Rochas Les Cascades Songe d'Iris (2013): Blue Lotus {Perfume Review & Musings}


Les Cascades Songe d'Iris is the second installment in the new series begun last year by Rochas consecrated in part to expanding the influence and heritage of their 1970 creation by Michel Manounas, Eau de Rochas, a modern classic. Today's in-house perfumer Jean-Michel Duriez stated that he thought about going back to the place of origin of the fountain of Apollo in Delphi which informed the now matricial creation. A mythological transfer has taken place from the Greek source to Parisian public fountain. Eclats d'Agrumes in particular was about a joyous take on the theme while Songe d'Iris is supposed to be calmer and convey an impression of serenity like the one you can experience when you happen on a quieter corner of the capital city....


Photo ©The Scented Salamander

Paris is full of half-forgotten nooks and crannies. It is that more intimate aspect of the city the perfume is meant to capture rather than its window-shopping aspect reflecting the worldwide famous silhouettes of iconic monuments.

Olfactorily speaking, Les Cascades Songe d'Iris reprises part of the signature of Eclats d'Agrumes for continuity while expressing a new atmosphere on that familiar base line. The note of iris can be more reflective, moodier and dreamier than its hesperidic counterparts, and also more elegant although this is certainly debatable as a dry hesperidic perfume can be very understated instead of bursting with vitality, and thanks to this very restraint, elegant.

Duriez added a floral facet that is unusual, a note of water lily which he likes to stress is not commonly seen in perfumery. It appears not often but nevertheless is mentioned for Andrée Putman Préparation Parfumée, L'Eau d'Issey Homme, evidently also in Roget et Gallet Lotus Bleu, and is also alluded to in the compositions Guerlain Flora Nymphea and Guerlain Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus; Scents of Time Nénufar features it; Lobogal pour ElleGap Stay, Aftelier Secret Garden also; Lavanila Passion Fruit uses it as an aphrodisiac in one of their their best-selling perfumes.

The French nose here specifies that it is a daydream about water lily called nénuphar or lotus in French. The color of the advert shot by Giampaolo Sgura and featuring actress Olivia Palermo evokes the mauve color of the paintings of water lilies by Monet.

I happen to have some Blue Lotus absolute in my collection (Nymphaea caerulea) which I've always found strikingly soft as a floral scent with a beguling sweet facet. It also has calming and sedative properties. The perfume smells soft, round, a bit woody, overlapping with the spectrum of bois de rose or rosewood. It builds a bridge to the gourmand notes of fig milk and vaguely sweet white chocolate ensuring Songe d'Iris is rooted in the quotidian rather than coming across as ethereal and desincarnated. The chocolatey note is obtained thanks to reliance on the resinoid of iris. 

With its conspicuous mix of Eau de Cologne spirit and barbershop fougère relying on a lavender kick, it plays on a dual level of invigorating accords, something that we translated as feeling like a "tweedy cologne" in the case of Chloé Eau de Fleurs Néroli. The overall result however is not really unisex but more feminine with a suggestion of brash masculinity. This makes it a good scent in our estimation for everyday wear and for active life. It's like getting a little shot of Testosterone in perfume form, without needing to have to shave superfluous hair. 

The perfume opens on a juicy, sparkling and berry fruity note. Aromatic notes surface soon enough underneath the fruity-floral accents. A white, blanched hesperidic facet pulls the composition in the direction of a dry, classic Eau de Cologne while a light scent of brisk aftershave is reminiscent of the masculine part of the bathroom shelf.

The iris note at this point is not spectacular and never really later despite its title role in the name of the fragrance. It creates a bit of a hazy effect and contributes to the blue tinted atmosphere but is not heavily rooty or powdery. What is striking is a particularly fruity range of nuances which transcends itself in the long drydown as it turns into a delicious and delicate musky-fruity trail. At the same time, the slap-in-the-face-in-the-morning sensation of a fougère accentuates its presence but always counterpoised with a more feminine range of notes, especially those fruity ones slightly dusted with iris powder, sweetened with iris-y cacao, but not too much really since it is more a gourmand, calming and serenity-inducing dream of iris - the irruption of a Japanese garden in the middle of Paris we are told - than a trampling among irises. If anything, one feels the blue lotus note more than the blue iris one.

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