Iris 39 was the first Le Labo perfume I truely loved. I just checked my notes from the very first time I tested anything by Le Labo and apparently Labdanum and Patchouli made a bigger first impression, but soon after it was Iris 39 that won me over with its little subtleties. It might have been the perfume that actually started my big affair with iris perfumes in
Iris 39 starts dry(ish) and green. It lets in a cool breeze but the not the ghostly chill of Iris Silver Mist, and the green stems remain above ground without dragging in any of the wet earth. Le Labo's victory here is achieved by not playing any of the iris cliches and not going to extremes just to show they can. There's nothing shocking about Iris 39 but it's not a pale watercolor of a woody iris, either (hello, Infusion d'Iris).
The iris is later fortified and injected with color by the use of slightly sweetened violet. It's not candied like MPG's Fleur d'Iris (not that there's anything wrong with that) and doesn't go all the way into feminine territory. There is a light fruit facet here, though, probably because of the gorgeous musk used in the base. That's where Iris 39 becomes a full-on sexy, skin-caressing perfume. It's not a space-hogging fragrance and will not intrude on other people unless they get closer. When they do, prepare for some nuzzling, as the magic between body and perfume is full on with this one.
Notes: iris, lime, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, musk, violet, ginger, cardamom and civet
Le Labo Iris 39 ($145, 50ml) is available from Le Labo boutiques worldwide, Barneys, Luckyscent, Colette (France) and lelabofragrances.com.
Art: Purple Iris Abstract by Marcia Baldwin.