Gardenia Update

I haven’t had much time to blend the last few days, but I did make a few more adjustments to gardenia. I decided against the additional balsamic ingredient I tried in it, and instead I increased the sandalwood to give the extra oomph in the base that it needed. I may take out the beeswax after all to cut sweetness, but the beeswax should be nice in Jour Ensoleille. I increased the ambrette seed a little more in gardenia because it helps bring out the little nutty sandalwood aspect in the base and because it’s relatively dry. I really like this mod — it has much more oomph, which solves the problem that had been worrying me. I’ll test it the next few days and see if it is ready to share and if the sandal is optimized now (I’m comparing a couple little variations on the sandal accord in it).

The gardenia opens with a true gardenia and gradually the jasmine and tuberose come out more, and then as time goes on the orange blossom lasts the longest, but the gardenia notes do persist at a softer level. It has a little stronger woodsy base than I’d envisioned, but I think that helps make it more substantial and I prefer that to a vanillic base or a balsamic salicylate-rich base. I’ll have to decide if Gardenia Musk is still the best name for it when it’s done. I’m also still waiting on a kilo I need for this formula.

I have a little trial pot of some tobacco flowers in bloom on my porch, grown from seed as an experiment. Their scent is strongest in the evening and they’re interesting since I’ve never tried them before.

Making progress on things and hope to have the paperwork project under control before too much longer. We’ll have to have a party on the blog when gardenia is done, lol. 🙂

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  1. Hurray – you’re close to finishing!!! Oomph is good….
    BTW – My little Jasmin Sambac which has been looking sad all summer with only 1-2 blooms towards the end of the spring, suddenly set tons of little buds last week and is now blooming happily away. It must qualify as a bonzai by now since I’ve had it for over 10yrs and still lives in a 6-in pot, LoL! I’ve been gathering the little fallen blooms, storing them in a baby food jar in the fridge, and taking the jar out a few times each day to get a whiff of that “indolic” scent. Heaven on earth….
    Have a nice day!

  2. I love those little sambac plants too! Enjoy yours while it’s blooming, they do smell so good! Time for me to order a new one from Logee’s; I’ve been without for a few years. You’re doing great to keep one going for 10 years!

    Just tried the two gardenia mods this morning and prefer the one with extra sandal and no beeswax, but I’d still like to cut sweetness in the opening 30 minutes. I’ll try a little less tonka and little more green note (I’m not using the sharper ozonic types of greens for freshness because they tend to bother me, but I have a couple softer green notes in it that I can try to pull up more at the start).

  3. Hi Laurie:
    Sounds like you’re making great progress on the Gardenia! And not that you’re asking, but less sweet is always good with me! LOL! I’m not so much a fan of bitter green, but more of dry scents like chypres (RIP).

    Also, I thought I’d alert you that Carol at just reviewed Champagne de Bois and loved it!!

    I’m still making my way through the samples you sent, so I’ll let you know my impressions soon.


    1. Hi Donna,

      Oh, thanks for telling me, I hadn’t seen that! It does sound like the green side of the vetiver came out more on her towards the start, though she got the same labdanum/sandalwood heart that most people do. Glad she liked it! One aldehyde has a soft orangy component to it that probably contributed to her citrus impression near the start. Here’s a link for anyone who would like to check it out:

      Yes, I think I’ve had a breakthrough on gardenia the last few weeks and it’s finally about there. I just ran it through its paces a second time and actually there’s enough green in the first 20 minutes as part of the gardenia accord, but then from the 20 or 30 minute mark until the end of the first hour I’d like less sweetness, so I’ll try reducing tonka. Then the drydown gets yummy with sweet sandalwood, musk, and soft florals. It’s a much more floral scent than champagne.

      No kidding on RIP for chypres. I think current mass market tastes may have influenced that almost as much as IFRA rules, and I’m hoping as the industry realizes that people do miss real moss maybe more attempts will be made to save the old chypre tradition in addition to creating new types of modern chypres.

      1. Laurie:
        I’m pretty underwhelmed with the “modern” chypres I’ve tried. Stripped down patchouli just smells weird, but not a substitute for oakmoss! I have a redhead’s milky white complexion and uber-sensitive skin, and oakmoss has never bothered me at all. I can’t say the same for lemon, clove and cinnamon though!

        I’d love for you to create a true chypre since you’re using the “new” oakmoss – something dry and sophisticated like the old Mitsy, Femme or even the old Givenchy III (haven’t tried the new version). I think with the buzz created on the blogs and boards, you’d have a sell out!

  4. Hi Laurie,

    Speaking of chyphres, when I began exploring scents back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I noticed a lot of perfumes that began as floral or spicy, then dry down to a scent texture I’d describe as “dry” or “brittle.” Most of them seem to fall under the category of chypres: Paloma, Donna Karan, Diva, Knowing, First, and the original Nina (which I read contains oak moss) – the last 2 are among all-time favorites. Granted some of the woods at the base may have contributed to that too.
    In my 20s and 30s, I tended to veer away from scents with an extreme amount of that type of brittle drydown and opted for the smoother, powdery styles like Chamade or Apres L’Ondee. Now that I’ve “matured” I’ve also come to appreciate (not all but) a lot of these scents, among my favorites is Sisly’s Eau du Soir and was lucky to acquire a bottle while in Paris a while ago.

