What’s it all about, Alfie….? Infusion d’Iris by Prada The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

They called her “The Hitchcock Blonde”.

A single student had started it.

A shy first year, all subtle grey eyes and manicured stubble and bordering on being a sophisticate, he saw past her steely manner into what he perceived as something vulnerable within.

He noticed her arriving early each day, as he did, when the university still smelt of the orange and lemon St Clements’ Furniture Polish they used to clean the wooden floors.

On his way to swimming practice he observed her walking through the gates and pausing once within the place of learning to collect herself and her thoughts.

At this time of day she was at her most slender and stem like: encased in a green pillar coat that held the leafy loose clothes she favoured for teaching tucked in out of sight.

That moss-coloured coat cost more that a tutor could afford, even his young untrained eyes could tell that.

With a corrolla of blonde hair above her fragile face in these moments she resembled a wild flower, or so it seemed to him.

By the time swim team was through and he had reached the seminar room class had invariably started.

She stood at the chalk face whispering explanations through the dust of her scribbled seemingly endless equations. White powder mixed with the iris perfume he liked to imagine came straight from her skin so buttery was its complexion.

Now and then she turned to face her ambivalent audience. She fixed them with the studied empty stare that had inspired her new name.

Whilst the others blushed with embarrassment and returned to their books, he held her gaze.

Stared right back and imagined running through grassy fields on forest edges with her. Of exchanging student cigarettes and contraband kisses and smelling the sweetness that he knew her scent up close must be.

Was it wrong, so wrong that he followed her each afternoon as she crossed college green to the museum?

Was it really out of line for him to stand out of sight as she stood before Assyrian kings hunting tamed lions?

He longed to catch her as those noble beasts before them were caught in stone but sensed among classical statues and ancient sarcophogi that he never could or should.

At first Prada Infusion d’Iris gives the impression of being something of a blank canvas of a scent.

It belongs to a fraternity of fragrances that came about as the price of precious iris essence fell dramatically a few years ago.

But where others exploited the market to make only moderately pleasant perfumes, Prada has created something truly special out of an apparently slight, near almost nothingness.

It is the fragrance equivalent of a film score composed only of artificial bridsong.

Here the house style of ingenuous ambiguity bordering on vacuous perfection is turned from sin into salvation.

This fragrance follows a simple line unswervingly from citrus start through first chalk then buttered iris to a smoked vetiver finish that is vertiginous in its insubstantial depths.

This is a scented Kim Novak-like vessel which invites James Stewarts everywhere to put their fantasies into it.

Fresh? Clean? Floral? Powdered? Buttered? Steely? Smoky? Wooded?

The choice ultimately is yours.

This is your Hitchcock Blond to do with as you will.

And as infatuation crosses all gender lines to the wrong side of the tracks, I see no reason why a certain kind of confidently, assertively unsure-of-himself sort of man shouldn’t wear this.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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29 responses to “What’s it all about, Alfie….? Infusion d’Iris by Prada The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. “Was it really out of line for him to stand out of sight as she stood before Assyrian kings hunting tamed lions?

    He longed to catch her as those noble beasts before them were caught in stone but sensed among classical statues and ancient sarcophogi that he never could or should.” — I loved, LOVED, this bit. So beautiful. The perfume isn’t for me as I’m not an iris lover, but your review was wonderful, my dear Beau.

    • Dearest Kafka
      Thank you for your too kind words.
      *The Dandy blushes*
      I have very mixed views on Prada’s perfumes generally, I find them too, well, just too dashed perfect in the same way their clothes can be too tailored.
      Everything’s frustratingly, soullessly, tidy an slightly inhuman.
      The thing that saved this scent is that in the slightly sanitized space it created I was able to go off into a reverie.
      Oh yes, and I don;t mind the iris note, though it’s far from being my favourite.
      Yours ever
      Beau aka The Perfumed Dandy

      • It’s really interesting to me how you describe the Prada style as a whole, and its effect on you, because it is exactly how I feel about the Armani style. It’s so elegantly perfect that it’s utterly claustrophobic to me. At least, his iris Nuances fragrance was. It was so rarified in its elegance that it not only lacked personality and soul, but oxygen. Granted, I don’t particularly like iris soliflores, but GAH!!! At at 500 pounds? Double GAH!

