Arquiste Boutonniere no.7 : Perfume Review

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Gardenia is the flower with the most feminine of connotations. It’s a blossom that the jazz singer Billie Holiday tucked in her hair. Its seeds give a vibrant yellow hue that the turn of the century Shanghai courtesans appropriated as a signature shade of their lingerie. More innocently, it’s the preferred flower for a prom corsage–even without water it will remain fresh and fragrant for hours. When Arquiste Parfumeur announced that its Boutonniere no.7  will be a masculine rendition of gardenia, I was intrigued.

The idea behind Boutonniere no.7 was to create a fragrance for a vignette: a group of 19th century dandies standing in the foyer of the Opéra-Comique in Paris and wearing gardenia boutonnieres on their lapel. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux received the commission to make this story come to life. Flores-Roux is a talented perfumer, but I still wondered if it’s really possible to create a realistic gardenia perfume and yet make it suitable to men?

My first impression of Boutonniere no.7 was that it was a gardenia at long last. Most fragrances called gardenia don’t resemble the real flower, because they shy away from the earthy, green mushroom notes that give gardenias their striking scent. The notable exception was the now-discontinued Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia. The first impression of Boutonniere no.7 evokes the waxy gardenia petals with their scent of ripe peach, jasmine and lemon zest. This uplifting and exhilarating sensation sets the tone for the rest of Boutonniere’s story.

But as I wore Boutonniere longer, I realized that it’s really a vetiver fragrance with just a scattering of white petals. The earthy vetiver and cool moss are so rich in the drydon that you are no longer sure if you’re smelling the petals or the stems. The damp, nutty vetiver may seem a surprising companion to the lush gardenia, but their earthy facets are natural complements. A bright touch of bergamot keeps the composition sparkling and vivid, while lavender takes off the overripe, indolic edge. The result is a bright, crisp fragrance, the heady gardenia notes notwithstanding.

Is Boutonniere no.7 a perfume that a man accustomed to soapy clean colognes would find appealing? Probably not. But if you want something out of the ordinary and enjoy vetiver scents, it’s worth a try. For a woman in love with white florals and green perfumes like Guerlain Vétiver pour Elle, Boutonniere will be an easy fragrance to appreciate. It’s elegant and smooth, with enough twists that make it stand out among other white florals. I can see it worn lightly as a daytime fragrance or applied more generously for the evening. There are many elements of Boutonniere that draw me to it. I love its contrasts and smooth transitions from one accord to another. I love the salty, damp darkness of vetiver that is contrasted against the white petals. I also love its quality and polish. To be sure, you will need to pay for it ($175 for 55ml), but in this case, it’s worth it.

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7 includes notes of lavender, bergamot, Italian mandarin, gardenia jasminoides/gardenia citriodora duo, genet absolute, vetiver, and oak moss.  $175; 55 ml Eau de Parfum ($195 Deluxe Limited Edition with cuff links and  a boutonniere by M. de Phocas.) Arquiste fragrances are available at Barneys New York stores, Aedes de Venustas (New York), Parfümerie Osswald (Zurich, Switzerland), Liberty and Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie at Harrods (London, UK), L’Eclaireur & Jovoy (Paris, France).

Painting: Eva Gonzalès (1849-1883), A Box at the Theatre des Italiens, 1874, Oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, via wiki-images.

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56 Comments

  • Jillie: I think my husband might like this. He is fond of vetivert fragrances like Encre Nori and the Guerlain, and is very happy to wear my white flower perfumes, like OJ’s Frangipani and Guerlain’s Mahora (I give him my castoffs!). Your description is very vivid, Victoria! November 8, 2012 at 8:23am Reply

    • Jillie: That should be Encre Noir, of course – Encre Nori looks like it could be a Japanese perfume inspired by calligraphy (already done by someone I think!). November 8, 2012 at 8:25am Reply

      • Victoria: Actually it sounds wonderful! I was just snacking on some toasted nori strips, and I was thinking that it would make an interesting perfume accord. Vetiver + Nori sounds even better. :) November 8, 2012 at 9:10am Reply

        • Anne: Sign me up for that! I like the sound of vetiver and nori. November 8, 2012 at 10:22am Reply

