An ingredient that, despite a heart-stopping price tag, has undoubtedly taken a place on the pedestal as an all-time favourite. From the most luxurious and prominent perfume houses, such as Guerlain, Chanel and Frederic Malle, to world famous noses, to loyal and enamored Orris perfume wearers; no one can simply get enough.
Whilst the beauty of the intricate purple, blue iris flowers is appealing to the eye, it is in fact the roots, known as Orris, that carry a beautiful smell; enrapturing, and leaving you wanting for more.
Multi-faceted like a diamond, Orris has a sweet, soft, powdery trace, reminiscent of the violet flower. In smelling the ingredient, other facets rise to the surface; shades of raspberry, even notes of carrot, and hints of pepper, whilst also having an enveloping warm, creamy, earthy quality. It’s incredible potency means that only a few drops of Orris are needed for the natural fixative properties to start working: mixing, ‘fixing’, and flourishing the other ingredients, especially prolonging the quality of florals and base notes.
A DIP INTO THE HISTORY…
It is hardly a rarity to find scenic fields of this beautiful flower, especially in its origins Italy and Morocco, with many purple fields found across those countries. Nevertheless, the fame of Iris didn't start here, as it’s been used since the ancient times all over the Mediterranean world. From the Egyptians, who believed it was a symbol of majestic power, to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who bottled the plant as an essential oil. It was used for medicinal purposes, as well as a powerful cathartic, treating everything from snake bites to removing freckles and even treating depression. The flower itself was even named after Greek goddess ‘Iris’, who appeared on earth in the form of a rainbow with a purpose of delivering messages from the Gods to the humans.
It wasn't long until the true magic behind the plant was exposed: its scent. Already popularly used as a perfume in the ancient world, Orris’ popularity only grew, year by year. Moving from Florence to France, where she reigned as Queen (1547-1559), Catherine De Medicis, of course, brought with her Florentine talc, made from ground iris, that she used to whiten her face, whilst also providing fragrance. It was not long, until every French lady adopted this practice; hence making iris famous, just like that, in France.
Nowadays, the resin extracted from the roots of the iris flower is exported globally, not only for its use in perfumery, yet also for cosmetics, powders, and even in botanical spirits such as gin!
PROCESS OF EXTRACTION
Iris Pallida is the only species which is used for perfumery and its roots, known as the rhizome, are exactly where the treasured scent is found. The process of transforming the plant to oil that we wear in our fragrances, follows the traditional methods, with the cultivation still very often being remotely industrial.
Firstly, the root stem is harvested and left to dry for a minimum of three years. As it dries, it fossilises, looking like a stone, whilst a natural isolate forms inside, called irone. At this stage it is now known as Orris, yet has hardly any odour. Just like wine, the longer it is left to mature, the better it will be, or more specifically the longer the roots are left to dry, the more irone is produced.
Highly laborious, and hand-harvested commonly in small batches, with rather basic tools: it is no surprise why this precious commodity comes with an exorbitant price. To put it into perspective, high-quality Orris can cost more than an astonishing 50,000 Euros per kilogram, three and a half times that of gold, and merely because, half a tonne of Orris root is required to produce only one kilogram of essential oil!
Dissolved into the alcohol, the Orris becomes yellowish in colour, looking rather similar to melted butter, with a ‘fatty’, violet-like aroma. This thus explains the name often adopted for Orris at this stage, Orris Butter, or Beurre d’Orris. With a final treatment to then extract the oil, the absolute only unravels its magical, fragranced properties when mixed with other materials.
OUR RECOMMENDED MIXES
Highly desired and fashionable in both male and female fragrances, Orris is an ingredient that creates delightful, and complex compositions, that you simply MUST have in your perfume wardrobe.
Our first recommended mix would be, ORRIS OPERA along with NEROLI NUDE. Fresh yet powdery, green yet elegant, and an all-round uplifting fragrance duo; composing an inherently soft, classy and majestic mix, especially fitting for the warmer seasons!
If, however, you seek a more enticing, a more exotic, and sensually suave potion, then the elixir of ORRIS OPERA and SLEEK SANDALWOOD is the one for you. Most suiting for men, with a spray of this potion onto your skin, the force of attraction will be stronger than you can imagine…
And yet, if you do want to take the next step of allurement, then dare to try ORRIS OPERA in combination with TERRIFIC TONKA. What could possibly be sexier, than a contrast of bitter and sweet. The scent of the captivating nutty, delectable TERRIFIC TONKA, intertwines with the irresistibly luxurious powdery roots, with subtle notes of fresh leather at the back. This pairing will speak the language of seduction, leaving your partner craving for more…