brands were keen to steal niche's fire (and revenue). Guerlain, Cartier, Hermès, Dior, Chanel and the like were investing heavily in new ‘exclusive' luxury sub-lines to lure niche customers out of LuckyScent, Osswald and Les Senteurs and into their own boutiques. Niche brands had always viewed themselves outside the mainstream. They were better than ‘ordinary' perfumes because more inventive and more daring. The new high-end designer lines reversed the logic of the indies focusing on exclusivity rather than inventiveness. These new premier lines didn't phrase themselves as outrageous or even as much different than their department store counterparts. They were simply more select and therefore more desirable. They were just better.

Iris was the perfect note to bridge the divide. (This was a heartbeat before oud.) Historically, orris denoted luxury and prestige. On a practical level, iris had an affinity with berry and chocolate notes on one side, sheer woody notes on another and powdery floral notes on still another. The versatility of the note created an effortless range from the sweet tooth of Guerlain Iris Ganache to the restraint of Chanel 28 La Pausa. The flexibility allowed for new sophisticated styles of gourmand perfumes at a time when a large cohort of young women were outgrowing the syrupy fruity-florals and cupcake gourmands they had worn for the past 5-10 years.

Felanilla veered away from the sweet end of the spectrum, but with a focus on vanilla it did comment on gourmandism, if obliquely. From a certain angle it smells like a dessert recipe that forgot the sugar. Like cough-syrup flavored buttercream icing. But the lack of sweetness had a point. It seems to say, ‘if you're looking for sexy, the curves are in the vanilla, not in the sugar.' From start to finish vanilla sits unadorned at the center of the perfume. It is fairly austere at the outset but gradually loosens its posture and settles into a more relaxed stance. A potent saffron note marks Felanilla as ‘of its era' as much as the iris does, but the slight metallic touch it creates suits the overall firmness of the composition.

The iris and vanilla pairing might be a nod to Shalimar, but Felanilla skips the citrus lead-in and the sweet, smoky, powdery circus of the Guerlain classic. It freeze-dries the bulky classic oriental structure and shakes off the ornamentation, pairing down to essentials without a hint of nostalgia. Seen as an oriental, Felanilla doesn't seem to fit any particular trends of the time. It does, though, compare interestingly to the ‘new irises' that independent perfumers were devising at the time: Histoires de Parfums 1889, Serge Lutens Bas de Soie, le Labo Iris 39, l'Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha, Parfum d'Empire Equistris. Guillaume had previously placed iris in a woody, savory-gourmand setting in Iris Oriental and against a sweet-leather backdrop in Cuir d'Iris. Felanilla continued the investigation of iris, focusing on the woody-balsamic range that Guillaume and the Parfumerie Generale line would become well-known for.

The state of the perfume market in the mid-late '00s left me on the fence. I disliked the cynical trend of price-jacking that the exclusive lines fostered, but I loved the innovation that lead to exciting new approaches and styles. The trend of ‘new-irises' might have been co-opted by the luxury houses, but it also gave us a broad range of imaginative and gorgeous perfumes. Guillaume's irises capture the up-side of the time and have survived the test of time extremely well. 10 years later they compare favorably to any iris perfumes that have come along since.
22nd July 2017
Saffron, vanilla, iris, amber... I nearly bought a whole bottle blindly. I'm happy I only got a sample. I thought it would be a light gourmand I would love. What a disappointment. In the opening, I could only smell bitter medicine. Very balsamic. Then, pine tree. I told my male friend: this is for you ; it's too woody for me.
A few minutes later, I smelled a light iris. "Alright, give it back to me!". But the iris disappeared forever... I was very quickly left with a generic wood and amber, too powdery for most men, I think.
Sillage and longevity are below average.
And oh, I'm mad at the name! So misleading. But, I kind of like the irony now. Felony. You've been warned.
31st December 2016
Felanilla is basically a sort of balsamic-powdery gourmand, if that category ever existed; it opens with a resinous-leafy green note on vanilla, spices, a bold balsamic-balmy accord which reminds me of eucalyptus that creates a general and slightly haunting feel of Vicks Vaporub, and that sort of invigorating, balsamic-woody yet kind of sweet type of medicines. Initially I do not smell any iris at all, which starts to emerge and “blossom” soon after the opening. The iris note is, sadly, without any praise or blame; it's a clean, plain, conventional, artificial, trendy iris note without any depth or interesting substance - synthetic does not mean unpleasant, though: it's nice, just dull. That's it, no particular transaction occurs and Felanilla remains this sort of linear, resinous-powdery-balsamic iris-vanilla scent with a heavy medicinal feel. Honestly, the only thing I appreciate is how the iris note is elaborated here (or well, the idea at least), as it's well conceived and blended behind the resinous-balsamic notes, so “now you see it, now you don't”, like in a hall of mirrors. I think it's a clever idea which I wished was developed a bit better. Sadly all the rest is fairly disappointing to me: the substance smells plastic and plain, the notes smell to me quite generic and synthetically thin, the persistence is short and the drydown, occurring quite soon, is pale, faint and in my opinion, terribly boring (why so many niche scents are so ridicoulously short-lived?).

10th November 2014
A wonderful, sensual surprise. Iris and vanilla - hardly natural bedfellows, but somehow it works. Sexy vanilla wanders over to the cool, rooty Iris, who is typing a letter for her boss, leans over, pulls out the pencil from her bun and takes off her glasses, murmuring, "Why, Miss Jones....you are beautiful."

The opening is a fiercely rooty iris, made into a cool, silky powder that kind of feels like cornstarch in texture - it's light and aerated, but you also feel the back tug of something stiff and starchy, like rubbing your fingers the wrong way against a piece of silk. Although I don't know what banana wood is, there is something of the woody end of a banana stalk to this - not in terms of smell, but texture, because this smells kind of like when you get a bit of banana skin in your mouth by mistake. If you've ever done that, then you know what I mean - it sucks all the moisture out of your mouth.

The vanilla immediately starts to warm the iris from below, rolling it around its tongue until it is a sensual, buttery thing purring with contentment. Watching this happen is like when the black and white of the Wizard of Oz bleed into super-saturated color. I don't pick up any of the hay or saffron, which is disappointing because those are two of my favorite notes. In general, this is all about the vanilla and iris for me. The iris is warmed and made sensual by the vanilla, while the vanilla is given some intellectual backbone by the iris. It is both beautiful and unusual.
11th August 2014
Show all 19 Reviews of Felanilla 21 by Parfumerie Generale