what does iris smell like??

The_Cologneist

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2010
It's slightly sweet but I don't get much out of Iris flowers or the oils. It's usually a purple flower though I think they bloom in yellow and white as well.

It's actually hard to describe the smell specifically because it smells like a combination of things, but it's not something that I would want my entire fragrance base to consist of.
 
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DustB

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 5, 2003
Blackened, it's a creamy and light smell, that's sort of like smelling powder and sometimes (not always) like smelling something slightly carroty. It is floral, but isn't an over the top flower. The powdery-ness of it tempers any kind of would-be bouquet effect and it is usually matched with other things to support it in any iris fragrance.

It might be best to go to a local flower shop and ask to look at irises. Then just smell one and say you'll be back later or something.
 

blackened

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2010
Ok , thanks dust and cologneist, I heard something about lipstick component, and i have the impression about something close to slighter rose smell , or little whitte flower
 

ROtto

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2008
Iris flowers have almost no smell. The natural iris used in perfumery is extracted from the roots, so it can smell like boiled carrots. It's a very expensive ingredient, but cheaper synthetic chemicals that mimic this smell have been found, so iris perfumes are not as expensive as they used to be.

Get a sample or decant of Iris Silver Mist for the purest example of this accord. Then it's easy to spot in other perfumes such as various Chanels and Dior Homme.
 

Sugandaraja

Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Aug 28, 2007
Orris powder is a great cheap way of experiencing the basic "iris" smell, a certain rooty-powdery violet quality that's easier to smell than explain. However, iris in fragrances varies almost as much as rose does, and can be earthy and spicy ( Iris Silver Mist ), woody and dry ( Iris Pallida ), sweet and powdery ( Bois d'Argent ), and so on. Violets, carrots, powder, and lipstick are all common descriptors.
 

Snafoo

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2006
Try this recent thread. It has numerous other links to similar threads that explain the iris note in great detail. Be particularly attentive to any post by Scentemental - no further explanation is necessary after reading anything he has to say on a subject.
http://www.basenotes.net/threads/243139-What-does-iris-actually-smell-like?highlight=iris

It's slightly sweet but I don't get much out of Iris flowers or the oils. It's usually a purple flower though I think they bloom in yellow and white as well.

It's actually hard to describe the smell specifically because it smells like a combination of things, but it's not something that I would want my entire fragrance base to consist of.
The iris note in fragrances has little in common with iris flower, unless that was the perfumer's specific objective. Iris butter is produced from the root (a rhizome, if you want to get technical), not the flower. And I most definitely would be happy to have my entire fragrance base consist of iris; it's one of my favorite notes. To each his own. I second the suggestion to try Iris Silver Mist as the definitive iris fragrance. Anyone who hasn't smelled ISM doesn't know iris IMO. Other good examples are Iris Pallida, Bois d'Iris, Hiris, Iris Nobile... the list is long. Dior Homme, which I love, is not the best example for learning iris because there's so much more going on there.

Iris flowers have almost no smell. ...
I frequently see this comment on these types of posts, and I'm continually amazed and perplexed by it. Iris most definitely has a smell, and it's unique among all the flowers I've smelled. It's definitely worth the trouble to find an iris flower and stick your nose in it (pick a warm sunny day and make sure there are no bees in there first). No, it's not heady and overpowering like a rose or gardenia, but it's not odorless by any means. But don't expect an epiphany with respect to the iris note in fragrances. You'd do better to dig up the plant and smell the root instead.
 
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The_Cologneist

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2010
Try this recent thread. It has numerous other links to similar threads that explain the iris note in great detail. Be particularly attentive to any post by Scentemental - no further explanation is necessary after reading anything he has to say on a subject.
http://www.basenotes.net/threads/243139-What-does-iris-actually-smell-like?highlight=iris


The iris note in fragrances has little in common with iris flower, unless that was the perfumer's specific objective. Iris butter is produced from the root (a rhizome, if you want to get technical), not the flower. And I most definitely would be happy to have my entire fragrance base consist of iris; it's one of my favorite notes. To each his own. I second the suggestion to try Iris Silver Mist as the definitive iris fragrance. Anyone who hasn't smelled ISM doesn't know iris IMO. Other good examples are Iris Pallida, Bois d'Iris, Hiris, Iris Nobile... the list is long. Dior Homme, which I love, is not the best example for learning iris because there's so much more going on there.


I frequently see this comment on these types of posts, and I'm continually amazed and perplexed by it. Iris most definitely has a smell, and it's unique among all the flowers I've smelled. It's definitely worth the trouble to find an iris flower and stick your nose in it (pick a warm sunny day and make sure there are no bees in there first). No, it's not heady and overpowering like a rose or gardenia, but it's not odorless by any means. But don't expect an epiphany with respect to the iris note in fragrances. You'd do better to dig up the plant and smell the root instead.

