Olfactory Choreography | English National Ballet & Pengaligon’s
Last night saw the preview of a unique collaboration between English National Ballet and British fragrance house Penhaligon’s, for the launch of Iris Prima : The Spirit of the Ballet. Bottled. It’s a lovely collaboration between two creative companies who are constantly striving for excellence with innovative ideas and bold programming.
Ahead of the launch I asked Ballet Newsers what they thought ballet smelled like. Along with old pointe shoes, hairspray, rosin, powder, and blood, sweat & tears, interestingly there were some unusual answers : Spring, ambition, velvet, devotion, life, success, love, oranges, roses, marshmallow, happiness, pink and obsession.
But the question remained : how to bottle this fragrance ?
Enter master perfumer Alberto Morillas, who was given no holds barred access to two of ENB’s dancers : Nathan Young and Laurretta Summerscales. The aim was to capture the sense of flight as a dancer jumps into the spotlight and then to introduce other notes to mimic the steps on pointe and to make a unisex fragrance.
I also want to say what a masterpiece the packaging is. Enclosed within the iconic Penhaligon’s bottle but with a tactile and beautiful suede label that is so in keeping with the pointe shoe theme, it’s a stoke of genius. The box is cleverly coloured in soft tones, again mimicking the pointe shoe and also has the suede label. What’s clever about this design is that as the bottle and the label age, it actually becomes more beautiful and more like a worn pointe shoe.
The fragrance of Iris Prima is described thus : A fresh and transparent bergamot opens the dance : its citrus freshness mimicking the graceful flight of a dancer. Green Amber softens the effect and contrasts with sparkling pink pepper, which resonates like the steps of the dancer on pointe. Iris soon takes centre stage, eclipsing all around her with her natural grace and powdery charm, until she begins a sesnuous pas de deux with potent Jasmine Sambac. A sense of luminosity comes courtesy of two innovative molecules – Hedione and Paridisione.
What’s clever about these niche perfumes is how they unfold. Iris Prima takes a full three hours for all of the notes to be released on your skin. The base introduces an intimate musky leather note to represent the pointe shoe and then light touches of sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla and benzoin to signify the soul of ancient theatres.
The head notes are Bergamot, Green Amber and Pink Pepper.
The heart notes are Iris Absolute, Jasmin Sambac, Hedione and Paradisone.
The base notes are Leather, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Benzoin.
Iris Prima will be available in the UK through Penhaligon’s boutiques, selected department stores and online from 9th September. Iris Prima retails at £120 for 100ml Eau de Parfum and £85 for 50ml.
The result, Iris Prima, is pure class.
If you’d like to know more about the world of the perfumer, I can recommend this fictional book which is immersed in the world of the ‘nose.’