Blog post by Gwen
My first real experience with gardenia was on a trip to the British 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 fragrances with that indolic gardenia scent I remember. It wasn’t until I tried Soliflore Gardenia from American niche fragrance Dame Perfumery that I found the true gardenia scent I was craving.
Gardenias pose a challenge for perfumers: they can’t 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.
Check out Soliflore Gardenia in our Shop.