Penhaligon’s Iris Prima

Disclaimer: I don’t like iris in perfume. Serge Lutens Silver Iris Mist, while I appreciate it as a lovely work of art, is like huffing Vaseline lotion (the one that comes in the regular cream-yellow pump bottle) and carrots. Tauer’s Lonesome Rider would have hit all my happy spots…if the iris wasn’t so prominent. And so on.


Iris Prima

  • Wet: peony, bergamot, carnation
  • Dry: iris, suede, violet, peony, bergamot, nutmeg, vetiver

The bottle itself smells like black licorice and herbacious goodness. On the skin, it starts off as a fairly inoffensive floral, very soft and polite. Strangely, I didn’t get any iris from the bottle or immediately upon application, which was strange to me because I expected to dislike this once I got it on my skin. I thought the iris was going to be powdery and strong on the roots. And…it’s not. After a few seconds the fragrance does a 180 and then I get heavy powdery iris but I also get this amazing soft suede and nutmeg that bolsters it, and a dry vetiver background that keeps it from turning into a candy scent.

It reminds me of an old library; not the one where my parents currently live which is fairly modern (and was just renovated in the recent years), but the municipal ones we used to go to, and my elementary school library, and the one in that random town I visited when I screwed up an interview, and the one I used to walk with my kindergarten class to when we still lived in New York. It smells like Scholastic school fairs–

Iris Prima smells like paper. This is what old musty paper and freshly printed printer paper and glossy magazine paper all smell like together.

After a while it sweetens even more and I’m reminded of Guerlain Myrrhe et Delires, and the actual iris smells more real than the “note” usually smells, but also not as carrot-y as I’m used to. Unfortunately, the suede and vetiver go away fairly quick and then it’s just back to being an inoffensive floral which is unfortunate.

It reminds me of sundresses! Sundresses for days! But if the suede stuck around I think it would have been more funky and versatile.

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