Gucci launched Flora in 2009. Flora is one of those light and sparkling casual florals, pretty and inoffensive — you know the sort I mean, the kind that go for pleasant and wearable over interesting, but that so perfectly hit that "pleasant and wearable" mark that they're memorable anyway. When I reviewed it, I called it the still-cheerful older sister of Marc Jacobs Daisy, if that helps you place it. And like Daisy, it was just a notch above the competition. I often recommend it to people who are looking for something in that genre.
Gucci's new Flora by Gucci The Garden is a quintet of floral flankers. Two of them — Generous Violet and Glorious Mandarin — are in limited distribution, and I have not tried them.1 The other three — Gorgeous Gardenia, Gracious Tuberose and Glamorous Magnolia — are widely available in department and beauty stores, and those are the three I'm reviewing today. All of them, like the original Flora, were reportedly inspired by Gucci's "renowned" Flora print.
Gorgeous Gardenia (pink bottle) is a fruity blended floral, with a huge dollop of sugar (the notes: red berries, pear, gardenia, frangipani, patchouli and brown sugar accord). It might have some gardenia, but it sure doesn't have much, not even in the opening where you might most expect to find it. It quickly settles into a light and vague almost-fruitchouli of no particular distinction.
I'm a huge gardenia fan, and as huge gardenia fans know, a good gardenia is hard to find. I didn't really expect to find it here, but I thought it might at least be a gardenia in the Flora mold: light, sparkling, pretty and clean. Nope. I vastly prefer the original Flora.
Glamorous Magnolia (blue bottle) is the one I was most interested in, decent magnolia fragrances being even harder to come by than decent gardenia fragrances. This one does smell more like magnolia than Gorgeous Gardenia smells like gardenia, but the freesia and peony are also fighting for prominence. It's one of those fragrances that feels simultaneously sheer (it is not heavy or deep) and loud (it's awfully diffusive), and there's a strong undertone of something green and watery and cucumber-ish (the notes: freesia, green leaves, citrus zest, peony, magnolia, musk, sandalwood and warm chocolate accord). The green stuff mingling with the light — but not light enough for me — chocolate accord did not make me especially happy; I tried to give it a second chance but ended up washing it off. I like this one even less than the Gorgeous Gardenia.
Gracious Tuberose (green bottle) really is a tuberose fragrance. Not a brilliant one, mind you — tuberose fiends are not likely to be impressed — but it's really about what you'd expect from a tuberose flanker to Flora. It's light and sparkling and clean and pleasant. It opens fruity and somewhat sweet, and it has a pale woody musky dry down (the notes: violet leaves, peach, orange flower, rose, cistus, rock rose and white cedar wood). It smells less like tuberose and more like "flowers" the longer it's on skin, and it does not smell like anyone made any huge investment in the materials, but it's fine, and it's far and away my favorite of the three.
That said, I'd still rather wear the original Flora. Flora is a reasonably good example of its kind; Gracious Tuberose cannot hope to compete with other tuberose fragrances, even light and clean and pleasant tuberose fragrances.
Verdict: I did not have huge expectations, but even then, these were a disappointment. They're exactly the sort of flankers that give flankers a bad name.
The quick poll: name a decent gardenia, magnolia or tuberose fragrance that can be had for less than the $70 they're asking for these.
Gucci Flora The Garden Gorgeous Gardenia, Gracious Tuberose and Glamorous Magnolia are available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette. ($70 / $100). Matching body lotions are also available.
1. I think they're just at Gucci boutiques? If anyone has tried them, do comment.