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Beauty: all I want for Christmas is the scent of iris

It seems impossible to begin to make recommendations for Christmas scents (and I can’t claim to be bowled over by any), so I’m narrowing things right down to one ingredient with which I’m currently besotted: iris.

Ironically, the iris flower itself has no smell, but when the root is cleaned and dried for several years, it takes on the loveliest warm, earthy and soft quality. In perfume, it usually has that powdery, inside-a-nanna’s-poshest-handbag smell I so love, but please don’t dismiss it if that’s not your poison – iris is more versatile than you might think.

In Chanel No 19, it is sharp, green and a bit chilly, though, cleverly, they’ve dialled up the iris in the special No 19 Poudre edition (£67.50), if you’d like it to have a little more heart. My favourite iris of all is Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolue (£62.50), which is quite simply the most often admired perfume I’ve ever worn. Seriously, not a wearing goes by without someone asking what it is. It’s dusty and powdery, but with a hard edge that stops it being at all flimsy and fey (my worst nightmare in a scent). It also has fantastic lasting power – just a couple of spritzes usually sees me through to bedtime.

Only a tad less potent, but more blowsy and sexy, is Les Senteurs Iris Oriental (£81.50; this outfit is excellent for samples, by the way). This iris is warmer, sweeter and a little more heady and intoxicating, so it’s perhaps more suited to romance than as a gift for your partner’s mum. And then there’s the utterly safe and wholly iconic Guerlain’s Apres L’Ondée (£69.30), which is like being sprinkled in baby powder and cuddled.

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