          • Victoria: I know! Doesn’t it sound wonderful? November 8, 2012 at 11:30am Reply

            • Amer: Add some labdanum and thyme to that and give me a call when it’s ready for pick up! On the boutonniere no.7 now, I swore I would never pay that much for perfume so I haven’t even sampled any of the Arquiste line. However, the more I abstain the more wonderful and tempting they sound and earthy white floral is jus my cup of tea. My poor piggy bang sleeps with one eye open as of late… I WON’T GIVE IN (I hope) November 8, 2012 at 6:51pm Reply

              • Victoria: $175 for 55ml is right on the border of what I consider excessive. In this case, I’m willing to play along though, since the perfume is both well-crafted and interesting. November 9, 2012 at 7:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I bet that he will enjoy it then. I kept thinking of OJ Frangipani as well when I first tried it. It’s such an elegant, nuanced blend. November 8, 2012 at 9:09am Reply

      • Andrea: Then I must try it! That is my favorite perfume, the “signature scent” that never really became my signature because I always feel it is too grand to use just to get the kids from school, etc…!:-). November 8, 2012 at 2:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: I know what you mean. There are some fragrances that make me feel as if I need to dress up for them. Frangipani isn’t one of them, probably because I’m such a big white floral lover that nothing is too grand, but orientals like Coco or Opium make me feel this way. November 8, 2012 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Allison: That sounds absolutely wonderful! I will definitely seek this out to try. I really like Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle and I have a bottle hiding somewhere, so I’ll have to go find it and enjoy it again. My husband might be intrigued by this, he appreciates scents with a bit of a twist. November 8, 2012 at 8:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I tried it on my husband, and he liked it. The sillage is excellent–light, but distinctive. But I’m saving up for a bottle to wear it myself. :) November 8, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

  • Zazie: What a timely post!
    The other day I discovered on the Arquiste website that one of the usual suspects here in Milan carries the line, and was anticipating a thorough exploration session this evening, as a happy treat after work!
    I am very curious about boutonnière, though from your description I gather that I might apreciate it rather than love it (I like white flowers to explose with no restraint! And am not a fan of vetiver, unless very smoky). I will probably skin test Alexander, Anima Dulcis and Flor y canto. Maybe l’Etrog too… But paper strips might inspire me (or misguide me) in different directions… How do you manage to understand a fragrance from a paper strip? I never get it right (I mean: the fragrances I end up loving are those that I hate on mouillette, and what smells nice on paper, usually bores me to death after a full wearing….uff…difficult….) November 8, 2012 at 8:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Anima Dulcis and Flor y canto were my favorites so far. I liked Infanta en Flor as well, but I still haven’t worn it enough to decide. Boutonniere hit the spot for me though, the same spot that was until now occupied by Cristalle EDP and OJ Frangipani. The smoky-salty vetiver is an interesting addition.

      The blotter is not the best way to test something, I agree with you. Your own body chemistry will determine how the perfume will meld into your skin and how it lasts on you. I use blotters only to study the perfume (when I’m working, or when I’m reviewing something and I want to make sure that I describe the development properly). But wearing something on skin is the best test for me. November 8, 2012 at 9:17am Reply

      • Tambri: Victoria,
        Our skin must be practically identical. Flor & Canto and Anima Dulcis were the first two I loved of the Arquiste line. I like Infanta but not sure whether it’s FBW for me. I added L’Etrog and now Boutonniere and adore them all. Very well crafted fragrances! December 20, 2012 at 11:17pm Reply

  • Steve: Thanks for the review Victoria. I love the smell of Gardenia, but have always associated them as feminine. When I heard about this, I was curious how it could be made masculine. You have me intrigued, although I am not a big fan of vetivers I am going to have to give this one a try. November 8, 2012 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I definitely don’t recommend buying this blindly, but if you have a chance to try it, definitely do! It’s such a well-made, polished perfume, and I would love to hear how it works on a man. As I mentioned to Allison, it smelled very good on my husband and not at all like a stereotypical feminine perfume. November 8, 2012 at 9:18am Reply

  • Heather: This sounds absolutely fascinating! A detour to Liberty on the way home from work then… November 8, 2012 at 9:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Would love to hear your thoughts when you try it! November 8, 2012 at 11:31am Reply

  • gio: This sounds very intriguing. I will have to give it a sniff. Thanks for the review. November 8, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome, Gio! :) November 8, 2012 at 11:31am Reply

  • Lynne Marie: Lovely review, Victoria. I’m not sure yet how I feel about Gardenia but I have the highest regard for Arquiste’s perfumes. I wear Anima Dulcis regularly in the colder months and am starting to develop a liking for L’Etrog. I’m adding Boutonniere no.7 to my “must smell” list. November 8, 2012 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: L’Etrog is on my list to revisit. I wasn’t taken with it the first time I smelled it, but I have read so many great reviews and comments about it that I need to try it again.