        I didn’t have quite the same reaction to the Prada iris, but I’m afraid I was rather bored by it. (See comment 1 about my views on iris. lol) The day they handed out the iris lover gene, I must have been absent. 😉 BUT, I think your review embodies the perfume’s feel really well, especially with the whole Hitchcock blonde thing. My only question pertains to your comment about a man who is “confidently, assertively unsure-of-himself” because I think one who is quite sure of himself might respond to Infusion d’Iris even better. 😉

      • Dearest Kafka
        An iris soliflore at £500?!? Now that is gag-reflex inducing expensive.
        The iris gene is an odd thing, it seems that people either have it or don’t and unlike other notes that divide, in my experience those indisposed to like it are bored by it rather than despising it as say people do aldehydes, oakmoss or leather.
        I laughed out loud at your picking up on my rather contorted phrase about a man being “confidently, assertively unsure-of-himself”. You see I think that people who are rather too sure of themselves tend to lack enquiring minds, the possession of a little self-aware self-doubt to my mind is no bad thing in the sphere of scents or life in general…
        (Though to be honest I think we’re probably saying the same thing!).
        Yours ever
        Beau Aka The Perfumed Dandy

  2. rosestrang

    One of my favourite perfumes! I’m enjoying all the references and ideas you’ve woven in to this review, and I agree there’s something of the unattainable or haunting about Infusion d’Iris that’s reminiscent of Hitchcock femmes! That reference to Alfie is interesting too – chasing the unattainable, or someone who bypasses something meaningful altogether.
    I wear it quite a lot and find it interesting that the few people who’ve noticed when I’m wearing it tend to be romantic aesthetic types. The person who liked it most was an arts curator originally from New York who’d retired to a quiet coastal village on the North Coast of France, and that environment seemed made for this perfume – a bit haunting but comforting too.

    I sought this perfume out in 2009 while searching for something that would remind me of walks in forests up north, so the combination of classic cologne top notes, nostalgic iris and woody green vetiver were just perfect.
    Not only that, have you ever smelled a fragrant iris? You know those ones that are huge and pale grey/lilac? My Mum grows a few each year and the top notes of IdI are very similar. So this is one of those perfumes where I get a bit frustrated at reviews by Luca Turin. ‘Get out of your lab!’ I think.

    Lovely review Sir P.D. – capturing a perfume that’s subtle, authentic and haunting

    • Dearest Rose
      Yes, the Alfie reference… I’m glad you got the double meaning, relating both to the eponymous film with Michael Caine and Alfred Hitchcock. The later and his fleeting unexpected incidental appearances in his own film, which mirror the way in which this perfume worn by others sometimes catches me unawares.
      A wonderful observation as to the type of person who notices and likes this perfume on you… perhaps not a million miles from mature versions of the shy, sophisticated student of my imagination. As to the North Coast of France, I’ve always found it to be a place of ghosts from the past-their-peak pleasure resorts of Deauville and le Touquest, the the mysterious Breton lands to the slower agricultural communities of Normandie, replete as they are with the memories of the landings.
      This is apart of the world which seems to exist with one part of itself firmly in the past… and there can be no better environment in which ghosts can thrive.
      As to fragrant irises, I have never smelt the beautiful pal grey variety you mention (an experience to ad to my list to seek out) but I know the earthy, vegetal smell of wild yellow irises all too well, and there’s something of that here too.
      Thank you as always for taking the time to write, your correspondence always sets the mind and heart alight.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • rosestrang

        Thank you Sir Dandy and equally I find your imaginative perfume reviews uplifting to heart and mind! The fragrant irises appear late to early summer and only last a few weeks, but hopefully in the meantime you’ll encounter some in a greenhouse.

