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31 Days of Iris: Day Two and Impossible Iris

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There are not a lot of perfumes from Ramon Monegal that strike me as indisputable classics, but there are a few that really stand out—Cuirelle, Entre Naranjos, their magnificent Amber, and Impossible Iris, an iris perfume so lovable and good natured that it almost disproves Iris’s reputation as the difficult Mean Girl of perfume ingredients.
This despite its undeniable and perceptible high content of rich but delicate orris butter.

Because orris is the first thing you smell in initially spraying it. If you are spraying it on skin. 8 leaves a buttery impression where the very nice RM bottle sends out an even, dense, but fine mist. The scent of orris here is not a cold green early spring garden. Rather, Impossible Iris riffs on orris butter’s ionine content, its violet-Purple qualities, rather than its icy one, that smell more festive than elegant. Impossible Iris might be business in back, but it’s party in front.

What distinguishes Impossible Iris from some other, more predictable, Violet-Iris compositions is that Monegal goes all in on the fruit, adding a further twist to it’s purple Parma Violet sweet-tart qualities, with a splash of raspberry. Raspberry is not always used wisely in perfumery, and it can come off as juvenile or less than serious. Pairing it up, with po-faced iris, lends the perfume a sense of levity, and distinguishes it from the usual run of cosmetic irises (which I love, don’t get me wrong here). Despite raspberry’s candy associations, it is dosed so carefully in Impossible Iris, that the perfume still has an attractive sense of transparency, that preserves its rich and butter-soft Iris ingredients, a deft balancing act.

Impossible Iris is one of the few “true” Iris perfumes that tries to do something genuinely different—-nothing silvery or evanescent here. It is genuinely playful, while still smelling seasonally appropriate, as raspberries have a fleeting growing season that typically coincides with the time iris bulbs are above ground. It proved that iris can do more than put you over its knee and spank you (although, if that is your thing, I don’t judge), or mumble its apologies and disappear. I remember someone comparing it to iris in a neon pedicure—I am not sure it’s quite that, but then again, a neon pedicure seems just the thing after a long, forbidding winter, and I have been known to wear such things when the season calls for them.

Impossible Iris eventually dries down to a powdered raspberry that reminds me of the freeze-dried raspberries I sometimes find in packaged cereal, with the powder having an extra silky quality that must be the remains of its lavish dose of orris. Ramon Monegal did exactly what iris needed with this perfume—he made it festive, joyous, spirited, and fun. Impossible Iris is here for a good time, and, wearing it, it will pull you into its exuberant space. Don’t let its fruity reputation frighten you. It smells divine on everyone, not just girly girls. I wish this were the kind of thing we were getting more of from primo major designer houses, but it’s probably too expensive and also probably runs afoul of 80 different IFRA statues.

But this is why we have niche houses in the first place. This is not the place for pedantica, so I will save us all some trouble and just say that this perfume alone is more than enough to justify Ramon Monegal’s continued existence. Anyone who can take iris down a notch, and elevate it at the same time, deserves our business. If you know of some other great creations by this house, send me a message, because I am interested.
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