      And I agree with you, the quality of Arquiste perfumes is excellent. November 8, 2012 at 11:35am Reply

  • Esperanza: Thank you Victoria for the review. I did not detect any lavender but will try it again soon. Loved it as well as I do Gardenia fragrances but find it hard to find one I really like. My first one was from Isabey. November 8, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I still miss Velvet Gardenia, which was my favorite Tom Ford, the only one I splurged on out of the Private Blend collection. Isabey is another good gardenia, and your comment reminded me that I need to revisit it. November 8, 2012 at 11:34am Reply

  • Anne: I want to try it too. Anima Dulcis is my fave chocolate perfume, and I have high hopes for Boutonnier. I just hope that it’s not too too masculine. November 8, 2012 at 10:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t think that it’s too masculine for a woman, especially if you enjoy woody notes. November 8, 2012 at 11:32am Reply

  • Barbara: I always wanted to meet a man who wears a flower in his lapel. Does he still exist? :-) November 8, 2012 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure he exists someplace!

      I’m not sure if anyone else here is a fan of Hercule Poirot, but he always wore a boutonniere. :) November 8, 2012 at 11:32am Reply

      • Annikky: Everyone is a fan of Hercule, surely? November 8, 2012 at 1:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: He’s such a great character! I can watch the Poirot series again and again. November 8, 2012 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Nikki: This sounds perfect for me: Gardenia and Vetyver! I have also tried every single Gardenia out there and have so far remained with AG Gardenia Passion as it has the green vegetable note I like. I ordered a Gardenia on e-bay, made in the South which is very much mushroom and Gardenia. Thank you for the review, now I will try to get Tom Ford’s Gardenia as well as Isabey! November 8, 2012 at 11:39am Reply

    • Victoria: As a gardenia lover, Nikki, you might find it interesting. If you like green notes, then there are even more reason for you to try it. November 8, 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

      • Nikki: Just bought a roll on of Velvet Gardenia to try…by Tom Ford. Maybe this is the Gardenia Holy Grail…I once bought a wholesale box of Gardenias in San Francisco’s flower market, it was like a gift from heaven and I had to give a lot of Gardenias to the flight staff in the airplane, everybody just went crazy for these creamy Gardenias! November 8, 2012 at 4:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: I hope that you like it, Nikki!

          I’m imagining an airplane overflowing with gardenias, and what a nice vision! :) November 8, 2012 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Apollonia: Oh, Victoria, you made me chuckle with your Hercule Poirot comment! Yes, he always wore a crisp, fragrant-looking boutonniere and I can picture him putting the finishing touches on his “toilet” as he called it, combing his mustache and perfuming himself with something like today’s scent. But it absolutely MUST be the Peter Ustinov Hercule Poirot! He was the best! One line I always associate with him is, “Madame, I am a Belgie, not a Frenchie!” November 8, 2012 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: I now watched so much David Suchet as Poirot that I got used to him, but Peter Ustinov was my first favorite Poirot. That line is classic! November 8, 2012 at 1:41pm Reply

      • Nikki: I love Peter Ustinov! They named the bar at the Domhotel in Cologne for him, it is opposite the 12th century Cathedral and he loved drinking his “Ustinov” cocktails there. Not too far from Brussels by train and the station is on the s November 8, 2012 at 4:18pm Reply