    Anyway – Jour Ensoleille is a chyphre (yes?), so I’m really looking forward to trying it once you have it reformulated. You had mentioned in a previous post that you have some of the original in store. Would there be enough to decant some samples for us to play against the newer version?

  5. Hi Donna and Ann,

    I love vintage parfum of Mitsouko and Femme, and I like Chamade too. It’d be really fun to make a deep, rich, old style chypre using the new low atranol moss but with higher amounts of it, plus other ingreds that help the moss impression. I think the low atranol is less of an issue than the level of restriction, but I’d have to experiment to see if that’s true.

    Donna, I’m not a fan of modern chypres either, at least as a replacement for the traditional ones. I’d like to see a place for both.

    Ann, I just have a couple ml left of original Jour so I’m hanging onto it while I do the reformulation, but after I’m done I’ll have a bit left over to possibly send a few partial vials out to testers to compare. I’m hoping the new will be better, smoother, and with a stronger hay note, but we’ll see.

    A trip to Paris sounds fun, especially when perfume hunting is part of it! 🙂

  6. Laurie:
    I’m anti-establishment at heart, so I’d say go ahead and use however much oak moss you want! After all of the hulabaloo about it, when an offender was found by the IFRA (they randomly tested 50 products from ’08 to ’09 out of what? tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?), it turns out they have no power to do anything! According to a French article about it, the “punishment” is to name the offending company and denounce them! LOL!!! Octavian blogged about it in mid-July on his blog,

    Cynic that I am, I fear that the big perfume companies didn’t fight this absurdity because it gave them a great excuse to use the cheaper and more easily obtainable synthetics. And if the perfume companies also happen to own stock in the chemical companies, well…. those molecules are patented, unlike oak moss or jasmine absolute.

    I also love Chamade. A bottle of the extrait was my birthday present to myself last year. This year it was a bottle of Champagne de Bois! BTW, I’ll be ordering a second bottle as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law. She went crazy over it when I saw her, and she’s never commented on my perfumes before.

  7. Hi Donna,

    I think companies are probably more afraid of lawsuits by people who may have allergic reactions. You have to carry product liability insurance when you sell fragrance, and insurance companies require you to follow the current accepted safety standards in your field. It’s easy for insurance companies and people who bring lawsuits to argue that IFRA levels are commonly accepted standards, so fragrance companies generally comply w/ IFRA, partly to be sure they have product liability insurance. Hope something can be worked out someday with warning labels instead. (Your other reasoning comes into the picture too, of course, but the insurance and lawsuits issues are additional ones.)

    Great to hear about Champagne — glad your SIL liked it too! 🙂

    Hi Jo!

    Thanks! Yes, I just have a small pot, but the plants are big and producing big fragrant white flowers. They’re fun! The leaves and flower stalk ends have an interesting scented sticky coating too (my non-scientific term, lol). Hope all’s well with you!

    1. Drats! I grew nicotiana plants one year and don’t recall any scent. But then, I don’t think I ever bother to smell assuming at the time they were scentless… I bought them thinking they were relatives of the petunia plant, but then, once full-grown, didn’t resemble petunias at all, LoL!
      Have a lovely weekend.

      1. I think there are lots of kinds of nicotiana and some may not have much fragrance. Also, with the one I have, you might not notice the scent unless you sniff it in the evening when the scent is much stronger (during the day I notice the scent of the sticky leaves more than the flowers, but the flower fragrance comes out in the evening). I’m no expert though — this is my first try with them! When I pick them in the evening and put a few in a vase the fragrance does last, which is nice.

        Hope you have a great weekend too!

  8. You’ve been writing about that darn beeswax in the base of the new gardenia mod for months, getting me all interested in how it’s going to smell, and now you’re threatening to yank it out! 😉

    But I’m getting all jittery and eager to experience what you’re coming out with now. The Tabac Aurea was such a complex and intelligent ride, and it sounds like your gardenia will be much the same.

  9. Hi Nathan! Yes, I know, I had my heart set on the beeswax in it too. I’m not sure yet, but I may need to choose between the beeswax and the tonka, or at least much reduced tonka, because I don’t have room for more sweetness now that I’ve pulled up the sweet sandal basenotes. I’m giving myself a couple days off from sniffing gardenia and then will try again and see how the sweetness seems.

    I think the beeswax will be wonderful in Jour Ensoleille because I want to enhance the hay note in that and I have room for sweetness in it since it has mossy and green notes that counter sweetness. I may try that tonight…

    Thanks for input! I hope to be ready to send testers out before too long.

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