L’Artisan Iris Pallida 2007 ~ fragrance review

L'Artisan Iris Pallida 2007 perfume

I'm pretty sure that I've said in the past that there can't be too many variations on iris. The perfume industry seems determined to prove me wrong this year: iris fragrances are suddenly everywhere. I am sticking to my guns, but only partially: there can be too many too fast. Iris Pallida 2007, the newest entry in L'Artisan Parfumeur's limited edition vintage harvest series, is by my calculation the most expensive of the lot.

Iris Pallida was developed by perfumer Anne Flipo, who also did the two prior scents in the Harvest series (Fleur d'Oranger 2005 and Fleur de Narcisse 2006). The notes include lily of the valley, orange blossom, Turkish rose, anise, violet leaves, cedar, vetiver, iris absolute, ambrette seed, white musk, gaïac wood and patchouli. It starts with bright citrus and floral notes, and quickly takes on darker, earthier undertones from the woods, vetiver and patchouli. The gaïac is especially noticeable, and adds a nice depth to the iris, which is more buttery-plush (à la Chanel's 28 La Pausa) than vegetable-rooty (à la Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist) or metallic (à la Hermès Hiris).

Iris Pallida continues to darken the longer it is on skin, making it perfect for fall weather, but it is never heavy in the least. On the contrary, it is very soft and quiet, and wears almost like a woody comfort scent. It has a velvety-powder finish and is more dry than not. It could easily be worn by either sex.

It is lovely, but I was already ambivalent about L'Artisan's harvest series and Iris Pallida doesn't do anything to change my mind. Fleur d'Oranger 2005 was beautifully done (and for anyone who missed the news, there is a new version this year), but I simply could not see paying $250 for it — it was lovely, but not mind-blowing. Iris Pallida, likewise, is beautifully done. But at $295 for 100 ml, it would just about have to knock me sideways with its beauty, and it doesn't quite reach those heights. It doesn't actually make me any happier than Prada's Infusion d'Iris ($90 for 100 ml), and for drop-dead, stunningly gorgeous iris, Iris Silver Mist (about $135 for 75 ml) has yet to be beat. Still, if unlike me, you are attracted to the harvest concept and the idea of owning a luxury limited edition, or if you simply don't mind dropping that kind of money on perfume, you might find Iris Pallida a must-have.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida 2007 is $295 for 100 ml Eau de Parfum, and will be limited edition (3000 units, I think) in numbered and engraved bottles. Testers are already available at many L'Artisan counters; to date, I have only seen full bottles for sale online at first-in-fragrance in Germany. Once it launches officially, you can find other vendors by consulting the listing for L'Artisan under Perfume Houses.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the review, R. I've been dying to try this – but I kind of hope it's disappointing because of the cost and limited editionness! I've been disappointed by several iris scents this year – Iris Ganache was way too marzipan-y for me, and I'm sad to say that Equistrius, while nice, reminds me an awful lot of something I've already got – might be Iceberg Twice or D&G Feminin. I think that Infusion d'Iris smells more niche than any of the niche irises this year, oddly enough. I did like Heeley's Iris de Nuit, which is a very original take on iris (iris as fresh-ink-on-paper). But I loved the Fleurs de Narcisse last year, and I guess that if this LE is as good, I'll just have to go the Big Decant route…

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is in quite a different vein than either IG (which I didn't like either) or Equistrius (which I need to try again). And it does have a niche feel to it. I just don't think that so far, the Harvest series scents have been obviously more interesting or beautiful than the regular L'Artisan line, so I object to the pricing. But I know many don't agree with me!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Vanilla girl – Equistrius is now making me think of a more streamlined, less handbaggy Dior Homme, if that makes any sense (at least after the first 10 minutes). I was of the mark with my Divine comparison…
    I'm relieved to read this – and agree with you on the wonder of ISM. And I'm not keen on IG either…

  4. Anonymous says:

    R, Im dying to try this – I'll probably get to at Sniffapalooza.

