Houbigant Iris des Champs was released in fall 2014; it is the brand's first launch since Orangers en Fleurs, a fragrance that I happened to enjoy quite a bit. Iris des Champs is described as "a heady, plush homage to iris," with notes of bergamot, pink pepper, rose, lily of the valley, pear, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, amber, woody notes, vanilla and musk. It was developed for Houbigant by perfumer Mathieu Nardin.
I looked forward to trying this fragrance, especially since I like many iris fragrances — and how beautiful is that packaging, right? Unfortunately, Iris des Champs didn't quite live up to my expectations. I've been sampling the Extrait de Parfum version this week. It begins in a promising fashion, with a rooty-green iris accord. Weirdly, that iris only lasts about a half-hour, to be replaced by a lighter heart of soapy orange blossom and other clean white florals with a background of transparent woods. By this point, it would be impossible to describe Iris des Champs as "heady" or "plush." In fact, it reminds me a bit of Prada Infusion d'Iris or Infusion d'Iris Absolue — it probably falls midway between the two in terms of intensity. That is, it's more of a sheer, contemporary interpretation of iris than an "homage" to classic iris fragrances. Its dry down is quiet but clings to my skin for hours. Too bad it's still not identifiably "iris," but more of a vanilla-musk skin scent with a dash of pink pepper.
Now that I'm reading some other reviews (which I try to avoid until I've finished drafting my own), I'm finding that some other bloggers got more out of this fragrance than I did. (Maybe the Eau de Parfum is somehow richer?) To my nose, Iris des Champs is nice enough, but it's not going to replace Le Labo Iris 39 or the dearly departed L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidée Blanche as my favorite iris fragrance. It's also very expensive, and this kind of pricing really bothers me when the fragrance in question really isn't all that distinctive. If I were to purchase another iris perfume, I'd choose Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger Rose Irisée, which gives far more bang for the buck (even if its bottle isn't as pretty).
Are you an iris-lover? Have you tried Iris des Champs? Can you recommend any other new iris-themed fragrance? Feel free to comment.
Houbigant Iris des Champs is available as 100 ml Extrait de Parfum ($600; shown top left and just above) and 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($190; shown top right). For purchasing information, see the listing for Houbigant under Perfume Houses.