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Friday, May 22, 2015

Twin Peaks: Korres Pure Cotton & Prada Infusion d'Iris

Do you associate iris the fragrance note with pure cotton? You should. Today's comparison involves two fragrances which share the same olfactory core in a language that has become Morse code for comfort, effortless elegance and sophisticated grooming.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s the scent of "groomed female" involved some floral aldehydic fragrance with the powerful blanched aspect of something termed White Linen (and we will revert to that) or First by Van Cleef & Arpels (or even Chanel No.5 for the purists), while still topping everything with the garland of sweet ladylike flowers. It probably involved matching ensembles, genuine supple kid skin leather goods and a 18K gold trinity ring by Cartier.
Our Millenial rotation has dispensed with the niceties and the romantic semiotics of flowers (especially since the metrosexual male partook in female ritual) and appreciates the "clean" "dry" feel minus the glamour and the hard cash. Enter the iris and white musk brigade that has been hammering down our collective nose door for a full on decade as the new code for "groomed".

via Korres Instagram

The "cotton" mention is thus explained; the former hot iron on a starched linen shirt coming from aldehydes is now smothered into the downy soft fabric softener feel of irones on freshly laundered cotton sheets (irones form the main constituent in the scent of iris/orris). You can casually stroll any super-market aisle and pick up any product in the body products range or even the laundry detergents/fabric softeners; "cotton" is code for lots of irones and white musks. Case in point? Carrefour's Cotton shower gel, for one.

Infusion d'Iris doesn't smell particularly iris-y. truth be told. That is, it's not the starchy pasta-and-sourdough feel one gets from orris, the dried rhizome "resinous" extraction coming after macerating the roots, even though the perfume's whole marketing standpoint stresses that technique ("infusion" etc. though if you notice, in the "list" of "ingredients" on the packaging iris/orris isn't mentioned). It's a powerfully woody resinous "clean" smelling entity with formidable attributes that do not proclaim their presence.  Benzoin, cedar notes and a hint of incense resin give warmth-coolness contrasts and copious tenacity and I suspect musk does too. This is also what I smell from the Korres Pure Cotton fragrance and the scratchy (but in a good way) lily of the valley aromachemical that signifies "I feel pretty, oh so pretty".

Beyond perfumery tropes, nevertheless, there is a very practical, tangible reason why Perfume Shrine's smell-alike perfumes articles, Twin Peaks, are so popular and this post is one such case. The full effect of the well-established best-seller by Prada comes at the fraction of the price in the newer incarnation by Korres! In fact Korres is probably playing on one of their older eaux de toilette, Iris Lily of the Valley Cotton. 

If you have been following our blog for years, you surely recall our dinosaur-worthy article of how much perfume actually costs. The internet has since erupted on similar breakdowns of cost vs. retail price, but beyond the pure logistics, any dedicated fan will tell you you're paying not for the raw materials but for the expertise, the know how, the tradition, the beautiful aesthetics...in the end for the sheer experience. (And that's why if you haven't read The Aesthetic Principle you really should). Price is irrelevant if you truly love what you get.

from the Wallpaper "Clean Slate" editorial featuring Korres products, via Korres Instagram

And yet, how do you explain two perfumes that are so close in scent that opting for one when having your eyes closed wouldn't produce a micro-grimace (lips falling down on one side, eyes rolling up) of distrustful apprehension?  Of course lots of other brands and companies have cottoned on (can't help the pun) to the success of the Prada Infusion d'Iris, not least Prada itself (mainly with their Infusion d'Homme). Chanel for one seems to have revitalized the No.19 perfume stable with Chanel No.19 Poudre, a scent which smells more like something from Prada (a soap devised by Prada) than traditional Chanel (a soap referencing Chanel)...and feel free to call me reductionist if you like, since I'm sorta sacrilegiously "reducing" both to soap. (Though soap is hard business to get right). And I'm coming round to the beginning of my parsing treatise; it's probably Dove and their classic soap scent which has inspired this whole genre. Something fluffy, soft, powdery and full of irones, lily of the valley, orange flower and white musks.

Fragrantica categorizes Korres Pure Cotton (part of the newly launched Eau de Cologne range) into the "aromatic spicy" fragrances and gives (the official) notes of mandarin orange (on top), iris (in the heart) and amber (in the base). It is an eau de cologne edition in a biggish bottle in the familiar elegant Korres aesthetics with a matte black rubber spraying mechanism. It smells and performs exactly the same as Prada's original Infusion d'Iris eau de parfum. Perfumephiles on a budget, rejoice!

20 comments:

  1. Miss Heliotrope07:32

    So keep the Infusion d'Iris & don't worry? Excellent. Mind you, if d'Iris doesn't have Iris, then do you mean to say d'Homme doesn't have little bits of homme in it?

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    1. Ha!! With a name like that one would expect something out of the distilling process out of Das Parfum (book & movie)!
      Infusing an homme might bring on surprising and fascinating results! ;-D

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  2. Anonymous07:44

    I was pleased to read this article. I smelt Korres Pure Cotton at the chemist's the other day and immediately thought this is the same as Infusion d' Iris (and the latter is a close rival to my signature perfume - Chanel no. 19 Poudre , so I should know! However, my nose is far from trained, so after writing my review in fragrantica, I kept thinking maybe I had been tricked by my brain (ref. your article about how the nose is right and the brain plays tricks). Thanks for reporting on this. And do try Korres Summer wood. I loved it and will be purchasing it when the weather gets HOT.

