Guerlain Cruel Gardenia appears by soon in its effective substance performing indeed immediately like a floral vegetal musk with tart fruity accents (grapefruit-like and yes pomegranate slightly conjuring) and a somewhat organic sensuality a la Acampora Seplasia possibly provided by hints of final ambergris as joined with sandalwood and dominant musk. I detect by soon a tart rose more than properly gardenia while in a second phase jumps on the stage a really nice note of violet perfectly combined with powdery woods and musk (and basically eliciting a sort of talky/organic "neutral-skin/like" undertone). The gardenia jumps up in the central phase (so cruel? Not properly), I would say just sensual, slightly sultry, musky/soapy, neutral and hyper-feminine. The tonka-beans/ylang-ylang musky accord provides a sort of exotic well rounded barely green-vanillic, spicy and tobacco-like undertone. The aroma is subtle, refined and classic in structure but too much close to dozens of fragrances out there to be fully interesting.
Nice and pleasant opening of rose and gardenia, with a fruity pomegranate note and an almost bittersweet touch like rose pepper or pimiento, a substantial dose of aldehydes, a nice green leafy feel and a earthy patchouli note (I know half of this it's not listed: still this is what I smell). Soft and cozy base of sweet sandalwood and white musks, soft and cozy as a freshly-cleaned super soft pillow – so nor creamy neither powdery. A bright, golden, elegant but lively and vibrant fragrance, quite multi-faceted – it has a slight spicy-saffron note, a super slight boozy hint, with herbaceous/natural and floral echoes, and just the right amount of synthetic which gives it the "right" shape, roundness, overall transparency and contemporaneity. Besides, it eventually emerges a peculiar and really interesting salty note which smells just like the skin of a woman wearing a scent under the sun, so there is "the scent" but also a hint of salty skin-sweat (I don't mean "bad-smelling" sweat, just that tiny translucent layer you have after having spent an afternoon under the sun - or... doing some other equally hot activities, if you get what I mean). Which gives a really sensual, materic skin-like shape to this. Good persistence and projection. Not a masterpiece given we're talking about Guerlain, but really good!
28th April, 2014 (last edited: 29th April, 2014)
I know what's cruel here. The price.
Cruel Gardenia opens with tonka bean and a hint of dry celery-like notes. Luckily the vanilly elements soften the celery notes considerably and Cruel Gardenia doesn't bring to mind the same thing AG Gardenia Passion does: stock cubes.
After a while the tonka notes have grown even stronger and the perfume seems to have two layers, the one with tonka and the other with faint dry wood/fougere notes. Tonka projects further away from the skin whereas the dry notes stay in the background with minimal sillage. There's a very edible honey note too.
At first I disliked the perfume because of the name -- I'm still unable to detect any gardenia notes. However, the character of the scent is similar to the smell of gardenia, if that makes any sense. It fills the air with its sweetness but is not cloying.
The first time I wore this, I couldn't detect any gardenia. The second time, I put on much more fragrance, and the gardenia was obvious. However, it isn't a lush, sultry gardenia. Rather, it is cold. Hence the name, I guess. However, I think it would be great for office wear. I like it for the range it provided in all the gardenia fragrances I've tried....with Jardenia at one end and this at the other.
The fragrance name simply doesn`t reflect it at all. Cruel gardenia is not a dark or difficult gardenia fragrance; instead, it`s a sunny powdery floral bouquet where the ligth aspect of gardenia flowers is hidden inside of it. You get at first the impression of citrus flowers, then a non indolic powdery white flower bouquet, and this sings on the skin for quite a long time. When i was not expecting gardenia anymore, i could detect it emerging from the powdery bouquet, a slightly sweet and fruity gardenia, similar to the one in Chinatown (altough Chinatown and Cruel Gardenia doesn`t have so much in common). The scent fades to a soft musky vanillic drydown and stays there the rest of the day. It doesn`t seem so linked with the idea of the line, but it`s a pretty lasting powdery scent with a touch of gardenia, and maybe this is the only cruelty of the fragrance, not using more gardenia.