        I agree re your observations about the North coast of France – radically different in feel from the South and even in the height of summer you never seem to see those tanned- to-the-bone ladies bedecked in gold sandals and jewellery! Have you tried the Parfum version of Infusion d’Iris? I also found that to have a retro 50s feel, but somehow not as evocative as the original – more grounded I thought

      • Dearest Rose
        Those fragrant irises now have me entranced, I have a good friend who is a rather good (but lapsed) florist. She maybe able to procure me some to satisfy what is fast becoming a craving!
        Yes, the Nord is so very different from the Sud so far as France is concerned especially the Cote d’Azure with all those lizard-skinned, gold bedecked types (of all sexes) who seem so like a relic from another, very unhealthy, age.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. batkitty

    Your atmospheric review is a perfect description of how I had HOPED Infusion d’Iris would smell on me but didn’t. *sigh* Not even close. I envy people who get the best out of this perfume.

    • Dearest Batkitty
      *Sigh* indeed, when a perfume misses the mark on one’s skin, it’s always a sad moment.
      But as we’ve said here before it frees up more time and flesh for other beautiful scents to take their place!
      I wonder is this an issue with irises generally or this scent in particular?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • batkitty

        I admit that iris is not my favorite note, but this one failed on me more dramatically than most, it was just a musty monotone. Iris can be so elegant, but yes, iris-prominent perfumes are tricky for me (although when I’m in the right mood, Iris Silver Mist is wonderful). Iris doesn’t often win my love, it earns my respect.

      • Dearest Batkitty
        Iris Silver Mist is definitely on my ‘to try’ list know, that’s another very firm recommendation that’definitely noted.
        As for you comment ‘Iris doesn’t often win my love, it earns my respect.’ How very, very true and exquisitely put.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  4. My heart leapt as soon as I saw the picture of Tippi Hedren. The Birds is one of my favourite films ever, and I love the link to the Prada, surely one of the only truly memorable mainstream releases in recent times. I find that it has a slightly irritating quality, Infusion D’Iris (possibly the blonde perfection you talk of) but that it is undoubtedly lovely. I even bought a bottle.

    • Dearest Ginza
      Indeed, The Birds is such a masterful work. Immensely avant garde for a work intended for the mainstream. The BBC (in a way only it can do) has just completed a major season across four radio networks and three television channels on ‘Music and the Movies’, special mention was made, of course, of Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann who’s work here as ‘sound consultant’ is coming to be seen as a revolutionary act in both aural design and abstract composition.
      One isn’t at first, I think, aware of just how brilliantly composed the soundtrack of ‘The Birds’ is, and the same to an extent is true of Infusion d’Iris.
      Yet, both, as well as expert are equally slightly irritating. One can never own a Herrmann score emotionally in the way one might a Chopin piece or Beethoven symphony eve Messiaen’s epic religious works.And that is frustrating.
      In the same way the icy cold, if not aloofness, then otherness of Hitchcock’s heroine’s seems to deny us something of the empathetic response we normally come to expect of film.
      Perhaps this perfume does the same, it’s pleasing, but to an extent emotionally apart and that leaves one (me) unsatisfied.
      Part of it’s attraction?
      Thank you, as always, for leading The Dandy into trains of thought!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy.

  5. Jackie b

    Dear Mr Dandy,
    I enjoy your posts immensely and wanted to ask you about this one. I love Infusion d’Iris and find it suitable for most occasions…I am blonde and notice also that your scent connection seems to be with blondes. Do you think that I am attracted to cool fragrances because I have cool skin and hair tones? Hence the aloof Hitchcock heroine association?

