There’s something in me that tells me that Iris Prima would be being touted as one of those truly great and original fragrances if it were released by a top fashion house instead of Penhaligons. And that’s no slur on Penhaligons, but merely an observation on how journos tend to regard new releases from niche British as opposed to hugely affluent Parisian houses. ie The latter tend to have huge marketing budgets and are sought due to their ad spend.
Instead, Penhaligons have quietly gone about releasing a few new perfumes of late that more than meet the mark of excellence (Juniper Sling, Vaara), But it’s Iris Prima that really stands out with perfumer Albert Morillas’ subtlety and sophistication and with its grown up beauty of bergamot, Iris and Indian jasmine, with the added dry-down of a richly addictive base of sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla and benzoin.
The perfume tells a story and reflects the juxtaposition of delicacy and strength required by dancers, especially those of the English National Ballet, the ever-so-more-than-appropriate link with Penhaligons, to emphasise home-grown beauty and creativity. Morillas was granted exclusive access to the English National Ballet dancers, Nathan Young & Lauretta Summerscales, their rehearsals, backstage and their performances for his inspiration.
The perfume comes on like a dancer’s leap, with its sharp burst of energy in is green freshness and with a sparkling pinch of spicy pink pepper. But then the show really begins, as the beautiful curves and balletic prowess of Iris Absolute relays the beauty but also the chalked pointe ballet shoes that mark and scuff the stage with their powerful feats of grace. The powdery sucker punch mixes with Indian Jasmine Sambac while the luminous quality is spot-lit with the innovative modernist, Hedione and Paridisione. This is quite the performance. But it is the surprisingly off-kilter sultriness and heaviness of the base that hooks. Like a sweat drenched dancer still looking radiant, the more feral leather, sandalwood, benzoin and vanilla notes work together to reveal a tougher, more rounded charismatic being than we’d first assumed of such a delicate soul. The guts as well as the grace.
I can only urge you to seek out Iris Prima and then note well my words re how this would be greeted by great fanfares if released by a bigger name. Penhaligons may not have the kudos of cosmetics, couture and handbags to flaunt but it certainly knows how to make an entrance. And that, dear friends, is the sign of any quality performer.
Iris Prima launches in Penhaligons store and online and also with selected Department stores on 9th September 2013. Iris Prima is priced £85 (50ml) and £120 (100ml).