5 aprile 2012

Highlights from Esxence 2012 (2): the Osmothèque about iris

Emmanuelle and Cristiano at the Osmothèque stand
Photo credit here
The greatest reason that makes me eager for Esxence to come every year, no matter how many brands and how many interesting new launches there will be, it's just the presence of the Osmothèque. Founded in the nineties by Jean Kerléo, it is born to preserve the great cultural heritage of perfumery. In Versailles where it has its offices and where are preserved both original flacons of some fragrances from the past still in good conditions and formulas of many others that can thus be faithfully reconstructed. In some case original fragrances may slight faults but as fairly remarks my friend Cristiano Canali, brilliant graduated at ISIPCA that collaborates with the Osmothèque, "also in museums you can see inestimable artworks with slight faults and nevertheless this doesn't make them less beautyful".
Anyway this is far more of a museum where you can smell liquid glories from the past, it is a precious spring of olfactory culture organizing all year round thematic encounters open to everybody. The Osmothèque survives thanks to donations, both of money and vintage bottles and every perfume lover should be proud to give his contribution. So I took the chance to renew my membership at SAO, the Osmothèque friends society.

The archive in Versailles though isn't exactly right around the corner and for many reasons I never happen to get over there. For a perfume lover so ignorant about perfume history, for one like me grown up in the countriside that had nearly the chance to smell a few scents from the past from the family women (men were allowed to wear no more than aftershave) just imagine the joy of having it within a stone's throw from home, even if once a year this great occasion. I sounds a bit like yearning a toy for a whole year and finding it right under the Christmas tree in the morning, doesn't it?

That's why the two presentations about raw materials shouldn't have absolutely missed, but I was so disappointed to see some empty chair at the second presentation about hedione on sunday. Pity!
During the first presentation "Iris and its utilization in fine fragrances over ages" Emmanuelle Giron showed a nice tour around one of my favourite raw materials. Introducing it through historical and botanical outiline, she led us smell iris pallida absolute and irone alpha, the molecule mostly present in it that started to be synthetized since 1947 through a long and expensive process (3000 €/kg). It's impressive how riched in carrot-barm facets is the first and how longer lasting is the second to the nose. Again this shows how nature and synthesis can get together to embody the abstract art of perfumery. And more abstract than what I remembered it is Guerlain Après l'Ondée (1906) where I felt right through the iris-lilac accord the rain that's forgotten in the current version. Here you can really pick up the link with the topnotes in L'heure bleue. While discovering iris I could smell Iris de Coty (1913) which I didn't know, a thick, woody iris, just warmed up in its melancholic elegance by carnation and an indolic touch à la Origan. So nice then to smell again Jacques Fath's Iris Gris (1946) created by Vincent Roubert who was perfumer at Coty and understanding how related are the two fragrances, being spiced the first and fruitier the latter. Gosh! Each time Fath's perfume glorifying iris to the nth power takes my breath away. Another fragrance certainty inspired by the Coty many many years later is Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist where Maurice Roucel cleansed the frills from the cedar-vetiver woody soul letting in iris as aloof as a muted promise.

The survey on iris couldn't skip the aloof beauty created by Henri Robert in No. 19 I'm lucky enough to own in its original formulation with a still shining galbanum and a dewy hyacinth. Madame Giron made us note how iris in 19 keeps an extraordinary woody radiance thanks to the fixateur 404, back in time a Firmenich synthetic forerunner of ambroxan.
I liked also the contemporary iris they chose like Malle's Iris Poudré, Dior Homme and again Prada Infusion d'Iris or my favourite of the raw, Hiris by Olivia Giacobetti with its vegetal, tactonic facets together with that smell of a freshly dry cleaned woollen jacket. Of course as the cost of the natural raw material got higher than in the past (but now I'd be also curious to compare it to the one coming from the new short technique from Biolandes) nowadays its powdery touch is more and more supported by synthetics like irone alpha and musks. Nevertheless also in this new embodiment the mouillettes have proved that it keeps on inspiring the perfumers creativity and still is the epitome of chic refinement.

5 commenti:

+ Q Perfume Blog ha detto...

I am so jealous of you right now that it actually hurts!!!
irises of my dreams...ahhhhh

And of course, needless to say, brilliantly written!

Nikos Papitsis ha detto...

Thanks for sharing this great experience of yours!

Magnifiscent ha detto...

My pleasure to give you at least a whiff of the beauty we had the chance to smell and learn :)

Bettina ha detto...

It was a pleasure to read this. I am truly sorry I missed this part of Esxence. I still remember when we had the chance to smell Iris Gris there two years ago. I only get mine out on occassions and sniff on it. What a beauty. It is so good to read what you experienced and smelled there. Hopefully next year for me.

Magnifiscent ha detto...

Indeed Bettina,
let's keep fingers crossed about getting to sniff together the next year dear!

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