Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Clothes have been very much on my mind this week: I’ve been keeping tabs on some Calvin Klein sweater dresses that are finally going on sale, and I have my eyes on a certain pair of leather boots, as well. The boots are a must-buy: my old ones are wearing out and I need a very sleek pair that will go with a tunic dress I bought last summer and which has proven to be a consistent compliment grabber and beyond versatile in the way that it wears—both as a tasteful mini-dress and as the kind of thing I can layer over trousers and still have my husband say, “Wow, you look sleek!” When he first saw it hanging in my side of the closet, he thought it was ugly because of its print: an Italianate pattern that combines shades of deep coral-pink with black and tan and is far bolder than anything I normally wear. I, on the other hand, fell in love with the colors and pattern right away but was rather startled that my five-foot-two-inch self could actually pull it off. “Did you get that in Paris?” is the question I fielded all summer from friends and family who saw me in the dress. No, I wore it out to dinner in Paris but I got it at Macy’s: it just happens to be one of those rare articles of clothing that manages to be as eminently wearable as it is unique. The colors might be showy, but the cut is simple, the fabric is silky and lean, and the three-quarter length sleeves make it seasonless. I plan on trotting this baby out in New York City next month, paired with black stockings or tights and those boots I mentioned earlier. And though the NYC trip is not going to be a perfume trip, I am currently wearing a perfume that so reminds me of this dress, I might be tempted to track down a bottle while I’m there. Or at least to allow some time to check out the rest of the perfumes from this line—the very much new-to-me line of Arquiste, which I’m dying to explore now that I’ve sampled their latest release, Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7.

Boutonniere no. 7 is a gardenia perfume that I feel confident in saying is the silkiest, easiest, most elegant gardenia perfume I’ve ever encountered. Forget that it’s marketed towards men—there is nothing that denotes this as being masculine: it is only a masculine scent by way of the things that it isn’t.  It’s gardenia without any of the femme-fatale associations that often go hand-in-hand with that floral material. It’s gardenia that is not in any way voluptuous, naughty or intent on making a scene with its usual shape-shifting drama—and while that description might sound boring (and I would normally be the first one to make that argument, drawn as I am to willful white-florals) it truly doesn’t come off as boring in Boutonniere no. 7. This is the kind of gardenia perfume that reminds me of my beautiful tunic dress: it’s classy and striking in equal measure—not to mention, seasonless in terms of its wearability. Gardenia’s aristocratic, floral beauty is recognizable, but it’s been given a cologne treatment that makes it smell reined-in in the best sense of those words. This is a gardenia perfume that smells immaculately groomed and so well-bred that to behold it is to be reminded of just how sexy good manners and grooming can be (especially when wedded to an article of striking beauty). If this fragrance were a person—man or woman—it would be the kind of person who makes you realize that bad boys and femme fatales are actually a dime-a-dozen compared to those divine creatures who possess model looks and suave manners. The latter is the true rarity--and perfumes that offer up those same charms are equally as rare.

Boutonniere no. 7 is classified by its maker as a green floral, and that is accurate to the degree that you understand that this perfume is (at least to my nose) a soliflore. The green notes in this perfume don’t stand out in high relief; their cumulative effect is focused on altering the floral accord itself—in other words, achieving a green gardenia: a crisp and clean gardenia that has more sparkle than creaminess (and nothing that I can detect in the way of indoles). Quite often when one looks at a list of perfume notes, it doesn’t indicate how a perfume is going to smell, but the list of perfume notes in Boutonniere no. 7 is actually quite reflective of how this perfume presents itself. Lavender, bergamot, mandarin, gardenia, genet absolute, vetiver and oak moss make up the composition—and the only thing that might throw one off is how one normally thinks of lavender, for here its typical attributes are gladly missing. This is not the kind of lavender that smells bracingly medicinal; it’s an elegant lavender that adds brilliance: a hint of greenness and a cool edge of crispness which, when combined with the perfume’s equally gentle citrus notes, recalls the smell of traditional, summery colognes. Entwining the way it does around the rich floral scent of gardenia, the lavender-and-citrus accord are elevated above the level of cologne, and one could say of this composition that here is where cologne and perfume meet—resulting in a gardenia fragrance that has presence without being overpowering.

The inclusion of genet absolute—which is also known as broom, a flowering shrub that grows wild in the south of France, Spain and Italy—adds just the right amount of depth to Boutonniere no. 7: whispery nuances of honey and hay that work in the gardenia’s favor, allowing it to smell rich rather than merely sweet.

Boutonniere no. 7 has excellent longevity and the perfect amount of sillage. It strikes me as the kind of fragrance that would smell uplifting in spring and refreshing in summer, yet has enough heft and elegance that no one in their right mind would abandon it to the back of their perfume cabinet come winter. It’s that rare gardenia perfume that anyone—man, woman or poodle could wear—and too polished and perfect a thing to want to retire, ever. Least of all when you’re wearing the kind of ensemble that says you know a thing or two about style.

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7 eau de parfum was developed by brand owner Carlos Huber and perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. It can be purchased at a number of boutiques, including all Barneys New York stores, where a 55-ml bottle is currently $175. My review is based on a sample provided to me by the company.

(A deluxe edition of Boutonniere no. 7—basically, a set that includes the bottle of fragrance plus a gardenia stick-pin boutonniere and a pair of silk-knot cufflinks created by men’s fine jewelry designer, M. de Phocas, can be purchased for $195.)

Image (top of page) is from the Louis Vuitton 2012 Cruise Collection. The dress in the photo is similar in style and cut  to the one I mention in my post, except mine is a little shorter and has a bolder Italianate pattern.

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October 16, 2012:

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7:

Gardenia, Eminently Wearable and Elegant