First, winner of last week’s draw for the grabbag of samples, plus the two Montale samples and the Ineke Evening Edged in Gold sample is Pavlova! Just hit the contact us button over there on the left and let me know your address and I’ll get it out to you!
There are as many opinions about what scents should be as, well, there are people in the world who can smell. When March and I were in NYC and got a quick spritz of the new Guerlain Cruel Gardenia, she went “meh,” but warmed up more to it as it dried out, but I immediately went “squee” and and fell head over heels in love with it the longer it was on. Notes of gardenia, soft white musk, damask rose, peach, neroli, violet, ylang-ylang, tonka bean, vanilla and sandalwood. If you’re looking for a full-on roquefort gardenia, move along, nothing to see here. While there is enough gardenia in it that you will believe it exists in there, this is just a smooth, velvety beauty. There’s a very faint, sharp gardenia bleu chese tang early on to remind you what it was supposed to be, but it moves to the back of the fragrance bus the rest of the way through the journey, always present, never above a whisper. Tonka bean, musk and vanille smooth out the composition like whiskey hitting your belly, warming you to this absolutely gorgeous scent.
Over time, I’ve fallen in love with all of the Matiere line, I think they are brilliant and will join the Guerlain classics, but they will be taken as a group because there is something about each that needs the others, but still stands alone. Each of them is … well, a beautiful perfume. I wear perfume to make me think or feel or remember, but many times I just want to wear something that trills behind me with a gorgeous wake and makes me feel like a little bit lovelier human being than I feel most days — especially this week when I’ve felt a close kinship to the Bette Davis character in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.” I don’t find anything groundbreaking in Cruel Gardenia in terms of unusual use of notes or a completely new treatment of gardenia, and it really isn’t cruel in the least. But if you want a perfume that will bring you to a more beautiful you, you’d go a long way to find anything lovelier than this.
There’s been discussion over the last couple of years about Guerlain scents that didn’t survive or only survived for a short time. One theory is that the best survived and the others, while they might be quite good or interesting, got winnowed out. That may be true to some extent, but my belief is the more mainstream acceptable scents for their time survived – not saying at all that those that endured aren’t great and classic – and those that were made for the wrong time did not. Djedi belongs to a time yet to come. Voilette de Madame is from a time when women covered up and let their sexuality unfold in their wake as they walked by.
Take my much loved Fol Arome. From the moment I opened my little teensy sample of this, I was in love. Heliotrope and vanilla with some florals, there is a deep longing reaching up from the bottom of this scent for a more innocent time. Putting it on yanks me by the collar into my childhood, before I knew deliberate cruelty and callous disregard for the dignity of the human person, and it just makes me happy as no one has a right to be once they get past the age of 11. So was it winnowed out as weak? Perhaps it doesn’t have broad appeal, the kind that keeps it in production for a century, but it is a lost treasure that I will hold out hope for Guerlain to bring back for another run, even if it is a short one.
Is there a process of natural selection for perfumes that works? Or is it too dependent on the tastes of the time it was created and many great perfumes go by the wayside only because they were born too early or too late? What one perfume was made completely out of its time and needs to be brought back into existence?