Iris must be the Meryl Streep of fragrance notes. In Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre, she plays a 17th century lady at her dressing table. In Le Labo Iris 39, she’s the earthy bohemian mistress with an intellectual bent. In Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, she’s the wild child with aristocratic roots and a pagan godmother.
In Naomi Goodsir Iris Cendré, iris might be a medieval monk who works in the garden during the day and faithfully attends incense-laden vespers, but who enjoys the comfort of his pipe and armchair in the wood-paneled library. Perfumer Julien Rasquinet developed Iris Cendré. It’s a unisex floral oriental, and its notes include bergamot, tangerine, spices, violet, iris, cistus, tobacco and amber.
In two words, Iris Cendré might be “fireplace iris.” Iris Cendré kicks off with a citrus hit that quickly gives way to burning wood, pepper, crushed stems and dirty iris. The fragrance is already formed from its first sniff, unlike some perfumes that need some breaking in to release their true selves.
As the perfume wears, its iris crawls from beneath the woodsmoke in ginger-tinged rootiness, shaking the loam from its arms. Iris Cendré burns down to a rooty-tobacco growl that never goes overly sweet. It lasts about four hours on my skin.
I love iris in all its roles. I love it as a dupe for rosy-violet when it plays face-powder seductive. I love it when it’s fruity and welcoming and almost demands a shot of vodka, an umbrella and a neon pedicure. I love it as a smart layer to an already complex perfume, as in Chanel Cuir de Russie. But I think I love it most in its earthy, wild role, as it is in Iris Cendré. My bottle of Iris 39 is drained, and I’ve been seesawing between replacing it with another Iris 39 or going for Iris Silver Mist. I just might do Iris Cendré instead.