I really like this one - it's quite a thinker. You know how flowers smell beautiful, but there's always a little gross in there as well? Jasmine smells fantastic, but there's always that indolic smell of decay in the background. Lilies smell great, but there's a dirt smell in there as well. And gardenias smell fabulous, but also kind of like stinky cheese.
Imagine composing a perfume out of the ugly parts of flowers - all dirt and decay and stinky cheese. That's what Fleurs de Gardenia does. It then takes all that beautiful ugliness and spices it up with black pepper and a whiff of smoke and what smells like a hint of vetiver for piquancy and petitgrain to bring out the woodiness inherent in the weird ugly flowers. Meanwhile, a quiet milky tuberose hovers in the background, lending a quiet warmth that keeps things from getting too abstract and clinical.
The closest thing I've smelled to this is Jar's legendary Jardenia, but that's realism exaggerated into surreality, while Fleurs de Gardenia is a full deconstruction of what flowers mean in perfumery, too precise to be surreal.
Overall, the result is brilliant as a piece of art: flowers that don't smell floral, spice without smelling spicy, and smoke with no fire. Fleurs de Gardenia breaks down dichotomies. The overall smell is brutalist (peppery, woody, dirty rotting plants and cheese), but somehow wearable and *almost* beautiful. Thumbs way up - I wish this got more notice than it does...
The new version:
The dominating impression throughout is indeed that on a gardenia-based composition, although it has a fruity component initially. The drydown remains distinctly floral, and apart from gardenia I get mainly lily-of-the-valley, a light whiff off rose and some jasmine. The base is woody in a somewhat unspecific way with hints of a soft patchouli. Although floral in its core, on my skin this is not a sweet scent, unlike, for instance, Robert Piguet's recent Gardenia.
The performance is good, with adequate silage, reasonable projection and six hours of longevity on my skin. Whilst not not particularly original, it is well-blended of good-quality ingredients and thus just makes it to a positive score. 3/5.
A crisp, slightly green & soapy white floral, more muguet than gardenia to my nose. lt's very soft, & fades fast after around three hours. l never got a chance to try the older version, but this one was disappointing to me.