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Iris Nazarena - Destined to be a classic - September 23, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikimedia - Iris bismarckiana - by Alcain

Last March, when Denyse Beaulieu was in Toronto promoting her book, The Perfume Lover, Kay and I went to dinner with her. Somewhere between the first and second course, Denyse took a small vial out of her purse, removed the stopper, held it out to us and said “This is the new Aedes de Venustas. Have a sniff. I think it’s exciting and unique.”

We did, and it was. We all agreed that it was a stunner and then we went back to the business of eating, drinking and chatting. But a feeling lingered throughout the evening and the next day and for many days after that – I wanted to smell what was in that little vial again. And again.

The fragrance we sniffed that night was Iris Nazarena. When it was launched months later and I was finally able to buy a bottle and take a good big lungful of it, my first thought was: fragrances like this are what made me a niche perfume whore.

Aedes de Venustas is a jewel box of a niche perfume store located on Christopher St. in NYC. Owners Robert Gerstner and Karl Bradl have offered top niche perfume lines like Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Jovoy since it opened in 1995 making it a mecca for perfumistas.

In 2008 Gerstner and Bradl became more than fragrance retailers when they teamed up with L’Artisan for the creation of Aedes de Venustas  by L'Artisan Parfumeur. This sumptuous oriental woody was created by Bertrand Duchaufour. Then in 2012 they launched their first house fragrance: Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum. Once again, Bertrand Duchaufour was the nose, creating a gorgeous chypre built around rhubarb.

Now comes Iris Nazarena. This time the nose is Ralf Schwieger and the flower at the centre of the scent is iris. The Iris bismarckiana Regel to be precise. also known as Iris nazarena because it grows in the hills of Nazareth. It is a breathtakingly beautiful flower! The flags of the Iris nazarena are a creamy pale gray with a subtle violet cast, while the falls are sprinkled with dark dots closely spaced that form a dark line. The Iris nazarena is as opulent, rare and unique as the Aedes de Venustas store in NYC, making it the perfect muse for their second fragrance.

Iris Nazarena opens with cool, earthy – dirty or rooty - iris followed by ambrette, whose pear, rose and musk facets round out the iris, making it fuller and more accessible. Then a camphorous, piney note of juniper berry shows up and takes the iris further. Don’t be scared by the juniper – it’s handled gently, very gently here so that it isn't harsh or medicinal. It seems perfect and complete, until a note of star anise appears and you realize then that a hint of herbal/licorice makes it better. As it blooms, leather and incense come forward wrapping the iris in gentle warmth, aided by oud and clove. Rose de mai is a surprise at the heart and is the perfect floral foil for the leather and incense. The base of woods, musk and vetiver give it a rich warmth that is sensuous and comfortable without being heavy or dark, making it perfectly wearable in any season.  

The iris is present throughout the entire development of the scent while other notes enhance or highlight it. The drydown is surprisingly soft and elegant given the ingredients that are in it, which is a testament to Schwieger’s skill.

As Kay, Denyse and I agreed over dinner months ago, Iris Nazarena is a stunner and a strong addition to the Aedes de Venustas line. This one is destined to be a classic.

Today, we’re adding Iris Nazarena to our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00.