I grew up in Virginia, and all the summers of my childhood, I smelled the intoxicating scent of gardenias wafting through our home. My grandmother planted gardenia bushes close to the house: north, south, east and west. At night, when the windows were open, I could smell the heavy aroma of gardenias in almost every room, upstairs and down. Even the “industrial-strength” metal fan I always had blowing at full speed in my direction (an excellent mosquito deterrent) could not disperse the smell of gardenia. Since leaving home, I’ve always had gardenia plants wherever I’ve lived: in balmy L.A. and here in the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle, I have my gardenias in pots I can move — in summer I can bring them under my bedroom window, in winter they can be rushed into the garage when a cold spell hits town. Let’s call me a Gardenian.
I was excited to try Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7* (with its touted “gardenia jasminoides” — the gardenia most people are familiar with — and “gardenia citriodora”). I have never smelled a perfume (or soap, or candle…) that captures the true, complex scent of gardenia (I somehow missed Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia that everyone raves about), but I always hope for a miracle.
Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7 opens with a burst of fleshy white flowers (not gardenia, but jasmine); the flowers are sweet, mildly indolic and have an undercurrent of woodiness. As the fragrance quickly develops, I detect a soft “orange peel” note, a gentle touch of “smoke” (the vetiver?) and oak moss. Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7 plays nicely on skin: after I sprayed the fragrance on, I detected indoles on my left hand, orange peel on my right hand, and vetiver and flowers on my wrists; this fragmentation makes for an interesting experience, and all the perfume’s notes work together to create a “happy,” sunny, summertime vibe. Boutonnière no. 7 dries down to a “fresh” (but creamy) white floral and smooth vetiver perfume.
Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7 can easily be worn by women, but how will men take to a jasmine/“gardenia” fragrance? (I’m betting, without any evidence, that women will buy this fragrance more than men.) Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7 contains excellent ingredients, has good lasting power, discreet sillage, and it does not smell old-fashioned (as its inspiration, “May 1899, Foyer of the Opéra-Comique, Paris,” could lead you to believe). As for me…the gardenia perfume I’ve been waiting for has not yet arrived.
Arquiste Boutonnière no. 7 Eau de Parfum is $195 for 55 ml (this price includes a M. de PHOCAS ‘gardenia’ stick-pin/boutonniere and knotted-silk cufflinks). For buying information, see the listing for Arquiste under Perfume Houses.
*Perfumer: Rodrigo Flores-Roux; listed notes of bergamot, lavender, mandarin, gardenia jasminoides, gardenia citriodora, genet absolute, vetiver, oak moss.