Perfume review: Iris Prima by Penhaligon’s

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Now this I love, a fragrance house that has tried to recreate the smell of ballet rehearsal rooms, sweaty shoes and all, in a good way, obvs.

Just like the smell of old books and libraries, the inside of my mum’s wardrobe, proper old pubs and some theatres, there is a certain nostalgic joy to be had in remembering place smells. Not that I’d really want to smell like an old pub, but hints of treasured haunts…you get my drift.

Penhaligon’s iris Prima doesn’t smell sweaty at all, in fact apart from a hint of leather in the base notes and a touch of sandalwood sprung flooring in the heart…it mostly smells of a glamourous ‘hair and make up pre-production’ moment, more old school Hollywood than village hall. It’s a big, iris absolute hit and gorgeously grown-up, I love it and if you like Iris fragrances I urge you to go and sniff it.

The creator of this fragrance, Alberto Morillas, tailed two young English National ballet dancers, Lauretta Summerscales and Nathan Young (above) as they rehearsed and performed in order to bottle the fragrance of ballet. Penhaligon’s has sponsored the two to promote the fragrance (dancers are amongst the poorest of all artists) and I met them both at the press day. They are darlings, with startlingly graceful bodies that look so slender and fragile you wonder how they don’t break. They seemed to have really enjoyed having some bloke follow and sniff their every move and were sweetly enthusiastic about the collaboration and final fragrance.

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The story lends itself beautifully to display and the pile of pink ballet pumps supporting a glass bottle of perfume looked charming. There was also a wall cupboard full of proper practise shoes, ribbons, glue, mending thread and leather soles that Lauretta and Nathan explained were part of their everyday lives, dancers seem to go through more shoes than Jimmy Choo.

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Iris Prima launches on 9 September online and in stores, £85 for 50mls.


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