I made the mistake of first sampling Sotto La Luna: Gardenia on an oppressively humid day in early September. The result was not pretty. This composition might be centered around gardenia, but it’s no soliflore. It’s a rich, creamy, and, at times, luxurious fragrance. But in the wrong circumstances (i.e. heat and humidity) it’s too overpowering. The vanilla of the base takes over, radiating a cloying and stifling sweetness. I had to scrub it off.
But, I had read some intriguing positive reviews of this fragrance (some excellent write-ups from The Scented Hound and Persolaise) so I didn’t want to simply discard this as a bust. Also, given that Sotto La Luna: Gardenia is an autumn release, I thought it would be a good idea to wait for less summer-like weather. I’ve now tried Gardenia several times since our first disastrous attempt to get acquainted, and I’m glad because there’s a lot to discover here.
Wearing Gardenia is like a journey through a forest. It’s quite green and sharp in the beginning as you still hover around the edges of the forest. As wear time continues and you trek more deeply towards the heart of the forest, it becomes more about the surrounding woods and soil. Gardenia petals peek out in a light wink from time to time, but the floral aspect here is mostly just a tease. Indeed, the core of this fragrance is really about the forest floor: the mossy undergrowth, the fallen leaves, and, as with any forest, the mushrooms.
The funky mushroom note pulls sour on me, but I actually don’t mind it. I appreciate a little sourness after the sweet vanilla bomb of my first attempt at sampling this. I honestly think the sour mushroom and earthy soil aspect adds some much needed balance and depth to this composition. The dry-down is a creamy, sweet vanilla that’s lightly spiced, almost like gingerbread. It lasts for ages, and luckily it’s very nice when not worn in extreme heat. But to me, this dry down would feel generic and boring if not for the weirdness that precedes it.
Sotto La Luna is meant to be a new series from Tauer Perfumes, of which this Gardenia creation is the first installment. Gardenia has definitely gotten attention and sparked a lot of debate. Considering the sharp divide of opinions, this is the type of fragrance you absolutely must sample for yourself if you’re thinking of purchasing. You may even have to try it multiple times for yourself, considering the kind of Jekyll and Hyde experience I’ve had with it.
If anything, I do admire Gardenia for challenging me. It certainly offers a wealth of experiences for one perfume: from the sharply verdant opening, to the light brush of floral petals, to the rich exploration of earthy notes, and finally the yummy gourmand-like dry down. That’s a lot to contend with for one perfume, and I’ll continue trying to come to terms with it all as colder weather closes in. I’ll also keep an eye out for the next installment in the Sotto La Luna series. At the very least, I’m sure it won’t be boring.
Samples and full bottles of Tauer Perfumes are available from Luckyscent, which is where I got my sample.