I’m a bit late to the party in reviewing Van Cleef & Arpels’ “Collection Extraordinaire” – Octavian at 1000fragrances and Patty at the Perfume Posse have been doing a thorough job of it, and Robin at Now Smell This has expressed her appreciation of Bois d’Iris by walking her talk, and buying a bottle on the spot at retail price, which is saying something.
Nevertheless, I feel I need to add to the concert of praise, if only because sniffing this out of the bottle made me blurt out “It’s so beautiful”, something that only happens a few times a year… Actually, there’s only one thing I’d hold against Bois d’Iris: the name. Which is already taken by The Different Company. I can’t quite figure out how that happened. I can’t imagine Jean-Claude Ellena is too pleased about it.
In sampling Bois d’Iris, I was reminded of three other scents, not because they have similar smells but because they have allowed me to approach iris from a different angle. The two first, Guerlain Attrape-Coeur and Parfumerie Générale Felanilla because both, like Bois d’Iris, play on the cold-warm contrast of iris matched with an amber-vanilla base that simultaneously mellows out the chilliness of the iris and gives a backbone to the smoothness of balsamic notes. The third, Parfums DelRae Mythique, because Bois d’Iris also plays on a very tactile dimension of scent. But while the first is as velvety as the thinnest suede glove, the second has the pearly grey silkiness of driftwood, an effect that must have been deliberately sought out by its author, Emilie Coppermann, since it’s mentioned in the press release.
There’s nothing rooty or earthy about the iris in Bois d’Iris: as its name indicates, the woodier aspects of the note are brought out alongside the metallic-candied violet facet. The seaside evocation of driftwood is compounded by a skilful re-creation of the saline-mossy-suave ambergris note (possibly a trend, since an ambergris accord is also prominent in Prada L'Eau Ambrée).
As the scent develops, the woodiness of iris slides into the green, smoky scent of vetiver; in turn, this smokiness mingles with wisps of cold, mineral incense. These austere, ethereal notes cling to an enticing base of milky amber and sweet, almost burnt vanilla, shot through with cinnamon-y, resinous flashes of myrrh. So this is what iris smells like when it falls in love with skin. Your skin.
Image: Nude On Sand by Edward Weston (1936)
I really must get back to the Collection. I have already pretty much fallen for Gardenia Petale and Muguet Blanc, but I haven't yet explored Bois d'Iris, except for a very quick sniff.RépondreSupprimer
Tactile fragrances? Love! I adore Mythique, with it's soft, glove-like scent and feel. The notes in Bois d'Iris sound glorious, as does the driftwood reference. I would love to do a side by side comparison.
Usually I am not a fan of iris and powder (though admittedly I haven't tried the other iris you mention)... But smelling this out of the vial I had exactly your same thoughts: this is beautiful. And even better on skin. The resinous dry-down is my favorite part. I sometimes get a pinch of spices, sometimes I don't.RépondreSupprimer
Beautiful review and great pics! (as usual)
Melissa, that's the problem with collections like these, isn't it? There's just too much to explore all at once. But then, what's the rush?RépondreSupprimer
Zazie, I'm not an iris soliflore fan either, or amber, but the two together, treating in this light manner, really work for me.RépondreSupprimer
I'm usually happy to pass on iris scents, but the idea of tying the iris to amber is intriguing...I may have to sample this one.RépondreSupprimer
Thanks for a brilliant review - & great to see you're still discovering gold amidst the (mostly) dross of new releases; I guess VC&A's Collection has staved off potential bloggers' fatigue a little while longer :)
Oh, another lovely review! You're a joy to read.RépondreSupprimer
I am longing to sniff the Collection Extraordinaire, although I had told myself I should stay away, given my budget limits. And I didn't think that the iris scent would be the one most interesting to me, as I've had iffy luck with iris-focused scents, but I may be wrong about that.
I love Attrape-Coeur; Felanilla was certainly interesting; I haven't gotten my mitts on any Mythique yet. My favorite iris scents are ones where the iris sneaks up on me - No. 19 & 31 Rue Cambon.
With all the depressing reformulations going on, it's particularly wonderful to find that some new releases are worth wearing.
Oh my word. My lemming glands are swelling. This sounds absolutely divine, especially to an iris lover like me. The only problem is that I don't know where in hell I will get this in Ireland. Which is probably all to the good, for my wallet at any rate. I'm dying to try the Collection Extraordinaire in its entirety though.RépondreSupprimer
Aw, "uncle." Now all of my peeps have pushed me to take a hit.RépondreSupprimer
Maybe I need to just ride the wave and embrace the fact that the current vogue is concoctions that track well with my own preferences. Saline Amber Woody Iris mossy green mineral playing nicely together mmmmm....
I shall go sniff happily into that good IFRA compliance night, with a host of well done contemporary releases to sustain me.
(Looks around for a split...Mimi? ;) )
I'm always in the market for a split...
*polishes nails nonchalantly*
Parfymerad, I'm very happy to have staved off that particular fatigue as well!RépondreSupprimer
Mals86, I'm no huge iris lover myself though I utterly adore N°19 and 31 rue Cambon. And I can't afford to take the plunge either, which in a way is a good thing: then I get to sample over and over, and really, seriously make up my mind. I'm no impulse buyer, that's for sure.RépondreSupprimer
Scentscelf, the problem with IFRA compliance is that it can change from one year to the other,so who knows if the current batch won't be threatened in 2011? But, ok, let's be optimistic: there'll always be new, great stuff (chants to herself).RépondreSupprimer
Mimi, about Ireland, I really don't know... Sometimes, geography can be a blessing for the wallet!RépondreSupprimer
OH. Oh oh oh. The more I read, the more I want to sniff.RépondreSupprimer
Dissed: sniff away! And report back!RépondreSupprimer
I'm so glad you added your voice to the chorus--what a lovely review. And those photos!RépondreSupprimer
I am not a flat-out iris lover either, but love Attrape Couer, No. 19, and Mythique and enjoyed my sample of Felanilla very much. Can't wait to sniff...
Alyssa, I'd say Bois d'Iris is a lot sheerer than all of these - a little bit "molecular".RépondreSupprimer
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