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Best Gardenia Perfumes for Women and maybe men!

Updated on September 12, 2012
Billie Holiday loved the gardenia flower
Billie Holiday loved the gardenia flower

Gardenia perfumes are tricky because, well, gardenia flowers are tricky. White floral, they are lush, ripe, and put off an amazing scent, especially in the outdoors and especially at night. Put a gardenia in a glass of water before you go to bed, set your alarm for sometime in the middle of the night. It's more likely the smell of the gardenia will wake you up before the alarm goes off. Gardenia embodies everything that is right in its smell, it takes in all of life. An aching sweetness, some very dirty, earthy underpinnings, a green vibrance.

Finding the gardenia perfume that fits you will tell you much about yourself and what you find important in that mix. No judgment in that statement, it's just a cool journey. It's even better if you repeat the process every year or two because it will change.

Gardenia, if you are going for something authentic, will have a little bleu cheese note on the open, it's a little fecal, and it brings the earth's dirt smell with it. There is an earthiness, a loamy mushroom thing going on with the gardenia that, once you appreciate it, you will have a hard time smelling a gardenia perfume again that makes gardenia, um, polite and ladylike.

I'm discarding a lot of good gardenia perfumes for this list because they are more safe, they blend in plenty of jasmine and tuberose to do away with the somewhat offensive parts of the gardenia. I made this list without regard to cost or availability. Some of these are discontinued - well,probably most of them. Hmmm, maybe they are discontinued because they weren't very safe in the gardenia perfume world. Well, I don't care, they are awesome gardenia perfumes if you want your gardenia to smell like the flower that Billie Holiday tucked in her hair before every performance. These are Gardenia Perfumes with Soul.

Tuvache Jungle Gardenia - old perfume, discontinued, you can still find it on eBay. Amazing, dense, chewy gardenia. Once you smell it, you will recognize it everywhere you smell it from that point forward. It bangs you over the head like perfumes did back in the time it was made, all tropical sweet gardenia. Allegedly Elizabeth Taylor wore it when she was filming Cleopatra. Make sure it's the Tuvache. There are other versions made now that I have no idea how they smell.

Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia - also now discontinued, but you can still find it. The Bleu Cheese note at the open is so awesome! I can't believe I used to hate this. It's an acquired taste. This thing will make your toes curl as you are both repulsed and amazed. Stay with it, it gets so much better. Well, not as feral, anyway, though I love that over the top quality.

JAR Jardenia - I almost didn't put this on the list. It's still available, but only at a JAR boutique at Bergdorm Goodman in NYC or the JAR boutique that you can barely find on Rue de Castiglione in Paris, but it's a great gardenia. Not as bleu cheesy as Velvet Gardenia, but it's sharper, with more loam, earthier.

Ajne Fleur Blanche - also very expensive ($135 for 1/2 ounce), but a beautiful rendition of gardenia from a natural perfumer, lush, little loamy, a just a touch smoky. The price is worth it if this is the gardenia perfume that resonates with you.

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia - this goes in, not because I think it's a realistic gardenia, but it has some good elements of it, and it's a really beautiful gardenia-tuberose perfume. The gardenia doesn't get all covered over by the tuberose, and it just works as a gardenia perfume, but I still wish there were more mushroom.

Isabey Gardenia - it goes in for the same reason the Estee Lauder version does, it's beautiful, though I won't call it a realistic gardenia perfume. If you just find all the reality of the gardenia too much and you want the less real bits, this is a great choice. It's a great choice for a perfume regardless.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lady Day - I really shouldn't put this in here, but I can't help it. It's discontinued, it had its name changed to Untitled for unknown reasons, and,well, it's just gone, which is a travesty. Also from a natural perfumer. The open is amazing, it's the burst of almost crystal orangeness that's unbearably bright, and it just consumes your senses. Not the truest gardenia as it dries down, but it is haunting.

You can try a perfume sample of these gardenia perfumes and many others at Surrender to Chance - perfume samples and decants.


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    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Gardenia is one of the most intoxicating smells. For me, it conjures up those hot, steamy summer nights in the south, when you're watching fireflies dance around while you're half dreaming and half awake. Like fireflies, it's hard to capture that scent in a bottle.

      I enjoyed learning about your preferences.