Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, 2007

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Perfumer Harry Frémont

The gardenia at the opening of this perfume smells remarkably like the real deal. In the topnotes, the gardenia and the tuberose circle each other at a short distance, but each remains distinct. The topnotes, though, have one of the shortest half-lives ever found in perfumery. Very soon, a blended white floral with a large tannic note becomes dominant. The white floral is smartly non-specific. It remains unidentifiable, but gives a rounded, creamy quality that harkens back to the gardenia of the topnotes. I can’t quite make out whether the tannic quality and the creamy aspect of the floral balance or oppose each other, but I suspect that this duality is what holds together the almost ghostly frame of the gardenia illusion that lasts into the drydown.

What started as an olfacto-realistic gardenia note in the opening becomes an abstract distillation of a few of the elements that were apparently used to compose the gardenia note. There is a creaminess that implies the flower’s texture and the attractive/repulsive umami smell of the flower’s fragrance. We witness the taking apart of the gardenia that we’re given at the outset. The gardenia doesn’t fall apart, it is stripped before our eyes (noses.) The perfume transitions from a rather forceful prettiness to a tight-lipped handsomeness. An amazing exercise and a compelling scent.

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