Hiris by Olivia Giacobetti for Hermès 1999

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Post by Anne-Marie

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Often on a Sunday afternoon after a busy weekend I wind down with a bath and a book. The fragrance for afterwards has to be gentle and subtle to keep me content for the evening, before a new week cranks up again. At the moment, Hermès Hiris is the perfect accompaniment to this ritual.

Hiris by Olivia Giacobetti for Hermès 1999

Hiris Hermes FRagranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Coriander, amber, iris, carnation
Heart: Iris, neroli, rose
Base: Honey, vanilla, cedar, almond tree

What works for me in Hiris is the contrast of cool and warm notes. Cool iris is dominant all the way through but is warmed and made easeful by spices (I love the coriander in the opening moments), and the subtlest touch of vanilla later on. (If there is honey in there I don’t perceive it unless it’s that touch of skin-alike sweetness in the base.) I don’t get the ‘carroty’ note in Hiris that other people notice. Earth certainly, but I smell no carrots. Hiris is dreamy and remote, but it likes you. Hiris wants to settle on your skin and stay there.

Hiris Hermes Iris_flowers WikiMediaPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

Other iris fragrances vying for our attention on the department store shelves, such as Prada’s Infusion d’Iris and Chanel’s No 19 Poudré, combine iris with gigantic quantities of pillowy white musk, but Hiris retains a dewy clarity that has nothing to do with musk. Neither the Prada or the Chanel appeal to me. Initially I loved No 19 Poudré but the musk was just too … well … dull. And I have trouble smelling Infusion d’Iris.
What bothers me sometimes in Hiris is a kind of musty soapiness. ‘Clothes washed in unscented fabric softener’ is how Luca Turin describes it, and while I would not go that far, I do see what he means, unfortunately.

Hiris HermesPhoto Stolen Hermès

I’m fine with Hiris not being a statement fragrance. To my mind Hiris is Hermès’ contribution to the 90s style of uncomplicated fragrances that seek only to make us feel clean and smell good. Thankfully it’s not as dated as many others in this genre. If the sillage is only moderate, Hiris veils beautifully. People will sense rather than really know that there is a lovely fragrance nearby.

Hiris Hermes  Irises-Vincent_van_Gogh WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Although the soapiness prevents me from loving Hiris, I persevere. I wear it out, wear it at home, wear it to bed. Where I live it’s winter, so who knows? Maybe Hiris will work better in warmer weather. I spray generously. It’s the best way to get to know a fragrance. Luckily I picked up my bottle at very little cost via local online classifieds, and it’s got about 60mls left, so I don’t have to be frugal. Mine’s the deep blue bottle. I’ve not seen the new one; do comment if you have compared them.

Further reading: Non Blonde and Olfactoria’s Travels
Hiris can be found at Hermès online and all Hermès stores
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $3/ml

Do you have a favourite quiet fragrance for those in-between times, when you just want to smell good to yourself?
‘Til next time, keep spritzing!
Anne-Marie xx

6 thoughts on “Hiris by Olivia Giacobetti for Hermès 1999

  1. Hey there Anne-Marie,
    I had a mini of Hiris but I didn’t really get it. I wonder if I had it now would I feel differently. It was gifted away years ago now.
    You make me think I should give it another go.
    Portia xx

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      • I thought it was you Undina but didn’t want to say. Longevity is the problem? I wonder if that was my beef with it too?
        Portia xx

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    • Honestly, if I had not stumbled across my bottle for about $20, I might not have bothered. As it is, I need feel no guilt at having spent serious money on a bedtime fragrance.

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  2. I just like Giacobetti florals. They’re in focus but never twee or twirly girly. Hiris is a bit misunderstood, I find it similar to Iris Taizo and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s thingy…Iridum, but Iridum puts just a bit of honey in there and Hiris is really lo cal as I remember. Maybe that’s why it’s not so popular?

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    • Yes, perfume people tend to define Hiris in the negative. Not as musky as … not as powdery as not as complex as … not as cold as … The longevity is certainly an issue. But I expect it has a dedicated following from people who reject a lot of other perfume but enjoy Hiris’ subtlety and quiet elegance. It would make a great signature.

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