Blog post by Gwen

Impossible Iris – floral and woody and a sensuous beauty

When my interest in fragrance was renewed a few years ago and I started reading about perfumes, I became fascinated by the process of getting the ‘smell’ out of the plants and into the bottle. Cold enfleurage, hot enfleurage, extraction, distillation, infusion -  a lot of time, patience and work goes into making a bottle of perfume. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it, especially when it comes to one of my favourite floral notes: iris.

Just look at what Wikipedia says goes into making orris oil, the essential oil derived from the iris plant: The rhizomes (Root) should be stored in a cool, dry location, protected against fungus and insect attack for three years. The fresh rhizomes are almost odorless.

The distilled oil solidifies in the receiver as a wax-like and cream colored mass known as Orris Concrete. It is solid because of the high content present of myristic acid, a white sterin like substance. Orris Concrete melts when it reaches around body temperature. It has a woody, fatty-oily, yet distinctly violet-like odor: sweet floral, warm & tenacious with a fruity undertone…. Yet even small amounts of this exquisite material lends to very fine effects in various perfume types other than the old fashioned violet

My eyes glazed over when I read ‘three years’. Still, for a lover of iris fragrances, the results are worth it, especially in Impossible Iris from Ramón Monegal Parfums.

Ramón Monegal is the founder and nose behind the Barcelona-based indie perfume house. I've been tracking the line ever since I bought Mon Cuir and discovered Monegal's knack for taking difficult notes, taming their harshness, and highlighting their other aspects to make them more supple and sensuous. He certainly does that with iris in Impossible Iris.

It opens with that gorgeous note of cool, metallic iris that I love so much. A note of raspberry adds a little sweetness, echoing the sweet facet of the iris, but the fruit is tart enough to stop it from getting too sweet. As it blooms, the iris becomes more pronounced and would take over, but Monegal matches it with exotic, indolic ylang-ylang and jasmine at the heart, making the cold iris sensuous and erotic without diminishing it. Virginia cedarwood holds it all together so discreetly that it’s more like a ribbon around a bouquet than a basenote. Iris is shot through this fragrance right down to the floral, woody, delicate dry down.

What makes iris such a difficult note is its range of facets from metallic and cold to earthy, bitter, sweet and floral, yet Monegal makes it a sensuous beauty.

And while it might sound like it shouldn’t work – iris with raspberry? Really? – it does. Wearing it is a gorgeous reminder that anything is possible. 

 Check out Impossible Iris our Shop.