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Origin, characteristics and use of the iris
Perfumeries look for certain species of iris for their rhizome, it is the underground stem of the flower because in the iris, the stem is used to make perfumes. We use a species that comes from Florence in Italy, iris germanica, then iris pallida, also cultivated in Italy and Morocco, to obtain the essence of iris by distilling it. Iris is one of the most expensive raw materials because it has to be dried for three years before distilling it, so profitability is low. One ton of iris is used to distill just 2 kg of essential oil. Iris is intended for prestigious perfumeries. It gives off a delicate powdery, buttery, purple, straw, woody scent, but it is both powerful and refined.
It was Catherine de Medici who had started to use the iris as a fragrance. Iris was used as a hair powder, in the 17th century the rhizome was pounded and sieved which gave off a sweet scent of violet which is actually the scent of irone. Iris is combined with floral notes or used as a base note.
Iris, the darling of luxury perfumeries
The powdery note of iris is different from the vanilla note which is more delicious. Moreover, the appellation powdery note comes from the rice powder which was initially scented with iris. We define this note as subtly woody, dry, a little pastel, purple and airy. Unlike other scented materials, the iris smell gets stronger over time. The irone contained in the iris is a molecule that develops over time. Iris flowers also smell very little, it is the rhizome from which the perfume is extracted that smells of powdery odor. It is the rhizomes which have reached their maturity and which have been dried for 2 and a half or 3 years which give off a clean and fresh smell, even if they are dry products.The distillation does not give an essential oil but iris butter, it is sweet, a little oily but very pleasant. It is from iris butter that we make the absolute, an extraction with a volatile solvent such as with jasmine or rose.
The Chanel N ° 19 fragrance is designed with pallida from Italy, which is less and less cultivated there. The house of Chanel decided to cultivate iris in their own field in France, in Grasse to be able to design enough irises for its powdery, uplifting and sensual fragrance. Two species are cultivated there, the iris pallida and the iris germanica.
The Hermès brand also uses iris for its Hiris and Iris Ukiyoe fragrances by Hermessence.