October 21, 2018
“Then we had the irises, rising beautiful and cool on their tall stalks, like blown glass, like pastel water momentarily frozen in a splash, light blue, light mauve, and the darker ones, velvet and purple, black cat's ears in the sun, indigo shadow, and the bleeding hearts…” –Margaret Atwood; The Handmaid's Tale
Via Galore Magazine
We perfumistas do love our unicorns! A unicorn is of course, any highly desirable perfume that is almost impossible to find due to discontinuation, rareness, or scarcity. The prices are likely to be sky-high, and it’s easy to fixate with near-obsession on the idea of having to find a bottle at any cost; like an addict needing a hit, the perfume unicorn becomes an unscratchable itch, something you jones for above all else.
Sylvaine Delacourte & Thierry Wasser via saywho.fr
Thus has it been with Guerlain’s now near-mythic Iris Ganache Eau de Parfum. Originally released in 2007 as an oriental-woody fragrance, Iris Ganache was met with mostly good but slightly mixed reviews; although listed as an oriental-woody scent, Iris Ganache leaned heavily into the Floral-Gourmand court and the concept of a gourmand iris was not only ahead of its time, but predicted the gold rush of gourmands that would follow a few years later. Guerlain’s then-Creative Director Sylvaine Delacourte (who Master Perfumer Maurice Roucel said described as being (“…amazing at guiding the perfumer, bringing her vision and his/he Art to new heights.”) had come up with the idea of doing something quite different with an iris note and approached perfumer Thierry Wasser who was working at Firmenich at the time. Et voila! Iris Ganache was conceptualized and created. The fifth fragrance in Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matière (The Art of the Materials) line, Iris Ganache was up against some very heavy hitters already in rotation in the range; Cuir Beluga & Rose Barbare (2005), Bois D’Armenie (2006), and 2007 would also bring Spiritueuse Double Vanille, one of the most beloved and popular fragrances in the Guerlain Canon. Guerlain Iris Ganache quietly slipped away four years after release, but is now back in limited release and we perfumistas are all the better for it.
So what is it that makes Guerlain Iris Ganache so memorable and desirable? Perfumes in the floral-gourmand (Flormand? Glormal?) Category had been done previously; Maitre Parfumeur Et Gantier’s Secrète Datura in 1992, Annick Goutal’s Eau De Charlotte in 1982 among others. Perhaps it was the idea of such a highly visible perfume house as Guerlain producing a floral gourmand using two such extraordinary talents as Sylvaine Delacourte and Thierry Wasser. In other words the “right place/right time” syndrome culminating in what we would now call “A perfect storm” in fragrance creation. Fast forward 10 years and the re-emergence of Guerlain Iris Ganache 2018 version even in its VERY limited EU release, has whipped up the fragrance community into a veritable lather, and the bottles are flying off the shelf almost as soon as they’re put up. Are the two versions similar? Iris Ganache 2007 and Guerlain Iris Ganache 2018 are twin siblings of different parents, two sides of the same coin, yin and yang, winter and summer. Both equally breathtakingly beautiful, both replete with healthy doses of Guerlain DNA, both masterfully blended using top-notch ingredients, and both a perfect example of the ultimate expression in the Oriental-woody-floral-gourmand genre. Like many pairs of twins you only see the differences when they’re standing side by side.
2007 Iris Ganache bottle by Robert H. ©2018
Guerlain Iris Ganache 2007 (Sylvaine Delacourte & Thierry Wasser): The original Iris Ganache is a classic vanilla oriental masterpiece with the gourmand addition of white chocolate and cinnamon. Ganache is defined as “A glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream.” Iris Ganache is exactly that. With a spicy bergamot opening and an amber and powdery finish, the original Guerlain Iris Ganache 2007 is a dreamscape for a winter’s night wrapping you in clouds of warmth, like a blast of floral steam from a just-opened Café or bakery door on a chilly evening. And even though it is near-perfection in any temperature, the colder temperatures really bring it to life; the heat from your skin and the ambient temperatures add a smooth and silky finish to the Iris and white chocolate that leaves you only wanting more. Iris Ganache 2007 is all about the tactile experience; rubbing your skin against warming fabrics or a bearskin rug. Unctuous and scintillating, the 2007 version is a semi-sexualized fetish worthy version of Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue with the pumped-up iris wafting like pheromones off your body.
Fantasy Blooms: Caroline Trentini for Steven Meisel Vogue Australia 2008
Guerlain Iris Ganache 2018 (Thierry Wasser): Eleven years on, and under Thierry Wasser’s tutelage the new Guerlain Iris Ganache 2018 presents as equally beautiful as the ’07, but with a lighter and more carefree heart, perfect for anytime, and ideal in the warmer weather. Where the ’07 is sultry and dark, the ’18 has the darkness pushed back a bit and is sprightly, spacious and airy without sacrificing any of the classic DNA. Iris Ganache 2018 is a beribboned straw hat to the ‘07’s cashmere and wool fedora. Slightly younger, but dazzling in its complexity, floralcy and irresistible gourmand notes, Iris Ganache 2018 is the perfect twin to its slightly more melancholy and older, sexy sibling. The ultimate question is…. which would I grab out of a burning building? Both. Notes: Bergamot, cinnamon, white chocolate, iris butter, patchouli, powder notes, musk, amber, cedar, vanilla.
Disclosure: The perfumes and opinions are my own.
–Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor
-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief
We have a 2ml sample each of Guerlain Iris Ganache 2007 and Guerlain Iris Ganache 2018 for a registered reader in The USA only. It will take two-three weeks to receive. To be eligible please leave a comment with what you enjoyed about Robert’s reviews of Guerlain Iris Ganache 2007 and Guerlain Iris Ganache 2018. Which sounds more appealing? Draw closes 10/24/2018
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