Quick fragrance reviews of Le Labo Thé Noir 29 and Nomenclature iri_del.
Le Labo Thé Noir 29
We all know better by now than to expect anything from the perfume names at niche line Le Labo: they're named for the note in greatest concentration, NOT for the note that "stars" in the fragrance. And I do know that, but I just can't help myself. I was hoping for a big black tea (preferably a nicely smoked Earl Grey) from Thé Noir 29 and was consequently disappointed by this fresh, pale amber-y wood with hints of fig and a slight rose-y floral note. There's a sheer berry top note, and there's something sort of like tea in the dry down (Le Labo's copy: "A special extraction of black tea leaves wraps up the composition by bringing to the formula a dry, leafy, hay, tobacco feeling in the dry down to transform this creation into a sensuous and addictive essence.") It's all quite pleasant and summer-y, and it does have a dry, leafy, hay, tobacco feeling after a bit. Once I gave up on my smoked Earl Grey, I found it enjoyable enough, but it will not make my buy list, and the price struck me (as it often does) as rather steep.
Le Labo Thé Noir 29 was developed by perfumer Frank Voelkl. It is available in 50 ($160), 100 ml ($240) or 500 ($820) ml. Also available: the travel tube kit ($145), Perfume Oil ($130), Liquid Balm ($85) and Solid Perfume ($85). Other body products will follow in Spring 2016.
Niche line Nomenclature "celebrates design in perfume chemistry by showcasing today’s most inspiring, exclusive molecules" — Frank Voelkl's two entries focus on Helvetolide and Paradisone. The one that caught my attention, though, was Patricia Choux's iri_del, which is about iris aldehyde. The pr copy is right on target:
With its cucumber-cool, earthy, slightly skin-like facets contrasting with bright, clean, lined-dried linen effects, this modern, powerful organic compound comes as close as you can get to orris butter without tearing an iris field out by its roots and waiting six years for it to yield its fragrance. [...] This is iris gone urban: spare, fierce and sexy."
Yes and yes. This a dry, non-buttery, not-very-powdery iris, a little watery in the top notes, then very lean and modern, completely unisex. It's more austere than the "tender veil" of Prada's Infusion d'Iris, not so big (or unforgivingly rooty) as something like Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, and miles away from powder puffs like Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre. It made me think of a perfectly tailored grey wool suit, or a perfect Florence Knoll sofa (if they never showed one of those in Mad Men, they should have). If you like the general theme of sober elegance but iri_del is just too spare, you might try Thierry Mugler Oriental Express. If you'd prefer something more baroque, you could always try Aedes Iris Nazarena.
Nomenclature iri_del is $165 for 100 ml at Aedes. The Nomenclature brand is a project of Aedes' Karl Bradl (working with designer Carlos Quintana), so I'll include my usual disclaimer below.
Do comment if you've tried any great tea or iris fragrances lately!
Disclaimer: Aedes is a long-time advertiser at Now Smell This. We don't take direct advertising from perfume brands because we'd rather not be in the position of reviewing products made by our advertisers. Since some retailers have started introducing their own branded perfumes, and since we also don't want to ignore great fragrances, which are after all few and far between — here we are! If we didn't think [insert perfume name here] was wonderful, we probably wouldn't review it; in that sense, you can say this isn't a totally objective review (if such a thing exists).