Gardenia is a scented flower that holds great mystery. Its petals are among the few nature has provided, which do not allow their odour to be extracted by methods used for flowers such as jasmine and tuberose. Essentially the flower must be reorchestrated by a perfumer, which allows a great deal of subjectivity and requires careful analysis and artistic creativity.
Arquiste’s gardenia is purposely masculine; the preliminary inspiration came from a gardenia boutonniere perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux made for his Arquiste colleagues as an accessory they would wear to a black-tie gala event in 2011. The brand’s founder, Carlos Huber was captivated by the flower’s scent and began researching the history of the masculine boutonniere. His research led him to the Belle Epoque. Men would attend the opera wearing a boutonniere, a fragile picked flower attached to the buttonhole of a formal suit. The captivating odour of gardenia made it a popular choice amongst men of this era as the perfumed flower gave off a social ambiance, capturing the attention of the fairer sex.
After his preliminary research and a year of development, Boutonniere No. 7 is the seventh fragrance created by Arquiste, following the initial six, launched in 2011. Carlos Huber takes inspiration from the Opera Comique in Paris. The year is 1889 and Paris is the centre of the modern world. In March, two months before Arquiste’s story takes place, Paris opens the tallest man-made structure on Earth, the Eiffel Tower. The city has a festive atmosphere; some would say they are the happiest years Paris will ever experience. It is a time when Parisians are optimistic, the arts flourish and new discoveries in science and technology create excitement for the new age. Attending the opera, a group of seven young men conjugate in the foyer, chatting freely during the intermission. The scent wafting from their gardenia boutonnieres lure the hearts of passing females.
Boutonniere No. 7 is a remarkable fragrance bathed in Calabrian bergamot. A touch of French lavender brings a masculine, cologne-feel to the composition, marrying well with the gardenia’s natural aspects. Two species of gardenia are explored, gardenia jasminoides and citriodora. The flower Rodrigo Flores-Roux has constructed for Arquiste is filled with complexities. From the sharp cut-grass notes of the flower to the buttery white floral component, Boutonniere No. 7 also offers the flower’s mushroom-like quality in a very realistic way. Less desirable notes are often excluded from feminine gardenia perfumes, likely due to them being seen as unattractive. Boutonniere No. 7 does not shy away from these imperfections, which ironically are some of the flower’s most beautiful facets. In the base, notes of vetiver and oakmoss hint at masculinity and labdanum and castoreum bring an animalic side to this masculine floral.
Over the past week I have written about each of the 7 fragrances that make up the range of Arquiste perfumes. Following this introduction to the collection, Peony Haute Parfumerie is holding an Arquiste event tonight in Melbourne, which I will be attending, wearing Boutonniere No. 7 nonetheless. My next post will be of the event and an exclusive interview with Carlos Huber who is currently in Australia.