I've spent the last hour trolling the internet trying to find a photo to illustrate the exact feeling of Serge Luten's Iris Silver Mist. The problem is, I have a perfect picture in my head of what it should look like - a French wood, the sort that you hunt for truffles in, probably in the Loire Valley if I'm being geographically precise, with widely spaced trees and deep mulching of moss and dead leaves on the ground. It could be early spring or late fall, but there's a touch of frost on the ground, and a low hanging mist, stretching to a crumbling chateau far in the distance. This is difficult to search for on Google Images as you'd imagine, and I'm having trouble finding all of these things in one shot. In the end I went with a Monet, simply because it was vaguely misty.
So I'm going to have to try and be descriptive for you. Iris Silver Mist is not for everyone. Some people will say it smells of carrots. I understand where this comes from, but disagree. It smells of roots. The cold, damp rhizomes of an Iris, to be precise, pulled from mossy, loamy forest soil. It's a very cold scent, but a natural cold, with metallic edges that warm as the iris scent dries down - it's like nothing I've ever smelled, and yet beautifully familiar. It's unsettling, and slighty otherworldly, and there's something in it that reminds me a bit of Guerlain's Apres L'Ondee, but with none of the soft sweetness - something in the melancholy coolness is similar, but this is so much more aloof and sharp. I think it also smells slightly of old books. A musty parchment scent that I find sad and beautiful. So a strange, cold, magical wood, that leads into an ancient library. Something like that.
So now you're probably wondering why anyone would want to smell of roots and old books - I can't tell you, only that this is simply one of the most incredibly beautiful fragrances I have ever experienced - it manages to capture a feeling, place and mood all at once that as you can see I have trouble putting into words - it makes me think of Walter de la Mare's The Listeners, and it's "forest's ferny floor" in that strange, empty, moonlit hollow. It has to be sampled to be understood. For some people it will be much too difficult and cold to wear themselves, for others they'll revel in it's strange beauty.
Whichever you end up feeling, you should sample this once just to appreciate the incredible science and craft that must have gone into making it. Like everything I tend to fall in love with, it's hard to get - it's part of the Serge Lutens non-export line, so is only available from their Paris boutique or to EU addresses. I get mine decanted from The Posh Peasant, a wonderful little online shop that makes it easy and affordable to try every unusual and rare scent under the sun - but one day I dream of getting my own bell jar bottle of if from the Shiseido boutique in Paris, where they'll engrave your initials on the bottle for you. Sigh...