Thanks to a very generous friend, who I originally met on my one day intensive introduction to perfumery course run by Karen Gilbert back in the summer and then later discovered to be a Basenoter, I have small samples of the entire JAR range of fragrances.
I have heard a hell of a lot of gossip around these, rave reviews galore etc. If memory serves me well, they are all natural fragrances.
For anyone who has never heard of JAR – they have an exclusive boutique in Paris, and one in New York. When you go in store to sample the fragrances, they will not tell you the price (ranging from 220 – 500+ Euros for 30ml), or the notes, of any of their fragrances. You are to smell them all blind, and if you show an interest in one, then you will be told the facts… very mysterious. Becuase of that, I have no notes list to work off – so I’m going to start with the easiest one in the collection.
Jardenia is one of the most well-known in the lineup for being one of the most true to life renditions of a gardenia. You cannot extract the scent from a gardenia, so any time you see “gardenia” in a notes list, it is either a synthetic substitute, or it is made up of various other flowers to recreate its scent (normally unsuccessfully – see White Gardenia Petals by Illuminum”!
Jardenia initially opens with an over-dramatised gardenia. A medicinal, almost root-beer like smell rich in narcotics, verging on boozy, throttles in full force off your skin. The white florals are so rich in near decay that the gardenia association is slightly fuzzy at first. The freshness up top is cool and camphorous, with lavender and maybe even eucalyptus giving off a wonderful herbal vibe atop the florals.
As the herbals begin to evaporate and the medicinal smell fades, the gardenia comes into the foreground. The hype was right – it is perfect. I have a Cape Jasmine gardenia in my conservatory – a luscious white floral, creamy, with a prominent and overwhelming twang of mushrooms – earthy and decayed. That’s exactly what fills up the heart of Jardenia. The mushroom note is perfect, not overwhelming in an attempt to be controversial, but shocking enough as is the natural flower.
The creaminess of the petals has the ideal translucency, as although gardenia’s are so damn potent, there is a clarity to their otherwise dense smell that is replicated here by the inclusion of maybe a subtle tea rose. I’m guessing the components are the usual tuberose, orange blossom, rose – a slight medicinal aroma of extremely subtle clove and anise… I’m not sure.
I mention other flowers, but on a whole, Jardenia is what it is meant to be, a single gardenia flower when your nose is pressed up against its head. Rich, indolic and beautifully natural, Jardenia is THE perfect gardenia.
My only complaint is – that is all there is to it. Yes, yes, it’s a brilliant rendition, but with no supporting notes or sharp angles (aside from the prominent mushroom), Jardenia is also THE definitive example of a soliflore. Whether that’s a good thing or not I’m not sure – once I’ve fully appreciated the floral heart, I want a little more and Jardenia doesn’t deliver any more for me until it fades out with little change.
A little dash of vetiver in the base I think, adds a much-needed green edge, or is it a hint of galbanum in the heart? You know I’m not good with green note identification…
Jardenia is really nice, and I could wear it with ease, but I wouldn’t consider it a special occasion scent - it is a summery floral of power and richness that like most naturals, begins to fade after a couple of hours. I do enjoy it, but it is not my favourite in the JAR lineup (which I thought it would be). Still, a great reference point and worthy of a sniff – I can now relax and say I’ve found the perfect gardenia note… but not the perfect gardenia fragrance.
JAR Jardenia 30ml – $$$$