Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals Review - A Demure White Floral In A Veil

UPDATE: The following review is based on a sample of Illuminum White Gardenia Petals supplied to me by Roullier White shortly after the Royal Wedding. It now transpires that this was not the correct version of The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding scent. For further clarification and a review of the official White Gardenia Petals fragrance, please see my latest post here.

Today the mainstream press caught up with the news about White Gardenia Petals, with features in the Daily Mail, London's Metro magazine and Marie Claire - indeed there are now articles about the Illuminum scent everywhere you turn! I spoke to the staff at the Roullier White store on Monday and they said they were trying to gear up for future demand, but that it was very hard for them to gauge it, given the massive exposure the perfume is having - first on beauty and perfume blogs - and now, as I say, across the media. Their initial stock of 50 bottles flew out the door apparently, and there is a 10 day delivery delay on the 50ml size, though none on the larger 100ml bottle if any blind buyers are feeling particularly bullish! As the only stockist in the UK, Roullier White is clearly thrilled to be the focus of such a feverish global buying spree on the part of perfumistas and the general public alike.

I note too that Luckyscent has now got some White Gardenia Petals in (good move!), and I would expect The Perfumed Court to follow suit if they haven't already done so. A friend of mine has signed up to a split of this scent (unsniffed), so overall it seems as though perfume fans are setting about acquiring it by every means available.

Now we may not want to marry into the Royal Family particularly, or become a housewife on the isle of Anglesey - I don't know if it is the remoteness of the place or the lack of night life which drives them to it, but as far as I knew Anglesey is most famous for the jumpers off the Menai Bridge (the Golden Gate of North Wales, if you will). Oh, and not forgetting the hell hole that is Holyhead, where those living up the West Coast line may well end up if they are foolish enough to nod off on the train home from London. But notwithstanding all of that, some of us wouldn't mind smelling a bit like the new Duchess, as though that might miraculously confer upon us her nipped in waist, even white smile and perfect smokey eye.

And then today I received my pack of samples from the Roullier White store, comprising White Gardenia Petals and two other scents from Illuminum's quite extensive range; they sound right up my street, just going off the names, though I haven't had a chance to try them yet: Ginger Pear and Bergamot Blossom.

So how does White Gardenia Petals smell, I know you are all wondering...?

Well, it's very pretty, soft and faintly powdery (unless that is the vestiges of yesterday's decanting, but on balance probably not). It is delicate and feminine, not sweet, not particularly coconutty, but rather like a very diaphanous white floral blend that has been slightly "muzzified" by a wispy veil - like Catherine's veil of silk tulle, indeed! And though there's gardenia, ylang ylang and jasmine in there apparently, White Gardenia Petals is not at all heady. I'd go so far as to call it demure and ladylike, with a slight hint of danger. Slightly more dangerous than Serge Lutens' Un Lys, say. On the "louche-o-meter", where 10 is an out and out slutfest, I'd call Un Lys a 2 and this a 3. Maybe a 3.5 if you really sloshed it on. That is the sort of vibe, yes.

And then I can't quite decide whether I detected a slightly plasticky note when I first applied it - like the opening of Iris Ukiyoe or Kenzo Amour L'Eau Florale, especially the latter if anyone is familiar with it. However, it doesn't detract unduly and dissipates after a few minutes, as the white floral bouquet starts to cloak itself in the muting, fuzzy sea of tulle...

Update: eight hours in I can report that the longevity is good - there is additionally a sultry, tangy bite now to the powdery, musky drydown, which I guess must be the ylang ylang's last stand.

So....setting aside the HUGE "Duchess in the room" factor - to the best of my ability, at least - I will say on record that if I had bought a bottle of White Gardenia Petals unsniffed (as so many will have done), I wouldn't regret it...

Photo of the Duchess of Cambridge from, photo of the Menai bridge from, photo of a gardenia from, photo of the Duchess waving from, photo of White Gardenia Petals from the Roullier White website.


  1. My, you are hot off the blocks indeed, V! Thank you for your quick and thorough work. I am glad you like it, since you are not one for loud and ostentative perfumes, so I trust that this is as lovely as you say.

  2. Hi olfactoria,

    You are absolutely right that demure is generally more my thing! The plastic note in the opening worried me slightly on first application, but it has given way to this very pleasant muzzy quality that appears to be staying put. It is not dewy like Matin de L'Orage or Diptyque's Do Son, nor is it "perfumey" like Joy or Isabey Gardenia - you know, in that molten, almost viscous kind of way, and that isn't meant to be derogatory - it is diffuse and...well...a bit fuzzy.