Actually.. there's iris, and then there's orris root which is the dried bulb from the iris. Both of which are two completely different notes. As others suggest for the OP to perhaps go find an Iris flower and smell it to get a better idea of what's extracted from the flower and placed into our perfumes. As for Orris root which seems to be what you're referring to, I have never tried this separately.

OP asked what Iris smells like, not Orris Root.
 
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Sugandaraja

Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Aug 28, 2007
Actually.. there's iris, and then there's orris root which is the dried bulb from the iris. Both of which are two completely different notes. As others suggest for the OP to perhaps go find an Iris flower and smell it to get a better idea of what's extracted from the flower and placed into our perfumes. As for Orris root which seems to be what you're referring to, I have never tried this separately.

OP asked what Iris smells like, not Orris Root.

Iris in perfumery is orris. If you smell an iris note, it will smell like orris, not like iris flowers.
 

DustB

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 5, 2003
When iris is mentioned in fragrance references, and when a poster asks a fine question to get at what smell that might mean, I think it's helpful to try to meet the minds. Easy enough to understand.
 

The_Cologneist

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2010
Iris in perfumery is orris. If you smell an iris note, it will smell like orris, not like iris flowers.

I have been a part of a project where they used oils from iris flowers as one of the ingredients, I can't tell you what orris extract smells like because I've never smelled it, but I do know they are completely different. You can also search through the directory type in 'iris' on one search and 'orris' on another and you see they are not the same. Although I have never smelled orris as I said, but I can't imagine them using two different names for the same ingredient. Iris is in fact extracted from the iris and not from the iris bulb or the orris.
 

Sugandaraja

Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Aug 28, 2007
Iris flowers? That is definitely interesting - I've never heard of iris flower extracts; I'd be curious to smell it ( iris flowers have a lovely smell, for sure ).

Iris and orris are the same in perfumery, however, as many, many iris fragrances show. All the iris fragrances I've smelled have smelled strongly of orris, and that's about two dozen at this point, including Iris Pallida, Iris Taizo, Bois d'Iris, Infusion d'Iris, Iris Silver Mist, Iris Bleu Gris, Iris Gris ( one the very first iris fragrances, in fact, long before the current irisplosion ). I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just familiar with iris flowers and orris ( iris ) root, and ten times out of ten "iris" notes are orris, in my experience. :)
 
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Snafoo

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2006
I have been a part of a project where they used oils from iris flowers as one of the ingredients, I can't tell you what orris extract smells like because I've never smelled it, but I do know they are completely different. You can also search through the directory type in 'iris' on one search and 'orris' on another and you see they are not the same. Although I have never smelled orris as I said, but I can't imagine them using two different names for the same ingredient. Iris is in fact extracted from the iris and not from the iris bulb or the orris.
Iris and Orris are nearly always used interchangeably in common references, probably because the vast majority of the buying public wouldn't know orris from Shinola, but everyone knows what an iris is. Finally, (and I'm trying to be diplomatic here) I really don't think such a thing as iris flower oil exists. Any version of an iris flower note in perfumery is an artificial construct, like ionone is for violet.

From osMoz.com: "After three years of growth, the [iris] roots are peeled, dried, ground and steam distilled to extract the essence. This process is long, complicated and low-yielding, hence the high cost of the essence (over $600 a pound). Purification of the essence eliminates the fatty acids and yields the absolute. Perfumers re-create the extraordinary fragrance of certain varieties of the flower because no method of extraction has proven conclusive."
 
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foetidus

Well-known member
Sep 25, 2005
Iris flowers? That is definitely interesting - I've never heard of iris flower extracts; I'd be curious to smell it ( iris flowers have a lovely smell, for sure ).

Iris and orris are the same in perfumery, however, as many, many iris fragrances show. All the iris fragrances I've smelled have smelled strongly of orris, and that's about two dozen at this point, including Iris Pallida, Iris Taizo, Bois d'Iris, Infusion d'Iris, Iris Silver Mist, Iris Bleu Gris, Iris Gris ( one the very first iris fragrances, in fact, long before the current irisplosion ). I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just familiar with iris flowers and orris ( iris ) root, and ten times out of ten "iris" notes are orris, in my experience. :)

Actually I have seen iris flowers or petals used in perfumery. One example that I can think of off hand is Acqua di Parma's Iris Noble - it lists iris petals as an element of the top notes and iris root as a note in the base - I've seen the petals or flowers listed in other scents, too.
 

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