Marc Jacobs Gardenia

I wouldn’t dare call Marc Jacobs Gardenia the best gardenia fragrance of all time.


But I feel confident in declaring it the prettiest gardenia I know. Gardenia is a warmer, less aquatic take on Marc Jacobs’ original perfume. It’s certainly sweet, but still more sophisticated than the vast majority of its sugary neighbors on Sephora’s shelves. A spritz of Gardenia functions almost as liquid sunshine, evoking carefree summer days at the beach and fresh-faced girls with natural, uncomplicated beauty. Think Blake Lively or Lauryn Hill; ladies who are so innately lovely that the barest hint of makeup seems laughably superfluous.

I swear to God, Blake Lively IS California.

You know, while I find Penn Badgley to be completely insufferable on Gossip Girl, and feel a strong desire to yank every single hair out of that Brooklyn hipster goatee every time his smug face pops up onscreen, I am completely devoted to his and Blake’s real-life relationship. They are nothing short of adorable together. Gardenia would be just perfect for Blake, by the way. It’s a California gardenia, beachy hair and tinted chapstick, as opposed to more serious, red-lips-and-stilettos New York gardenias like Fracas. I generally tend to skew more New York, myself, but I can certainly appreciate the charms of this mellow beauty.

Gardenia was discontinued a while ago, but can be easily found online. The lasting power is about what you’d expect for a fragrance that comes in a 10 oz bottle.


Marc Jacobs Rain

Marc Jacobs Rain was among the three original Marc Jacobs splashes released in 2006. It also happens to be the only one of the three (the others being Grass and Cotton) that has survived to today. The official notes for Rain, according to FragranceX, are: wet cut grass, wild strawberry, clementine zest, cypress, tropical rain accord, passion flower, sunshine flower, white orchid, amber, musk, tree moss and teak wood.

These notes, by the way, are laughable. There’s nothing even vaguely resembling strawberry, clementine zest, amber, or musk in here. Rain is a refreshing, vaguely synthetic aquatic. There’s a cucumber note somewhere in here, perhaps to suggest a spa feel. After 10-15 minutes, Rain begins to smell generically (but pleasantly!) floral.

A former roommate of mine, a glamorous fashion student who survived Hurricane Katrina, used to wear Rain. It was so lovely on her, almost poignant. On me, Rain smells inescapably of hairspray. Rain is not my favorite of the MJ splashes (that honor goes to Gardenia), but it is one of the nicest aquatics out there. The pricing ($68 for 10 ounces) is also extremely reasonable.

Disclaimer: I have a sample of Rain from Sephora. Rain can still be found at Sephora, although it is no longer listed on their website.

Cheap Thrills: Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose

If the scent of tuberose (which is commonly mistaken for that of the gardenia flower) were a person, I imagine that she would be a blonde beauty queen from Texas. She would be gorgeous, with the warmest smile you’ve ever seen, and, more likely than not, a completely over-the-top personality. Think Robert Piguet Fracas, which Madonna wore in her cone-bra heyday. Tuberose generally dominates any perfume in which it appears, so while in capable hands tuberose can be done beautifully, it is more often unbalanced and a little scary (think the Texas beauty queen after she places 3rd).

Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose is tuberose done right, especially for the price point. It is sweet enough for mainstream noses but elegant enough for the perfumistas. Velvet Tuberose is slightly heady and has a glamorous, old-Hollywood vibe. It is one of the few perfumes that I can think of that would be suitable for a blonde bombshell (most “bombshell” scents work better on brunettes). VT is lush in a way that recalls both the sensational curves and the dreamy smile that made Marilyn Monroe a star.

My middle school hallways were perpetually filled with a wretched mixture of Axe and the shockingly unpleasant Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea. If more of the girls had worn Velvet Tuberose instead, I really think that it would have somehow improved my middle school experience.

Disclaimer: I have a bottle of Velvet Tuberose that I purchased at Bath and Body Works.