Some fragrances are dominated by the creamy and hypnotic facet that gardenia shares with tuberose (Tuberose Gardenia by Estée Lauder Private Collection, the beautiful Gardenia by Isabey, Gardenia Passion by Goutal), or bright and elegant gardenias dominated by with jasmine (L'Air du Temps), or cold, metallic, translucent gardenias, based on aldehydes (Eternity by Calvin Klein, Chanel's Gardenia, Jardin de Bagatelle by Guerlain), or ozonic gardenias, wet from dew and salt (Goutal's Un Matin d'Orage). Gardenia, in perfumery, more than a flower is an excuse to talk about something else.
I do not know all available gardenia scents, but so far only a very old "Gardenia" by GiViEmme (... from the beginning of century!) made the sensual, narcotic flower materialize before my eyes. And then, recently, Lady Day by Maria Candida Gentile. Although Lady Day highlights the greener facets of the flower (stirallile acetate was associate with Galbanum, a rough and angular resin that, when used in the right context and in appropriate doses provides great character), the flower comes to mind in all its glorious complexity. This is because Maria Candida complemented stirallile acetate and galbanum with a real gardenia absolute (of prohibitive cost), achieving a very natural result. This fragrance is dedicated to Billie Holiday, who was very fond of this flower, and I liked the fact that Maria Candida decided to emphasize the angular, green, rough, character instead of the hypnotic sensuality of her voice, which might turn out an easier, less interesting exercise.
The feeling is powerfully floral, elegant, translucent, natural and lasts a few hours remaining somewhat close to the skin. She took more three years to compose it: the first time she told me of her new "Gardenia work" was during a dinner, in autumn 2010; she'll tell us everything about this (and her other scents) during next Olfactory Meeting, on March 12.
I have three samples to give to three people commenting with their thoughts on Billie Holiday and/or gardenia: I'll draw the names next Thursday!