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Hermes Iris Ukiyoe
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

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Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

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Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

 

A Post on Iris Ukiyoé by Hermès, in Honor of Japan

Back in December, a friend sent me a sample of Iris Ukiyoé—the ninth fragrance in the Hermessence Collection from luxury-brand Hermès and, like the others in this unique collection, the creation of perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. I’m not familiar with the majority of the Hermessences, only a small few, but I am familiar with a number of other Ellena fragrances, many of them ethereal to the point that they seem like auras, making me think the perfumer’s interest is not so much in capturing the corporeal nature of whatever place or thing he is examining, but rather the spirit that hovers over it; the expiration it gives off; the ions suspended around it in their magnetic embrace.

Therefore, I wasn’t expecting the queerly crisp and insistent green fragrance that met my nose when I uncapped the sample of Iris Ukiyoé. It seemed to possess as much structure as it did aura, though it possesses both, and as such its greenness struck me as both sobering and a little too bright. Even so, its oddness wasn’t exactly off-putting or something I wanted to dismiss. I wrote back to my friend saying, “While I could never imagine wanting a bottle of this one, it is a fascinating thing to study and may inspire a post from me.

Well, what better time to post about Iris Ukiyoé than now, when all of our thoughts are with Japan. I have made my Red Cross Japan donation; I trust that you have, too. How does a person help beyond that, in circumstances that seem monstrous in proportion to the kind of aid that each one of us is able to lend? I have to say that while I’m not a religious person, I still believe in the power of prayer in all of its myriad forms. Sometimes I think that’s where we really exist, so maybe Jean-Claude Ellena is onto something: maybe the thoughts and wishes that we breathe out and breathe in—that hover around us like auras and, at their tipping point, break free like an ion wind to collide with other bodies—are more substantial than our corporeal selves.

At times like these, that's the philosophy I embrace and that’s the real inspiration for this post. A little prayer, spoken through the language of perfume, that simply hopes that it will join up with a few billion other prayers to say, While you are going through this horrendous time, I will hold what I know of your beauty close to me and nurture it. Because that I can do.

Iris Ukiyoé was inspired by the perfumer’s admiration for Japanese engravings, particularly those of the Ukiyoé (or Ukiyo-e) genre, which pertains to the Japanese concept of “the floating world”—that realm of transient beauty and diversions that seems to exist in its own fragile bubble, separate and adrift from the mundane world and its concerns. The beauty of nature and of seasonal things (such as flowering trees), of song and theatre, of simple pleasures like sake poured by a geisha and drunk in the company of friends—these are all “floating world” pleasures. The olfactory Ukiyo-e that Ellena created is described on the perfume website osMoz.com as “a poetic Japanese perfume composed around water iris,” which is quite fitting: When I smell it, I think of the traditional Japanese garden, which has its own poetic structure, a structure not unlike Haiku.

Cool, crisp, and freshly but densely green, is how Iris Ukiyoé smells when it first hits my skin. There are glints of sunlight on the greenery, thanks to a citrus accompaniment of mandarin and orange, but the greenness is so all-encompassing that experiencing Iris Ukiyoé is like entering into another world. “It has been a Japanese sentiment from olden times to put as much greenery as possible in the garden,” says the author of one of my Japanese garden books, which has pictures of gardens so expressively written in that verdant hue that the air of quietude they evoke (to the eye alone) is almost startling. That’s the kind of green that Iris Ukiyoé embraces in its first half-hour of wear.

Eventually a fine nuance of rose and orange blossom will soften the green notes, but they do not peek out of the fragrance and announce themselves to you by their proper names. Instead they commingle in a way that adds a soft floral touch and a bit of lift. In a traditional Japanese garden, water is often expressed abstractly through the placement of stones and is an important element. In Iris Ukiyoé, water is also an important element, and this is indeed a fragrance wrapped in aqueous notes which, to me, do not smell calone-like but distinctly vegetal, with the wet, cucumber-like smell of violet leaf being most prominent.

My initial feelings about Iris Ukiyoé have not changed: this is not a fragrance I would wear on a regular basis, yet I would like always to have a sample of it. It provides a particular image of beauty that I enjoy contemplating, even knowing I will never adopt it for my own. Every year it is always the same with my garden: I find myself irresistibly drawn to that burst of color that comes from annuals, and the scent of old-fashioned flowers like petunias and marigolds, all of them bunched together in ways one would never encounter in a natural setting and that are anything but contemplative. But in winter time I will get out my gardening books and fantasize about creating a garden like the one at the Yoneda Estate in Shimane or the Sasaki Estate in Niigata—places that I will only ever know from the pages in a book, but that occupy a place in my “floating world,” just the same.

Iris Ukiyoé can be purchased from Hermes.com; $235 for 100 ml.

Image: Ukiyo-e engraving, "The Plum Garden in Kameido" by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858).

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 3/16/2011.


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