Two Goth beauties.

The house I lived in on Maui years ago was surrounded by live gardenias-- in my opinion the only kind of gardenia worth smelling. So long as one left them undisturbed on the stem, those waxy, double-petaled blossoms filled the air with a heavenly ambience. But once plucked, the blossoms would lose their scent rapidly, as if in passive protest.

Perhaps this is why Annick Goutal's Gardénia Passion is no gardenia at all, but a tuberose (as many before me have remarked). I admit that the tuberose has never been a favorite of mine; I've always found it morbid, possibly owing to its frequent appearance in funeral arrangements. Waxy, bloodless, deathly sweet, it's the flower most likely to show up on a vampire's banquet table-- but Annick Goutal's well-crafted chypre setting does much to relieve its innate pallor and chill. With orangeflower to lighten its mood and jasmine to teach it the art of flirtation, Gardénia Passion's tuberose sheds its Goth shrouds and learns how to live it up.

Idole de Lubin, on the other hand, resists all attempts to goad her into her joviality. It's her party, and she'll cry if she wants to! In keeping with Olivia Giacobetti's yen for creating not-quite-identical twinned perfumes, Idole is Safran Troublant's vampire sister-- the spooky Snow White to her sunny Rose Red. I have never had the opportunity to smell kuroyaki, the fabled wood-ash sachets used by Kyoto geisha to perfume their kimono, but I imagine them to smell exactly this way: silken, quiet, and just a touch mournful. Idole's accord of almond milk, honey, and wood dust strikes just the balance between soft plush and dark shadow dear to many a manga-loving teen. (If only we could teach them to reach for this instead of Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers!)

Scent Elements: Rum absolute, saffron, bigarade, black cumin, doum palm, smoked ebony, sugarcane, red sandalwood, leather (Idole); gardenia, tuberose, jasmine, neroli, oakmoss (Gardénia Passion)