February 7, 2017
Marcel Rochas dress, illustration by René Gruau, Femina Magazine, Oct 1948
Iris is generally not the kind of flower that jostles and flirts the way her voluptuous sisters jasmine, rose, tuberose and ylang ylang do. Hers is a sumptuous but subdued beauty of purples, blues and greys, the olfactory equivalent of a soignée 1940s Rochas silk dress; her scent, the rooty sweetness of damp ground, cool spring air, the pale hazy sun of early May. Above all else, as Tom Jones observed: “she’s a lady.” Pauline Rochas of French fragrance royalty (and the NYC photography studio Coolife), in collaboration with award-winning perfumer Luca Maffei, has managed to create an iris perfume that is offbeat, sparkly and downright sunny. While Le Sixieme Parfum hasn’t quite lost all decorum, the long gloves are pulled off, the coiffure has come down, and this iris is out for a good time.
(R) Pauline Rochas and Carole Beaupré(L)
Ms. Rochas is the granddaughter of the great couturier and his artistic, elegant wife, Helene, who presided over the House of Rochas’ perfumery at its apogee. In contrast to the grandeur of the Rochas label, the Coolife brand, created in partnership with Carole Beaupré, has a Zen ethos. As Pauline Rochas explained, “it is all about helping people balance all their chakras though luxurious essential oils. The power of scent on our bodies is undeniable.” Le Sixieme represents the sixth chakra of Ayurvedic tradition, combining “bright vibrancy with smoldering warmth” to awaken both hemispheres of the mind.”
The Doll Tea Party II, photo by Robert Coppa, 2011
And vibrant it certainly is. Le Sixieme Parfum opens with an intriguing Crayola note that seems to be what you get when you mix the French pastry smell of orris concrete with a tart smack of lemon and astringent bergamot. This chord hangs around for some time before the iris and lemon open up and become defined. Osmanthus starts to unfold soon after, adding a characteristic flowery trickle of apricot marmalade, intertwining with the waxy and doughy notes. Close your eyes and you might find yourself at a rather sophisticated child’s tea party, crayons and coloring books strewn amongst scones and jam.
Iris Apfel, photo, WiseWear.com
In the middle stage, Le Sixieme Parfum starts to feel quite a bit more adult, taking on facets of fine suede and a tickle of pink peppercorn that adds a subtly spicy flicker. The jasmine comes in at an oblique angle – sometimes I can just catch its paper white milkiness; other moments it eludes me. There are two harmonies playing in the perfume now – a lower register strummed by the oolong fruitiness of osmanthus melding with florals and citrus; and a pop rock counterpoint of little bursts of lemon, spice and suede. The overall effect is delightfully giddy.
Photo by Kristian Schuller, “Racy Ladies” fashion editorial, Tatler UK, Jan 2012
As Le Sixieme Parfum settles down, there is just the touch of bad manners as the sweet sweat of labdanum and a slightly furred musk make their presence felt. This iris ought to be a bit ashamed of herself, but she is so damned charming you can’t blame her for being something of a party girl. I’d wear her on the mistiest, drippiest of grey days and feel the sun smile from behind the clouds.
Notes: Bergamot, tart lemon, spicy pink pepper, osmanthus absolute, orris concrete (iris), jasmine absolute, patchouli, labdanum, suede, cedarwood, ambroxan, musk. Sillage is modest; longevity about 4 hours.
Disclaimer: Perfume sample provided byJosie of OsswaldNYC– many thanks. My opinions are my own.
— Lauryn Beer, Editor
Le Sixieme, photo Coolife
Thanks to the generosity of Carole Beaupré and Pauline Rochas at Coolife, we have a 100 ml bottle of for 1 registered reader in the U.S. or Canada. To be eligible please leave a comment with what appeals to you about Le Sixieme Parfum based on Lauryn’s review and if you are a fan of iris perfumes. If you have a fragrance or are dying to get one from Coolife we would love to know. Draw closes 2/11/2017.