Monday, October 15, 2007

Isabey Gardenia

Isabey Gardenia was created in 1924. It smells like an Aldehydic Floral to me, with its characteristic creamy-powdery quality, topped by slightly soapy-peachy notes. It was born just a few years after Chanel No.5 (1921), the first Aldehydic Floral which became the epitome of a style all others would emulate. Soon after No.5 came Caron Nuit de Noel (1922), Lanvin Arpege (1927) and this reissued classic by Isabey (Panouge). At first, I didn't like it because it instantly reminded me of Balenciaga Le Dix, Van Cleef & Arpels First and other violetty Aldehydic Florals, but today as I'm testing a generous sample sent to me by a friend, I'm getting a much more contemporary feel from it, very much in my mind like Jill Stuart Vanilla Lust crossed with Bill Blass Nude. All in all, I've grown to love the soft, easy-to-approach, comforting caramelly sweetness of this white floral blend.

To me, Gardenia doesn't smell so much like gardenia as it does frangipani or tiare (Tahitian gardenia) mixed with rose, vanilla and woody violets or perhaps apricots, though it is more floral than straight Gourmand. It boldly traces the outline of an austere classical scent like Madame Rochas or White Linen without fully going there (I do get some moss). I wonder if I layered Guerlain Metallica with Comptoir Sud Pacifique Tiare or my latest passion, Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, whether that might capture the essence of Isabey Gardenia. Maybe I'd need to cross it with a touch of Donna Karan Cashmere Mist or Chanel Allure to be exact. The original mouth-blown pearl bottle with handmade box must have been something to behold.

(Image: Isabey Gardenia bottle, circa 1920s,