Gardenia Enfleurage is quite extraordinary on so many levels. I cannot emphasise this enough to readers. In many respects I struggle to find the appropriate words to describe this gem being offered.
Firstly, the scent of gardenia flowers is something many people from temperate climates take for granted as the plant is commonly found in many gardens. While we tend to think of gardenias as a pristine, white beautiful lovely smelling flower that will scent an entire room with only one flower, they are in fact a night flowering genus that pump out scent best in the evening and night time to attract nocturnal pollinators. Hence the white flower and the strong fragrance for low light conditions. So start thinking of gardenia as an evening or night time fragrance for wearing as opposed to a daytime scent. You may be surprised just how appropriate and wonderful it actually is.
Secondly, Gardenia scents in perfumes are extraordinarily difficult to recreate. Many perfume houses have a gardenia offering, but so few even come close to capturing the true scent. Tom Ford, in a now discontinued fragrance (Velvet Gardenia) managed to capture the slightly earthy, funky mushroom note that pervades some of the larger flowers. This gave a true to life aspect to the fragrance, but many people found it off putting. Serge Lutens captures some of the aspect of fading yellow/brown flowers as the flowers last wilt in Une Voix Noire. Both fragrances are wonderful, but not entirely true to the flower. Certainly with the Lutens offering the gardenia is only one component of a complex perfume and is sometimes difficult to untangle. Other companies offer "gardenia" fragrances that really don't smell like the real deal and sadly are heavy and cloying. Not the case with Gardenia Enflourage at all.
Solstice Scents has very cleverly (in my opinion) bypassed the conundrum of trying to recreate an aspect of the fragrance, by capturing the actual perfume of real flowers in the ancient art of enfleurage. I absolutely applaud this extraordinary effort. Having almost entirely vanished in the 20th century due to the prohibitive labour costs needed for this enfleurage process, Solstice Scents offer (as 'rinster' so rightly says) this labour of love that links us directly to the world of 19th century perfumes. Having read the effort that it has taken Angela and Greg to create this beauty, you cannot ever complain about the price.
So what do I smell? I have a number of gardenia flowers from my garden next to me for comparison. Firstly it is a TRUE gardenia scent. It is not quite like smelling the actual flower as it is a combination of three different varieties of gardenia, and the 'mushroom' note is nearly undetectable (for the better in my opinion). The Gardenia jasminoides seems to the the strongest component (that is one of the flowers I have to compare and ensure authenticity), but the other two varieties also add their characteristics to GE in a lovely manner. The Gardenia jasminoides is what gives the jasmine note in this fragrance. I am actually quite astounded how lovely it is. GE fragrance is by no means ephemeral, but is also not at all overwhelming or bombastic - which cannot always cannot be said about the real flower. There are many people who find gardenias too strong for inside the house. For a natural fragrance it is surprisingly long lived. On my old, male, dry skin it is still clearly there at the three hour mark. So I have to say the strength seems perfect. I am certain that many will have no trouble in reaching the four hour mark. I am mentioning this, because (like other reviewers), I am aware of the fragility and short life of many natural scents.
Glorious, naturally beautiful and absolutely feminine. It redefines romantic.
This is the sort of fragrance offering that every perfume lover should be acquiring because of it's rarity, exclusivity and beauty. I hesitate to say "once in a lifetime', but it is probably true. For floral perfume lovers, this is a benchmark offering not to be missed.