    I went absolutely ga-ga for Fleur de Narcisse and I am finally buying that in a week, as well.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Aha, will have to try Equistrius again in that way.

    But don't breathe that sigh of relief until you smell the IP — you might love it, of course :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure they'll have it at the Sniffa….better save up in case you like IP AND FdN!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I unfortunately have really loved both of the LEs so far, though I don't think they're worth that much, Lots of stuff isn't worth what they're charnging.

    ISM I'd pay double the price for, if I had to. It is the Iris killer for me. :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I thnk these Harvest editions have been LESS interesting in some ways than the regular line. The thing you can usually rely on with a l'Artisan is it being odd and a bit mischievous. The Harvest scents are much more traditional than the regular line. What they do seem to offer is longevity and a kind of depth that the regular scents don't always manage. I know I took a vial of the Fleur d'Oranger with me on holiday last year, and was surprised how well it lasted and developed in the heat. But they are ridiculously expensive, I agree.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You might be right that they're less interesing, insofar as they're trying to highlight specific notes, not so much “tell a story” like some of the others. The travel series is way more interesting, in that sense — and Dzongkha is a far more unusual rendition of iris than Iris Pallida.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Iris Silver Mist is priceless, literally — I could write & direct the MasterCard commercial myself :-)

    And you are so right that LOTS of stuff isn't worth what they're charging.

  11. Anonymous says:

    You guys, please tell me: what does you mean when you say something smells niche-y???

  12. Anonymous says:

    To me, it means that the scent sets out to be a little odd, a little challenging, rather than crowd-pleasing and inoffensive. A niche scent should be prepared to alienate a proportion of its prospective customers! Non-niche scents rarely take that risk.

  13. Anonymous says:

    You know, it isn't terribly meaningful — it is more of a feeling than anything else. It just means that the scent doesn't have that massively “pleasant”, focus-group feel, like it is trying to be all things to all people and sell a million bottles. But not all niche scents are distinctive, and not all “mainstream” scents are dull, obviously.

    Maybe another way to say it is that Marc Jacobs Daisy, to take another recent release, smells very mainstream. I'd be shocked if it came out of L'Artisan. The Prada Infusion d'Iris could have been released by L'Artisan and I wouldn't have batted an eye — it would be in keeping with their aesthetic.

    But you could also argue that the context shouldn't matter, only whether or not it is a good fragrance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Gosh, you said that soooo much more succinctly than I did, LOL..

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes for fun I like to contemplate which currently available scents are worth their relatively high price tags. (Have we had this conversation before?)
    Off the top of my head: the JARs. I don't own a bottle, but the idea of buying Bolt of Lightning or Diamond Water, for whatever the going rate is ($500/$700?), seems like a fair price.

  16. Anonymous says:

    LOL — we have, and we no doubt will again!

    Would agree that of all the super-expensive lines, JAR at least provides a product that smells apart from everything else out there. Don't know if that makes it a “fair price”, but if I was super-wealthy and wanted to own a perfume to match, I'd skip the diamond encrusted bottle of Clive Christian & buy a JAR. Would really like to know who the nose was for Bolt of Lightning.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The boutique guys *insist* it was Rosenthal, but you'd have to imagine he had some sort of mentoring/guidance/assistance. BoL would be my personal choice. When I win the lottery or otherwise lose my self control.

    I know they won't discuss the notes with you but was amused the most recent trip — he discouraged my friend and I from discussing the notes between us! (“hey, that smells like bleu cheese!”) Having said that, they couldn't be friendlier,even knowing we're probably not going to buy (unlike those dragons over in Guerlain).

    OTOH he said he *routinely* shows the JARs to couples who come in and say, well, that's ridiculous, I'm not spending *that!* And a day or two later they come back and buy… he also said the people don't match the fragrances that he'd guess. Any number of lovely, elderly, genteel ladies and their husbands come in and settle on the barnyard one… (Terme Tes Yeaux or whatever it's called).

