The Hand-Walking Queer

Iris Levandowski, The Hand Walking Queer

Let’s talk perfume.

One note in particular is making me smile these days, and that is iris.


Quite literally, anytime I have fallen instantly in love with a scent lately, it is chock full of iris.  What is it I love so?  Well, while iris is a flower, the scent is actually extracted from the root, not the bloom.  Ergo that fecally bad breathy hint of indole screeching out of your average white flower isn’t there.  Iris is dark, cool, powdery, mysterious and rich.  It’s also rare in that extracting the oil from the dried iris root (orris) is difficult, painstaking, and frankly, now that there are synthetic interpretations, not quite as lucrative.  Not quite.  However, orris root butter (the raw fragrance material) is worth three times it’s weight in gold.  Intriguing, no?

Orris Root

I fell in love with Iris because of her friend Lily of the Valley.  They blend oh so well together.  I was loving green powdery perfumes with an underlying richness.  I knew that mysterious dark and woody scent wasn’t coming from any recreation of a little bell shaped bloom.   That rich dark scent was iris.

If you want to try out iris, here are a list of fragrances to sniff:

Chanel no 19

Chanel no 19 (If the Chanel section of the perfume department doesn’t have it, try the makeup counter.)  This is a powdery green perfume, but the anchor is iris.

Parfums di Nicolai Odalisque

Parfums di Nicolai Odalisque:  This is the current love of my life.  You won’t find it on any perfume counter.  Try Luckyscent.  You can order a sample for 3 bucks.  Unless you know me, then I’ll give you a smellin’ strip for free, so to speak.

Chanel no 18

Chanel no 18 (This is available only at the Chanel boutique)  This is a rose iris, and it is gorgeous.  Personally, though, Odalisque will do the trick and it costs about $150.00 less.

Prada Infusion d'Iris

Prada Infusion d’Iris.  This is readily available at Sephora, perfume counters, etc.

Bvlgari Pour Femme

For a lighter touch of iris, try Bvlgari Pour Femme.

Dior Homme

Dior Homme is also a contender for great iris.

Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile

Finally, Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile is a cologne version of Iris.

The thing to remember with Iris is (and this goes for all perfume) don’t gender it.  What I mean by that is if you are a woman and you dig Dior Homme, girl, WEAR Dior Homme.  Same for men.  If Chanel no 19 trips your trigger, then dude, WEAR Chanel 19.  Only in the past 50 years or so has perfume been so segregrated by gender.  Ava Gardner wore Aqua di Parma.  Bridgette Bardot and numerous men wore Jicky.  I mention this in a post about iris because iris knows no gender.  Iris just knows a certain sensibility, and that is mystery.

Go back to your roots, so to speak, and find yourself some iris.  Learning what notes you both like, love, dislike and loathe can be the foundation for your personal map of the weird, huge, and overwhelming world of scent.


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