Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals aka Kate Middleton's Tabula Rasa



In a world full of perfume compositions dedicated to the concept of the sacred, Illuminum White Gardenia Petals tells a different story of what spiritual purity means in olfactory speak compared to many that came before it: Caron Parfum Sacré with its "soulful" (perhaps historically meaningful to its perfumer) interpretation of the Roman Catholic mass, for instance, or the heady cistus labdanum burnt as incense offering as part of the ancient art of kōdō. Illuminum is an independent line of fragrances by Michael Boadi whose other line of fragrances, Boadicea the Victorious, was made famous by Mrs. Obama (PINK MANHATTAN reviewed one of her 3 favorite fragrances, Boadicea the Victorious Delicate, on August 02, 2009). What makes Illuminum White Gardenia Petals special enough to have been chosen as Kate Middleton's royal wedding day perfume? The answer came to me the moment I breathed in the scent of White Gardenia Petals: English (or common) bluebell.

To me, Illuminum White Gardenia Petals doesn't have enough white floral sweetness, nor coconutty goodness, to properly call it a white floral perfume in a tropical sense, although if you could smell through the thick veil of laundry detergentesque musk, you can find these notes. They are subversive and only meant to imply, hint at, the truth of the matter; to most people, I believe the overall impression is that of the most ubiquitous musk scent, feather light and soapy clean, as comforting as browsing through a drugstore makeup aisle, so reminiscent of women doing "wifely duties" such as cooking and cleaning, it can be found along the Bible Belt in such places as Kroger, nestled along the cash register, humbly packaged as "Rain". And what is rain but a mess of filth? It's best not to overthink the implication of having women wear scents that teach them to remain small and humble, never to build self-esteem but rather to be grateful to wear dirt as a reminder of their secondary status.

But such an interpretation is not to say Rain, or White Gardenia Petals, are unworthy perfumes to discuss; on the contrary, Kate Middleton had chosen the most perfect fragrance for the occasion because of its Protestant character (also see Protestant Reformation). The soul of Protestantism is tabula rasa, freedom from the restraints of the Old World. Thus, the bride and her pristine sillage bringing to mind one of the most mythical yet "traditionally British" scents, that of the bluebell, sends a clear message of being born again, without the bondage of bloodlines and fate but in spirit alone. It makes sense to me that when I had done some market research for the launching of my own humble (and shall remain so at this point) fragrance creation, that my then-audience in Japan (from my TV / radio days) wrote to me saying they associated America with musk. With high-pitched, ethereal notes of piercing greenery characterizing both the white musk and the bluebell (lily of the valley and lilac/hyacinth, respectively), perhaps these notes are most closely related without having to come from the same genus.