Iris Poudre by Pierre Bourdon for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums {Perfume Review & Musings}



Iris Poudre (Powdery Iris) starts with a little olfactory shock: the name prepared you to experience a riot of powder, instead you are struck by the luminosity of the fragrance and associate two main notes, iris and aldehydes. The powderiness however is there but its presence is subtle enough to be felt more as an abstraction - powderiness - than a reality - powder. Instead of having the powderiness titillate your nose as all obvious interpretations of the dustiness of iris do, in this case it is present but as if it were far in the distance like a mist hanging behind a line of dark trees in the countryside.

Iris Poudre is an ultra sophisticated rendition of iris, one that both accomodates its rustic references and its more elegant aspects, pulling it firmly in the direction of the latter. If Iris Silver Mist by Maurice Roucel for Serge Lutens finally gives away its rustic character underneath its elegant development, Iris Poudre considers it from the start but keeps it at a distance.......


The perfume was composed in 2000 by Pierre Bourdon who is also the author of Yves Saint Laurent Kouros, Davidoff Cool Water, Lobogal fragrances, and Dior Dolce Vita to name a few. At Editions de Parfums, perfumer-composers are in principle given more freedom of expression than is usual in the industry or at least are pushed by perfume editor Frederic Malle into making more creative and distinctive fragrances with an obvious concern for the quality of the ingredients. Top notes are bergamot, orange, rosewood, ylang-ylang, carnation. Heart notes are magnolia, jasmine, muguet, violetta-rose, aldehydes. Base notes are iris, musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, ebony. The Editions de Parfums website also mentions Tonka bean and vetiver.

The perfume starts with an unusual boozy accord as the bergamot and orange together enliven the rosewood, ylang-ylang, and carnation notes. It is slightly dissonant and interesting. This soon fades into a darker-toned sensation with animalic leathery (from the ylang) and amberey nuances. It feels as if there were black and green streaks of color running through the scent. While one is used more to luminous fresh openings in a fragrance, in this case, a deliberate attempt at surprising the perfume wearer with an early deep impression has been created. A certain rawness and powderiness based on the powdery and slightly chalkey nuances of carnation, aldehydes, vetiver, and iris surfaces. But then Iris Poudre surprises you once more as it transsubstantiates the opaque impression of powder and turns it into a luminous veil that seems to gain in intensity like a roaring golden fire. A few earthy nuances of iris appear in the drydown but as very light touches. 

The perfume bears a modernized classic stamp. Two obvious nods to two great classics can be detected, one to the amberey aldehydic powderiness of Chanel no5 in the beginning and the other to the fruitier First by Van Cleef & Arpels in the bottom note. After some further thoughts, it also makes me think of Lou Lou by Cacharel, especially right in the beginning as the ylang-ylang juxtaposes itself on a slightly candied powdery background.

If you wanted to prolong the pleasure of wearing Chanel no 5 or were looking for an alternative floral adehydic fragrance with a classic feel but a more modern personality then you should definitely give Iris Poudre a try. It is truly a superb fragrance in its own right. Iris Poudre despite its sophistication simply smells extremely good in the end. It is a very versatile fragrance too and like an extremely well-bred person will fit in many different social contexts. One might encounter more poetic irises, but few will smell as unambiguously elegant and good.

You can purchase the fragrance at Editions de Parfums and Barneys.

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5 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Chere Marie- Helene,
    Ca va bien ? I love Iris . in Hiris, iris Poudre .. have not tried Iris Silver Mist yet .
    On another "note" are there any orange scents.not w orange blossom but more with the fruit note ?
    I knoe Guerlain has one Aqua Allegoria , anything else /
    warmest Sented Regards,
    Madelyn E

    Madelyn E
  2. Bonjour Madelyn,

    Yes, Hiris is wonderful and a much more straighforward iris scent. The first thing that comes to my mind regarding a true orange scent is Ruban D'Orange by L'Occitane. A more sophisticated brew I'd recommed is Tubéreuse Criminelle which has a very nice and sgnificant orange note development which I find very summery.

  3. I would like to add also Orange Tonic by Azzaro. I tried it only once but it left me with a good impression.

  4. As so often, your review inspired me to dig out my sample! I've never quite 'clicked' with Iris Poudre, whích surprises me as I'm such a lover of iris. Alas, yet again Iris Poudre was too heavy, too sweet and too aldehydic for me to tolerate for long. Sigh. On the plus side, I dabbed on two unlabelled Frederic Malle samples which had become parted from their cards, and was pleasantly surprised to find I liked Une Rose much more than the first time I wore it, and that Parfum de Therese is not nearly so melon-y as I remember!

  5. Nina,

    I am not surprised to see that as an iris lover you might not have clicked with Iris Poudre as I find it to be rather an elaborate, abstract rendition of it.


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