Orris: A Star of Inspiration
By: Pierre-Jean Hellivan, Charabot
Posted: June 15, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of P&F magazine.
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Orris (or iris) root spurs the emotions of flavor and fragrance creative teams like no other natural. Handing a blotter of the material to any perfumer elicits raised eyebrows and slight grins—faint hints of a rush of emotion for a special material that is often pricier than gold. Famously, orris touched the heart of the legendary Gabrielle Chanel as she handpicked her last perfume in 1970, Chanel N°19, a green, floral and woody
masterpiece that many perfumers still consider the most influential orris fragrance. Elsewhere, orris is intertwined in the fabric of creative and art history, fostering
inspiration, romance, mystery and spikes of genius—notably in painter Vincent Van Gogh. That famously tormented soul found moments of peace in rendering the flower in works such as Irises (1889), a vibrant flower bed famous for its ground-breaking Japanese-style
impressionism, and View of Arles with Irises (1888), which immortalizes the striking contrast of colors among orris, wheat and olive trees. In the same league as rose,
orris is one of those rare fragrance materials to which consumers easily relate, visually and olfactively.
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