Perfumed Letters

Reading the scent trail of fragrance and words

Stop and Smell the Gardenia



The gardenia and hydrangea were kind enough to bloom just in time for me to fill the house with bouquets before upcoming weeks of travel. Gardenia is one of those potent natural scents that I cherish in blossom but tend to avoid in perfume. To this nature-trumps-artifice category add peony, jasmine, and lily. I do spray my vacuum cleaner bags with the Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia edp I found for a song at a discount store; a  highly recommended  bit of housekeeping savvy for those who have perfume to spare, and a penchant for documenting acts of tidiness in subtle sillage.

Gardenia was a concept to me long before I knew its aroma. I first heard of it (or paid attention, at least) as Joel Cairo’s (Peter Lorre) signature scent in the Maltese Falcon, which I saw countless times. The film’s gardenia was an unforgettable signifier, but it triggered no scent memory whatsoever at the time. My imagination’s gardenia anosmia was analogous in a way to seeing in black and white. Since then, I  moved to a climate hospitable to the finicky tree. Unscented film noir associations are now steeped in thick, sun soaked nostalgia and living color. On occasion, I indulge in homeopathic doses of Michael Storer Stephanie edp to quell that out-of-season gardenia jones, but generally, I leave it to nature. Gardenia remains a heady seasonal pleasure that marks the psychological beginning of summer.

UPDATE: I’ve been re-sampling Storer’s Stephanie. A few modest drops on the wrist, and my keyboard is scented for days due to the true-to-but-larger-than-life gardenia on a thick, expansive base that I think of as Michael Storer’s signature. Stephanie captures a big, buttery, vegetal  aroma that makes me feel as if I might have inadvertently eaten gardenia petals.

Hydrangea gone wild.
Photos my own.

2 thoughts on “Stop and Smell the Gardenia

  1. You have created a lemming with Stephanie; your description has me googling to get a sample stat. 🙂 Thanks for the review.

  2. It's worth a try, Natalie! I se Michael Storer's web page has been down for some time, though. I wonder what's up.

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