I don’t consider myself a white floral lover but maybe I’m wrong. I think I’m not because I dislike (usually) anything resembling gardenia and jasmine and I mostly hate ylang ylang. Or so I think. My reason for disliking gardenia and jasmine (soliflores in particular) is because both notes remind me of people from my past that I don’t like. I’ll never wear Serge Lutens A La Nuit. Ever. A La Nuit is a beautiful airy jasmine but I could never handle it on my skin for more than 11 minutes. Of the gardenia fragrances I’ve tried, and believe me, it’s not a long list, I think Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia is pretty good. Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia is grossly true to the actual flower and makes me shudder. Annick Goutal’s Gardenia Passion doesn’t smell like gardenia to me nor do I like it and I generally love everything from Goutal.
Strange Invisible Perfumes takes it’s name from Shakespeare, a line from Antony and Cleopatra: "From the barge a strange invisible perfume hits the sense of the adjacent wharfs." Strange Invisible Perfumes (SIP) hooked me on two of their tuberose fragrances, namely Narcotic and Heroine. At the moment, SIP is only making Narcotic and Heroine in pure parfum, not edp, which is frustrating because I get the most from SIP scents when I can hose myself down like I’m on fire and need extinguishing. Because I’ve grown to love the trademark strangeness of SIP scents, I had a hunch I’d like Epic Gardenia even though it’s dedicated to gardenia, my floral nemesis.
As expected, Epic Gardenia begins with some strangeness, but it’s not the usual musty medicinal stench, I think it’s an easier start than most fragrances from SIP. Others have called Epic Gardenia “humid” and I can see this, there’s a similarity between Epic Gardenia, Amaranthine and Manoumalia in their damp tropical quality.
Epic Gardenia reminds me of wilted rotting water from a 5 day old vase of flowers that hasn’t been refreshed. When you’re channeling your inner Martha Stewart you change the water in a floral arrangement every day or two. When you forget, the flowers don’t last as long and you find a vase full of stinky water. You might think I’m being disparaging or describing why Epic Gardenia is awful. I’m not. I love Epic Gardenia. It’s the only gardenia fragrance I can wear and I have been wearing it for months. Epic Gardenia does smell like gardenia blooms but these imaginary blossoms are much less sweet, cloying and heady than what I deem to be the typical gardenia note in perfumery. Epic Gardenia’s gardenia note is tempered with an undercurrent of green earthy musk and there’s an obvious bergamot thread throughout. To enjoy Epic Gardenia I think one needs to practice suspension of disbelief. Actually, to enjoy most SIP fragrances you need a healthy suspension of disbelief; you can’t force the scent to conform to your typical ideals of what a perfume should smell like. If you are able to maintain an open mind, I find the majority of SIP scents will come around and surprise you. The rotting vegetation subsides after about 20 minutes (either this or I just stop noticing it) and Epic Gardenia blooms into the most lush, velvety gardenia note I have ever not disliked. It is sweet, but it’s not cloying or heady or “too much” of anything on me. I can’t even complain about its longevity. The sillage is quiet, of course, being an all natural/botanical perfume, but as long as I spray myself wet, and take care to spray a little on my clothing, I find it lasts at least 5 hours.
Before you ask, I have never tried SIP’s now long gone scent called Lady Day. As I mentioned, it’s a fluke that I even tried Epic Gardenia, given my disinterest in gardenia, so I missed the boat on Lady Day, which might be for the best.
Epic Gardenia is my #1 favorite gardenia scent and my favorite among the somewhat new “humid, tropical” category. I’ve been wearing it so often this year that I neglect to notice its strangeness, maybe it isn’t even odd, and maybe it’s just completely beautiful.
Coincidentally, Epic Gardenia is available at Beautyhabit.com for 25% off with the code Oprah until August 13th. Otherwise it’s $175 for 50 ml. I’m tinkering with the idea of buying another bottle. I’m going through mine at an alarmingly fast rate. Which shouldn't be alarming, it's a good thing, because in theory, I want to drench myself in my perfumes and enjoy every whiff.
PS: explanation for the above pic... Epic Gardenia reminds me of Fantasy Island. When I was a kid I loved staying up late on Saturday Night to watch Fantasy Island (and Love Boat) when sleeping over my friend's house. I suppose Alexandra Balahoutis is too young to recall this, so she couldn't have been invoking Fantasy Island when she created this one.