Luca Turin thinks that L’Attesa, the newest fragrance from Masque, composed by Luca Maffei, is the best iris fragrance on the market today. It allows, he says, the normally ephemeral iris butter to shine without being bullied by other, stronger notes, but doesn’t denature it so totally as to render it pale and bloodless.
For what it's worth, I agree. L’Attesa pulls off a remarkable balancing act. The iris butter is fleetingly rooty at the top, reminiscent of the iris in Iris Silver Mist, but with a buttery, floral aspect that rids the iris of any raw potato alcohol facets that many people (myself included) find so challenging in the Serge Lutens.
It develops into a rounded, slightly powdery, slightly doughy iris note that denotes pure luxury. In terms of purity, I could mention Irisss by Xerjoff, but since L’Attesa lacks the moist carrot/violet nuance of Irisss, I don’t quite think that’s it. Irisss has a cool, creamy sweetness to it; L'Attesa is tart and almost beery.
The beery note would be the “champagne” listed in the notes, which comes off as both sour and strangely inviting, like yeasty gasses emanating from bread dough on its second proving.
It effervesces around the iris, making it as buoyant as a raspberry in a glass of bubbly. The lifting effect of the champagne accord would make me think there could also be aldehydes at work here but for the fact there is no hint of soapiness or anything metallic. Still, that tart, sour lift to the iris butter is amazing. It lends a sort of exuberance to the opening, a sense of excitement that recalls the “pulling the tab on a soda” effect of Iris Poudre, but without that scent’s slightly rough, chemical-woody undertow.
To my nose, though, the bergamot in L’Attesa plays almost as important a role as the iris and the yeast accord. The bergamot oil used here has a glossy, citric bitterness that cuts through the buttery texture of the iris and turns the dial on its color wheel from somber grey to a greenish-yellow. It sets the tone for the entire fragrance; bright, sharp, tart.
It also makes me think of the Chanel irises, notably 31 Rue Cambon, with its icy, bergamot-drenched iris, and No. 18, with its olive-green, Vermouth-like one. Additionally, the No. 18 has a distinct bread-like note, as does L’Attesa. Don’t take this to mean that they smell alike, because they don’t – just that there are parallels here between the classic Chanel treatment of iris and the Masque one.
The base - well, it's hardly the point of the fragrance. L'Attesa fades out in a genteel fashion, simply growing more ghostly as the day goes on. There is a vaguely woody-leathery feel to the bottom of this, but it's ephemeral and hazy, and I'm not really getting the full flavor of the oakmoss and the sandalwood that's listed. But I think that goes back to the dilemma that Luca Turin mentioned in relation to perfumers working with iris, in that it's difficult to choose notes to go with the iris that won't drown out its wispy delicacy. So L'Attesa bows out gracefully, like an actress who knows that two encores are more than enough; it would be greedy to ask for more.
All in all, I think L’Attesa is stunning, and if you’re an iris lover, you won’t want to miss out on it. It features a remarkably pure, buttery iris that leans more towards that luxurious, new-Bugatti leather smell than towards violets, lipstick, root vegetables, or face powder, but it’s also far from an iris soliflore, with a significant presence of bergamot, neroli, and that “champagne” accord. Refined and easy to wear, I think this is far less challenging to wear than my personal favorite from Masque, Romanza, and could be signature scent worthy for the avid iris lover.