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well, that makes me feel better March. Ferme tes Yeaux was my favourite of the ones I first tried at the Paris JAR (already tried BoL) and I always wondered what that said about me. I think the JAR SAs are wonderful, but I wish they weren't so impeccably trained or didn't believe in all that “must emphasize the EXPERIENCE” crap. I don't like people trying to control the way I smell things, no matter how well-bred they are.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, right, it was Rosenthal in the lab, LOL…but you know, I doubt those guys (nice as they are) even know the notes. I'll take BoL myself. Ferme Tes Yeux might have the most old-fashioned vibe, maybe that is it? Older perfumes, in general, are way more skanky than modern ones.

  20. Anonymous says:

    It says you like skanky! I found the JAR guys so remarkably happy to have their time wasted that I didn't care what else they did, seriously. I was very impressed all 3 times I visited the boutique.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thnaks for the explanations, VG and Robin. That helps greatly. I'm trying to think of an analogy — ah, music, probably. U2 = mainstream; Radiohead = niche.????!!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    They're passionate and patient, for sure. I got a very thoughtful complaint about the way Luca described the JARs on his blog. So they're aware of the outside and online world, too, which is much more than you can say for other SAs.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I thought LT liked the JARS?

    I have to admit that I wasn't impressed with my first 2 (Ferme Tes Yeux is way skankier than I can wear, and thought Diamond Waters was lovely but not hugely unusual). Since smelling BoL & Jardenia & Jarling & Golconda, I'm far more impressed.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Yah, that is close. But Radiohead is pretty well known. They might fit with L'Artisan, which is not so entirely niche as they used to be and is actually pretty widely distributed now. So you need a third, more obscure group to cover the cult brands that your average person has never heard of. Of course, if it is obscure music, I won't ever have heard of it ;-)

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hey you! Well, what did you bring home then??? I will be astonished if you came home with nothing.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Sleater-Kinney fits the bill! Remember, the music for the Marc Jacob's Daisy ad? I played bits of the album on Amazon, and was quite impressed. So was my daughter (queen of wierd) when I asked if she'd heard of a band called 'Sleater-Kinney'. Her jaw was on the floor. So thanks to NST for scoring me CoolMamma points!

  27. Anonymous says:

    There you go, perfect! I was going to nominate Jens Lekman, but I listen to so little new music that I probably wouldn't get you any CM points :-)

  28. Anonymous says:

    LT did. Apparently, JAR was not wild about the way he described the scents, though – felt he misinterpreted them, in the context of Rosenthal's other work, etc. Well-reasoned argument, but this is the sort of “We should control everything about the scents” mentality that bothers me a bit. I like the scents, too, though.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Ah. Well. I can see being bothered by the control thing. You know, if it wasn't for those really nice guys at Bergdorf's, I doubt I'd have ever given the scents another try. The line is annoyingly exclusive, and the whole rigamarole of smelling the scents on the napkins in the glass jars, and then having them massaged into your wrists, etc, etc is just silly. The only thing that made it forgivable to me is the fact that the SAs seemed to have a sense of humor about it, whereas as mentioned above, you go over to the Guerlain boutique and everyone is just MEAN.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Harvest thing = gimmick

    Nice bottle.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Agree it is gimmicky, although we've seen worse, haven't we?

  32. Anonymous says:

    I didn't hear about L'Artisan bringing back Fleurs d'Oranger again. Will it also be a ltd. edition release (same price point)?

  33. Anonymous says:

    I don't know the price, but yes it is LE, and it smells a bit different than 2005.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I don't know if any iris fragrance could be quite as beautiful, or comforting, as Le Labo Iris 39 (I love it!!) , or as feminine and startingly lovely as FM Iris Poudre.

    But I'm certainly willing to find out, lol!


  35. Anonymous says:

    That's an excellent point — some of the vintage fragrances I've tried are shockingly gamey.

