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Soliflore Gardenia – sultry and indolic and true to nature - June 6, 2016


My first real experience with gardenia was on a trip to the Virgin Islands. That first night, the air around the villa was filled with their sultry, intoxicating fragrance. It was unforgettable and as I write this, I can still call up the scent memory.

Gardenias are flowering plants in the coffee family and belong to the ‘white floral’ fragrance group in perfumery along with tuberose, orange blossom and jasmine. These white florals share a common substance: indole.

According to Fragrantica, indole smells like mothballs, camphor green and intense; in white flowers such as jasmine, tuberose and orange blossom it adds a deep animalic, slightly fecal tonality. It’s the indoles that make the white florals heady and addictive.

Gardenias are night blooming plants, like jasmine, and since pollinators can’t see white flowers, the plants emit huge amounts of indoles so that insects can find them. Combined with their aromatic floralcy, bright green facets and mushroom aspects, gardenias fill the night air with a beautiful, complex heady smell that is positively narcotic.

Well, for me it is. Since that trip I have found myself seeking out that indolic gardenia scent I remember – mostly in perfumes.

There are loads of great gardenia scents out there, like White Gardenia Petals, Une Voix Noire and even Coccobello, and lots of great fragrances that have gardenia in a supporting role, but it wasn’t until I tried Soliflore Gardenia by Dame Perfumery Scottsdale that I found the true gardenia scent I was craving.

Dame Perfumery Scottsdale is an indie American niche fragrance line founded by Jeffrey Dame and his son Cullen.  Jeffrey Dame has had a 35-year career in perfumery, first buying for Neiman-Marcus in Dallas, then working in New York and Paris for Estee Lauder, Parfums Caron Paris and later with the Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene brands among others.

Gardenias pose a challenge for perfumers: they cannot be distilled so their scent is difficult to capture which makes gardenia absolute rare and expensive. This has driven many perfumers to re-create their own gardenia scent. Things are changing though. In the last few years small artisanal growers have been experimenting and developing ways to capture the scent of gardenias resulting in fragrances like Soliflore Gardenia.

It opens with soft, floral, indolic gardenia. As a soliflore, it doesn’t evolve much, but it isn’t linear either – how can it be when the scent of gardenia is so complex and heavily-nuanced? Body heat makes it bloom, getting fatty, lactonic and bigger until it develops into a fully realized gardenia scent that is true to nature. Every aspect of gardenia is here: it’s green, sweet, and slightly fruity. At times I smell buttered popcorn, coconut, that fantastic mushroom facet and, every once in a while, a whiff of camphour.


It softens beautifully as it dries down. And, because it’s a perfume oil, it stays anchored to my skin, wafting up and around me for hours. It’s as though I brought the night air on that tropical island paradise home with me.

And don’t even ask if is Soliflore Gardenia can be worn by women and men…

Soliflore Gardenia is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.