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    1. Anon, thanks for chiming in and corroborating my own "reading" of this one. Yes, the nose is always right. We just sometimes don't have the words and syntax to explain what we experience, this is what makes for confusion. Communication breakdown, nothing more.
      I have only tried this one and the Lily Bouquet (quite nice but was not wowed) from the new ones. I will definitely smell the Summer Wood too, the name gives me the impression of driftwood. ;-)

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  3. That was interesting! I'm not a fan of Prada but always thought they did a good job with iris in the 'dry' clean department. And since you mention the precursors I have a doubt about Dove. Years ago, like maybe 13-14, when they first launched the very first version of their body milk I was really enamoured with its scent: strong, powdery-musky. Since then they've launched many more lotions and they've completely changed the scent. Anyone remember the first one and any perfume for that matter that smells similar?

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    1. Thanks! Yes, they did a very good job with establishing a new notion of "groomed" (and dry is very much consequent). Their Eau Ambree is also excellent for that purpose. The same can be said for the Narciso Rodriguez stable; they have re-semiotized things for us (like "musk", "soap" etc.) with their releases.

      I have no recollection alas of Dove body milk. I'm not great fan of lotions, though I religiously used their soap the first 3-4 years it came out. It had a plush, cold milk and cotton (yup) feel about it. And should have contained musk. I bet the body lotion would be musky. Maybe the lotion also had violet notes, plus musk? I bet someone who knows will offer a word here.

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  4. leathermountain01:24

    Where can I buy Dove extrait?

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    1. Wish I knew someone making it! I think "Cherry Blossom Diva", "Bath and Infused" and the like makers who thrive on the American side can come to your rescue and make something like that.

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  5. What is the longevity on this new Korres? I have the Iris LOTV Cotton one and it's innocent and lovely.

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    1. The new one is termed Eau de Cologne but performs like a quite decent Eau de Toilette. On my skin it stayed for a good working day and on clothes (sleeves) it had remnants into the next day.

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  6. Odd.
    I recall when Infusion d'Iris first came out. I thought it smelled a it of 'feminine hygiene' products. Close up I could pick out the iris, cedar, & vetiver, but at arm's length it was like a deodorant scent Summer's Eve or Kotex would fragrance their products with. (No, I don't wear feminine deodorant products but having been a pharmacist & perfumista for 20yrs & I am familiar with all 'drugstore' scents.) I didn't really get the orange blossom or mandarin in IDI at all. Might of been my body chemistry- scents seem loose their lighter top notes on me here in the furnace heat of India. Anyway, not caring for the scent on myself I gifted it to my Aunt Iris whom was delighted with the fragrance.
    Dove's powdery/musky scent is a good comparison. I always wonder if the reason powdery/musky scents are chosen for hygiene/deodorant products is due to their ability to mask offensive body odors. Think of baby powder, the powdery scent is due to inonones which cause temporary anosmia & synthetic white musks which simply seem drown out other scents. What a great way to cover up odors such as baby spew & poo!

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    1. Bibi, a great comment and I thank you! :-)

      You have an excellent point there. It does smell like feminine hygiene products. The reason, I personally find, is because the Prada scent became so well received immediately, that the drug companies snatched its "core" chord to use because familiarity in scent is what draws consumers in. For instance I find many household items replicate well-known and popular scents: Baygon green big spray has a Poison classic vibe, deodorants have an Eau d'Issey or Light Blue aura, lots of shower gels with scents of iris-violet, lots of nappies and baby wipes with either a Kenzo Flower or Eau d'Issey feel to them, hairsprays have a musky-aldehydic aura, especially those that are "classic" like Elnette etc.

      Of course the reverse also happens, it's cross-pollination! The baby powder scent is so beloved throughout the world (associated with a good thing, cute babies) that powdery scents have invaded the fine fragrance world. Lots of fragrances rely as you say on ionones and white musks and iris notes. I suppose ionones, which are known to aestheticize the nose, are perfect for "hiding" spew and poo! And of course white musk is notoriously lasting.

      I totally get what you're saying about hot weather in India. We don't have such heat in Greece but the onset of summer does bring on changes in many of my favorite products' perception of their scent. It might therefore have to do with the dissipation of lighter notes, such as orange blossom or mandarin orange. To be honest they're not particularly evident in IdI to me either; just a passing "halo" and then straight to the woody core.

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  7. Speaking 'drugstore scents'- I noticed you haven't done a post on 'best inexpensive perfumes' since 2011.
    Might you do a current list?
    My teenaged sons love scent & I'll be visiting the US later this year to do some shopping. I really do not care for Axe & am getting a bit tired of Brut & Old Spice.

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    1. Great idea and thank you for bringing it on!
      I will try to do my best. :-)

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  8. Woohoo! I love Infusion d'Iris. :)
    Thank you!

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    1. I run the risk of shutting down communication with Prada for you, guys!! :-D

      Thanks for writing, so good to see you here again!

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  9. Dare I say that Pure Cotton and Frederic Malle Eau d'Hiver are drydown sisters? The former likes plain jeans, the latter embroidered linen dresses!
    Good morning from sunny Florina- Greece!

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    1. It's not without good reason your reasoning, dear Aλεξάνδρα!
      I very much like your description of the two, especially the second. ;-)
      Thanks for commenting here.

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  10. Anonymous14:01

    I own both Infusion d' Iris and Eau d' Hiver. I love, love, love both but once I spray them on they disappear in nano-seconds from my skin. No chemistry at all. So imagine my surprise when, upon trying the Korres pure cotton at my local pharmacy (one spritz actually) this morning, its divine smell still lingers on my wrist seven hours later. And for 17.99 this is a perfect steal! Thank you dear Helena for introducing us to the world of cheap "niche" perfumerie.

    PS the candy mango is also nice, but pure cotton smells oh so expensive......

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    1. This is my favorite kind of comment: knowing I helped someone choose something they thoroughly enjoy.
      Thanks so much for sharing with me on these pages! Enjoy!! (I should try the Mango next)

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