  3. Oh great! I can't wait to get my split! I hope that plastic note doesn't get amplified on my skin, though.

    I'm curious about two more things. Firstly, I'd love a mini reviewette of Ginger Pear and Bergamot Blossom, when you get around to trying them. Secondly, if Un Lys is a 2 and White G. Pets is a 3, then what constitutes a 10 slutfest in the big, white florals continuum ? :-)

  4. Thanks for the follow-up report! Love the description. Must confess that I found that plasticky note in Iris Ukiyoe , too...kind of cloying...and couldn't shake it from my nasal receptors. The kind of thing that might lead me to bridge jumping, if left unchecked. So I am gladdened to hear that you find that dissipates, and also heartened to hear it is not "perfumey." (I know, what a thing for a perfume hound to say!)

    On a side note, you do register a note of alarm with my far-away dream to spend volumes of time on Shetland...

  5. I like that even more, a bit fuzzy is good when it comes to white florals for me, thank you! :) Btw, my security word is obbessed, I feel vaguely insulted and a bit paranoid...;)

  6. Hi lovethescents,

    Well, off the top of my head I would say that Scandal and Amaranthine are about a 7 on the scale, while Montale Jasmine Full or SL A La Nuit would be a 10. Dirty jasmine knocks the louche-o-meter out of the park, but bear in mind that the fragile ecosystem that is my skin probably has the -o-meter calibrated in a totally different way to a normal person, for whom Scandal might be a 4 or a 5, say. Or even a church scent. Who knows!?

  7. Hi ScentScelf,

    The use of any aromachemicals that could possibly prompt you to rash acts involving tall steel structures must be curbed at all costs.

    The terrain in Shetland is, I believe, treeless, but there are ponies and seals, and a warm Gulf stream, and nothing even roughly approximating to Holyhead. So keep the dream alive! You've gotta love placenames like Tingwall. I have a friend from there with whom I can put you in touch if your travel plans firm up.

  8. Hi olfactoria,

    Fear not - you are not obbessed - just understandably swept up, as we all are, in a little bit of royal wedding fever.

    : - )

  9. Amaranthine is more of a 5 on me and I don't get anything sweaty from it like so many others have reviewed.

    Jasmine Full! Excellent! Must dig out my sample. What about your Calypso? Serge's A la Nuit...gorgeous. And one more, Nasomatto's Nuda :-) (to be worn when naked, obviously)

  10. Hi lovethescents,

    Goodness me, yes, my Calypso is a big fat 8 for sure. And Nuda - dear me, a 9 at least. And there's that Vamp NY one I didn't care for. That'll register quite high up the scale I imagine, but I would need to retest. Carnal Flower less than you would think, because of its watery quality, diluting its slut rating.

  11. What about Tubereuse Criminelle? That's less sexy and more prozzy territory, no?

  12. How dare you be so arrogant as to say such unkind things about the area I have grown up in. It's a beautiful area and a place where a great deal of the english enjoy holidaying in. what is it with the english........ do they always have to run down Wales and the welsh. Perhaps they have nothing better to do with their lives or there's a bit of jealousy because we live the way we do. I wouldn't change where I live for all the tea in China. I can leave my front door open quite safely. I can walk in the country every day of the week. I see nature all around me. I can go sailing every day if I want. AND to cap it all I speak 2 languages fluently.

  13. Dear Anonymous,

    I am sorry to have upset you with my flip comments about Anglesey, though flip comments are very much the hallmark of this blog, which should be taken with a BIG pinch of salt. : - )

    The fact is that I love many parts of Wales and have holidayed in the country extensively since the early 70s. My father also lived there for 20+ years until his death and is buried in a beautiful churchyard outside Lampeter.

    The fact is that I wasn't particularly struck by Anglesey, though I know it is a popular destination for some tourists. Beaumaris is quite nice, but I just didn't bond with the rest of it. However, please don't think I am against Wales, or the countryside generally, for nothing could be further from the case. The night life comment was completely tongue in cheek, for example!

    And in my defence I do speak a few languages myself, though Welsh isn't one of them.

  14. Gees, I don't get why anonymous folks tend to pick on your posts, Bonks.


    Anyway, Kate's choice in scent is something that I think I'll pass on - doesn't seem quite me, does it?!

  15. Dear Anonymous,

    I should perhaps also add that I am not English in fact but Northern Irish, so I understand all about regional marginalisation and Celtic fringe sensitivities and the like. Why, I used to work for a major food manufacturer which classified its Northern Ireland sales territory as "The Far West", which always seemed a bit "High Noon" to me...! : - )

    And I'll be the first to say that where I live now in The Midlands is not madly scenic, and attracts no tourists to speak of, except hardcore canal boaters and seriously lost people looking for Stratford-upon-Avon.

  16. Hi lovethescents!

    Back to your point...I don't know Tubereuse Criminelle - or I may have tried it and been put off by its camphor? / gasoline? / miscellaneous weird notes.

