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Iris Ukiyoé – A different iris – May 2, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Image - Wikimedia Commons - Iris Garden - Katsushiko Hokusai

Gwen and I have a lot of fun writing our Nose-to-Nose posts, especially the ones at the beginning of every month featuring the Top Ten Scents about a specific perfume note. It’s a chance to sit down together and re-visit fragrances we love, to talk about them, spritz, sniff, and experience them again. Sometimes we get a real rush and it’s like we’re smelling them for the very first time, which is part of the fun of a perfume obsession. For May 2014, we talk about iris scents – read here.

Reading through the Top Ten May 2014 post today, it hit me - “I forgot to include one of my most favourite irises. How could I be so stupid?” I did a Search for the fragrance description – nothing. “What gives? Have I spelled it correctly? OR worse, deleted it?” I couldn’t find the blog entry either. Then a little voice said, “Idiot! You’ve never written about it. One of your favourite irises, and you haven’t added it to the Decant Store. Shame!” A louder, much bigger voice admonished, “You must correct this  immediately! Today! Right now!" I'm seated here at the Mac, so here goes:

The perfume in question is Iris Ukiyoé by Jean-Claude Ellena, launched in 2010 in the Hermèssence line. The word Ukiyo-e refers to Japanese wood-block prints, exemplified by the work of Japanese artist Katsushiko Hokusai  – the word translates as “images of the floating world”. Ellena became fascinated by these images:

I have a mental picture of the irises in ‘the floating world’. As an echo of that world my own garden is with blue and white irises from early May to early June, from snow white to feather white, from blue-black to light blue, with a few touches of pink irises. Ever since, the two worlds have formed an echo of each other, and I cannot see, smell, or touch irises without doing so through the eyes of Hokusai or Hiroshige.” (Hermès press materials)

Iris Ukiyoé is Jean–Claude Ellena’s perfume story about the iris flower. Although the flowers can’t be distilled for perfumery – the roots are used instead - iris blooms are fragrant, and different varieties have distinct scents. Some are spicy, like rose or carnation. Others smell of oranges or orange blossom, some are peachy, the tall varieties have a hint of chocolate or anise. But they all have a honeyed sweetness and a vegetal richness that makes the smell of iris flowers unique.

Iris Ukiyoé opens green and citrus-tangy with mandarin orange, and feels cool and shaded, surrounded by water. It quickly starts to build a pale green lily-of-the-valley accord on top of the citrus – these blooms are floating - and the delicate white floral notes become sweeter, and then spicier as rosy notes start to develop and the watery notes start to recede. This is not what I expected - what has started as a deceptively simple, understated “watercolour” scent is now becoming more complex. I detect an almost sour vegetal note, then vanilla, then a dusty bitter chocolate combines with the floral sweetness from the heart, and the light woody notes which are forming in the base. It’s decidedly rich, but still maintains a feeling of lightness.

The dry-down turns out to be soft and floral, not woody, with the various blooms peeking through from time to time – rose, orange blossom, lily - reminding me that yes, this is a Jean-Claude Ellena scent, which always delivers much more than I expect. This iris has a rich floral elegance that is sometimes missing in other iris fragrances. Iris Ukiyoé has a wonderful sillage – the word translucent comes to mind – and is also tenacious, which in this case, I welcome because the lingering scent is so serene.

Jean-Claude Ellena tells great perfume stories (see Epice Marine). Inspired by Japanese art and the elegant beauty in his own spring gardens, Iris Ukiyoé is one of his best. Fresh, green, floral, and alive, it’s an iris garden in full bloom. If you’re craving a different iris, one that goes beyond the dry powdery, rooty earthy, or violet candy standards, Iris Ukiyoé is the iris for you. It’s one of my MOST favourite irises.

Iris Ukiyoé is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.


“Jour de Fête 2014” contest winners

We’re happy to announce the three winners from our May 1st Birthday Celebration  draw for the three 100 ml. bottles of Jour de Fête 2014, donated by L’Artisan Parfumeur! We have contacted you by e-mail re delivery.

C.M. – Nova Scotia, CDA

H.N. – Ontario, CDA

S.P. - New York, USA

All other entrants will receive a 1 ml. decant sample of this gorgeous spring/Summer limited edition scent.

We’re all winners at! Thanks so much for entering and helping us celebrate our fourth birthday. We loved reading about your memories of being four years old!