Iris, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Or at least the bottles and decants.
I’ve mentioned before that when I was initially looking for a signature fragrance, I took some internet tests that were supposed to help me define my “style” and the perfume that would suit me. The tests were resoundingly unhelpful, because I’m not really Bohemian, or Classic, or Outdoorsy, or a Femme Fatale. I remember thinking to myself, “Isn’t there an Intellectual category?”1
Looking back I’m glad the tests weren’t that helpful, because I would have missed out on all the fun of this passion, as well as the chance to discover that Bohemian and Classic and Outdoorsy and Femme Fatale perfumes all have a place in my closet. Plus, it was very satisfying to discover that for me there IS an intellectual category of perfume, and its name is Iris.
When I think about iris, I get a very specific mental image: it’s my professor for one of the last university courses I took. She was in her 50s, tall, slender and elegant with blond hair pulled back in a bun, and she was one of the toughest profs I ever had. My early marks in her course were lower than I was used to, and she let me know quite bluntly I could do better. So when I buckled down and really got to work, her simply stated “good job” meant a lot. I have other professors that I also remember with fondness, but there was no one I worked harder for.
Iris is like her: cool, elegant and a bit aloof. When I wear it I feel smarter; it’s intellectual armor for days when the brain is a bit squishy. And I like that it never crosses over into mean – I’m not one to aspire to bitchiness. In my experience tough situations go much smoother when you stand your ground calmly. “Polite but persistent” can be very effective, and iris is just the ticket for that.
However, one thing about my skin chemistry is that until I tried Equistrius, only cool versions of iris worked for me. If a perfume is sweet my skin amplifies that, and in every iris gourmand I tried the sweet would wrestle the iris to the ground and bury it.2 Iris Ganache was all ganache, all the time. Van Cleef and Arpels Bois d’Iris just about gave me a toothache, and Chanel No. 18 wouldn’t talk to me, despite what Mr. Turin recommended.3
Imagine my delight upon spraying Equistrius to find that it is first and foremost still iris, but it has a friendliness to it I’ve never encountered before. Again an image springs to mind: I run into my old professor on holiday on Prince Edward Island, looking relaxed with her hair down, wearing a white cotton dress; she greets me warmly and invites me for lemonade on the porch of the cabin she’s renting.4
There are a few ways that Dee and I experience this differently. She talks about the rice aspect, which I can’t pick out, and she has to spray with abandon before smelling the iris, whereas iris is front and center for me even with one spray. She went straight to full bottle, while I bought a 10ml decant, although it should be noted 1) I bought a decant immediately, which is not usually how I roll and 2) that decant is already more than half gone. I suspect by the end of the year we’ll both be members of the full bottle club.
But we are the same in loving this stuff. I sprayed with abandon yesterday morning in preparation for writing this post, 6 sprays in total, and when I went to bed 14 hours later, Equistrius was still chatting away, her gentle smile a lovely counterpoint to my day, her blonde hair flowing in the ocean breeze.
Would you like some lemonade?
1 Or if I’m being really honest, a Geek category.
2 It’s all very violent. Basically, vanilla is my mafia.
3 With my scent-glue skin, 28 La Pausa lasts on me all day long, I kid you not. But I’ve tried drenching myself in No. 18, and a half hour later it’s barely a whisper.
4 Being a Canadian female of a certain age, Anne of Green Gables is part of my DNA.