  17. Hi Bloody F!

    The problem with Bonkers is that it is outspoken - it does say "an aldehydic blend of passion and irreverence" in the sidebar, after all - but at least I am even-handed in my outspokenness, or at least I like to think so.

  18. Oh, and BF, I wouldn't write this one off - after all you like La Chasse aux Papillons - though perhaps you only need one girly scent exception in your life?

  19. In light of comments above, I re-enter to clarify that I actually have NOT dismisssed my dreams of Shetland. I have been once, and would love to go again, for more than a few days. I also love the Pacific Northwest, even though I am fully aware of the place Portland occupies on the suicide rate list for the U.S. (#1).

    Despite the obvious easy reading, I don't think that is because I am from Detroit (#4). Though if truth be told, I may prefer Seattle (not in the top 10). I also note that there may be some sort of easy reading to be made of the fact that my home country, one of my ancestral countries (also your home country), and two countries I am partial to (Norway and Canada) cluster together in the thirty-somethings of the top 40.

    While I can understand someone feeling fiercely positive about something about which fun is made (see again "I am from Detroit"), but FWIW I did not get that you were denigrating Anglesey. In fact, if Anonymous were not anonymous, I'd suggest we meet up should I ever have an opportunity to go there. I always love getting to know a place from the inside.

    Alas, I do not speak any language other than English very well. Even at that some would cough meaningfully at the phrase "very well." But I did once have "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch" on a banner across my classroom wall as a trigger to discussion of things ranging from language and spelling to learning about new things, again FWIW.

  20. Each time I see a picture of Catherine (is it with a K or C?), I can't help but think she looked absolutely beautiful at her wedding (well, she looks beautiful most of the time). :)
    Anyway, from your description, the perfume sounds like a perfect choice for her.
    And eventually, I do hope I get to smell it.

  21. Hi ScentScelf,

    I see where you were going now with your dreams of Shetland comment. I have been to the very tips of mainland Scotland, but not beyond, so you are one up on me in the island hopping stakes.

    Portland the suicide capital of the US? Well, well. There are quite a few perfume bloggers who hail from those parts - or used to...

    Yes, of course, you are from Detroit, which isn't Charleston by any stretch. And I also lived in Swindon, notable mainly for its Magic Roundabout, which I had to negotiate in my driving test!

    I'll be honest and say I don't feel fiercely positive about Swindon. Stafford is nothing special, though I have been here for 24 years so that must count for something, if only an extreme feat of inertia. : - )

    And you may not speak other languages, but your wordsmithery in this one more than makes up for it.

  22. Hi Ines,

    It is with a "C", and I do agree that she looked beautiful on the day - and has done so in all the outfits she's worn lately.

    I hope you get to try this scent too, though your taste is "darker" as a whole, I'd say?

  23. SS, I'm from Cleveland and I brag about it all the time. Yeah, I know it has a bad rap, but I get what you're saying. Plus, we were able to received Detroit radio when I was a kid - so I somehow feel connected!

    Bonks, maybe I DO need another girly fragrance! :)

  24. Hi BF!

    Now Cleveland I would big up if I lived there - as you know.

    Maybe you do need WGP (Wonderful Girly Perfume)? I like the thought of luring more people over to the light side...

  25. With my interest initially piqued by the existence of a louche-o-meter, and the placement of perfumes within a genre along the scale, I now suggest an off-label use ranking everyone's crappy hometowns in order of louche-osity.

  26. Hi Katie,

    Ooh, that sounds like fun... Maybe specific districts of larger conurbations of mixed quality could also be eligible? : - )

  27. Ha! Now, instead of the windmills of my mind, I shall say the Swindons of my mind, which of course will be a somewhat roundabout way of saying, yes, roundabouts. Rather fitting, you know.

    As it happens, I live not far from one of the few extant traffic circles in America. Rather than "roundabout," though, it is called Suicide Circle.

    Which brings me 'round full circle, now with the additional and delightful layer Katie introduced. The Louche-O-Meter. I must confess to a certain titillation at the thought of being even tangentially associated with loucheosity, as I have always secretly admired the concept of being louche almost as much as I feared it. Would that my youthful nave (sic, not knave, alas) had associated with it the attractive compulsions associated with "louche.". Regardless, I shall ponder such off-label usage this morning.

    (Place emoticons as necessary to indicate my good humor and lopsided grin.)

  28. Vanessa, feel free to make tongue-in-cheek, irreverent remarks about where I come from: A village in Southern Denmark, once known for hosting a major refrigerator factory AND a military base, now only the latter; or Denmark in general. I won't mind. I'd actually find it quite uplifting. We need a bit of irreverence these days.

    I will also gladly admit to loving Miss Dior Cherie in the girly perfume category. Please be irreverent about that, should you lack something to irreverance (not even a word!) over.

