12 de jun. de 2020

L'Iris de Jacques Fath - Fragrance History/Review

When Panouge announced the launch of L'Iris de Jacques Fath in 2018 they certainly knew they was creating a unique moment within the perfumery. This moment can be divided into two perspectives, important for understanding the different views of why L'iris is a special perfume even for the reconstruction and launch of a perfumery classic from the past.

The first vision of this launch is that of L'Iris as the return of the legend Iris Gris under a new name, a perfume celebrated by perfumers, perfumery enthusiasts and specialists dedicated to the art and study of it. For these Iris Gris  is as celebrated and important as perfumes as Chanel No 5, Fougere Royale, Patou Joy, Shalimar, Mitsoko. The difference of L'Iris for such legends is that its history has been lost to a large part of the public mainly because with the evolution of commercial perfumery in the massmarket direction the glory and luxury of names from the past like Jacques Fath was not preserved and told properly. But thanks to the internet and access to information, a simple search on google or specialized sites like Fragrantica allows us to understand the interesting story behind this legend.

The second view we may have regarding L'Iris would be more in line with what Panouge conveys and how they positions this restored classic to its splendor. L'Iris de Fath is sold more than just a classic or luxury, it is positioned as a fetish object, emphasizing the magical, nostalgic and precious aspect of Iris as a precious jewel whose price and production make it known to few and coveted by many: only 150 bottles of this legend will be produced annually, at a cost of $ 1850 30ml.

I am part of the people who saw L'Iris as something fetish, magical and precious and having the chance to meet it made me cautious to evaluate and capture its essence. Unfortunately, I never got to know the original version of its formula, which is practically a kind of unicorn, impossible to put my hands on. Iris Gris can be felt in its reconstructed version at the Osmothèque museum, but it cannot be used on the skin so that it is not actually possible to capture the story that the perfume tells. However, Panouge took special care in bringing together experts to evaluate the reconstruction process and ensure that the perfume to be re-released was faithful to the original version and I start from this premise to talk about this legendary and fetish iris.

L'Iris makes me think that a great irony of the fanciful way that perfumery sells the preciousness of its materials is that a perfume with a high amount of absolute iris would not be seen as iris for many people. Iris is one of the most expensive materials in perfumery due to its difficult process of obtaining and its low yield: it takes tons of iris root and these roots must remain for 2-5 years aging so that they can later turn into a concrete whose final price per a kg can arrive at its best quality at the price of an apartment. The powdery and makeup idea that is sold in perfumery as iris is a kind of fantasy built around the connection between violet and iris and based on materials that create something powdery, sweet and with a purple floral hue in some cases.

This view of the iris would be as if people wanted caviar when they got to know a commercial version of it made from sago/tapioca pearls.The high amount of the very expensive absolute iris in L'Iris de Fath gives it an earthy and vegetal facet that is the essence of the true iris and that is frightening to many. It is this aroma that reminds carrot that gives Iris a funereal and gray aura and it is precisely the way this is balanced in this composition that makes L'Iris de Jacques Fath mythological and somewhat fetishistic in the magical sense of the word.

And the most intriguing and curious thing about this is that the perfumer who created it seems to have found a very modern way of doing this for the times when it was launched. The story goes that the perfumers of the past considered Vincent Roubert a lazy perfumer and the reports say that he composed L'Iris Gris in a hurry. Perhaps in this way the perfumer did it following his instincts and in a more direct way, creating a saturation around the iris and violet and using the materials around it as accessories that harmonize and soften the most complicated facets.

So, even though there is a very high amount of the very expensive absolute of Iris in L'Iris de Fath the most vegetable and raw aspect is reserved only in the first minutes of the departure, being quickly enveloped in a silky, creamy and lactonic aroma of peach which is classic and modern at the same time. The cloves give a spicy touch and a drier floral to the idea and small doses of the best quality of jasmine and rose round off the iris and peach and add sensuality to the composition. A base around sandalwood, musks and cedar supports the velvety, noble and sophisticated aroma of the composition without stealing the limelight.

L'Iris de Fath is a perfume that seems to balance something melancholy and nostalgic with a warm and hopeful aspect, which makes sense since its composition was made after the Second World War. It is a perfume that was alrady born expensive at the time it was launched, that was quickly discontinued with Fath's death and that bringing life back would not be an easy task. Recovering a legend in its smallest details has a cost and making it more massified would be a risk: even if Panouage managed to produce a lower cost version by making the formula in larger volume L'Iris de Fath does not have enough appeal to sell to the public that does not know its history or the true face of a material as expensive as iris. It is a wise decision to faithfully capture a myth and bring it to life for the few people who appreciate it, like an endangered animal that we can meet but we do not release into the environment so that it will not be extinguished again.