Monday, January 4, 2010

SOTD: Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia (Quick sniff, and indecision)

Photo of a single gardenia blossom.
This is not a gardenia fragrance.

Yes, I realize that for everyone else, this is of course a gardenia fragrance. For me, it's a beeswax fragrance.

And the quest for my beeswax fragrance has been a long one. At first, I thought it was a quest for honey, and I bravely braved the urinous notes that honey fragrances produce on my skin, waiting through the drydown before concluding for each candidate that, no, that's not honey, that's - well, you know.

Photo of a cartoon bee with a pot of honey.I finally figured out that the goal was beeswax. And I found some adequate beeswax notes - one from L'Occitane, and some of the Possets honey fragrances. But most had that "cartoon" feel - you know what I mean? Fresh Lemon Sugar is cartoon lemon, for example. Actually, it's lemon verbena, and lemon verbena, the plant, is cartoon lemon. And CB I Hate Perfume Gathering Apples is cartoon apples. Sometimes I love this - I love the apples - but it's not what I wanted for my beeswax.

Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia has the right beeswax note. It may not be the best beeswax perfume that I'll ever encounter - it's certainly not the best one that's possible. I'd like my beeswax with more wood and less floral. I'd like the top notes lower-pitched. I'd like my beeswax perfume to reliably give me beeswax on every wearing instead of every other wearing. I'd like any number of things to be different.

But it's the best one I've found so far. And it's discontinued.  And it's horribly expensive. And right now, it's making me smell like melted butter flowers and beeswax.  Do I buy it?

Gardenia photo: By KENPEI. Wikimedia Commons.
Bee cartoon: By MielDeAbejas. Wikimedia Commons.
Honeycomb photo: By Merdal. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I tried this a long time ago (2008!) when my nose was even more neophyte than it is now, and I got a rotten, overblown floral quality and a dark and foetid mushroomy aspect. If there was a scent to capture the mysteriously decadent goings on in the novel The Magus, this would be it. A hot and sticky summer night, a dank cave, writhng limbs, maybe a bit of flagellation. Or that is what I thought then, and my sample is long traded away, so I cannot retest...

    I've heard people say they get blue cheese from this. Why, that involves a form of controlled decay!

  2. Yep, I've heard the blue cheese thing too. :) I get dairy - butter and cream - but no blue cheese. Maybe well-aged butter...

    And, yep, it is absolutely on the edge of Rotting Things. On my skin, sprayed, it doesn't fall over the edge, but that's another reason to hesitate before buying an expensive bottle - what if I change just a little and it does?

  3. Reading between the lines in your recent posts, I reckon we probably have very different skin. Yours sounds more robust and able to take unisex and generally stronger, spicier, more offbeat scents. I have been remotely diagnosed by Michelyn Camen, who writes for Fragrantica, as having "green and fresh" skin (she has a 12-way skin classification, you see, including - from memory - categories like "pungent", "animalic" and "milk"). As a "green and fresh" person, I have a lower tolerance for the dank, dirty and downright dangerous. Which is kind of a shame, really...

  4. I suspect so. I usually dislike anything light and floral - if it's light and fresh, it had better be emphatically green, or possibly minty, or have some bitter tea. Or something, to spice it up.

    And while I keep thinking that I'm starting to wear feminines, almost every scent that I love that I think of as feminine, is actually marketed as unisex. I don't know what makes a scent marketable as unisex, but it probably involves stronger or spicier notes.