    I have yet to find a perfume that would score high up on the louche-meter. I know that e.g. Bal a Versailles is considered up there by some. Personally, I just find it a bit unstructured (probably the worst adjective in my vocabulary when it comes to fragrances) and uninspired. And I'm happy to wear Rochas Femme or Agent Provocateur or Portrait of a Lady to work. Maybe my co-workers aren't equally pleased, but I haven't asked them.

  29. Hi ScentScelf,

    What are you like, with your roundabout ways of saying roundabout and your "Swindons of my mind"... : - ) !

    You are from Detroit - ergo you were Dearborn louche. You might even win!

  30. Hi Marie,

    I am sorry to report that your comment ended up in the spam filter, whence I have just extracted it. Too much irreverence may have consigned you there, though it couldn't be too much for me!

    I didn't know you were in Denmark - I pictured you in sunny California, possibly because I have seen you comment on Katie's blog. Though there again, you may not in fact be Marie (Junelady) after all. And even if you are, that isn't entirely logical of me to place you on the West Coast, given the virtual nature of the blogosphere, but that is what I thought.

    I have actually just been reviewing the target contacts for my next work trips, and trying to decide if Ronde and Bramming could be combined with my putative itinerary in northern Germany, or whether they would constitute a bit of a detour. Oooh, I think I have found you and that you are not a million miles away from Bramming! Considerably less in fact. Am very tempted now to push north...

    Now Miss Dior Cherie has the famed popcorn note. Not mad keen on it, but I like Belle d'Opium, CK Beauty and Kate Moss Velvet Hour, which have all come in for their fair share of stick on the boards.

    Actually, I would consider Bal a Versailles a bit slutty. It is the one civetty perfume I own and represents a curious departure from my normally vehement stand against the note. Oh, and if I do make it north of Flensburg, I might have to ask you to knock off the Femme, mind, even if your colleagues haven't done so! There you go, a bit of irreverence for you....

    : - )

  31. Vanessa, I am indeed Junelady, a cyber space name I don't remember the origin of (see, I ended a sentence with a preposition - how irreverent is that!). I am flattered about the California association, though I'm probably as un-californian as they come. Pale, unathletic and wintery soul wise.

    I'm also quite satisfied - the way only a well-adjusted middle class girl can be - that my post made to the spam zone - but equally happy that it didn't stay there for good - we middle class afflicted girls can't stand to be naughty too long ;-)

    Do go north, if at all possible! I'm in Odense, still the southern part of the country - and if your schedule allows, I'd be more than happy to meet up and discuss perfumes and other good stuff.

    I wonder why e.g. Bal a Versailles is considered slutty - are there notes that our brains will inevitably associate with The Body and therefore by definition giggle-giggle a bit slutty - or can we blame this one on society and cultural norms?

    And I'm also wondering if I, perhaps, am a bit naive in the way I wear perfumes - I give them too little credit in terms of how they are perceived by others - oblivious to the fact that they are perceived by others - after all, no woman lives on an island, especially if she wears Bal a Versailles to work! OK, therapy session over. Hm.

    Irreverence taken - and enjoyed :-)

  32. Hi Marie,

    Aha - I appear to have found a different refrigerator-making town then, possibly because their production is still current. Not to worry - I know where Odense is. I have in my hand a shampoo from a hotel in Hindsgavl, Middelfart!

    BAV is slutty to me specifically on account of the civet, for reasons on which I probably don't need to elaborate. (No irreverent dangling prepositions here, and you won't find me starting a sentence with "However". Actually, you probably will.)

  33. I expect it will be a long wait before I get the chance to try this perfume in Australia. It sounds lovely and I have been drawn in to royal wedding mania.

  34. Hi Katrina,

    As a fellow Commonwealth dweller, I would expect Australia to be pretty hot on the wedding, though the interest seems to be global!

    I do hope someone takes the initiative to stock this closer to you - failing that I think Luckyscent ship worldwide, though everything is on back order with them at the moment.

  35. Hi Vanessa,

    You've been to Hindsgavl! Nice place, isn't it? I've been there a couple of times with work - one could do worse than spend a few days there.

    Do let me know if you come to Denmark! I'd love to teach you a few useful phrases in Danish, like "please take me to the nearest perfume counter" - well, that was English, obviously, but you know what I mean.

  36. Hi Marie,

    Hindsgavl Slot was the name of the hotel in Hindsgavl (well, it's a pretty small place, so you probably figured that). Just one night drove a coach and horses through my budget, I can tell you, but it was late and I was tired from driving around looking for a place to stay!

    Looks like Denmark may go to a young colleague now, who could combine it with other bits of Scandinavia. If I could reclaim it by tagging it onto my German itinerary I would. There may be another Battle of Jutland, who knows? A company in Fredericia has now been added to the list where I have also been before. There was a military base near there too, and I remember hearing gunshots and being vaguely worried that I might not be on a road I should have been on.