Friday, March 09, 2012

The Promise of Spring in a Bottle, Guerlain Cruel Gardenia

I grew up in the Midwest and enjoyed all four seasons.  Although the richness and coziness of autumn was my favorite, spring held a close second in my heart.  How could a fragrance lover dislike the hundreds of fragrant, colorful flowers blooming in spring?  I recall tulips, lilacs, daffodils, lavender, hyacinth and magnolia, gifting my yard and my nose, reminding me that summer (and a break from school!) was on the way.  My grandmother adored roses and her rose garden the envy of her neighbors, featuring every species of rose you can imagine.  I moved west to the desert over a decade ago.  The ability to count on the sun shining daily has grounded me here but I do, at times, miss the nuances of the seasons back home, especially the spring flowers.

Spring in the desert entails two simple things around my home: first the scent of  lush, fragrant orange blossoms wafting through the air, and second longer days of balmy, sunny weather.  Once our triple digit heat sets in to torture us for a full five months, we long to return to these beautiful days so I make every effort to enjoy each last minute right now.  Rain, the hallmark of spring's entrance in most climes, eludes us. The blooms of my childhood favorite flowers cannot endure the rampant sun. In the absence of those lush lilacs, lilies, magnolia and roses I cling to my orange blossoms and a great floral fragrance to remind me of my youth. (Granted, I could plant some gardenia or roses in my yard, but a brown thumb prevents me from helping them survive!)

When I first tried Guerlain Cruel Gardenia from the L'Art et la Matiere collection, I at once returned to my childhood.  I recall sitting in my back yard with my dog, anticipating the scent of the surrounding gardens my mother had planted to grace my nose. No one scent overpowered the other as I studied blades of grass and soaked up long awaited sunrays.  Cruel Gardenia resembles just that quiet experience, the scent of flowers being carried on a breeze.  In its early development, neroli and peach escort the sun; bright, light and cheerful.  The stage is clearly set and remains on this light note, never darkening into a more sultry tone.  Instead, various blossoms tenderly embrace the nose over the course of wear including rose, gardenia, ylang ylang and violet. At moments I am reminded of other greenly floral fragrances like Chanel No. 19 or Gucci Envy, but I find disappointment in the fact that the gardenia never truly holds front and center.  Musk and sandalwood offer a nice base for the fragrance, but they certainly do not deepen it.  I was hoping for a take no prisoners gardenia, one that grabs hold of my attention and begs me to surrender.  But alas, this gardenia is never cruel, and only subtle.

I dabbed the sample on my skin and I realize a dab certainly has less impact than a spray.  Nonetheless, it lingered only for a few hours or so, again reminding me of those spring days of my youth.  The effect it leaves is that of a refined floral, very well constructed and not at all offensive.  If I could spray it with abandon maybe it would bring more pizazz?  I picture wearing this on a spring day when I want to feel pretty and remember those spring days of my youth, accessorized with pink lipstick and a crisp white shirt.  I do not hesitate to reference it "spring in a bottle" and a very expensive bottle at that.  Cruel Gardenia beats many department store, massly produced, often copied fruity florals that dominate the market lately.  (If only women would stop buying mediocre fragrances and substitute those with one Guerlain!) I find it utterly wearable and delicate. If gifted to me, I would gladly wear it; I just do not feel compelled to buy it. 

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia is available at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.  A 2.5 ounce atomizer spray retails for $250. 


jen said...

The cruelty is that the gardenia is not prominent. :(

ForTheLoveOfPerfume said...

Jen, you couldn't be more accurate about this one! I do still like it but the title deceives.

Marin Kovachev said...

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia is my favorite fragrance.The name may mislead but the flavor remains impressive.
Thanks for sharing. Very useful for me i will bookmark this