My relationship with Parfumerie Generale Gardenia Grand Soir is best described by the evil little phrase "it's complicated". I usually have the utmost love for Pierre Guillaume's creations, and I tend to deeply appreciate them even when I find a Parfumerie Generale fragrance I don't really want to wear on a regular basis. It took emptying the third sample of Gardenia Grand Soir for me to decide that actually, no, I really don't wish to live with it for another single day.So, yes, it IS complicated.
Gardenia perfumes are largely based on a fantasy note/accord, as to my understanding you can't extract the oils from the flower itself. Hence, gardenia is open to the perfumer's interpretation about what it should feel and smell. Some go all the way. I have no idea how Mr. Rosenthal of JAR fame managed to create his stunning Jardenia. That thing is alive and possesses every nuance and emotion of a fully developed gardenia, from the hope of the new blossom to the decay of the rotting last flowers, including the infamous blue cheese note, mushroom and general dirt. It's magnificent and once acquainted with Jardenia one cannot smell gardenia perfumes ever again without comparing it to the masterpiece.
A gardenia that holds its own is the discontinued Velvet Gardenia from Tom Ford Private Blend. It's a bit more perfume-like and easier on the nose and skin, but has that earth and mushroom in spades, to remind you where the gardenia comes from where you both are eventually headed.
Compared to these two, Parfumerie Generale Gardenia Grand Soir is the Disney version. It's sweet, gauzy and prettified to the point the perfume loses all connection to the living, breathing and photosynthesizing gardenia. The "ugly" parts of the gardenia seem to have been replaced with sandalwood on all its sweet creaminess. It's interesting and I've been sort of attracted and repulsed at the same time. On some days it was quite easy to wear, and that's not a bad thing. But it ends up being just too much fantasy and too little flesh and blood . Even the green parts are over-saturated and end up on my skin smelling of cheap fruity shampoo. I guess it's the abstract fruit note (something tropical and apple-like, overripe and underripe at the same time) that does me in. I can deal with a lot, just not with that.
Gardenia Grand Soir ($95, 50ml) and the rest of the Parfumerie Generale line can be found at Luckysecnt.
Art: Gardenia by Louis Jr. on deviantart.com