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Iris de Nuit - Beauty with brains

Image - Wikipedia - Irises by Vincent Van Gogh, May 1889

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I love my garden. I love pruning, weeding, diggin’ around. I just moved a small bed of perennials to a better spot, and my hands have that fragrant dark rooty smell that only comes from iris root.

Wikipedia tells me that “Orris root is a term used for the roots of Iris germanica, Iris florentina, and Iris pallida. Once important in western herbal medicine, it is now used mainly as a fixative and base note in perfumery, as well as an ingredient in many brands of gin.” (fine with me, as long as they don’t leave out the juniper berry). The essential oil produced from the root of the iris is used in perfumes, and it has a scent much like the scent of violets.

The iris scent in perfumes is difficult to do well - it can be overly dry, bordering on funereal, or too sweet, which obscures the unique iris smell. Serge Lutens' Iris Silver Mist is the funereal, Guerlain's Iris Ganache is the sweet, others I’ve tried are too vegetal or medicinal, and none of them have captured my heart and compelled me to own them.

When we were in Paris this spring, we met James Heeley, a British designer who lives and works in France, and whose creative style conveys a confident, uncluttered, refined quality, whether he’s designing vases, mirrors, work spaces, or fragrances - see his work at . James personally introduced us to all his fragrances, and I was knocked out by Iris de Nuit.

Heeley's interpretation of the iris scent in Iris de Nuit is pure Goldilocks – it’s just right! It opens green, light, and dry, with iris, and angelica, the heart has carrot and iris, which gives a slightly sweet, anisic accord on top of earthy violets. The iris carries  all the way through the drydown, with a hint of soft powdery woods from the cedar and amber base notes.

Iris de Nuit is, to me, what iris is supposed to smell like. Light and pure – not glammed up with florals or spices – its natural earthiness showcased, and not covered up. Heeley’s scent has a light sillage and stays very close to your skin, to the point that you think it’s gone after several hours, but it’s not – it’s just being quiet. It comes wafting back, in a smart flirty kind of way, and reminds you that it’s still beautiful. It's an extremely well-made scent - it smells expensive.

Iris de Nuit is a modern fragrance for both women and men, understated, chic, intelligent, refined. Beauty with brains, I call it.

Through high school, I had a BFF whose mother’s name was Iris. Our fifteen year old minds agreed that Iris was an incredibly ugly name, and thought that she should have been called Melanie or Scarlet, or something much more romantic (having just read Gone with the Wind). In retrospect, her mother was perfectly named.......she was tall, elegant, and very cool.......she was ultra-modern, had a wicked sense of humour, and adored fashion. She was a true beauty with brains, and I was one of her greatest fans (still am), and every time I wear James Heeley’s Iris de Nuit, I think of her.


Iris de Nuit is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.