While evolution often follows challenge and crisis, few will admit that a sign that you have truly evolved is when your life, all of a sudden, has everything you dreamed of, sans the drama. Strangely enough, I find myself today, the scheduled launch date of my grand gardenia soliflore GiGi to be quite lacking any deeply emotional stories tales related to this dramatic floral note.
Where to begin? Perhaps the name choice. It is in reference to the musical of that name, starring the youthful, innocently tomboyish Leslie Caron. Somehow, the sentence about “making love in a gardenia scented garden” is the only thing from the film that got stuck in my mind forever and that’s where the name came from... While I can’t say there is anything un-romantic about it, in that context it seems so overtly dramatic to the point of ridicule. Which is precisely the direction I was heading for - lighthearted even if a bit mysterious (you can’t avoid that with gardenia!); rather than the Bluesy, Billie-Holiday-esque gardenia ornaments, a gardenia that is open to your own interpretation, with a mood that is easy to manipulate.
The focus here is on creating a rich, creamy gardenia from complex natural essences only. A true challenge indeed, when you cannot use Benzyl acetate; not to mention (E)-ocimene, linalool, asmine lactone, or gamma-decalactone (used to create gardenia headspace).
Instead, I have created an odour profile reminiscent of gardenia using the following notes:
Yellow Mandarin - chosen for it’s intense heady-floral aroma, reminiscent of creamy tuberose
Coriander essential oil and Cardamom CO2 - for their exotic spiciness, adding a hint of spice to the gardenia profile
Kewda Attar - for the sharpness, headiness, and hyacinth-like top notes that are somewhat resembling the head notes of gardenia
Rosewood - chosen for the abundance of linalol content, creating that smooth and soft, clean yet heady floral top notes.
For the heart notes I created a rich, creamy white-floral-indolic accord, using precious absolutes of:
Jasmine Sambac - the closest I’ve ever found to the scent of fresh gardenia, persistent, and somewhat green and fruity all at once
Jonquille - richly indolic, powdery, animalic and sweet, somewhat green as well
Tuberose - creamy, soft, suave and very close to gardenia absolute (which is a rare find that turns out only very rarely).
As for the base - the trick was to not overdo it as to not overpower the delicate floral heart, while extending the life of these fragile notes. I’ve chosen notes that complement the other ones, but are also rich and soft and subtle:
Myrrh - adding a hint of bittersweetness, which is very important in a gardenia.
Sandalwood from India - from the very last batch I was able to obtain; sandalwood trees in India are becoming extinct, and hence GiGi will probably not be around for too long... At least not in its exact current form - as other sandalwoods do smell different and are less creamy and deeply rich.
Ambrette CO2 - adding depth and a soft muskiness, sweet but not cloying, and adding an effect that is reminiscent of Monoi de Tahiti on a sun-warmed skin.
Vetiver from Sri-Lanka - contributing to the sun-warmed skin and beach notes in the dry out phase.
Vanilla CO2 and Absolute - for a round, soft sweetness.
GiGi is available for a limited time only (until my sandalwood runs out!!!), in the 1/4oz parfum extrait flacons, or parfum oil roll-on bottles, and of course the 1ml sample vials so you can try before you buy.