While it comes packaged in an orange box and a blue bottle, Hiris, Olivia Giacobetti's* 1999 creation for Hermes, feels pure and white. Some iris perfumes are all earth and bitterness, others are endless powder, but Hiris is an open window that lets in the light of a glorious spring day.
Most of the element that Giacobetti used in composing Hiris are familiar to iris lovers: carrot and hay, damp earth, peppery cedarwood. But the approach and lightness make this Hèrmes perfume stand out; and, yes, I much prefer Hiris to Hermessence Iris Ukiyoé. Maybe I'm anosmic to some major accord in the latter, but it bores me to tears. Hiris, while part of Hermes' cheaper and more accessible line, is fascinating me with its precision and contradictions. There's cold earth and warm pepper, a perfect almost formal facade and and airy casual attitude. There's a unisex dry peppery wood and a sheer floral femininity (not as powdery as Goutal's Heure Exquise or Lutens Bas de Soie, and not green, but still spring-like). But most important is the radiating beauty.
Hiris is lightly sweetened and very smooth. It shares some of the intrigue I find in MPG's Iris Bleu Gris, a hint of the mystery of Iris Silver Mist, and the poise of DelRae's Mythique. Yet, it's has an original point of view that delights me as I wear it. The one weakness of Hiris is, well, its weakness. I have to spray more times than I'm willing to admit here, just to make it last for four hours or so. Hiris is an EDT and it fades and diffuses too quickly. The up side is that while the perfume itself is gone, my skin still smells abstractly sweet and clean for several more hours. It's just that I want a lot more of the good stuff and I want it to project even a little. My dream is that Hermes would one day release Hiris is an extrait de parfum, even as a limited edition (so I can stock up and hoard enough of it for several lifetimes, until I reach nirvana).
Notes: iris, neroli, carrots, coriander, hay, rose, ambrette seeds, almond wood, cedar, honey, and vanilla.
Read other reviews of Hiris on Eiderdown Press, Bois de Jasmin, and Now Smell This.
Hermès- Hiris ($140, 3.3 oz EDT) is available from Hermes boutiques and select department stores. It can also be found online for better prices.
Art: White Iris by Donna Essig
*Yes, I named a kitten after her.