Guerlain is one of those decaying Great Houses of Perfume. More interested in churning out product while living off their past. Every arrival of a new insipid sample makes me sad. Yet in every year they remind me why I own so many of their classics. Last year it was the amazing Embruns D’Ylang. This year it is Guerlain Iris Torrefie.
Iris Torrefie is part of the L’Art et La Matiere collection. The same group which Embrun D’Ylang is also included. It seems like this is the last place where a creative thought can be expressed at Guerlain. Even though they are working within the current trend of floral gourmands this one has a larger presence than its competitors. Perfumer Delphine Jelk is given the reins.
It is an interesting choice because 2007’s Iris Ganache is one of the best iris and chocolate gourmands out there. Mme Jelk moves from the chocolatier to the sidewalk café as she chooses to use coffee as the gourmand in Iris Torrefie. It is a compelling combination.
Mme Jelk places both core ingredients in place at the start. She also allows iris to display more of its dual nature of powder and root. The coffee is that bitter oily bean prior to roasting. That provides a marvelous counterweight to the two-faced iris. Squeezing between the two keynotes is green cardamom and ambrette seeds. They add an herbal tint and a soft botanical musk, respectively. They are important connective tissue to hold the main protagonists together. I am not sure how I would have wanted this to finish in my vision. In Mme Jelk’s mind it was time for the Guerlinade to come forth. I adore this in so many other Guerlains but in this case it feels like an intruder. I adore the first hours of this when the iris and coffee are percolating together. Once the Guerlinade appears it strips some of the vitality. It is not a terrible choice it just seemed to me like this deserved a more dynamic base accord.
Iris Torrefie has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Iris Torrefie is 2020’s proof there is still a heartbeat at the moribund brand Guerlain has become. I feel a bit uncharitable complaining about the signature accord of the brand not being enough. I also think I might come around to think that it works better than this first impression. Iris Torrefie is worth the price of admission for the iris and coffee on top, it is magical.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Guerlain.