Saturday, October 18, 2008

Frederic Malle, Iris Poudre: A Review

Iris Poudre was created in 2000 by Pierre Bourdon. Iris Poudre translates to “Powdery Iris” in English so this is the reason it’s taken me eight years to purchase it – I’m not a fan of most powdery fragrances (I still shudder at the thought of Habanita).

Iris Poudre is not so powdery after all. There’s a hint of powder, but it’s a conservative amount, such that if the name of the fragrance didn’t contain ‘powder’ I might have found this beautiful perfume long ago.

This is the description of Iris Poudre from the Editions de Parfums website:
“Iris expresses raw classical beauty. Tonka bean, musk and vanilla bring softness and warmth, while the base of sandalwood and vetiver adds a melodious resonance. If Pierre Bourdon's Iris Poudre were a garment, it would be a cashmere sweater - classic but personal, appropriate for most occasions, something one never tires of. It is a grand floral aldehydic.”

No offense to anyone but I am so tired of the cashmere sweater analogy. And, in this instance, I don’t think Iris Poudre is remotely similar to a ‘cashmere sweater’ type of fragrance. For me, a ‘cashmere sweater’ type fragrance would be prominently amber, woods and vanilla, not iris. That said, I understand what those calling Iris Poudre a cashmere sweater are getting at – it’s that Iris Poudre, like a cashmere sweater, is a sophisticated, classic yet versatile fragrance. ‘Raw’ is another word in the description from Editions de Parfums that baffles me. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the usage of this word, in the context of classical beauty, but I would never use the word ‘raw’ to describe Iris Poudre myself. The best way I can describe Iris Poudre is to say it smells like an iris fragrance created by Chanel. Iris Poudre smells classic in a totally Chanel-esque way. It’s fairly linear and does not change a great deal from initial spray to dry down. The usage of aldehydes in Iris Poudre are reminiscent of a Chanel Exclusif – meaning that the aldehydes are there – but not particularly aggressive. Iris is certainly the main act in this fragrance; she is there at all times. In the beginning, Iris Poudre has a slight vegetal and cold quality, being a lover of Iris Silver Mist, I enjoy this stage. But Iris Poudre warms up a bit by the time it dries down, and overall I wouldn’t consider it cold but instead warm and the vegetal quality softens to a nearly undetectable status.

Iris Poudre seems a perfect fragrance for the perfumista who loves classic fragrances. I do think most iris fragrances are meant for perfume aficionados and not mainstream fragrance buyers. The aroma of iris is just unusual enough that I imagine those who don’t have more than a dozen bottles of perfume and who can’t quickly recite the definition of ‘chypre’ would find it just a bit too odd ;-) However, Iris Poudre, in the scheme of other iris fragrances, is a rather middle of the road fragrance. For instance, Iris Poudre is nowhere near as earthy, cold, and idiosyncratic as Iris Silver Mist but it’s also much less girly and sweet when compared with L’Artisan’s Iris Pallida. Iris Poudre seems to stand in the middle of the pack – not particularly edgy – but also edgier and more unisex than Iris Pallida and Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile.

I happen to love Iris Poudre. It’s an exquisitely done iris aldehydic fragrance that’s sheer and transparent with enough facets to make you want to inhale it again and again.

Longevity: Excellent – 6+ hours
Sillage: Soft – Average

Iris Poudre notes (from basenotes) –
Top: bergamot, orange, rosewood, ylang-ylang, carnation
Heart: magnolia, jasmine, muguet, violetta-rose, aldehydes
Base: iris, musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, ebony,
The Editions de Parfums website also mentions: tonka bean and vetiver

You may purchase Iris Poudre from Barney’s and Editions de Parfums from the U.S.

Pic "Tennessee Irises" from


Blog Author said...
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Blog Author said...

This is also one of my favourite Malle's ever. I have vowed never to let wifey's bottle dry up! :)

Anonymous said...

I find I'm the opposite...I LOVE the powdery stuff. Iris Poudre was therefor a disappointment for me. All sparkly aldehydes and whatnot. Beautiful on the right person I'm sure, but where's the iris???

Abigail said...

Dane, the iris is totally there! That's the most powerful floral I can smell. If you love powder you must looove Habanita ;-)

diana said...

Powder? Nooo thankyou. I can't stand powdery scents(but the real things ok)What is it that gives off that 'powdwer' note?, I know I should love Shalimar,reference oriental et al..but I can't get past that powder note. What does it come from?