    I agree that surely he had someone do the scents for him; however, I'd buy into the idea that the general concept of the scents, and the direction they developed, was his. They are so singularly odd, and yet of a piece, and I think they fit in well with JAR's aesthetic, at least so far as I understand it, not owning any of his pieces…. ;-P

  36. Anonymous says:

    See R, your 2 iris favorites are NOT mine, LOL…so will be curious to hear what you think of Iris Pallida!

  37. Anonymous says:

    i ordered a sample! it is a shame you did not test chasse aux papillons, did you ever smell ist or see it? it is sooo sophisticated and it teaches me never saying again “it smells like an old woman” – it is just gorgious.

    hope iris pallida works this well for me too.

    i need to send you my samples i guess! i also miss coudray, caannot imagine you do not have it in the states. you have there everything i thought, much more then europe.

  38. Anonymous says:

    You can find reviews of La Chasse (regular & extreme) under “perfume reviews” near the top of the page.

    And no, these days, the selection of perfume is much better in Europe. Coudray is very hard to find here.

  39. Anonymous says:

    oh, i am sorry for that! i have two coudray samples now and i love them both. hope to afford soon the musc et freesia.

    it is so elegent and sophisticated and wonderfull!

    maybe we should make some perfumeexchange :-)

    thank you, i found the review *blush* been too stupid to use the search.

  40. Anonymous says:

    No problem, glad you found it! I have tried the Coudray freesia, it's a pretty scent.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Hello Robin! Let me ask You this question since You always seem to be pretty neutral and fair when “judging” these fragrances. Should I, as a big time Iris lover give Iris Pallidida a chance? I agree that buying a bottle of juice that expensive unsniffed would be a crazy idea. I'm asking this question because even decants could be pretty expensive when it comes to iris pallida, I mean money isn't an object for me when I LOVE the fragrance. But if You think it's not all that good, then instead of buying 5 ml of this I'll invest in 100 ml of Hiris on Ebay – for the same price. Do You think that Iris Nobile plus Hiris is enough for an iris lover? I can understand that for majority of people $250 + is way too much, but like I said I am willing to try it but I need to know if it's anyhow special in any way.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I think it is a very high quality fragrance and very well done. I don't adore it as much as I do some other iris scents — that's just personal taste — and tend to think that you'd have a really hard time coming up with *any* iris scent that I'd think was worth this much money. Actually, that's more than I've ever spent on any perfume. So, this sort of thing is just too rich for my blood, and beyond that, I didn't fall in love with it.

    Have you tried Iris Silver Mist (and huge apologies if I should know the answer & have forgotten — my memory is terrible)? Because if I was going to go nuts getting my hands on any iris scent, that would be it. I liked The Different Company's iris better than this one too, and for that matter, the Divine's iris, although that one is for men. I'd have to sit down & figure it out to be sure, but doubt this one would even make my “iris top 10”.

  43. Anonymous says:

    LOL — the post reminded me — yes, I'd blow the money on the short-lived 28 La Pausa from Chanel, even, before I'd buy this one. Better yet, still hoping they're going to come out with an EdP version of 28 La Pausa.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately I have not tried Iris Silver Mist, and I know it is a must for me. I've read so much about it, I heard some really good opinions I will definitely give it a try. The reason I asked about Iris Pallida was because about a week ago I was surfing on the net with my boyfriend, just shopping at amazon.com, ebay and of course I visited L'Artisan's website too. I let him read the description of Iris Pallida, his reaction was (of course) holly s….t!!! But then He read on and on that it's a very special harvest and all that, he actually asked me: do You really want this? He knows that I became an iris fanatic and told me that since he understands my passion for perfumes, he'll buy Iris Pallida for me. Somehow my instincts, my feelings just didn't let me really want it. Instead I made him purchase some more Coco Mademoiselle (he loves it, and I love it for work, I'm almost running out of it) and Bvlgari voile de jasmin (my summer jasmine winner). Thanx again for reminding me about Iris Silver Mist! Yeah this one is number one on my “to try” list.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Ah, nice boyfriend!

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