Kate Spade Eau de Parfum (2002): In Memory of Zelda {Perfume Review & Musings}

Kate Spade Eau de Parfum in the Hidden-Gem Series

Notes: summer honeysuckle, gardenia, jasmine, tuberose, fresh muguet

Kate Spade edp is that American classic, a gardenia scent. The advertising copy insists it's a honeysuckle scent but it's really a gardenia perfume first at its core with the honeysuckle and lily of the valley contributing their light notes. The inside of the box is red and patterned with gardenias, just to let you know...

The composition seems light at first but soon goes into deeper territory in this olfactory landscape where gardenias make you think of things like the tower of evil in Lords of the Ring, the one that seems to be located just above Hades. To wit, the gardenia perfume by Kate Spade does not avoid the more nefarious nuances of gardenias, their sulfurous charms which flirt with stink. It does not go as far as being unwearable and unsettling, say musty as a patch of mushrooms in a blue-cheese maker's cellar, but it does send a signal of fatal attraction, that hint of decay to floral intensity, which is like the song of Eros and Thanatos...


Where it remains light is in its tip-of-the-iceberg notes, not to be confused with the so-called "top notes" or "head notes." What I mean by this metaphor is the scent you smell when you move about that is found at the far edge of the aura of the perfume. You will not smell these notes if you stick your nose to your arm. You need to not pay attention and just smell those notes that are able to waft away from you on the air. And it's not the trail itself, which is the whole perfume but in a more serpentine form. At that altitude, the perfume smells a bit of sparkling lily of the valley, which adds its cooler touch to the sultry, nocturnal sighs of the gardenia. From memory this lighter note corresponds to the lemon-y top note of the real gardenia flower.

What one can appreciate about Kate Spade Eau de Parfum is how verist a gardenia perfume it is. It is not one of those compositions that make you hesitate as to whether it might not be tuberose or a mix of both. Sometimes gardenia soliflores are more an impression of the flower than a faithful reproduction. Here it is spot on and lovely as if Kate Spade had pointed her finger to a shrub of gardenias and said simply, "I want this."

With time, the gardenia becomes more sparkling and gay, with the lily of the valley and honeysuckle, as if it were relieved to leave the Southern ancestral property, the hothouse, the strictures of the Southern-Belle etiquette to attend college on the East Coast and were looking forward to wearing mini tennis skirts that fly up and to beat the boys at tennis.

I cannot help but think about Zelda Fitzgerald in this transitioning from Southern hothouse flower to Northern cooler-cucumber gardenia; she ended up being burnt at the stake of a house for lunatics which went up in flame, as if the dark side of gardenias caught up with her. I don't know if she wore herself gardenia, but she was from the South and - what is more important, she had gardenia as a reference point in mind.

egorova.jpgShe could spot the gardenia nature in a woman. Zelda wrote about her Russian ballet teacher in Paris Egorova with whom she started taking lessons while in Paris "She seemed to me like a gardenia, so I gave her gardenias and found some Oriental gardenia perfume for her. She was reticent and I don't know what she thought." Elsewhere, she writes that "she gave Madame gardenias like white kid gloves..." which she bought from the flower stalls at the Madeleine.

The gardenia by Kate Spade is not as creamy as white kid gloves, nor oriental, but is more like a crème de gardenia champagne with a lemon twist; how more Jazz Age-y could it get? It is carnal yet graceful and gay.

I am not sure either that I am that kind of person who is "like a gardenia" destined to wear a gardenia perfume - nor do I know exactly what Zelda meant by that - but this perfume makes me think that I want and can wear gardenia.

I smelled the perfume the first time when it came out in 2002 and it had left me with a distinctive impression. 8 years later, I can appreciate even more its pristine charm, sulfurous vapors notwithstanding.

You can read about the upcoming Kate Spade perfume Twirl; the article gives some information about Kate Spade edp.

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