This has lovely notes of ylang and jasmine with iris showing up a bit later. For an hour or two, it was glorious and then it was gone.
I've tested several of Luten's fragrances and sadly, none of them have adequate longevity on me to justify their cost. I'd like to get at least 4-6 hours from an edp.
When I pause to contemplate that Pierre Bourdon designed both Davidoffs Cool Water, 1988, and co-authored Shiseidos Féminité du Bois with Sheldrake and Lutens just four years later, I find it practically irreconcilable. The former drifts back to me from childhood, certainly the first of my fathers scents I applied to my neck (far too excessively). I remember the refreshing opening and amber-sweet depth. The latter stands up to the hype around its iconic status: plummy and woody, spiced and only slightly camphorous, descending into a beguiling syrup of private grins, resin, and fruit pulp.
Its Bourdons Iris Poudre, 2000, for Frederic Malle, that links up some of the underlying sensibilities in his extensive oeuvre (Ive only just ticked off several of the highlights). Unexpectedly, passing ghosts of both Cool Waters and Féminité du Bois drift along Iris Poudres edges.
Iris Poudre begins with huffy aldehydes, an exhalation of 1920s glitter in the order of early Chanel. Carried on this cloud is carnation at its most piquantso complete in its depiction that one almost wonders why it isnt the flower listed in the title. For sure, I dont find iris prominent within the composition. Along with spicy carnation and the creamy lemon of magnolia, ylang ylang blends temptingly with a softly-expressed jasmine. Nestled here and there, tiny cool, hushed violets are crushed between the thumb and the heel of ones well manicured hand. A ravishing bouquet darkened with a shade of danger, under a starry night sky, aldehydic chemtrails streaking the floral nocturne.
The iris such as it is plays out like a silently repeated habit: a nightly beauty routine that iterates iris velvety plushness, but leaves out the dirty rootiness of orris, the dark wet earth clinging under fingernails from digging. And whats called powder here is something like corn starch rather than the lusty, cosmetic notes that usually accompany iris/violet combinations.
Iris Poudre could use a little less composure, a little more beauty in the breakdown. It resorts to the easy likability of its big brother, Cool Waters: they share an amiable base of amber and wood, but most of all they both oblige in ways that defy a wearers categorical prejudices for aquatics or powdery irises respectively. Bourdons trick is simply that they arent much of what they profess to be.
In Iris Poudre, a tarte au citron gathers from the magnolia and rosewood, and stands well supported by facets of sandalwood, ebony, and vetiver. The easy, narcotic cloud of plump floral petals persists across wearing. The whole arc of the scent is pretty fast for me: it huffs of aldehydes, puffs of flowers and wood, then out the door so to speak.
Iris Poudre is like a long lost family member who bursts on stage during a taping of Maury to confirm the paternity of icons like Cool Water and Féminité du Bois. Its fascinating more for what it reveals in a designers life work and less for the efficacy of the scent itself. Its enjoyable enough, but for each of its traits, I could suggest handfuls of alternatives that do it all better.
Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle wasn't Pierre Bourdon's first go-around with ultra-luxe brands, as he was the "ghost perfumer" behind scents like Creed Green Irish Tweed (1985), and Bois du Portugal (1987), so he was already well-equipped to deliver on the promise of olfactory exclusivity and prestige promised by the bottle graphics. Bourdon's creation helped launch the Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle label back in 2000, which is when Iris Poudre hit counters. The concept behind this one was an honest-to-goodness aldehydic floral based on "powdered iris", which is effectively delivered in the dry down. Obviously, a scent like this was a direct stab at the classic early and mid 20th century feminine florals, which have increasingly become more suitable to men as tastes expand and barriers crumble, but unless you fancy yourself a modern dandy or are very liberal with your sexuality like myself, you might want to stay away from this one if you're a guy. I won't condemn this to "grandma's Avon" but it's pretty close with it's piquant top, creamy aldehyde heart, and musky base. Pierre Bourdon has certainly done better work (for less), but I find no fault in this since he was working under the context of a pretty strict theme, like with most Malle creations. Iris Poudre is absolutely nothing novel, nor even really anything particularly interesting, but you likely new that after reading the title of the perfume, and like a period-correct Penhaligon's scent, will appeal mainly to folks who romanticize this era of perfumery and it's surrounding culture.
