1912-1954 Jacques Fath
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Iris Gris - parfum
Jacques Fath entered the Parisian high fashion system in 1937, continued during the war but his great moments were during the 50's the New Look Era. Until his premature death (1954) he was as famous as Dior or Balenciaga. He lacked the financial and business support that made Dior a big name, he was not a shape inventor like Balenciaga but he brought into Paris fashion a spirit of youth. A very handsome man, with his very beautiful wife (a mannequin) they were the king and queen of parties.
Jacques Fath put his youth spirit into perfume, right after the war, as did Balmain, Dior, Nina Ricci, Balenciaga, Piguet. His perfumes were not produced by Roure but he started with Coty and Vincent Roubert created the very first fragrances.
Iris Gris, an unknown jewel of French perfumery and one of the very best fragrances ever created, appeared on the market in the same moment when Miss Dior, L'air du temps, Coeur Joie made their debut and all of them bottled the youth spirit. It was 1947 - the legendary New Look - when springtime put a definitive end to the war period.
Until recent years, orris was not a common note (soliflore) in perfumery and there were a few orris perfumes but Iris gris is by far a monument of perfumery. I knew Iris gris but Denyse made an amazing discovery and found a sealed vintage Iris Gris perfume and thanks to her I was able to resmell it.
In 1947 something happened in the perfume industry. As Dior created new fashions that required a huge amount of fabric (impossible during the war) in the perfume industry ingredients became available again and also new ingredients made their way. The time when Roudnitska created Femme (1944) with what he succeeded to find in those hard days were over. Italy was liberated and started to produce orris. As it take 3 years to process the orris and obtain the concrete, we could say that 1947 (3 years after 1944) was also the time when new "free" orris entered the market again. It was also a time when the great chemists from Givaudan and Firmenich did intensive research on orris components, their synthesis and their production. Some Swiss patents from 1946-1948 show the great interest in "irone" research. Irones, a key ingredient in the orris concrete, are expensive products (even today) and though they are "cousins" of the famous ionones and methylionones (used in perfumes since the end of the 19th century) their production was far easy. The chemists Ruzicka and Naves established their chemical structure in 1947 . Providing important clients with expensive, tailor-made molecules, before they were on the market for everyone was a practice still in fashion today (the captives).
In October 1946 Firmenich came with a Swiss patent, a new production method of the highly appreciated irone that made possible new formulations for violet-orris perfumes.
In 1946-1947 orris was suddenly trendy: new molecules, available natural product.
Dior created enormous and expensive clothes. Fath created one of the most expensive and beautiful perfume - Iris gris with more than 35% of the natural orris inside. In 1946 Germaine Cellier created Coeur Joie a floral aldehydic with an orris note and in 1947 for Balmain Elysée 64-83, a floral jasmine (animalic) with aldehydes and orris concrete. Twisting the No5 formula with an orris variation was not a new idea. Chanel Mademoiselle No1, a lost perfume analyzed by Givaudan was a No5 formula with a high percentage with a special methyl ionone (violet-orris note). Orris notes were in the air in 1947 but they will not survive the huge success of Miss Dior and l'Air du temps.
Iris Gris, a perfume that captured the spirit of its time, was created by Vincent Roubert, the great perfumer from Coty, who was in charge with Coty's perfumes since mid 20's and who did the beautiful l'Aimant (a number 5 variation). But Coty created around 1913 a perfume that was never a success though it's a interesting creation - Iris. Iris by Coty is a typical orris concrete note with a spicy touch (like l'Origan) and an animalic jasmin-indole undertone.
Vincent Roubert, the Coty perfumer, was for sure inspired by the previous creation when he did Iris Gris, but he made it modern, youthful and pure. Iris Gris from 1947 is as modern today as it was in those days and though I smelled a vintage one ... the perfume has no wrinkle. It's a pure modernist perfume like Mies van der Rohe architecture (Barcelona pavilion) where simple lines are combined with expensive materials and textures.
Iris gris is clean but not soapy, rich but not old-dusty, with an idea as clear as today's Ellena creations and with a weightless lightness, hard to imagine with the ingredients of 1947. A perfume better than any orris niche perfume of today, simple and clear.
The perfume (a floral woody fruity but in fact an orris soliflore) is constructed around 2 ideas: orris notes + peach. Because orris and violet molecules are in general metallic/cold and usually express melancholy, the perfumer avoided this tendency with a soft peach note (undecalactone) that evokes a girlish skin complexion. The orris note is composed with all known orris notes (ionones, irones, methyl ionones, natural orris more than 35%). The woody note is mainly cedar-vetiver (their acetates for a light woody note). All other notes (jasmine, lily of the valley, heliotrope-lilac) are delicately drawn to support the floral-orris note and not to show their presence. There is an almost hard to detect chypre note (oakmoss - but I'm still not sure for that) and a light celery note (tuberose aspect and another trendy note in the 40-50's used in traces) still to check. There is of course musk and a very light carnation like that in l'Air du temps.
Iris Gris is the breath of angels!
PS: Iris Gris is often said to be from 1946, but as it was released later that year, I chose 1947 because I think the perfume was intended for springtime (see Fath couture collection&colours from that year) .
text from 1000fragrances.blogspot.com
image 1949 ad from okadi.com
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