    • Dearest Jackie
      Welcome to The Dandy’s… so nice of you to drop round.
      Now that’s a fascinating question!
      I think culturally we tend to associate a certain kind of blonde with coolness and detachment, think Grace Kelly or Catherine Deneuve, even Meryl Streep in her earlier career.
      The most eloquent expression of this connection in the English-speaking world comes in the films of Hitchcock and the so-called ‘Ice Queens’ he cast.
      Inclusion d’Iris is certainly a cool and detached perfume, like may greens say Chanel 19, Vent Vert or Chamade so that’s where the connection comes for me.
      But you highlight an excellent point, could the image of the poised and controlled blonde be bound up with such scents to the extend that blonde people actually start to be attracted to them, in the same way perhaps that little girls seem drawn to pink?
      The truth is I don’t know, can anyone, but we all have ideas of what is attractive, enviable, copy-able in others..
      Certainly I think that the notion of wearing a perfume that confirms a desirable quality we have, be that our hair or personality, is a very powerful one.
      Or then again it could indeed be genetic…
      As I say, it’s intriguing… do you have a view?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Jackie b

        Hmm, I think I use perfume more to create an aura, rather than to reinforce my physical appearance. So if I need a confidence boost I reach for No 19, and for comfort I wear MFK Cologne Pour le Soir.
        Genetic perhaps, as sense of smell is a physical thing, but so much more powerful on an emotional level, which is experiential.
        Complex topic, and before my morning coffee too! Thanks for the chat.

      • Dearest Jackie
        In that one word you have captured the concept that I was struggling after ‘Aura’.
        That is precisely what ‘Hitchcock Blondes’ have, an indefinable almost invisible and absolutely indivisible ‘otherness’ that is composed of looks, style, personality, behaviour and perfume, well scent.
        It makes perfect sense therefore that in creating our own auras we might be drawn intellectually, emotionally and visually to others we perceive as having similar ‘halos’ to ourselves.
        In so doing of course our own auras may then become inspirations to others who then perpetuate the archetype.
        Fascinating and at the end of my day and the beginning of yours.
        Thank you.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  6. Oh, how interesting to read this one. This Andrier creation is part of my collection of “reference fragrances” and I wear it sometimes but then always feeling like I am wearing the perfume of a man. A “Suits” kind of guy. Nice date but not a kindered spirit. About five years too young. I tend to wear it when I feel that I need to add some McKinsey adrenaline dude to my character. No evaluation in that though.

    • It’s very sexy though in a newly showered, crisp white shirt kind of way. The tie not yet tied. Not a single hair on that chest though.

    • Dearest Sylvia
      Now that is interesting.. a McKinsey man of a fragrance?
      More Cary Grant perhaps than Tippi Hedren.
      Then again Hitchcock’s women can be cold, aloof, silent… in a way which mainly men have been allowed to be in America cinema generally and those words ‘cold, aloof, silent’ sum up a McKinsey man when he’s in observation mode…
      As to an adrenaline rush… yes, there is definitely something of the poise and narrative arc of a thriller about it… or indeed the suspense of having one’s business dissected by external agents, sorry, consultants.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Exactly. It’s sterile and physical at the same time. It’s “under control”. It’s pretty but spooky in all its crispiness. I don’t wear it as an “oh, this is so me” way but as a way to add some frosty abstraction to the rest of my palette. Highly useful and effective on those occasions. And one gets away with it because the iris saves it all. Where there is iris there is always soul. Even if disguised.

  7. Lilybelle

    I love that review. I like the fragrance very much, too. It is soft and easy to wear, and a quiet, private sort of scent. Iris calms me. I like iris scented soaps, too.

    • Dearest Lily
      Iris soaps, ah yes, especially those that veer towards the buttery.
      Whilst we’re on the subject, fine soaps are a much under-rated commodity as far as I’m concerned. In Britain barely anyone under the age of 70 seems to use soap at all, we have been sold the dream of ‘bath and shower gels’ and ‘liquid hand wash’.
      Admirable products I’m sure, but sometimes one just wants to get into a lather with a good bar.
      The bonus is that one can pick up very high quality stuff for a snip at discounters and enter a world of very affordable luxury.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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