So, where I left off in my last post about making Iris Gris de Fath was in the skeletal structure that I began to test on my client’s skin. Let’s start there.
As you may have surmised by the description given by Mr. Coifan, the fragrance starts on a cloud of fluffy, soft, creamy lactonic peach (the ingredient is commonly known as aldehyde c-14 but is undecalactone gamma) so I began with that as well. Of course, the orris absolute and butter came right in next along with the ionones (alpha, and methyl gamma) to color in the correct amount of “grey and purple-y violet” in the heart. I ended with the addition of musk, ambrette and civet. There is a sheer clean-ness that the musk imparts and the sensual humanity that the ambrette and civet breathe into the base. As a skeleton goes, this one was lovely with high cheek bones.
When I am creating a bespoke fragrance I always want to get the ‘sketch’ on the skin as soon as I can which will give me some indication as to how the wearers skin will react, and in turn will inform me as to how I need to proceed toward our ultimate destination. The upside to working on a reformulation is that you have something concrete to ‘match’. I put a test patch of the original perfume on her skin and a patch of the sketch on the other arm so that I could determine what was happening on both arms. I was delighted (and rather amazed, really) that at the ‘first fitting’, the sketch was already at least 80% proportional to the original. I did notice that her skin exaggerated the ambrette and civet in the drydown and would need some extra peach to balance it but it was immediately elating; like hitting the ball right onto the green in the first stroke.
My next step was to expand the design to include the notes that give the perfume it’s nuances: the muguet, carnation (!), jasmine, lilac, and heliotrope in the heart and the oakmoss absolute, cedar, and vetiver in the drydown. The peach, along with the slightest touch of lemon, bergamot and violet leaf absolute is all that commands the topnote. This overdosing of peach gives the impression of incredible softness and approachability at first sniff that would just not be the case without it. Orris can be rather cold, aloof, and as others have also written, quite melancholy. But Iris Gris is not melancholy or aloof. It is elegant, to be sure, and so, so beautiful but not in a way that you must admire her from an ivory tower. Iris Gris comes down to be with you, and hold you close; lovingly.
A light touch was needed to balance all of these other notes. It would be all too easy to overpower that violet / orris heart and put a dent in that poof of peach meringue. So I went slowly and tread softly all the while keeping the original in mind. My client came for just two more fittings and we were done. She beamed so brilliantly as she sniffed both arms, again with the original extrait on one arm and her new perfume on the other. We both agreed that the only detectable difference seemed to be that the original smelled ‘aged’ and the other, well, new. This was the moment that she told me that she calls this her “Scent of Hope”. I was so, so moved by her passion for this fragrance and what it meant to her that I almost cried. She and I can both relate to medical difficulties and what it means to have something to inspire hope; the hope of a life free from (a lot of) pain, filled with optimism and most of all, beauty. It was right then that I thought that it would be something great to be able to release what we had made to a greater audience. When she came back to finally pick up her presentation bottle I asked how she felt about an actual release, with her name for the fragrance, Scent of Hope. She was not only very gracious, she was delighted to know that she would be instrumental in giving others a deep and meaningful pleasure in the smelling (and wearing!) of this design.
Now our final step is to find a partner organization to give 30% of the proceeds to. Ideally, we would like to find a women’s cancer organization, perhaps locally, who will help women with the resources they need to handle their treatment and when they are finished, to help them rebuild their lives anew. We know that after something like cancer, it is a re-building that must happen; there’s no going back to how it was. So, this is our wish and goal. The perfume will be released, in extrait only, when we find our ‘mate’. In the meantime, I will leave you swooning about the chance to wear a legend; the stuff that dreams are made of. ox
ps: So for all of you who have always wanted to smell (and wear!) Iris Gris but won’t be making it to the Osmotheque in Versailles any time soon, now is your chance. :) If you would like to pre-order, you can. Please just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we can put you on our list. Nothing will be charged until we are ready to release and ship.