Wild Veil Perfume is dedicated to enfleurage, and my gardenia jasminoides enfleurage offers a deep, profound way to commune with the flower. Fourteen varieties from my gardens contribute their aromas redolent of the equatorial tropics, resulting in a rarity even in the realm of natural perfumery: an organic gardenia solid perfume. Creamy, and languorous, the scent indulges the senses as something more than the sum of jasmine, star jasmine, tuberose, and lily. Only enfleurage is capable of coaxing out the intricate wintergreen, mango, and pine back notes of this white custard of a flower.
Each gardenia cultivar smells unique, with a distinct scent arc. To name a few: Aimee Yoshioka’s enormous flowers announce their fragrant presence before you see them. Their quilted white petals are the scent of heaven on earth. Double Mint floats in on a still life of lemons and fresh butter, like lemon curd, then takes on a fruity peach-jasmine scent that lasts until a pungent musk emerges in its last days. August Beauty is a ripe mango that strangely gets fresher before acquiring a final green mushroom odor. Daisy opens buttery with some of the richness of champaca but expires in mushroomy indole death. Crown Jewel explodes pineapple fireworks against a backdrop of apricot patchouli typical of osmanthus. And Tea's loamy crimini profile undercuts its grand sweet nectar.
In my enfleurage I select fresh blossoms in all the stages of bloom to ensure that the pommade memorializes gardenia's hyperreality. Each day (sometimes twice a day) I check each flower resting on the fat to make sure it is still moving aromatically. A flower will last on the fat for anywhere from 1 to 5 days.
Literally, "in flower," enfleurage is a traditional, labor intensive, and pure method of extracting fragrance, utilizing only fat and plant material. Patient where other methods are rushed, enfleurage demands attending to each individual blossom rather than piling them collectively in a vessel and removing them en masse. It is this individualization of the flower that enables enfleurage to build an aromatic portrait so saturated, chromatic, realistic, vivid, yet nuanced, that it eclipses all other available recording technologies in natural perfumery. Each flower's complex fragrance history from bud to bloom imprints in fat, where it is stored. The palimpsest of olfactory media, enfleurage's perfume is true to blossom but subtle, requiring you to bend in close for a sniff.
Photo: Wild Veil gardenia enfleurage pommade laden with fresh flowers.