New Perfume Review Providence Perfume Co. Irisque- Roots Festival


Iris is one of my favorite perfume ingredients. The fluctuating scent profile has always drawn me in. Most of the time a perfumer will choose a couple of sources. One reason is the cost of the material itself. Iris/orris is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfumery. Which is why when it is used in a high concentration it has a striking effect. What if a perfumer decided to use five different sources of iris? What would you have then? According to the perfumer, Charna Ethier it is an “orris bomb”. I think Providence Perfume Co. Irisque is more like a festival of iris.

Charna Ethier

One of the most recognizable iris effects in a perfume is as a soft powdery layer. On its own it can also have a chilly feeling. Ms. Ethier wanted to go in a different direction focusing on the earthiness of her sources of iris. Each one is derived from the root or rhizome. Through a clever bit of layering she takes us down into the earth where the rhizome exists.

One other aspect of iris in its rooty form that often gets mentioned is it has a carrot-like scent. Ms. Ethier embraces that comparison through the opening stages. Using both iris pallida and iris germanica she lets carrot seed ground things right from the start. As much as I write about this face of iris the carrot seed pulls some of the inherent sweetness underlying it all. Over this Ms. Ethier adds an opaque gauzy tincture of the rhizome. It is a bit like gilding the iris, but it adds a lilting silken veneer over everything. Things take a deeper turn as orris butter and a resinoid of orris adds an opulence as it moves to something even more complex. To further add to the earthiness a carefully titrated amount of oud along with the botanical musk of ambrette appear. They create a moist black soil accord from which all these sources of iris can nestle within.

Irisque has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Every time I wear this I feel as if I am in bare feet in a dark patch of soil digging up iris from the ground with my bare hands. There is a deeply satisfying harmony to what Ms. Ethier has composed. She may see it as a “bomb”. For me it is a roots festival featuring the inspiring scents of iris.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Providence Perfujme Co.

Mark Behnke