A soliflore for a notoriously difficult flower. It smells like real gardenias, which I've come to realize, while beautiful and strange, may not necessarily translate well to fragrance. It's intoxicating and delicious but a bit buzzy.
To begin with, the name of this scent has nothing to do with its content, at least to my nose and to that of my partner.. I detect not a whiff of gardenia, velvet or otherwise.
What this does convey is that of a very light, slightly green, sweet spice accord (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.).
It has no sillage, but does possess longevity, staying quite close to the skin. Perfectly pleasant, but not outstanding in any way.
A more appropriate name for this would have been Spice Zephyr or some such combination of the actual effect of spices wafted on a light gentle breeze.
I wouldn't invest in a bottle on the basis of sheer economics, not enough pleasure for one's outlay.
Honestly, I think that any discussion of a realistic gardenia perfume has to start with the basic fact that actual gardenia flowers smell kind of gross, like a mix of stinky brie cheese and indoles. 99.9% of the gardenia perfumes out there are really just tuberose because almost everyone is afraid to release a realistic gardenia with its stink intact. The queen of the realistic gardenias is Jar's brutally cheesy Jardenia, but Tom Ford definitely gets points for a realistic portrayal, though he garnishes it much more with other elements.
His gardenia note is a filthy mix of indoles and stinky cheese with a shot of weird hot plastic running underneath. This is juxtaposed with tuberose and mint (so it simulates that point when a tuberose bouquet begins to rot and starts smelling minty) as well as jasmine and a sweet "grape drank" smell. It's a difficult smell - I can't deny that - but I like it, though it's fairly obvious why this one got discontinued. This must have been a tough sell.
In the beginning, when the gardenia is at its most abrasive, the grape and jasmine and mint go a long way to sweeten and tame it. As those elements fade, a rich base of vanilla and musk that kind of reminds me of Chanel comes in underneath. All in all, I think this is fantastically well done, challenging, and clever. And forward indoles smell great on me, so I'll cherish my sample...
I echo Sugaranda and Caltha's thoughts on this. If this is gardenia, it should be banned from perfumery. Yes I know all of this is, and should be, subjective, but this is vile. When I read that it had a mushroom note, which to me is earthy loamy and mellow with gardenia which to me is creamy, delicate and floral I thought "where do I get me some?" and promptly ordered a small(vile) vial from the sweet ladies at the Perfumed Court. When it arrived and I applied it, it has an intense incense that smells sharp and stale much like you would find in an old church that had wooden pews with old, old varnish. Acrid, stomach churning hideosity (yes I know it's not a word but so apt here). A sweetness that is much like my poor dog's ears when they get infected. Forgive the dreadful images here, but trust me when I say that they are mild compared with the fragrance itself. I have tried three Tom Ford fragrances and so far they have been jokes, especially for the price. I think he is a darling of the fashion industry and no one dares tell the emporer he's butt naked and his fragrances are none too pretty. Get Estee Lauder's Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia for a real beauty or Annick Goutal's Gardenia Passion for a truly buttery and gorgeous gardenia (yes I know it's built around tuberose, but many gardenia frags are. I also love, adore, and own (thanks to my beloved husband) the 6.8 oz Chanel Gardenia in the Exclusifs. When sprayed on clothes it develops over many hours and becomes more lovely by the minute, a real beauty. But run, don't walk, from this stomach churning monstrosity. A thousand thumbs down, down, down . . . .
What Mr. Ford has presented us here is a strikingly photo-realistic Gardenia rendition. Indolic, dark and almost intoxicatingly heady, it makes me feel slightly narcotic while fiercely smelling my wrists. I'm an addict now.