I wrote most of this post a few weeks ago, but didn’t publish it because I wanted to try the perfumes in question again. And of course, as it often happens (doesn’t it?) , I promptly forgot about it. However, in the past few days I noted quite a few posts with titles beginning with “A tale of two..”. And then of course I remembered this post languishing in the drafts and decided it was time to dust it off, finish it and throw it into the internets – a change of pace from the posts about beauty (which will resume on Friday).
The first Iris is Iris Nazarena, by Aedes de Venustas. When I visited New York in June this year, with my son, husband and father (who was visiting from India), perfume had to take a back seat to accommodate the many second hand bookstores my dad and I wanted to visit. I was, however, allowed one perfume stop and for that I chose the much talked about Aedes de Venustas. My then 6 month old son obligingly slept on my husband as I prowled around sniffing. Of course, I had to try Iris Nazarena because of all the buzz it seemed to be generating, even though iris is not a note that usually tempts me. My interaction with this perfume at the store was pretty straight forward. I spritzed some on paper. I smelled..paper. I thought my nose was tired, perhaps, and spritzed on skin. And I still smelled..paper. The sales assistant asked me if I wanted a sample. I said no. He gave me a sample anyway.
So once back home, as I was reading rave reviews of Iris Nazarena, I retried it. Which led to my ‘aha- Iris’ moment. By which I mean that I finally realized that the paper-like ‘non-smell’ that I smelled, *was* Iris. It reminded me of invisible ink the way it disappeared on my skin, like lemon juice stains on paper. And just like warm light makes the lemon juice writing visible, so too the warmth of my skin eventually allowed me a peek into its character. Which is soft, slightly spicy. I see it as a fuzzy purple shawl, a muted purple like this:
We don’t exactly speak the same language, but I think I’m starting to make out a word or two. What I’m beginning to find very interesting about iris in general and Iris Nazarena in particular, is that even though up close iris can smell a little vegetal/rooty, it still manages to exude an overall elegant aura. And though I will never love this perfume (never say never!), it does make me want to further explore this interplay of ‘rootiness’ and elegance in iris perfumes.
Cut to the second Iris. Which is By Kilian’s Prelude to Love. This story is a little more convoluted in that I am not even sure I ever tried my sample when I received it via the by Kilian fan club free sample program. Actually, no- I think I did try it but dismissed it in favor of some of the other offerings. Again, I probably read ‘iris’ in the notes and ‘cologne’ in a review and didn’t pursue it.
Then, yesterday (not yesterday really, but a yesterday few weeks ago) , I was expecting a guest but didn’t want to risk lighting a scented candle that might fall on the exploratory path of my dangerously adventurous son. I thought of placing the candle on a higher surface, but I had recently noticed him shaking the legs of the table because he couldn’t reach what was on it, so I didn’t want to risk that either. I decided to spray a lesser used sample of perfume on the cushion covers- a make-shift room spray. I used my sample of M Micallef Ananda. Because it smelled to me of expensive shampoo I thought it might work as a room spray. Turned out it didn’t please me as that either. So I picked Prelude to Love- another hardly used sample and sprayed. This time I had a ” Are you kidding me, where has this sample been and why don’t I wear it more often” moment. And I immediately sprayed it on my arm. And while my son clamored for my attention, I stole sniffs from arms that now smelled like happy lemony sugar-y mouth pucker-y sunshine and crisp air-y..ok – you get the idea. The initial burst smelled like the tart orange and lemon round, hard candies that you get in all the tiny ‘corner shops’ in India that sell bread, milk, eggs and..yes- candy housed in large glass jars. Yet, unlike what this association might suggest, it smelled elegant, like the scent to wear to a garden party in a white dress like this one.
Because through the sugary lemons I could smell the green elegance of neroli and petitgrain. The kind of elegance that is effortless and slightly casual and not scared of a breeze that might mess up your hair.
The next few times that I wore Prelude to Love, I didn’t get the happy lemony opening quite so strongly. And iris is not obvious to my nose as it is in the case of Iris Nazarena. However, it does have that ‘low frequency’ character * that I associate with with iris (and violet) perfumes.
One of my favorite ‘storybook characters’ growing up, was Anne of Green Gables, and in polls that ask you to scent characters from books, I’ve never been able to pin a perfume to Anne. Well, I think Prelude to Love is just right for her! Actually I can see even Elizabeth Bennet wearing this, though Marni might suit her better.
And even though this perfume is usually not me, it hit the spot the way Chanel Bel Respiro did, surprising me a couple of years ago. I think I could feel like me in it, if I wear it very occasionally when the air is crisp and the breeze blows through my hair. And when I’m wearing pajamas, running to try and catch my son, but want a touch of elegance in the midst of the madness.
* Apparently, I am not the only person who has arbitrary definitions of low and high notes in perfume. See Martha’s post..:D
Picture Credits 1) muted purple flower via We Heart It 2) Under the tuscan sun via La Maison Boheme 3) Anne of the Island via Audio Books Online