Ok, I’m late to the game with this one, I know it. Well, I ignored the review after positive review of this release, as I didn’t want to know anything about it (enter with an open mind etc.)… after all, a new gardenia release (and an all natural one after all), is a big deal to any perfume fanatic. So I finally got my nose on Cuir de Gardenia…
Cuir de Gardenia opens surprisingly astringent, a boatload of natural narcotics pushing forward a feijoa-like, nail-varnish-like harshness often found in raw tuberose… but there’s no tuberose. The powerful narcotic opening is dizzying, but quickly sinks into a more lactonic, and suede-like plush texture, the gardenia pretty much taking full force. So how accurate is the gardenia? Pretty damn good. The natural tiare/gardenia absolute smells as close to the real thing as a fragrance has got before, only lacking that earthy-mushroom quality that gardenia’s seem to produce… is that a good thing? Well, at the end of the day, that’s been done before… Jardenia… possibly the next greatest gardenia fragrance created. I’ve always thought of Jardenia as a singular portrait of a gardenia, rather than a fragrance. Here – Cuir de Gardenia is a fragrance, and the gardenia is treated that way. Whilst it smells as raw as it gets, it’s treated with clever hands.
There seems to be three kinds of gardenia fragrances… Gardenia + Tuberose, Gardenia + Fig, and the less often seen, Gardenia + Jasmine. I never really noticed how similar gardenia and jasmine can be until I smelt the all natural, and slightly garish, Tawaf by La Via Del Profumo… a jasmine so raw and untamed that it throws off a fungal, mushroom vibe, not too dissimilar to that of gardenia. So Mandy has opted for jasmine as a partnership which I was hugely thankful of. Whilst grandiflorum isn’t my favourite floral note, it is a perfect pairing. Whilst I’ve been told there is only a smidge of jasmine, my skin throws it off loudly, my skin always amplifies jasmine… It almost dominates to a point… but maybe it’s just a note I’m more familiar with? But along with this pungent, honeyed jasmine and rich gardenia is a lighter fruit accord up top, and more animal base.
The fruit I initially mistook for phenyl ethyl acetate… turns out it’s ethyl phenyl acetate. If you swap the first words around, apparently they’re different! To me anyway, this note smells like a translucent honeyed fruit, mainly pear and green apple – almost like a pear drop, slightly sugared with a light vanillic, candy-like note (in the background). The animal? Well it’s actually easy to miss until the end. A natural castoreum underneath adds the earthiness that I had missed in the gardenia note (as I said, clever hands!). It’s a rich, slightly fungal, slightly smoked accord that I can’t say I associate with leather myself. But this is my skin, other’s who I have got to try this have got a leathery, dirty, oily vibe straight away. On me, it’s the florals that are blooming throughout it’s life, with the castoreum a subtle sideline… but necessary. The indole of the jasmine adds a dirtiness that is far more present on my skin, and the whole effect is about as simple, and perfect as a gardenia fragrance can get.
There is a surprising turn in the late drydown though: as the castoreum dominates and instead of, on my skin, throwing off the impression of a fine vintage leather, I get a perfect accord of smoky bacon! No lie. Not at all foul, not as intense as the barbeque vibe of Lonestar Memories, but something that I find ridiculously playful and a hilarious partnership with the gardenia, whilst being far more photorealistic than many claim to get from the Tauer. Fantastic!
Cuir de Gardenia is beautifully balanced, handled with a deep understanding of the ingredients… Aftel always knows what she’s doing, and it never fails. A large, empty space in perfumery has been filled by this fragrance.
Cuir de Gardenia in the solid perfume is, as expected, a lighter fragrance. It hugs my skin in a more “bass” noise, the gardenia slightly waxier, the jasmine less indolic, but the castoreum more “nutty”, at times reminding me of crushed leaves and adding a quiet “green” to the fragrance. In time, they dry down to pretty much the same thing… the more restrained opening of the solid is much more appreciated if wearing this later in the evening, at home etc… I’ve found myself drawn to it to relax with more so than the more flourescent, astringent extrait. Both are beautiful, but behaving slightly different for the first hour, not drastic enough to review all over again, no I wouldn’t put you through that ;) But worth a mention.
As always… I end feeling inspired!
Cuir de Gardenia available from Aftelier Perfumes: http://www.aftelier.com/cuir-de-gardenia-extrait-mini-perfume.html