Iris Poudre opens with bitter bergamot, orange peel, a faint rosewood, ylang ylang, and carnation, feeling like a "Sgt. Peppers" of old-school women's florals right away, and this opening lasts quite a while actually. I don't get much iris from Iris Poudre, at least not right away, and the florals give way to (wait for it)... more florals in the heart. The aldehydes aren't apparent right away, but when they show up, they're conjoined to a muguet note with just a drop of jasmine hedione. Magnolia is supposed to be here too, but I can't get a read on it personally. I'm also not getting much rose from this, but when you have two out of three tiers in a note pyramid dedicated to florals, this is bound to happen. The base here is as expected for this venerated type of scent, with musk, amber (hello Avon), vanilla, sandalwood, and finally that claimed powdered iris. It's the faintest of things right near the end, and although there at the finish for the skin-scent phase, really doesn't actually justify the name of "Iris Poudre" given, but maybe that's the point. Pierre Bourdon was instructed by Malle to make an old-fashioned floral aldehyde scent, and like most of them from back then playing on a single note theme, Iris Poudre gives the impression of the eponymous note through a build up of other notes, in effect being a high-end take on a drugstore synthetic iris scent a la something from the likes of Coty or Prince Matchabelli. Iris Poudre has a wear time that is in line with it's high-end theme, so if you dig what is presented here, a few sprays will keep you in a small bubble of flowers, aldehyde, and musk all day long, and is quite strong out of the sprayer, so be careful. I give a thumbs up to Iris Poudre for it's earnest approach to this kind style, but it's not really so much my thing.
Iris Poudre was likely a fun exercise for Pierre Bourdon back in the day, as 2000 was not exactly the time for aldehydic florals, and to be asked to go back in time 50+ years to make something this classic in style, and to do so with relatively low budgetary constraints is like asking a musician to record with vintage equipment his or her heroes used in decades past, and part of that "recreating history" shows in Iris Poudre. Is it wearable in the 21st century? Well, that depends on how much you care about what others think of the way you smell, but in the strictest of terms, not really. This is a very prim and proper scent regardless of gender, and feels like a cousin to something like L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci (1948) or Wind Song by Matchabelli (1953), which is definitely a hard sell unless you're a rich hipster particularly into postmodernism through fragrance. I like Iris Poudre if only because I like how unapologetic it is about what it wants to be, and there is just something very comfortable about it's airy opening, smooth transition between floral layers, and eventual soft musky glow. I do detect some faint aromachemical assistance right at the very end, but it's nothing like the norlimbanol/ambroxen bombs that Malle is passing out nearly 20 years after this member of his debut lineup launched. Pierre Bourdon's dandy display of flower power will set you back a few hundred, so I'd definitely hit up a counter to sniff before you go home with a bottle, since many of the originals from the era this emulates still circulate online for a lot cheaper if you want to get your foot in the door on this style. That having been said, this is perfectly buttoned up for work or casual use in almost all seasons save winter, and the Malle faithful likely don't see the investment needed to enjoy the retro-modern Iris Poudre as that big of a deal.
I was really hoping to love this one because Iris Poudre sounded like just the kind of thing that would up my sophistication game. I have a decided lack of floral aldehydes in my perfume repertoire, but wanted to change all that after falling for Amouage Gold. Here, I thought, was an even more classy, glamorous scent that would prove that I have good taste after all!
No such luck. I really like the opening foray: the citric aldehydes bubbling away and the delicate florals that make me think of Chanel, but soon something I could not recognize or name started to make me go increasingly squinty-eyed. This note (or notes) smelled chemical and synthetic in a highly unpleasant way--a scratchy, irritating melange of...something. I still don't know what this/these woody-ish base notes are (ebony??), but I do know whatever it was ruined my interest in this particular Malle. Oh, well, I'll always have Une Fleur de Cassie.