May Melange Marathon: Lady Day

May Melange Marathon: Lady Day

This week, all the gardenias in my garden and neighborhood seem to have popped open, and the air is full of their fragrance. The flowers themselves are, of course, lovely — some are like perfect little waxy white roses, others more like simple daisies, with fewer petals. So I thought I should look out a gardenia fragrance for a post this weekend.

The one that came to hand is Maria Candida Gentile’s Lady Day, which was named for the singer Billie Holiday, who regularly wore gardenias in her hair. I bought it some time ago when there was a big sale. It comes in extrait de parfum concentration. I like it, but for the life of me, I don’t smell gardenia!

The only notes listed are galbanum, gardenia absolute, and Peru balsam. I do smell galbanum, but it’s not the note I’m used to calling “galbanum.” Here, it is less green and more — I don’t know! There’s a strong herbal tone, but it doesn’t “read” as green to my nose. I guess the absence of what I think of as gardenia could be caused by the fact that the perfumer used gardenia absolute, not an accord meant to suggest gardenia.

I don’t know what to think about this one! Its overall scent reminds me of something but I just can’t remember what. Do you have any favorite gardenia scents? I keep seeing Elizabeth Taylor’s Gardenia at places like T.J. Maxx, but I’ve never tried it. Lady Day is nice, to my nose, but it doesn’t seem like a true gardenia. I’m stumped!

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rrose Selavy

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rrose Selavy

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” said Gertrude Stein in 1913.  Rrose Selavy is named for the alter ego of Stein’s contemporary and acquaintance, the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp. I really can’t explain this any better than perfumer Maria Candida Gentile’s website copy, so here it is:

A velvet rose, persistent and unique, dedicated to one of the leading artists of Dadaism: a homage to Marcel Duchamp and to his “double” Rrose Sélavy.

With Rrose Sélavy, Maria Candida interprets the “double” of Marcel Duchamp, and his jeux des mots Rrose Sélavy which sounds in French like “eros, c’est la vie”, or “arroser la vie”, to make a toast to life. Maria Candida pays tribute to Duchamp, making a toast to life with her velvet, soft, fresh, just harvested scent, with its olfactory vibration and which fills the air and the space, tridimensional just like his art crafts. The name Sélavy emerged in 1921 in a series of photographs by Man Ray of Duchamp dressed as a woman. Throughout the 1920s, Man Ray and Duchamp collaborated on more photos of Sélavy. Duchamp later used the name as a signature name on written material and signed several creations with it.

What does this perfume smell like? Continue reading