We're at the dead of a winter full of unease and discontent, and I'm looking for comfort, though not in any of the usual places. No sweater scents or smoldering ambers. Instead, I'm going with the icy chill and otherworldly beauty of iris. This top ten perfume picks for winter this year is an addendum to my old list of favorite iris fragrances, with the focus being newer brands and more recent releases.
Iris Fauve by Atelier des Ors will be available in the US next month. I've been sitting on a sample (hoarding, really), enjoying the hot and cold effects created by contrast of spices and roots, fiery vetiver and damp iris. It's quite spectacular.
The Peradam by Apoteker Tepe is more floral than my usual choice of iris, but somehow this one has shot towards the top of my wishlist. The Peradam is ethereal yet grounded with a good base of cedar/sandalwood. It also spells winter with a transition from a gray and murky light of an early morning to the Northern Lights as seen on a crystal clear icy night.
Nothing feels more appropriate today than Etat Libre d'Orange's La Fin du Monde (actually, any ELdO perfume will do). Buttery, popcorny, warm, and bizarrely comforting. I own many bottles of orris-based perfumes, but nothing comes even close to this one. In today's market, this is one of the biggest compliments I can give.
Staying in the warm iris category, Khôl de Bahreïn from Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 is a golden honeyed iris that wraps you up in luxury fabrics and transports you (first class, naturally) to an exotic paradise. It almost glides on the skin in the most sexy way.
Thinking of Khôl de Bahreïn, I am reminded of two delectable body products: Golden Iris by Sabon. The shower oil and body cream are still available, and I need to do something I tend to avoid: pick up a backup. They make a hot shower that much more pampering.
DSH Perfumes- Metropolis. In a sharp turn now we go to a cold alien world of metal structures and geometric art deco shapes. Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has a knack for using iris in her creations, and Metropolis is a standout among them in its chilly aura.
Inlé by Memo is a cool and clear iris that feels like staring at the mirror surface of a lake that reflects the blue skies and white clouds. The inspiration was a place somewhere in Myanmar, but to me it's a cool day in the Italian Dolomites.
The standout for me from the Le Galion modern reboot was Iris. It's crisp, cool, and tinged with bitter galbanum and infused with old world elegant floral notes. It's the kind of perfume that makes you stand a little straighter, your outfit smarter, and your mood determined.
My previous iris list included Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal, a perfume in the classic style of Chanel No.19. I'm not sure why I didn't mention the other Goutal iris, Mon Parfum Cheri, Par Camille. This is a are beauty that seems to go out and back in production. The many changes in branding and distribution the company has undergone in recent years didn't help this fragrance with its vintage vibe and heavy plummy presence, but all I can say is that if you come across a bottle (discounters are your friends) grab it. The eau de toilette has more orris than the eau de parfum, so take that into account.
Iris de Nuit by Heeley is definitely not new (it was one of the original 2005-6 Heeley releases) but it's modern, sparse, and cold. Imagine a large wall-to-ceiling window on a top floor of a highrise building looking down on a gray rainy city anywhere in the world. It's late afternoon and the light outside is fading fast. Will you hurry out to catch the rain or will you stand there, mesmerized by the tiny cars far down below, the lights that start appearing in other windows all around you, and the lightning that strikes the darkening skies?
What are you wearing today and what were your perfume choices throughout this winter?
For more winter picks please visit my friends at
Bois de Jasmin * Grain de Musc * Now Smell This * Perfume Posse
Image: The Iris Chandelier- a sculpture by Craig Mitchell Smith, photo by Gary Anderson, 2010, via 360 Main Street.