There was a brief moment a couple of years ago when it seemed that iris perfumes are going to be all the rage. It never quite happened, at least not in the way oud has taken over and spilled from the indie and luxury market to an almost mainstream staple (Eaudemoiselle de Givenchy Bois de Oud? I couldn't have made it up if I tried). I'm not sure why, really, as orris as a note is surely not as polarizing as agarwood. It can be hard to wear I guess, and the cold/earthy and dry/bitter facets may be an acquired taste.
Iridum, the new fragrance by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes belongs in the dry category. Iridium is part of DSH New Kingdom series, a re-orchestration of the 2010 Secrets Of Egypt Collection. The fragrance takes inspiration from the cataclysmic meeting of Egypt and Rome, and the doomed romance between Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Iridium is about opposites and contradictions, as tumultuous as an ancient court (sorry, I'm still traumatized by the previous Game Of Thrones Episode*) sitting on the Mediterranean which is also a gate to the desert.
I smell the iris in Iridum right away. There's no mistaking this complex note-- bitter and rooty, pulled from the fertile earth. But there's also green there, stems and leaves drying in the sun. I'm reminded of papyrus plants and there is something that connects this DSH creation with Parfumerie Generale Papyrus De Ciane, though they smell very different. It's the transition from green into incense effect, I think. Iridum is also mildly spicy, though it's not an elaborate Arabian Night affair that dazzles and seduces. The spicy element whispers from afar and supports the ashy incense-wood base.
I can still smell the orris well into the dry-down. while Iridum doesn't have a massive sillage it is quite tenacious and noticeable after six hours or so. The overall feel of the fragrance is streamlined and composed, utterly gender-neutral and more daytime than a night out kind of thing. It also feels very stylish, making me think of the famous Coco Chanel quote "Elegance is refusal".
Notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Cognac, Frankincense co2 Absolute, French Beeswax, Guaiacwood, Incense, Myrrh Gum, Orris Root, Saffron Absolute, Tolu Balsam.
DSH Perfumes Iridium ($60, 10ml EDT. Other sizes and concentrations are available) can be purchased from dshperfumes.com. You can also get the New Kingdom discovery set ($48) on the website. This sample for this review was provided by the perfumer.
Art: Cleopatra by Maxfield Parrish, 1917.
*Brushing up on my Antony and Cleopatra history I couldn't resist the idea of Cleopatra as an inspiration for Cersei Lannister. Incest and adultery? Check. Regent Queen for an underage king? check. Scheming? Conniving? Murderous? Check, check, and check.