Scent Sample Sunday: Iris Rebelle

Scent Sample Sunday: Iris Rebelle

Iris Rebelle is a 2018 launch from Atelier Cologne, which I’ve just tried as part of their Advent Calendar for this year. Fragrantica lists the following notes: top notes — calabrian bergamot, orange blossom and black pepper; middle notes — iris, lavender and may rose; base notes — guaiac wood, patchouli and white musk. And sure enough, as soon as I applied some on my wrist from the mini-dabber that comes in the calendar, my first reaction (without having yet read the notes list) was “bright iris.” I like it very much, but if you don’t enjoy carroty iris notes, this is not for you. Iris Rebelle is worth your attention if you like iris notes in fragrance. It will not last for hours on end, but it will last long enough for you to experience the progression of its notes.

The opening combines a bright, strong citrus note from the bergamot with a lightly earthy iris, right from the start. I don’t really smell any pepper that I can pick out separately, but a light spiciness underlies the citrus and iris. The middle phase is mostly about the iris, fittingly. It is an earthy iris, but it also has a transparency that seems to be typical of Atelier CologneIris Rebelle is also part of the line’s “Chic Absolu” collection, which is described on the website as “clean, transparent, and elegant.” The bright citrus opening is also one of their signatures, as the line was founded to feature the kind of citrus notes found in colognes, combining them with a wide range of other notes:

Inspired by the legendary Eau de Cologne, the Cologne Absolue is a new olfactive family created in 2009 by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, Atelier Cologne Creators and Founders. Genuine pure perfume exalting the magical freshness and elegance of citruses with exceptional lasting power thanks to very high concentrations of essential oils.

I haven’t tried many of Atelier Cologne’s scents, so the Advent calendar was a nice opportunity to do so. They also sell a discovery set online, which comes with a voucher to apply its purchase price to a future order of a bottle. I like this company’s considerate treatment of its customers, from the discovery set voucher to the small sizes they make available (down to 10 ml). Sometimes you just want to play with a fragrance, not commit to 100 ml at great expense! Atelier Cologne is also very conscientious with the ingredients they use, which do not include any paraben, paraffinum liquidum, GMO, animal-derived ingredients, colorants, or sulfates.

Each Atelier fragrance comes with a little slice of backstory, which seems to be de rigueur for modern niche fragrances. The moments assigned to Iris Rebelle are:

He was drawing obsessively, invading her space as if he were alone. But when she changed her seat he could not stop staring at her… Days later backstage, she was nervously breathing as the crowd was waiting for the ballet to start. At that moment, she unexpectedly saw him in the front row. All at once, she felt strong and calm, as if they were alone.

Who is the artist? Who is the dancer? I think this is a romanticized reference to the artist Edgar Degas and one of his many models among the ballet corps of the Paris Opera, whom he did draw “obsessively.” And indeed, Iris Rebelle does evoke some of that world, from the cologne of the “abonnes”, the male patrons of the ballet, to the wood of the stage flooring, surrounding the flowers that may represent Degas’ “danseuses“, to the transparency it displays, not unlike Degas’ works in pastel. Degas was himself a rebel artistically, one of the Impressionists who overturned the received notions of art, drawing, and painting, in 19th century France. The backstory for this fragrance is highly idealized, however, as the ballet world Degas portrayed was much harsher than his pastels suggested; and it seems that Degas himself was something of a misogynist even for that time.

Painting and pastel by Edgar Degas of Paris Opera ballet dancers rehearsing.

Edgar Degas, The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage, http://www.metmuseum.org

One aspect of Iris Rebelle that I like is the persistence of the citrus note, especially since it comes from bergamot, a green and astringent citrus note that I love. I have never eaten an actual bergamot fruit, but the scent is very familiar to me from the famous Earl Grey tea, which is flavored with the bergamot that lends its distinctive fragrance to the tea. Usually citrus notes in perfume fade away very quickly, but this bergamot lasts a while longer, and weaves together with the lavender note to evoke a hint of a gentleman’s cologne insinuating itself into the floralcy of the heart notes. Even the earthiness of the iris may refer to the lower origins of most of the dancers, while the orange blossom and rose notes evoke the pastel fantasy world they worked so hard to embody onstage.

Pastel of ballerina tilting onstage, by Edgar Degas

Ballerina, by Edgar Degas

Have you tried Iris Rebelle? What other Atelier Colognes do you recommend?

Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Some of my favorite bloggers are posting about favorite holiday fragrances, and several have created their own fragrance Advent calendars, so clearly ’tis the season! I love Advent, but I was too slow off the mark to organize my own Advent calendar in time, and this is a very busy time of year for me at work, so I’ll just enjoy reading about theirs — although I might get my act together for a few “scents of Advent” or even a fragrance Twelve Days of Christmas, so stay tuned!

As some of you know, I’m an enthusiastic amateur gardener. One of the plants I love most is the hellebore, sometimes called the “Christmas Rose” or “Lenten Rose” because it blooms in the winter. I love it so much that the special china we bring out for the holidays from now through February has hellebores on it.

Spode Christmas Rose

So for my “scents of Advent” post today, I’m going to write about a few of the rose scents that I especially enjoy in the fall and winter, although real hellebores have little fragrance. Actual roses can emphasize so many different facets of their natural fragrance, and then perfumers focus on a few of those, and choose companion notes to heighten that emphasis; this is undoubtedly why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rose-centric fragrances. I know some perfume-lovers dislike rose, but I’m inclined to think that may be because they haven’t found the right rose for them, or because they have unhappy associations with bad rose scents like poorly made soap.

I love fresh, citrusy, green roses in the spring and summer, but I’m just not drawn to them when the weather turns colder. Luckily, many perfume houses have created scents that emphasize the spicier, darker, warmer aspects of rose, and those are the ones I enjoy at this time of year. I’ve written before about some of them: Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose, Montale’s Intense Cafe, Gres’ Cabaret. Here are a few more:

Tauerville’s Rose Flash: this is one of the best fragrance buys on the market, imho. It is the first of Andy Tauer’s “Tauerville” line, fragrances that are deliberately more experimental (and more affordable) than his main line but still artfully crafted and multi-faceted. Rose Flash comes in a 20% concentration; in other words, parfum extrait strength. At $63 for a 30 ml bottle, and given its high quality, it’s at the top of my list. Here is the description from the website: “A shamelessly diffusive, tenacious, extrait-strength creation, overflowing with the greens, spices, citruses, woods and creamy intimacies which enter your very soul when you stick your nose into a bona fide, scented, living rose.” Be still, my heart! Yes, it really is that good.

Bottle of Andy Tauer's Tauerville Rose Flash parfum

Tauerville Rose Flash; image from www.theredolentmermaid.com.

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018: an update of a former Penhaligon’s classic, Elisabethan Rose, its notes are: Hazelnut Leaf, Almond Oil, Cinnamon, Red Lily, Rose Centifolia Oil, Rose Absolute, Vetyver, Musk, Wood. The unusual opening is just spicy enough to make it clear that this is a deep red rose, nothing pale. The cinnamon note makes it right for this season, but it isn’t strong. The rose notes, which appear right away, are fruity and deep, with wonderful undertones of spices and light wood. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite rose fragrances — and what’s not to love about a bottle with a white ruff around its neck?

Bottle of Penhaligon's Elisabethan Rose eau de parfum with roses

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018; http://www.penhaligons.com.

Jo Malone’s Tudor Rose & Amber: one of the limited edition “Rock the Ages” set of 2015, Tudor Rose & Amber is meant to embody one of the most notable periods of English history. From Fragrantica: “Tudor Rose & Amber evokes the bloody and turbulent Tudor era. The fragrance contains Damask and Tudor rose as well as ginger in the heart, spicy beginning of pink pepper and clove and the base of golden amber, patchouli and white musk.” The ginger and clove make this a warm, dark rose for winter. Many commenters talk about a boozy or winelike impression; if so, it’s a mulled wine. Even Luca Turin likes this; in “Perfumes: The Guide 2018”, he gave it four stars and wrote:

The distinguished Grasse house of Mane must have been gutted to see Christine Nagel move to Hermes, because she was a priceless treasure. It’s not as if the rose-amber accord hadn’t occurred to anyone before, but Nagel inserts her trademark slug of biblical spices and woods smack in the center, as she did in Theorema (Fendi, 1998) and rescues it from heaviness and banality. Very fine work.

Rock the Ages collection of five fragrances from Jo Malone London

Jo Malone Rock the Ages Collection 2015; http://www.jomalone.com

Do you have any favorite cold-weather rose fragrances? Any fragrances that particularly say “holidays” to you? Please share!

Featured image from www.neillstrain.com.