The nice people of Atelier Cologne took a great risk when naming their perfume Silver Iris. The comparison to Serge Lutens reference iris, Iris Silver Mist (a Maurice Roucel composition) becomes inevitable, and we know that few perfumes emerge unscathed from that. But Atelier Cologne and perfumer Jérome Epinette managed to create a new interpenetration of this seemingly familiar theme.
Silver Iris is neither moody nor damp, carroty, powdery, earthy, bitter... or any of the many adjectives that usually describe iris notes. Instead, Silver Iris is festive. Truly. The metallic part (as this perfume is part of Atelier Cologne's Collection Métal) can be likened to the sound of a bell ringing to commemorate a joyous event, echoing and resonating in the cold air outside.
The sparkling sensation starts with the citrus and pepper top notes. They're lighthearted, a bit juicy, and fill me with an anticipation for whatever comes next. The celebration continues with a beautiful and recognizable iris. We know that the note we recognize as "iris" is actually the product of the iris rhizome, but the effect created in Atelier's Silver iris is leafy and petally. It's like a giant iris arrangement that greats your holiday guests as they enter your house. It's pretty, impressive and it looks expensive.
The dry-down on skin and fabric (I put a drop on my scarf the other day and it's still there) is part purple fruit and part ambery tonka. Patty of the Posse finds there's a hint of the beloved Guerlain pastry note from Iris Ganache, and I sort of get it-- there's something almost edible there. It makes me think of a cake placed over a lace napkin on an antique silver platter (perhaps next to that vase with the iris bouquet).
Atelier Cologne's Silver Iris is one of the warmest and friendliest iris perfumes around, and it manages to do so without resorting to the crowd pleasing scrubbed clean soapiness of Prada Infusion d'Iris and its many flankers. Iris aficionados who already have a great number of orris/iris perfumes in their collections would need at least give it a good sampling to decide if there's a vacancy on their shelves that Silver Iris can fill. I'm still undecided, though I have no doubt that if I were to magically find myself the owner of a bottle I'd wear it happily and frequently. It'd be an easy choice on days and nights when one needs the pick-me-up and lacks the energy to think further than "give me something really really pretty".
See more reviews on NST and Bois de Jasmin.
Notes: tangerine, pink pepper, blackcurrant, violet Leaf, iris Pallida, mimosa, patchouli, white amber, tonka beans.
Atelier Cologne- Silver Iris ($175, 100ml Cologne Absolue, which in this case means a very high concentration of eau de parfum) is available from Luckyscent, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, and Atelier Cologne boutiques.
Image: A Swedish Art Nouveau silver bowl via leopardantiques.com.