Prada Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue (2012): La Surprise du Nez {Perfume Review & Musings}

infusion_iris_absolue_lara_stone_ad.jpgGenre: Dark, Exotic Iris

Prada Infusion d'Iris EDP Absolue is the latest sequel to Infusion d'Iris launched in 2007. In 2010, there was also an eau de toilette twist. The Absolue is officially meant to be a more intense, Oriental interpretation of the original. This version is however a creative flanker, both similar to and aiming to be different from the original. It is not just about more of the same: more luxury, more texture, more warmth. An intruder arrived on the premises.

From the cap, the perfume smells aldehydic and powdery recalling the elegant touch of Chanel No.5. Sprayed on, a plush and velvety carpet of irises unscroll letting out rooty, musky and resinous nuances.

If on the surface, Infusion d'Iris Absolue appears to be an-open-and-shut case of a fragrance smelling like a more intense exploration of iris deepened by benzoin, tonka bean, vanilla, orange blossom aiming to court the noses of devoted lovers of iris, its sillage reveals otherwise....

Perfumer Daniela Andrier managed to fertilize and grow a venomous flower in the midst of this seemingly classic, lady-like perfume. The Orientalized iris accord hushes down the tones of the perfume, making it feel more luxurious but also a bit staid at first. The nose appears however to have slily reconnected with two more throbbing traditions, that of poisoned gloves and ominous flowers. A spectrum of notes which includes iris, orange blossom, almond, tonka bean, but also heliotrope, draws the shapes and aroma of a strange, enormous bloom appearing from nowhere like an OVNI. It bounces off the bodies of people you meet wafting back towards you making you wonder where that dark, jungle floral accord comes from. You almost ask someone what she is wearing until realizing it's you, or rather that perfume. Apparently, a bit of muguet and freesia participate in this unexpected dissonant floral construction.

The polished, urbane, high-stalked iris is turned into an interestingly discordant, demonic cabbage flower, another dream of a poisonous black dahlia like for Givenchy not long ago which hinted at danger with Black Dahlia. Likewise, this floral perfume belongs to the realm of the literature, film and perfume homages to Les Fleurs du Mal, the Flowers of Evil. Flowers mimicking putrescence in order to attract and entrap insects, smelling of rotting flesh in order to procreate, Eros and Thanatos. To human noses, the olfactive frontier line between good and evil is interesting, not repulsive, provided we can't make up our minds, and upon the condition that the smell remain ambiguous. La surprise du nez, the surprise concocted by the nose here is that the assemblage of notes, the iris and orange blossom accord, plus other things, have turned into Mephistophelic vapour.

At another point, smelling the perfume trailing off in a room, you realize that there is almost certainly a connection to L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain however distorted and reworked it is, almost beyond the point of recognition. Those two florals - iris and orange blossom - create discordance, a strange tension between coldness and warmth, a silver moon and a golden sun spraying into the air a moody flower.

I have an old bottle of Jovan Tropical Iris which might be a conceptual precursor meant to convey the dark, remote, humid-forest aura of an iris transported from the temperate hillsides of Florence, its traditional growth site, to say, an equatorial Amazonian rain-forest. Now, the scent reveals chocolatey nuances making you think of orchids that smell like Toblerone.

The most interesting aspect of Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue turns out to be this humongous floral blooming in the air somewhere between the wet tapestry of a jungle and the noir streets of crime.

In 2007, two sartorial allusions came to mind when smelling the original iris composition: a crisp white shirt and elegant kid gloves. With the Absolue, perfumer Daniela Andrier has not just gone for more depth but pushed further in the background the clean-linen allusion emphasizing the potential dark side of the scent: the poisoned glove reference, a historical trapping of royal courts in need of expediency famously linked in fragrance lore to René the Florentine the personal perfumer of Catherine of Medicis. The original Infusion d'Iris advert showed a beige gloved hand so that the traditional association of perfumery with the guild of perfumers and glove-makers is not too far-fetched in this case.

You can try this new release if you enjoy the original, but just as well might you if you enjoy perfumes such as Black Orchid by Tom Ford or Black Dahlia by Givenchy. You will find some of this deadly flower charm in Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue, carefully hidden in the folds of an Oriental perfume full of propriety.

Fragrance notes are: Tunisian neroli, orange blossom, Italian iris, Laotian benzoin, tonka bean from Venezuela, Madagascan vanilla, white musks.

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