3/2/14

Iris 39 (Le Labo)




Before I die, I will own a bottle of this. I remember my first wearing of Dior Homme quite well, applying it and thinking, "This is not how I want my iris to smell." Despite knowing what I didn't like, I had a hard time figuring out what could have been done differently. Was it too sweet? Too "fruity?" Too much labdanum? Not enough iris? Today I'm wearing Iris 39, and those questions are intersecting with something an acquaintance told me about it: "It's better on men." Sure enough, this is an iris composition that should knock Dior Homme off the shelf and smash it to bits. Once you experience it, you realize there's just no comparison.

It is simply beautiful. The top accord of ginger, civet, iris, and patchouli is even and penetrable, its balance perfect, its rafters of spice, skank, powder, and herbal earthiness second to none. Hailing from Firmenich, Frank Voelkl displays incredible skill in his work here, leading me to believe his relatively obscure portfolio is the only thing keeping him from being a household name. He is responsible for Zirh's Ikon, a somewhat well-known masculine of designer-grade quality that holds its own against better things, and hey look, he even sold a formula to Guerlain! Ultimately his work for Le Labo will be his calling card, and Iris 39 is not as easily overlooked.

What I love about it is how its arresting top notes sidle gently into a plush blend of super-powdery iris and discreetly-sweet violet, a seemingly interminable glow that becomes warmer, rosier, and even more expansive with time. It becomes obvious throughout the day that a pert lime peel note was also integrated to maintain lift, and keep the potentially dead-weight iris from dragging. There's true genius to be found here, but wearing this isn't a tiring intellectual meditation. It's just incredibly enjoyable, a sense of calming elegance that any self-confident man or woman can embody, if their minds and noses are open to it.




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