The Elusive Gardenia – The Body Shop English Dawn White Gardenia Perfume Review

English Dawn White Gardenia
English Dawn White Gardenia

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – The Body Shop create decent and easy to wear perfumes at a phenomenally good price. They don’t perhaps approach the art of olfaction with as much gusto as their high street competitors Lush do, but they do know how to put together an enjoyable fragrance that doesn’t blow your socks off or your wallet up. In a world where many expensive perfumes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, this is a refreshing quality to have.

That said, The Body Shop doesn’t always get it right and their latest launch ‘English Dawn White Gardenia‘ is one such occasion (I’ve given the game away here, haven’t I?). Created to capture “the bouquet of hundreds of White Gardenia petals blowing gently in the first light of dawn”, this limited edition spring fragrance joins The Body Shop’s Voyage Fragrance Collection – a series of perfumes that take one on a whistle stop tour of the world via the medium of scent.

Capturing the hedonistic scent of the gardenia is a pretty tricky feat, especially seeing as the flower itself is incredibly elusive when it comes to giving up its scent. Most fragrances that boast ‘gardenia’ as a note are reconstructions – olfactory jigsaw puzzles that piece together the flower’s most distinctive scent with a number of floral notes and crafty raw materials. Very few perfumes actually achieve the full gardenia effect (so far I’ve only come across Estée Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Arquiste’s Boutonnière No. 7 that manage it), so the big question is – does The Body Shop succeed in achieving gardenia photorealism?

The English Dawn White Gardenia Collection
The English Dawn White Gardenia Collection

“The sun rises to a chorus of birdsong as the delicate scent of the white gardenia flower drifts through the air, caught on the morning breeze. We capture this unique moment in this glorious, lively fragrance which contains notes of white gardenia and Community Fair Trade organic alcohol made from sugarcane.”

The Notes

Top: Bergamot
Heart: Tuberose and White Gardenia
Base: Sandalwood

How Does it Smell?

Well the short answer is ‘no’. English Dawn White Gardenia is not a gardenia per se, but it is a white floral that just so happens to be as bright and dawn-like as the description would hope. The perfume starts with fresh and lively top notes of blackcurrant and bergamot. Right from the outset it presents itself as a floral from the ‘Herbal Essences’ school of thought, meaning that it would feel more at home scenting a shampoo than it does as a wearable fragrance.

As it settles, The Body Shop’s ode to the elusive gardenia flower becomes a creamy white floral with accents of green grass, dewy petals and sunshine. Like yesterday’s Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, English Dawn White Gardenia boasts an ambiguous blend of flowers that is a little bit jasmine-like with hints of tuberose and lily of the valley. It also stays pretty fresh for the majority of its development and that creamy feel never really grows into anything delicious or enveloping and at times can come across as more than just a little bit thin.

In the base, English Dawn White Gardenia relies quite heavily on a sturdy bed of musks that provide a radial effect allowing for a good degree of oomph to boost those creamy white flowers. There’s a touch of darkness hiding in the background too – a sort of subtle vetiver effect that gives the impression of petals and buds sniffed at close range. Like a lot of things within this fragrance, the darker aspects could have been explored further or accentuated to make for something altogether more textured and contrasting. If that were the case the whole thing would feel less ‘shampoo’ and more like a luxury product.

For the price, English Dawn White Gardenia is an enjoyable floral and it would be fair to say that I would much rather encounter this one in the street than the majority of low priced celebrity fragrances or sticky fruit messes that seem to be incredibly popular at the moment. That said, I can’t get over the niggling voice in my head that says that a perfume with ‘gardenia’ in the title, really should smell like gardenia and the cheesy, mushroomy indole that makes this flower so wonderful is entirely AWOL in this scent. Perhaps if they called it ‘English Dawn White Flower’ I’d be more inclined to like it? Who knows!


The Body Shop’s English Dawn White Gardenia is available in Limited Edition Eau de Toilette (50ml for £15) and Fragrance Mist (100ml for £7.50). A matching shower gel and body lotion are also available.

Samples, notes and quotes via The Body Shop. Image 1 via Image 2 via