One Thousand Scents

Friday, June 20, 2008

30 Demeters in 30 Days: Day 20, Iris

I took a look at the floral Demeters I have and decided, for no good reason, to do them all at once. This is the last of them. I deliberately saved this one for the 20th because the other scent I reviewed today, Terracotta Voile D'Ete, supposedly has iris in the base, but I can't find it there, not if the Demeter version is what an iris smells like.

I've smelled iris in scents, but I've never smelled it by its lonesome, so writing about an iris scent, I guess, is like writing about the colour yellow when you've never seen it but only inferred its existence from the colours orange and green. Therefore, I can't tell you if Demeter Iris is true to its source, or what exactly it's meant to smell like: the iris flower does have a scent, but the root, or rhizome, of the plant it what's mostly used in perfumery, so I don't know if the Demeter is meant to smell like orris butter (as the root extract is known) or the flowers, or a combination of them, or what.

Demeter Iris is complex and has layers which emerge over time. The first is them is just horrible, with a rotting-fruit sweetness married to the smell of a plastic shower curtain newly removed from its packaging. Once that's dissolved into the air, maybe ten minutes in, the scent mutates into a head-scratchingly strange green floral with a sort of cocoa-powder quality, not chocolate but something equally warm and dusty. There is, finally, something rich and creamy lurking underneath, a lush, fatty-earthy-floral scent that defies my attempts to describe it but which is perversely interesting, not quite beautiful but certainly arresting.

It's not completely unpleasant overall. It takes a while to get to the nice part, and I can't say that it's necessarily worth the wait, but it's an experience. There are some elements of perfumery that aren't attractive by themselves, that require combination and adulteration and judicious artistry to make them acceptable, and if Demeter Iris is any indication, then iris is one of those elements. Perhaps the Demeter version requires layering with another scent to make it presentable.



  • This sounds very interesting - I like an "arresting" scent every now and then.....

    I'm assuming the longevity of Demeter Iris is on par with the rest of the fragrance line??? What did you think of it's longevity and sillage?

    Also, since you are great with word origins, where does the word sillage originate? The online dictionary lists SILAGE (with only one "L") as "fodder prepared by storing and fermenting green forage plants in a silo". It claims to be French from "ensilage", which is to put in a silo....but how does the "trail of perfume" come into the definition???



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:45 PM  

  • Its sillage is good; it carries. (Whether or not that's a good thing depends on how much you like the scent.) The duration is probably in the two- to three-hour range.

    As for the word "sillage", it's French, as the suffix would suggest, from the verb "siller", "to leave a trail", which comes from an earlier word, "sigler"; that's as far as I can trace it. Sillage is the word for a wake or a trail, such as a boat or an airplane leaves in the medium through which it's travelling, so the sillage of a fragrance is the same sort of trail that it leaves behind. It's unrelated to "silage".

    By Blogger pyramus, at 2:33 PM  

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