Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord. Described by Homer in the Iliad:
"Strife whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men's pain heavier."Eris played an enormous role in the start of the Trojan war: It was her who brought Paris the golden Apple of Discord to give to the fairest of the goddesses. We all know how that worked for him.
Barbara Herman, the force and creative director behind Eris Parfums is no stranger to controversy. Her book Scent & Subversion took the perfume industry to task over what it has done to its own legacy, artistry, and public tastes. She has reminded us that for nearly a hundred years perfume was there to expressed ideas, desires, cultural shifts, but never to cover-up of our humanity in a generic way. It is not a surprise then that Barbara's next step was to team up with perfumer Antoine Lie (two words: Sécrétions Magnifiques) to create a new perfume, then known as "Perfume X". That one perfume ended up evolving into three that make Herman's own perfume label, Eris Parfums.
There are three perfumes in the current lineup. They managed to surprise me somewhat in the fact that they "don't smell like vintage" (the husband's favorite way of describing a certain genre). These are modern perfumes that are grounded in tradition and display the artistic integrity we usually search for in vain.
Belle de Jour
The name is somewhat of a cliche (didn't Le Labo use it for their short-lived recreation of the classic Deneuve for Anthroplogie?), but this perfume is anything but. It's the most modern fragrance of the three and would have felt right at home as an Etat Libre d'Orange perfume (could have been one of the jewels in their crown). It starts very green, soapy, and precise as a well-coiffed Parisienne clicking her hills on rain-soaked pavements, but dries down to a very familiar steam and laundry musk that is not my personal favorite.
Notes: coriander, pink peppercorn, orange flower, ciste, jasmine, pimento berries, cedarwood, musk, seaweed absolute.
Picture a walk-of-shame (not the Cersei one) in Paris. remnants of the previous night, personal belongings haphazardly shoved into an expensive purse, a crumpled yet heady one blossom of tuberose that was collected from a nightclub table, a quick soaping up before heading into the chilly morning, and a little smile. I was sure this was going to be my most favorite of the three Eris Parfums, but wait.
Notes: bergamot, birch tar, cardamom, suede accord, tuberose, cinnamon, patchouli, tonka bean, musk.
My beast. My dearest darling beast. It's sexy and animalic from the very first whiff. It starts with a beautiful neroli that manages to be both soapy and dirty by association to an indolic jasmine. It's also dripping with honey and with an enthusiasm for life and adventure. It's the one bottle I'd take with me on a one way trip to Paris, not knowing what awaits me there.
Notes: neroli, aldehydes, nutmeg, cypriol, styrax, Jasmin sambac, cedarwood, patchouli, animalic accord.
Eris Parfums- Belle de Jour, Night Flower, and Ma Bête ($150, 50ml eau de parfum each) are available from Luckyscent as well as directly from ErisParfums.com.
Photo of model Donna Mitchell by Helmut Newton for Vogue UK, September 1966.