Colours of Iris* Part 4: Equistrius and Citta di Kyoto

The beige suede iris

Sometimes all one needs is a comforting scent, one that can be warn easily and make you feel like smiling. This is when I reach for my suede irises, Equistrius and Citta di Kyoto. There is so much in common between the two in their use of iris. They come from two of my favorite houses, Parfum d’ Empire, with its historical assoctiations, and Officina Profumo-Pharmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella aka Santa Maria Novella, with its huge history.

Equistrius is a sweet but not gourmand, leathery iris. The topnotes hit you with a good dose of syrupy floral sweetness, maybe a lychee syrup. I am not a big fan of sweet fragrances but Marc-Antoine Corticchiato knows very well how to balance on the edge of the impossible, like he did with Cuir Ottoman where he coupled the powderiest of irises with the shiniest black leather. The sweetness seems overwhelming at first but why do I find myself sniffing again and again my “test site”? A hint of hazelnut starts dusting the shiny syrup adding some saltiness. In the heart a good scoop of buttery iris melts on top of the syrup making everything soft, warm, comforting. The official site lists dark chocolate in the notes and I wish I could pick this up but I can’t. What I do get though is how the iris produces a beautiful effect of soft, warn suede leather. In a way this leather note is very close to the suede of Daim Blond. In the drydown a champagne like accord brings sparkles to composition.

Equistrius is a proud fragrance. It wears loud and clear and if you are a man you better watch your finger because the spray delivers a hefty dose. I don’t know if you ever get a visual impact from the way a fragrance develops. Equistrius seems like melting on the skin. I get the feeling that it flows on the skin like melting butter, spreading further and further than where I spray it. It radiates and glows and never fails to put a smile on my face.

Notes from Parfum d’ Empire: three iris extracts bringing notes of violet, powder, butter and dark chocolate, ambrette butter, ambergris, sandalwood.

Notes from my nose: hot syrup, lychee, hazelnut, salted butter, suede, champagne

Citta di Kyoto is one of the most recent releases (2004) of a house that claims a continuous production since 1612. Anyone who is familiar with their releases knows that they are quirky, not always easy to wear but always come through as unpretentious, clear and yet sophisticated fragrances. So how is this managing with its recent releases? In one word, perfectly.

Citta di Kyoto was released to celebrate the 40 year old affiliation of Florence and Kyoto and what better way to do that than combining notes of florentine iris and japanese lotus. I must admit I am not familiar with how lotus smells but had I read the official note listing I would have been put off: “The perfume opens with vibrant, fruity and fresh top notes of jasmine and ylang-ylang, which are punctuated by the deeper hints of bergamot and orange. These are followed by base notes of Florentine iris and lotus”. No, no, no, no! It starts with a magnificent paint diluent note (admittedly this can be attributed to ylang ylang as it sometimes has a mentholated aspect)that quickly fades into the driest, palest, softest cedar. The most opulent orris butter kicks in to smooth out the rough woody surface. The overall effect is that of velvety, dusty suede. It makes me think of smelling uncooked rice. Much to my astonishment this is listed as a feminine scent which together with the official description are doing a great job at restricting this fragrance’s target group. This is dry, woody, leathery iris at its best and Dzongkha lovers please give this a try. In another perfume world Citta di Kyoto could very well pass as a masculine version of Equistrius. It wears close to the skin, feels like it sinks into the skin and radiates from there but it has an exceptional longevity even though it is an eau de cologne.

Notes from Santa Maria Novella: jasmine, ylang ylang, bergamot, orange, iris, lotus

Notes from my nose: paint diluent, cedar, butter, iris, rice, incense tears

*in greek: ίρις (iris) = 1. iris, the flower 2. the coloured part of the eye 3. the goddess of the rainbow, the rainbow


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. I love Equistrius, along with Ambre Russe it is my favorite of the Empires. Your description is beautiful (as always 🙂 ).

  2. evinick

    I think I have to try again Equistrius…I ‘ve probably underrated it! Cita di Kyoto for me is a the floral clone of Daim Blond only thinner and brighter. I love the photo (Though both scents lack the cat’s urine odor)! Save one similar for the Colours of Civet series lol

    • You are right, both fragrances have a lot in common with Daim Blond but to my nose CdK is very dry. And Violet might be the only floral I could identify, and if I had to. We should meet and have side by side testings!
      The cat just jumped into the frame but I liked the end result. There is always something warm and fuzzy in a cat.

  3. Tara

    I haven’t tried Citta di Kyoto yet but suede iris describes Equistrius wonderfully. I think it will be my next full bottle purchase for the autumn. I just wish it lasted a little longer. I thought I would also purchase Daim Blond but after repeated testing the sweetness just got too much for me. Maybe Citta di Kyoto will suit me better.

  4. GeM

    Sure they are not! I feel lucky to have a relatively handy SMN’s store.
    Love both, Daim Blond and Città di Kyoto: they’re the two best references of mine in the same category. Suede irises!, I’d like refer to it this way from now on.
    Sadly *Suede irises* never were ME, but I still enjoy them everytime I go to the shop.
    I haven’t tried Equistrius, though.

    What a picture, it’s a gorgeous photo!! Love it! it conjures a fursuit… and the fragrance, too

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