Bois d’ Iris by Van Cleef & Arpels
Posted on May 17, 2010
Let’s talk about Van Cleef & Arpels’ Bois d’ Iris. It has been sitting in its box since last week, winking at me enigmatically every now and then, whispering, ‘remove my plastic, you know you want to.’ So, the other day, I did. Then I reverently lifted the pleasingly heavy bottle into my hands and twisted the weighty lid to and fro. Then I put it back. Tonight, with a momentous pump of the virginal nozzle, I sprayed it.
One of six limited edition fragrances that form the Collection Extraordinaire, the slightly unusual, somewhat old fashioned and wholly desirable Bois d’ Iris bears the distinction of being unisex, one of two in the collection (the other is the intriguing sounding Cologne Noire). This is 1950s Tuscany in a bottle (not that I was there, but go with me on this) – it’s handsome, sunny scent with a hint of darkness; I think of overripe digs and crunchy grass underfoot and the smell the sunshine has when it’s the middle of summer and the temperature hasn’t dropped beneath forty for days.
On first spray, Bois d’ Iris is green and fresh, marvellously masculine. But this green crispness doesn’t last long. A saltiness kicks in, mingling with the powdery iris and loitering nearby is a tanginess, resonant of crushed wood. As the fragrance develops, with cedar and vetiver jostling for attention, whatever sweetness the base notes of vanilla and myrrh are supposed to add, are pushed to the back of the queue by a smoky finish. Hours after first application, I can detect a hint of the vanilla, but it does nothing to undermine the, to my mind, overwhelming masculinity of the fragrance. As a woman who wears male scents and who appreciates the delicacy and beauty within the ones she does, I don’t see labelling a fragrance as masculine as negating its suitability for women.
There’s a longevity to the fragrance (and, let’s face it, at $185 USD a bottle, if there wasn’t, you’d be unimpressed) and it is clearly beautifully made; the development is contiunous and subtle and means one is continually inhaling their own skin trying to pick up every facet of this straight shooting enigma.