There are huge Jean Claude Ellena (JCE) fans out there; it’s a cult-following. Me, I respect his talent and will always sniff anything new he creates. But mostly I feel indebted to JCE because he forged ahead with his “tea accord” back in the early 90’s which I consider a personal favor the man did for me. However, I must admit that JCE’s sheer, linear style isn’t typically my thing; I’m a girl who loves orientals, florientals and chypres. Occasionally I am blown away by the sheer beauty of something in the simple soliflore category, and this happens constantly with almost everything from Annick Goutal, but I don’t typically seek out these sorts of fragrances. I have about a dozen favorites in this category, which I whip out during the summer months, and I wasn’t really looking for more.
Well, this year I’ve had a few of these sheer, linear, soliflore-type beauties sneak up on me and become part of my permanent collection. First there was Byredo La Tulipe, then il Profumo Blanche Jacinthe, then Annick Goutal Rose Splendide (but on me this one is pretty potent) and now there is Hermessence Iris Ukiyoe.I have always wanted to find a fragrance that smells like iris FLOWERS. Not the roots, rhizome, bulb, cold wet earth stuff, but the scent of iris flowers. Oh, don’t tell me the iris flower doesn’t have scent, it surely does, and in my garden back in New Jersey, I had several beautiful varieties of scented iris. I adore Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile in both edt and edp (very different scents) and so far I’ve found these to be the best abstract interpretations of the scent of iris flowers. The AdP iris scents are quite voluptuous and full bodied, these aren’t sheer little soliflores but both fall into the floriental category. DSH L’eau d’Iris is another iris floral worth checking out and this one falls more in line with the new Hermessence Iris Ukiyoe; so don’t miss out on that one.
Anyway, let me get to the point: Hermessence Iris Ukiyoe is beautiful, especially if you are looking for a linear, sheer scent that smells like iris flowers. Iris Ukiyoe is realistic, like a photograph, not a painting; it smells of irises, but also contains a soft vegetal quality, like freshly cut stems, that oozy cellular plant-like scent you get on your hands when trimming irises for a vase (Byredo La Tulipe is like this, so obviously I have a thing for stem juice). Once dried down, IU becomes a softly peppery aquatic scent, one that I wasn’t sure I’d like, but oh, how I do. I’m pleasantly surprised by IU’s longevity. Don’t get me wrong, this is a JCE creation, so it’s far from a sillage monster, but it wears nicely on me for about 3 hours and I don’t mind re-applying. It strikes me that this is a perfect scent for gardeners or for a person specifically looking for an iris floral scent. It’s a quirky smell, so if someone were not to recognize the scent of an iris flower, I imagine s/he might think it’s a little odd. I love it. Had Iris Ukiyoe appeared on shelves back in May I would have worn it lots and lots this past summer.