New from Cartier - 'La Panthère'
New from Cartier – ‘La Panthère’

It would be fair to say that I’m not a massive fan of Cartier’s perfumes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike them by any means but none of the ones that I have tried have blown me away or sent me reaching for my wallet. Enter Cartier’s latest feminine fragrance ‘La Panthère‘ – a perfume that has been created as a feline and feral take on gardenia that pays homage to the brand’s mascot.

Whilst La Panthère is a bit too modern and clean to be classified as an animalic in a way that would be pleasing to perfume lovers, I must admit that I really enjoy its more abstract take on the gardenia flower and it calls to mind the bright sunlight of fragrances such as Elie Saab Le Parfum and Amyris Femme. To read my full review of Cartier’s latest scent, please click here to head on over to Escentual.com.

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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?

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday by JaxAble on Deviantart

I don’t know about you but it took me a long time to ‘get’ Serge Lutens. The line that is, not the man himself, I doubt there is anyone on the planet who can profess to ‘get’ Serge Lutens himself, but I digress. Yes, it took me a long time to understand why everybody raved about everything Lutens, there was just something about all of those thick-set, heavy orientals that simply didn’t click with me.

But alongside his dense orientals Lutens has a number of gothic florals (Iris Silver Mist, Tubéreuse Criminelle and Sarrasins etc) that really do speak to me and it wasn’t until I tried these that I felt compelled to convert and pray at the altar of Sergeism. It is this great love of Serge’s florals that made me so excited to try his latest exclusive offering, a perfume that focuses on a highly fragrant, yet elusive flower that yields no oil; the gardenia.

Une Voix Noire (A Black Voice) is the name of Uncle Serge’s essay on gardenia and it takes its inspiration from famous American jazz-singer Billie Holiday, or “Lady Day” as she was sometimes known. For the lady who wore gardenia flowers in her hair, Lutens and his olfactory-partner-in-crime Christopher Sheldrake have created a fragrance that evokes the odours of “jazz, drinks and the night, and, beyond all that, a troubling line of white gardenia-scented smoke.”

Truth or Dare
Madonna – The Candy Perfume Girl

This post should come with a disclaimer – I am a Madonna fan, or as I put it ‘a royal subject of her Madgesty’. I just can’t help myself – I love her music, I admire her immensely for doing everything a man can do but better (and for getting away with it), for doing a lot with average talent, heck even this blog is named after one of her songs, so yes it is fair to say that I kinda like the Queen of Pop. I am also a HUGE fan of white florals, which may lead you to think that I was destined to adore Madonna’s first perfume ‘Truth or Dare’, I mean after all how could I not be biased when one of my favourite icons releases a perfume that fits very nicely into one of my favourite genres?

The truth is that the release of Truth or Dare was quite nerve-wracking for me. First things first, there have been many rumours about a Madonna perfume over the years and it would be fair to say that she should have done it a long time ago, back when she was more of a leader and less of a follower. Secondly, aside from a few glorious exceptions (Rossy de Palma, Tilda Swinton and Sarah Jessica Parker etc.) celebrity perfumes tend to be naff, thoughtless concoctions created as a quick cash cow for whoever feels the need to put their name to one. But as news of Truth or Dare startled to trickle into the blogosphere my fears were put to rest and I was particularly encouraged by the fact that her perfume would be a Fracas inspired white floral – a genre that she is known to love.

Truth or Dare, Madonna’s first and long-awaited foray into the perfume market is created in conduction with Coty, it is also part of her new lifestyle/fashion brand of the same name and was developed by perfumer Stephen Nilsen (Donna Karan Gold, Hillary Duff With Love). With Truth or Dare Madonna was looking to create something personal that was an expression of herself and her love for perfume, but could also be accessible to others, she wanted “something classical and timeless and yet modern” [1]. It is aimed at women between the ages 25-45, with the main focus being on the 35-45 bracket, a fact that I find baffling seeing as Madonna is currently 53 (at the time of writing). Anyhoo, on to the fragrance…