Perfume Pen Pals: Van Cleef & Arpels Gardenia Petale and Bois d'Iris, and Marc Jacobs Gardenia


I just found some truly luscious perfumes by Van Cleef & Arpels, whose new Collection Extraordinaire appears to be playing catch-up with Cartier’s Les Heures du Parfum. I particularly loved two: Gardénia Pétale and Bois d’Iris.

Gardénia Pétale is pure and sheer and real-smelling. It’s like a Gardenia sorbet, rather than the Devon double cream ice cream of Estée Lauder Tuberose Gardenia or Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower. I could really get into wearing springy florals with this one.

And Bois d'Iris is like a dialed-down Cartier XII L'Heure Mystérieuse -- it's got the incensey wood and the mystery, but without XII’s perfumey jasmine. The iris is really married to the wood here, rather than standing apart as it can, a little remote and haughty.

I got samples of both so I can "pray on it", as my dad likes to say.



That Gardénia Pétale sounds nice, though I don't like Lucky Scent’s new gender bar. I already know when I'm buying a flowery feminine scent -- I don't need a chart telling me just how flowery feminine it is. It's the Internet equivalent of a sales assistant saying, "This isn't for you, is it?"

But what's lovelier than a sheer gardenia in spring? Problem is, too many gardenias give me a headache. The Chanel one, for example. And Tom Ford's Velvet Gardenia. Though I'm sometimes suspicious that's the intended reaction of TF fragrances. But a sheer gardenia? Count me in!

Why whenever you describe a scent (save for Tom Ford Noir de Noir), do I want to immediately go out and try it? I need hypnotism or something.

I'll let you in on a little secret: along my dreaded wall of perfume shame is a big bottle (300 ml, enough to satisfy a parched scout troop) of Marc Jacobs Gardenia Splash (pause for snicker) and it's great: slightly pale and probably synthetic, but also very green and surprisingly fresh and delicate.

These MJ splashes are no great shakes, but because they're blended for liberal use, they're disqualified from being disgusting. They're simply clean and cheap and some days that's all I want.

Do you own any primarily iris perfumes? I don't think I do, which is odd considering iris' prominence in the perfume world. But it often comes off a little formal and serious.

It's the Daniel Day Lewis of perfume ingredients: respectable, highly regarded, but not an exciting choice for a dinner party. Crazy as it sounds, I'd rather wear one of my Marc Jacobs splashes and bring along Ernest Borgnine. Still, let me know how Bois d'Iris wears, because if I have any interest in the horizontal, it's time for an iris.

All the recent talk of licorice and lavender resulted in me buying Caron Third Man today. I've never tried it, but I do own Caron Pour un Homme, which is a soft and sweet lavender, and I like it a lot. Plus, Tania Sanchez gives The Third Man five stars. And Luca Turin frequently mentions it as a benchmark fougère. And it's cheap. See, I've justified it five different ways.

Also, I noticed that the Van Cleef & Arpels Gardénia Pétale was created by the same perfumer behind your favorite Etat Libre d’Orange, Putain des Palaces: Nathalie Feisthauer. As if you need more encouragement with your eleven new perfumes from London. We both should be on perfume lockdown.


Read Perfume Pen Pals: Van Cleef & Arpels Gardenia Petale Part 2 here.


  1. How is it your posts always seem to pick up on my current obsessions? Last week I tried The Different Company's Bois D'Iris (after it had been sitting in the sample box for MONTHS), loved it, and the next day tried Chanel's 28 La Pausa, which I'd also been putting off...
    Now I'm keen to try as much Iris as I can. Honestly I'm such a perfume floozy...

  2. Sarah, you just mentioned two of my favorite iris perfumes. TDC Bois d'Iris is perfection to my nose. Unfortunately, my skin slurps it up as if it was iris-deprived and neither I, nor others can smell it after 1/2 hour. I'm afraid that the VC&A Iris, despite its beauty, will likewise disappear.

    Gardenia Petale, on the other hand, radiates from my skin. I love its development. Green and moist, then slightly chewy and mushroomy, finally drying down to a surprisingly light and sugary white floral. No 'praying on' that one! Perfume/credit card emergency! Oh, and I frequently get compliments on it from non-perfumistas. Use of credit card validated.

  3. Sarah, I'm currently a student of iris, trying to understand it better. Currently I'm exploring Donna Karan's brand new Iris, figuring out its place in the world. DK Iris is certainly more feminine, more "perfumey" than irises like TDC Bois d'Iris and VC&A Bois d'Iris. Must be the absence of "bois" in the DK.

    m61, you are the devil on my shoulder, and you certainly make a fine case for getting off my knees and over to the Gardénia Pétale store.

  4. Okay fumies, all this iris chatter (mostly in my own head) led me to retry another iris I'd sort of forgotten about: Cartier I L’Heure Promise. And THAT, Sarah and Dan and anyone else interested in schooling themselves on gorgeous treatments of iris, is the one you should experience.

    It's iris and sandalwood, and I had to re-read my blog post on the Cartier Les Heures to make sure I'd loved it up properly on the first go-round. I had. And I do love this one.

    Good thing Dan put us on perfume lockdown. Anyone have the key...?

  5. Damn you woman!!! Iris and Sandalwood? OK that's on the wishlist too along with the DK Iris and VC&A. Lucky I didn't do my monthly sample shop earlier today....
    Was there a lockdown? I seem to have missed that meeting *whistles artlessly*

  6. Sarah - hee-hee-heeeeeee! Okay, just re-read the fine print (Dan's last line in the above post) and he only says we "should" be on perfume lockdown. He's right, of course, but...*whistles artlessly*

  7. I am suddenly obsessed with Gardenia too. But I have just purchased Ormonde Jayne Tiare (quiet mossy) and I am thinking about Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage (big heady).

  8. Kristaaaaaa...Gardénia Pétale wants to talk to you....