Penhaligons's Gardenia: Perfume Review
Four things surprised me about Penhaligon's new rendition of Gardenia, re-introduced this year with the help of Bertrand Duchaufour as part of the Anthology Collection:
1) Its tangy and subtly sweet fruitiness, which I first imagined to be alike freshly cut green apples, but then, looking at the list of notes recognized as the result of mixing the fruity magnolia and the tart rhubarb;
2) Its natural, simple feel. By "natural" I mean the impression that all ingredients (simplistically speaking) had been picked in an unkempt, windswept little garden and put together in a pretty and unassuming fashion, miraculously, right there on an old wooden kitchen table...and not in a big fancy lab...and put together in a "simple" manner like a talented child's naturemort done in transluscent, pastel colors;
3)...Paradoxically, after the above statement... its "perfumey" and classic quality, which somehow goes alongside the simple naturalness from about 1/3 into the composition, when orange blossom and jasmine start to kick in, and intensifies with the appearance of tuberose and musk;
4) The fact that it does not smell very gardenia-like...Which, I suppose isn't that much of a surprise, since not too many gardenia perfumes do.
None of these observations are meant as criticism. I find the verdant fruitiness unexpected and appealing; the pastel naturalness of the blend makes me nostalgic for the dacha of my childhood; the perfumey-ness brings the lady-like refinement which I always appreciate, and as for being true to the smell of gardenia...oh well! I already have Lauder's Tuberose Gardenia and Ford's Velvet Gardenia. As a side note, I do not remember the 1976 Penhaligon's Gardenia, so I can't compare. The 2009 is pretty, oh so pretty- the kind of slightly fresh, girly-feminine, genteel, almost "weddingy" (yes, that is a specific quality in a scent) blend that I have been in a mood for for awhile.
Available at penhaligons.co.uk, £95.00 for 100ml.
Image credits, Tim Walker, Penhaligon's.