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Monday, May 12, 2008

White Floral Queen Part Six: Annick Goutal Gard├йnia Passion

By Donna

I have been a devoted fan of the Annick Goutal line from the very first time I tried it at my local perfume shop. To me they represented the best classic traditions carried on in modern formulations. Some are ethereally light while others pack an intense punch of depth and sensuality. My favorite among the latter category is Gardénia Passion.

The 1983 Goutal chypre-floral fragrance called Passion is a very fine perfume in its own right, a complex floral bouquet of great sophistication. (Not to be confused with “Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion,” which had to use the full three-word name after a brush with trying to use the “Passion” name, which turned out to be copyrighted by Annick Goutal, and it is an inferior scent.) I actually had a hard time choosing between the two when I decide to purchase my first bottle many years ago. The 1989 gardenia version won me over. Passion is a lovely composition based on tuberose and jasmine; Gardénia Passion “kicks it up a notch” with the addition of gardenia and orange blossom.

You might think that such a fragrance would be overwhelmingly sweet, but it’s really not. For one thing, the jasmine accord is extremely animalic and deep rather than bright, and though while it is intensely redolent of white flowers, this fragrance remains elegant and refined throughout its development, as it is comprised of very high quality ingredients, and it shows. It really is more of a tuberose scent than gardenia to my nose, but the orange blossom accord gives it a pleasantly soapy and slightly green quality that keeps the headiness (somewhat) under control. There is a subtle citrus note, and something else green and sharp hiding at the bottom of this perfume; lots of oakmoss, which I can never get enough of. This last also ensures that Gardénia Passion has unsurpassed endurance on the skin. It has a weightier base than some other white floral scents and thus is not all float and shimmer; it maintains equilibrium between the sweet flowers and the austerity of the oakmoss.

Gardénia Passion is one of those perfumes that transforms the wearer in unexpected ways. Suddenly you feel powerful, sophisticated and sexy all at the same time, and you feel ready to take on anything the world has to offer. (However, I would not suggest wearing it to work unless you own the company; otherwise the line between the boardroom and the bedroom could become a little bit blurred.) If your skin tends to amplify white floral scents, as mine does, this one could become quite strong in a closed room. Of course, that should not stop you from wearing it for any other occasion outside of the office. I wear mine to the grocery store or a night on the town with the same abandon. I find it to be equally suitable for cold or warm weather. It has enough substance to assert itself in winter, while not becoming cloying during humid summer heat. Now, bear in mind that I am speaking as one whose tolerance of this class of fragrance is very high; your results may differ.

I feel that Gardénia Passion is a true modern classic that will stand the test of time. It has been around for almost twenty years now, and it is still very popular. It seems to hit just the right note of white floral richness without being too loud or overbearing, a veritable Platonic ideal of perfumery. I plan to still be wearing it when I get old, and when I put it on I will be transformed into a Grande Dame instead of just an old lady. That is the magic of Gardénia Passion. I will go so far as to liken it to film legend Sophia Loren; undeniably sensuous and yes, passionate, yet somehow always dignified and never the least bit vulgar.

The Annick Goutal line is widely sold in better department stores such as Nordstrom, in perfume boutiques, and from online fragrance discount merchants. Gardénia Passion comes in Eau de Parfum, which can be a little hard to find, and in Eau de Toilette. The most popular Goutal scents, including Gardénia Passion, are also available in bath and body products. The body cream and shower gel in this scent are just outrageously good.

Image credits: Gardénia Passion bottle from Photo of actress Sophia Loren posing for the famous Pirelli Calendar in 2007 at age 71, from

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Blogger marchlion said...

Gardenia Passion was my intro to Annick Goutal. I went to a party and the hostess was wearing it, and I loved it so much I snuck into her bathroom to see what she was wearing! I'm very fond of the line, thanks for the post.

10:33 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do wish I knew Ms. Loren's plastic surgeon. Of course, she has always been beautiful, but still. . . 71, you say?
Thanks for the review of these Annick Goutal scents. Now I have to find somewhere to sniff them on my current exploration of white florals.

12:26 PM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

I'm a white floral girl, as you know, and haven't being paying quite enough attention to the Goutals. They seem so nice, and well brought up, and young lady-like, they never reach out and grab me. But then, that's the lot of the over-fragranced: you go for the new and intriguing and kind of neglect the good values. I've been more interested in their Orientalistes scents, which have drawn me back to their shop. So next stop, definitely, I'll spritz on the Gardénia Passion -- speaking of gardenia, Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque has got a very nice, quite true gardenia note.

1:00 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

As you know I love that line and I think this one is one of the best of them- thanks for the review!

1:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

I love the Annick Goutal line and this was a great review. I wish that Gardenia Passion did for me what it so obviously does for you, I always want to love it but it doesn't smell of Gardenia's on me which I why I have switched to EL's Tuberose and Gardenia which on me smells truer. I so adore Goutals Le Muguet and many of the others including her Vanille which is blissful! As for Sophia Loren, what a goddess! What a gift it would be to be so very incredible at her age...

2:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

March, I know just how you felt! I really love this stuff.

12:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Gretchen, if did not admire her so much I might have to hate her... ;-)

Fortunately this line is not all that hard to find, as it is deservedly popular.

12:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Carmencanada, I think you might find that the "intense" Goutals like this can be quite habit-forming, and very unlike the lighter formulations. May I suggest trying the original Passion side-by-side with the Gardenia Passion for a real treat.

Thank you for the tip about the Parfums de Nicolai Odalisque - I will have to try it. I am wondering how they got to use that name though - there is already an Odalisque that was quite famous in its day, by Nettie Rosenstein. It was a real stunner too - to me it smelled just like old money, in a good way.

12:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks Tom, I must agree! I would put this line in my top 10 of modern niche perfumers and this one is the biggest reason.

12:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thank you very much, Beth. It is fortunate for me that this scent melds with my skin so well. The Goutal line in general seems to agree with me.

As for Sophia - goddess is right! I don't know what her secret is, other than amazing genetics, but I want some of it! It's just not fair to the rest of us mere mortals.

1:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like March, I count Gardenia Passion as my intro to AG. I recall that I bought it for myself as a birthday gift. I still use the soap, which is fantastic.


4:18 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was given this as a sample from Les Senteurs (I had spent rather a lot that day!) but sadly the sample is almost gone. The tiny bottle will be rehomed in my drawers to eke out the last of the fragrance and I long to buy some more. Part of me feels I really ought to use up the vast amount of perfume I already have .... but this is such a wonderful summer perfume that makes me feel light, cheerful and very happy .... perhaps in the interest of family harmony I should just go ahead and get it!

6:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Victoria, don't you just love the quality of the AG bath & body products? If only every fragrance I like had such a variety!

1:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Gillie, it is indeed so wonderful for summer - heady and radiant but not too sweet - it really is a happy scent. Plus, you can find it a a great discount if you look around.

1:28 AM EDT  

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