Despite being relatively expensive, orris root is by far one of the most sought-after perfume notes – and it’s not hard to see why. It’s warm, sweet, earthy, somewhat violet-like, and adds a powdery, refined touch to any concoction it touches. Overall, a note that adds layers upon layers of sophistication, luxury, and vivaciousness, often all at once.
Orris often lingers in the background of a blend rather than taking the spotlight for itself. It serves as a bridge between all other notes – a bit like how mortar holds bricks in a wall. Perfumers also love using it as it prolongs the life of other ingredients, such as other florals like roses and violets; or warmer, deeper base notes like sandalwood or musk.
The best orris-based scents are usually deep, complex, and incredibly versatile; they can be worn by both men and women alike. Case in point, Le Labo Fragrances’ Santal 33 Eau de Parfum. This unisex blend consists of iris (orris), papyrus, and violet fused with a creamy woody accord. It is a very mature scent, suitable for those so inclined to appreciate the finer things in life. From the same brand also comes Iris 39 Eau de Parfum. Here, the orris root’s powdery and floral characteristics come to light, enhanced by a lingering musky note. Ylang-ylang, violet, patchouli, lime, and ginger round out this orris fragrance like a glove. Fans of orris fragrances will also love Byredo’s Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum, an atmospheric mix of woody orris root, pine, and incense. The scent starts with bergamot, lemon, pepper, and juniper berry, before gradually fading into a sensual dry down of vanilla, amber, and sandalwood. Overall, an elegant crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for warmer days.