Equistrius: Iris Takes a Holiday

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.

34 thoughts on “Equistrius: Iris Takes a Holiday

    1. Oh, I can’t believe I missed that! D’oh! Parfum d’Empire makes Equistrius, which means it’s reasonably priced as well. I’m becoming a big fan of the line.

  1. I wanted to try this after Dee’s review, but was worried about the gourmand part. My skin also amplifies anything sweet and I’ve had similar experiences to yours with Iris Ganache and Bois d’Iris. So now I’m really lemming a sample or decant of this.

    1. Tatiana, thank you for your comment, because you just reminded me one of the reasons why I write. I was wondering if we really needed a second review, since Dee did such a lovely job, but finding people who have similar skin chemistry makes such a difference. I hope this works for you as well. 🙂

      1. I finally, finally broke down and bought a sample of this. I am an hour and a half into wearing it and I cannot wait to go to a full bottle. I am very happy to say it is not sweetly gourmand on my skin. But a subtle, elegant, slightly spicy iris. It’s warm and not at all cold and rooty like some irises can be. Thanks for your alternate review!

        1. I try a lot of fragrances that fall into the Abyss of Nice, that category where they’re pleasant but don’t have a huge impact. Because of that, it’s such a rush to try something new and have it instantly reach into my brain via my nose and says, “I am fantastic and memorable. You WANT me.” Sounds like you’ve had that kind of experience.

          As a fellow sweet-amplifier, I’m so glad to hear this is working on your skin the way you want it to. Have a grand, relatively inexpensive time buying that bottle. 🙂

  2. Loved reading your take on this Dionne. Like dee, I own a full bottle but I experience it more the way you do. It’s not as short-lived as I had feared either. The very cool iris scents (like Balenciaga Paris) aren’t really me. I was reading the other day about the new iris gourmand Lancome are releasing, La Vie Est Belle. Supposedly Julia Roberts vetoed all 5,500-odd mods of the perfume during development by Dominique Ropion, Anna Flipo and Olivier Polge. Whether it’s true or not it’s pretty ridiculous.

    1. Interesting that you experience it similar to me, Tara. Sometimes I wonder about my nose and my ability to identify notes, because I’ve really tried looking for that rice note…… nope, just can’t find it yet. Although going wrist-to-wrist can help; case in point: not being able to find the apple in Wazamba until I put it up against Avignon, and then it was very easy to discern.

      Haven’t heard anything yet about La Vie Est Belle, but if it’s an iris gourmand I’ll seek it out. And yeah, 5,500 mods is ridiculous.

  3. I do not want lemonade but now I’m really curious to try Equistrius (as if lemmings created by Dee weren’t enough!) Beautiful review – very warm and personal.
    Iris is one of my favorite notes (though Iris Ganache is marginally wearable for me – too sweet) so I look forward to trying Equistrius some time soon.

    1. Thank you for the compliment on this review, I really appreciate it. Lemonade’s not for everyone, but I’d sit on a porch and visit with you anytime, Undina. 🙂 And you can think of Dee and I as the D-Squared of lemmings, a double-whammy for your wallet.

      Oh, and if I recall correctly, you mentioned that for my first posts, the footnotes were too small to read. Are they large enough now?

  4. I loved this review. It took me in and when it was over I wanted more. And to think that your professor was Catherine Deneuve, that makes it all the better. Lovely, informitive and exceptionaly well written….good job.

    1. Thank you very much, Lanier. I’m beginning to realize that I’m a bit like Undina, more a storyteller than a straight-up reviewer of notes.

  5. Dionne, I very much enjoyed your review – and your characertization of how you view the iris note in general was interesting to me, as it’s often how the note comes across to me (cool and aloof, but in an intellectual rather than a bitchy way), particularly in scents like Equistrius and Hermes Hiris. In general, I prefer iris when it transitions between its rooty, leathery quality to its often cosmetic and powdery one, so the iris perfumes I love best are actually scents like Frederic Malle Iris Poudre. I have considered reviewing Equistrius (Christos of Memory of Scent gave me a nice decant of it) but I go back and forth on it. After reading your thoughtful review, I think I’ll wear it and think on it a bit more this week.

    1. I’ll cast my vote for you to do a review of Equistrius, I’d be very interested. I find there’s very few iris scents that I don’t like, as long as the iris doesn’t disappear. Right now my collection includes IdI, ISM, Iris 39, 28 La Pausa, Equistrius, Dior Homme pre-reformulation, with Hiris and Iris Nobile on the wish-list. Strangely enough, I got very little iris out of Iris Poudre.

  6. I also really want to try out the Equistrius since reading your review, what lovely images you paint up, who wouldn’t liek to smell like that 🙂 I’ve very recently used up my samples of both Iris Silver Mist and 28 La Pausa (I got a back lumbago last week and since then I’ve been on a major iris bender as I needed somthing calming and undemanding) and Equistrius sounds like a perfect sequel!

    1. Sigrun, as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m wafting ISM, 28 La Pausa, IdI and Equistrius, as I was showing a friend today what the iris note smells like – some of the irises smell quite differently on me than her, hence the fact I’ve got them on too. (She left my house wearing 13 different fragrances, 8 of them examples of iris perfumes. Man, I love showing this stuff to friends.)

      If you’re on an iris bender, I definitely think Equistrius should be sampled. Ooh, and Hiris and Iris Nobile and pre-reformulation Dior Homme and Iris 39 and…… 🙂

  7. Oh well damn, I’m late to this (where have I been?) and I don’t get on with Equistrius. I don’t get the iris. Just some sort of sweet cocoa powder action that, while pleasant, is not going to get the mouse hand to ‘buy now’.

    But speaking of iris, I’ve just picked up a half full bottle of Goutal’s Heure Exquise EDP on eBay. Happy! Young perfumistas tend not to mention HE in discussions of iris fragrances. It is a great, classic iris, but not cold at all.

    1. Isn’t skin chemistry an interesting thing? Dee gets iris only if sprayed judiciously, you don’t get it at all, and I get IRIS with a dab. I like my cocoa powder action when it’s not sweet and found in TokyoMilk’s Bittersweet. Good stuff right there.

      And I will definitely join you in the Heure Exquise love. Just wore it this Sunday and got an unsolicited compliment on how beautiful I smelled. But It goes far more green floral than iris on me, so in my head it’s a different classification. Enjoy that HE!

  8. I love Parfum d’Empire house! They make such fine perfume. I do like every single one I tried (only few from the line left to try). My favourite is Iskander, others are Azemour, Eau de Gloire and Equistrius. Really gorgeous perfume. I love that each PdE scent has a chypre base but they’re unique and different from each other.

  9. This was poignantly beautiful…and may I add that I have tried vintage Apres for the very first time…as much as I love L’Heure this is beyond that!

    1. OOPs! I commented on the wrong post! this was meant for Apres L’Ondee…sorry! (you should know by now my severe lack of techno-savy-ness-LOL!)

      1. I’m not that tech-savvy myself, Brie, even the tiny bit of HTML coding I learned for blogging took a long time to master. Thank you for the compliment about the Al’O post, I appreciate it. It’s always fun to find out people are reading stuff that was written a while ago. Enjoy that Al’O, it’s gorgeous stuff!

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