What does the word iris mean?
The name iris comes from the Greek word "iris", meaning "rainbow". This name refers to the wide variety of colors in which iris flowers can be found. The iris is also known as the "lily flower", in reference to the shape of its blossom, which resembles a lily flower.
This raw material is a plant belonging to the Iridaceae family, with around 300 different species. It is native to Europe, South Africa and Asia, and is widely cultivated around the world for its colorful flowers and fragrant root. The iris is also a highly symbolic flower, and has been used in many cultures for religious rituals and celebrations. Today, the iris is still considered a symbol of elegance and sophistication, and is often used in the perfume industry to create high-quality fragrances.
In the beginning…
The use of iris in perfumes dates back to ancient times, when the Egyptians used iris roots to make perfumes and ointments. The Greeks and Romans also used iris in religious rituals and perfume-making. In the Middle Ages, iris became a popular flower with nobles and kings, who used it to perfume their clothes and homes.
In the 17th century, the use of iris in perfumes became more widespread in France. French perfumers began using iris essence, which was extracted through a complex distillation process, to create sweet, powdery fragrances. In the 19th century, iris became a key ingredient in the creation of high-end women's fragrances, and has remained an important part of the French perfume industry to this day.
Irises are grown in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and South America. Grasse is known as a major iris producer, with regions such as Provence and the Dordogne producing high-quality varieties for the perfume industry. Hautes-Pyrénées is also an important iris producer, supplying much of the orris used in perfumes. Other iris-producing regions include Italy, the Netherlands, the United States and Japan.
The iris cultivation process begins with the selection of bulbs or rhizomes. They are planted in autumn in well-drained, sunny soil. During growth, irises require regular but moderate watering to avoid excess humidity. Colorful flowers usually bloom in spring. After flowering, wilted stems are cut to encourage the growth of new shoots. At the end of the season, division may be necessary to prevent overcrowding. Irises require monitoring to prevent pests and diseases. By following these steps, irises can thrive, embellishing the garden.
What do you know about irises in perfumery?
After harvesting, irises undergo various processing stages to transform their fragrance into a finished product. First, the petals are sorted and selected to keep only the best. Next, the petals are pressed to extract the essential oil, which is the main component of iris perfume. This oil is then blended with other ingredients to create unique, complex fragrances.
The process of transforming iris can take several months, even years, as it ages to reach its fullness. Perfumers must have a keen eye for detail and an in-depth knowledge of ingredients to create superior iris fragrances.
Therefore, in perfumery, belonging to the "powdery" family, iris is known for its delicate, sophisticated fragrance. The scent of iris is often described as powdery, soft and slightly sweet. It has floral, lightly woody and sometimes slightly spicy nuances. Some people also describe its fragrance as slightly earthy and vegetal. Being a precious and versatile ingredient in perfumery, it blends harmoniously with many olfactory accords. Here are a few accords commonly associated with iris:
• Powdery accords: Iris is often used in powdery fragrances, combined with notes of vanilla, amber, musk or tonka bean, creating a soft, velvety, slightly comforting sensation.
• Floral accords: iris can be combined with other flowers such as rose, violet or jasmine, creating elegant, sophisticated floral compositions.
• Woody accords: Iris blends well with woody notes such as cedar, sandalwood or vetiver, bringing woody depth and warmth to the composition.
• Leathery accords: Iris can be used in leathery accords, combined with notes of leather, tobacco or resin, creating fragrances that are both elegant and bold.
• Gourmand accords: Iris can be integrated into gourmand compositions, associated with notes of cocoa, caramel or praline, offering a sweet, gourmand dimension to the fragrance.
Different iris species
In perfumery, several iris species are used to capture different facets of its distinctive fragrance. Here are some of the iris species commonly used:
•Iris germanica: Also known as bearded iris, this is the species most widely used in perfumery. Its fragrance is soft, powdery and delicately floral.
• Iris pallida : This iris is prized for its powerful, floral and slightly sweet fragrance. It is particularly prized for its use in the production of orris, a powder used in perfumery.
• Iris florentina : This iris species is also used to produce orris. Its fragrance is delicate, slightly sweet and powdery.
• Iris sambucina : Known as mountain iris, it offers a lighter, fresher fragrance, with sweet, slightly fruity notes.
• Iris japonica : Native to Japan, this iris has a delicate, subtle fragrance, with floral and slightly herbaceous notes.
As well as being a key ingredient in fragrances and personal care products, iris also has health benefits. It is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular ingredient in skin and hair care products. It is also used in aromatherapy to help relieve stress and anxiety.
Some popular iris perfumes…
Known for their sophistication and elegance, iris fragrances have become a staple of the perfume industry. Here's a list of some of the most famous:
• Shalimar by Guerlain is one of the luxury Maison's classic fragrances, featuring a rich iris base combined with notes of citrus, vanilla and incense. It's a timeless oriental fragrance that highlights the sensuality of iris.
• Infusion d'Iris by Prada is a unisex fragrance featuring iris in a light, elegant composition. It combines notes of iris, mandarin, neroli and wood to create a soft, refined fragrance.
• Iris Poudre by Frédéric Malle is a creation by perfumer Pierre Bourdon for the Frederic Malle brand. This Frederic Malle Iris Poudre is a soft, powdery interpretation of iris, with notes of violet, musk and vanilla.
• Iris Silver Mist de Serge Lutens is a niche fragrance renowned for its intense, dark use of iris. It features notes of iris, violet, cedarwood and patchouli, creating a mysterious, bewitching ambience.
• La Vie est Belle Absolue by Lancôme is a feminine oriental fragrance. The base consisting floral note of iris reveals a sensuality associated with the fragrance's woody, gourmand notes.
• Dior Homme by Dior is a men's fragrance famous for the elegance and sophistication of iris. The iris notes in this composition add a powdery, subtle dimension, creating a sensation that is both gentle and viril
• Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma is an elegant perfume in which iris takes center stage. As one of the top notes, iris blends harmoniously with the aromatic hints of star anise, bergamot, mandarin orange, and orange, creating a vibrant and citrusy opening. In the heart of the composition, the iris continues to shine alongside the floral notes of tuberose, orange blossom, mimosa, ylang-ylang, hibiscus, and cedar. Finally, the base notes of vanilla and amber provide a warm and sensual foundation, enhancing the allure and longevity of the iris fragrance.
UNUSUAL FACT! Iris Gris was created by French perfumer Jacques Fath in the 1940s. This fragrance was renowned for its abundant use of iris and was considered one of the most beautiful perfumes ever created. Unfortunately, due to the ban on the use of iris oil in perfumes because of its toxicity, Iris Gris was withdrawn from the market after only a few years of production. Today, original bottles of Iris Gris are extremely rare and sought-after by perfume collectors, testifying to the mythical heritage of this iconic iris in perfumery.
L’iris X Bon Parfumeur
• Bon Parfumeur offers the best iris perfumes for men and women, such as eau de parfum 302 which combines iris with notes of sandalwood and amber to create an elegant, timeless fragrance.
• Women's eau de parfum 501 also uses iris as the main note, combined with scents of praline, patchouli and licorice to create a sensual, gourmand fragrance.