        • Victoria: Cologne is on our list to visit. I would love to go there around Christmas, since the German Christmas markets are among the most beautiful. November 8, 2012 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Margo: Victoria, your descrption is sublime. I can’t wait sample this on a forthcoming trip to London. My OH and I both love vetiver and he is always keen to try something new. (The Poirot touch is most appealing!) I like gardenia but not too much on my skin. I have it infused in coconut oil and use it to condition my hair, which works really well and I can dream I’m lying on a tropical beach! November 8, 2012 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your coconut oil scented with gardenia sounds amazing! I also use coconut oil to condition my hair (nothing else works better), but I usually add either a drop of jasmine oil or some rosewater. I need to try soaking gardenia in it whenever I find some fresh blossoms. November 8, 2012 at 1:43pm Reply

  • Andrea: If I prefer Van Cleef and Arpels Gardenia and Chanel Gardenia, would this still be a gardenia frag for me? I’m not sure what “notes” they share, but I do think I prefer the non-mushroom type!:-)

    My father used to see patients in Key West and since we always drove from Miami, he bought a camper for our family to drive there. My mom hated the “plastic” smell inside of it and before we left home, she would cut masses of gardenias from the bush near where the camper was parked, then fill the sink with them. This is how I will always remember gardenias of my childhood!

    Final “gardenia” comment: V, you once had a picture of Lauren Bacall and asked what perfume would she wear in this picture… I read her autobiography as a result of your “prompt”, and she stated that gardenias are her favorite flowers! November 8, 2012 at 3:01pm Reply

    • Nikki: Beautiful image of a Gardenia filled camper in Florida! Thank you Andrea! November 8, 2012 at 4:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that you might find it a tad too pungent then. Not sure if you’ve tried Marc Jacobs for Her, but that’s another great clean, non-mushroomy gardenia.

      Your memories of a sink filled with gardenias are so evocative. I can just imagine all of those scents from your description, even the sweetish, plasticky scent of a camper. November 8, 2012 at 5:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, and I’m so curious to learn that Bacall preferred gardenias. Thank you, Andrea! November 8, 2012 at 5:25pm Reply

  • Austenfan: This sounds so gorgeous. If only Arquiste did a sample program! November 8, 2012 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I really wish that they had a sampler set, like Frederic Malle or Ormonde Jayne do. I would be happy to buy a discovery set. November 8, 2012 at 5:25pm Reply

  • George: This sounds very interesting, and as Vetiver for Elle is so difficult to find, and I haven’t been able to smell it, definitely now on my smell list. I wonder what started this trend for perfumes which are basically a masculine with a floral note on top. It’s also nice to read a review for the Arquiste line that makes me interested in its creations. November 8, 2012 at 4:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s a niche trend, but then again, fragrances like Dior Homme were innovative and interesting (and successful enough to remain around). Plus, even classical floral notes like rose when balanced against woods or leather can be perfect on a man. Especially if a man in question is tired of the boring, bland things on the masculine side of the fragrance bar. November 8, 2012 at 5:42pm Reply

  • Raluca: Hi Victoria,
    I have a question that’s unrelated to the review above. I hope this is not a problem and I apologize if it is. I just got a bottle of Organza Indecence (the new one) and it is very, very different from the original. I know that because I have a sample of the original one. The new one is merely a shadow of the old one. It lacks depth, warmth, sensuality. Are there any regulations on changing the formula of a perfume and selling it under the same name? I ordered this on line as it is not available in stores so I didn’t get a chance to sample it before buying. Thank you! November 8, 2012 at 11:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: There are no regulations like that, but I wish that there would be. November 9, 2012 at 7:30am Reply

  • Ines: I was already sold on this one after I read the first review of this perfume, but now you mention vetiver, I am sure I will love this. :) November 9, 2012 at 9:51am Reply

  • Daisy: That sounds wonderful. I don’t think my mind would make naturally think of the pairing of Gardenia and Vetiver, but it makes for a beautiful scent image! Will be seeking it out! November 9, 2012 at 9:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: It is such a fascinating marriage–Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. :) November 10, 2012 at 2:35am Reply

  • Yulya: Oh, I would love to wear it myself! I am sure that it will sound beautiful on feminine skin. November 14, 2012 at 12:14pm Reply

  • steve s: I. JUST. LOVE. THIS. FRAGRANCE!! Its fresh…its green…its deep…its complex…I’m usually one for darker, more oriental type fragrances, but this really floored me. Just beautiful! December 7, 2012 at 7:06pm Reply

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