Sotto la Luna (Under the Moon) is a line of fragrances from Andy Tauer, to be launched in September 2014. The first fragrance in the series will be Gardenia.

Sotto la Luna : Gardenia fragrance notes

  • Head

    • spicy gardenia
  • Heart

    • green gardenia, rose, jasmine
  • Base

    • powdery gardenia, sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla

Where to buy

Latest Reviews of Sotto la Luna : Gardenia

If this is a gardenia, I am a sea nymph. That's not entirely surprising as gardenia is (leaping from one mythical creature to another) perfumery's unicorn. A true one is yet to be sighted. Never mind. One follows one's nose and looks for joy nonetheless amid the copious rubble of broken promises.
That Tauer uses mainly jasmine and a touch of rose for the floral part of this perfume is fine by me, this is a classic duo that can sing a surprisingly wide variety of songs. But here the repertoire undergoes a parabolic extension via a glut of dust and wax. Not any old dust – this is the powder of rice husks, marble and dried mushrooms; and not any old wax – this has aspects of orris and bald person's head to it. Strange to say the least, takes getting used to, and some pushing aside of the question ‘why?'. But once one stops worrying that unsuspecting passersby could mistake one for someone just emerged from the mummy's crypt and once this fusty dustiness subsides somewhat, it all becomes curiously compelling. This is a floral perfume presented in a gothic, sepulchral fashion, overgrown with tangled creepers, bathed in the pale light of a skull-like moon. Good for rousing one's inner Morticia and I love it more and more upon each subsequent wear.

21st November 2020
The gardenia, present from the start on my skin, is not sheer sweet blossom. An greenish component with notes from stems and leaves seems intertwined with the floral component, and I get hints of pleasant waxiness.

The drydown sees other floral notes added in, mainly a nice jasmine and a somewhat superficial rose. The base veers towards sweeter and richer territory, with a vanilla note the most obvious facet that is pleasantly balanced out by a woodsy undercurrent.

I get moderate sillage, good projection and an excellent ten hours of longevity.

A pleasant "whole" gardenia of good variety and texture, less intense than Robert Pigue's and and deeper than Creed's efforts with this flower. 3/5.
13th May 2016

There are generally two challenges to making a gardenia perfume. The first is that it requires a complete fabrication since the flower itself yields no aromatic essence. The second is balancing gardenia's heady and sweet notes with its fleshy, salty, umami underbelly.

Another hurdle, though, is matching the specificity of the appearance of the flower and its scent. There are a lot of things in this world that smell like a rose, jasmine or lemon. Nothing else smells like a gardenia, and so for those who can see, the fragrance and the look of the flower are intertwined. If in re-creating the scent of a gardenia the visual image isn't also summoned, then the representation is incomplete.

Bolstering the association between scent and the visual appearance of the flower, and therefore adding to this challenge, is the way the look of the flower and its fragrance suggest each other. The creaminess of the scent matches exactly the matte texture and luminosity of the petal. The creepy, fleshy quality of the aroma is enhanced by the flower's likeness to cyanotic or vampiric skin. The hint of blue color to the creamy white matches the cool, liquid quality of the aroma. Gardenia has a visual/olfactory mirroring similar to the way sound and meaning echo each other in onomatopoeia.

Tauer clears the first two challenges easily. The top notes of gardenia smell like a particular slice of the scent of a gardenia. It is an abstraction, as any attempt at re-creating a gardenia will be. The success here is in the point of view. It is a perfectly proportioned sketch of the flower, not a photorealistic image. It stimulates your imagination, and engages you to complete the image for yourself. As for the umami, Tauer gives us a dusty mushroom, one that suggests that dank dark place where a mushroom grows as much as a mushroom itself.

As for the challenge of the sensory mirroring, Tauer shines. The scent of Sotto di Luna Gardenia is like a gardenia under a black light. The aroma suggests spiced cream, a cool touch, a bone marrow blue-tinted white. Over time the specific appearance of a gardenia goes away but the shape holds. The precise abstraction remains, and the surface tension between sweetness and meatiness, creaminess and dustiness lasts through drydown. The gardenia itself is gone, but the angular lushness that characterize it remains. A wonderful 'morning after' scent.
18th May 2015
First off, l have to report that this is not a true gardenia to my nose, & truth be told l wasn't really expecting one.
ln the opening phase, l get an accord of green jasmine & tuberose. After half an hour, this settles into a creamy white floral, sweetened with a touch of vanilla. Then something interesting happens; l get a distinct whiff of rice pudding. This is, however, completely devoid of cloying sweetness or stodge; it's more of a light-as-air dessert with the flavour of rice pudding, & the floral notes still hover in the background. From here the whole thing fades, becoming very soft at the three-hour mark, & barely there after nine hours. l don't really get a base to speak of, except for maybe some sandalwood.
l rather enjoyed the middle phase of this one, but was a little disappointed that it didn't really develop on my skin, surprising for a Tauer fragrance. lt is nice though, & l'll try my sample again when the weather hots up, to see if it behaves differently then.
30th March 2015
Managed to get hold of a sample of this new one. From a Tauer offering I fully expected a unique labour of love. What I did not expect however was an unshakeable accord of Play-Dough. Is this a good thing? - Yes!

The scene is a very still late summers evening where the floral intensity of abundant white flowers is at its intoxicating peak. It is rapidly cooling as dusk approaches over the secluded mature garden. The kids have retired inside having concluded a creative playtime.

I could define this as a floriental. This floral is lightly spicy, cool and creamy. I believe the vanilla-tonka base combines with the gardenia to give the play-dough accord. Some may perceive a gourmand dimension. There is a almond-milk note, however the dominant florals prevent this straying into gourmand territory - this is not the smell of something I could envisage eating. The vanillary note is masterfully done - with no danger of evoking sickly sweet cup cakes.

A very comforting scent. Soft and rounded in smell and association. Probably a feminine leaning unisex but a good option for anyone wanting to steer away from the ubiquitous sweet/fruity floral. The sandalwood gives a creamy dry-down and solid base. The play-dough accord gives happy associations - and that is surely what personal fragrance is all about!
10th September 2014
Disclaimer: I hate gardenia. So much so I'm not even sure I should be reviewing this fragrance. Gardenia is just too…too. It is so rich and unctuous it always feels like you are gorging yourself on chocolate cake after a five-course dinner. It's also something of a moving target in perfumery, because since it is impossible to extract essential oil from the flower itself, perfumers either use a dry gardenia extract or mix up a bunch of other oils to get an approximation of the genuine article.

I think that perfumers are also very aware of the potential ability of gardenia to overwhelm with its excessive richness, and employ one of two strategies to deal with this: either they cut the richness with another powerful element, like smoke (Une Voix Noire by Serge Lutens) or piercing citruses and refreshing greens (Collection Extraordinaire Gardenia Petale by Van Cleef & Arpels), or they throw caution to the wind and pile on even more richness by pairing it with another overly rich white flower, such as tuberose (Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia).

For Sotta La Luna, Andy Tauer goes a different route. Here he matches the inherent foodiness of gardenia by pairing it with other foody elements, making Sotta La Luna a rare bird: a gourmand gardenia. It's as if Andy is saying to us, hey, gardenia is nature's way of over-egging the pudding anyway, so let's see it one egg and raise you another twelve. It could have been a nauseating mess, and indeed, on paper, just reading my own words is making me feel slightly sick – but since this is Andy Tauer, what we have here is an accomplished and arresting piece of work.

Out of the gates, the opening note is all gardenia – or what I assume is a reconstruction of the note. For about thirty seconds, I have the refrain “NoNoNoNoHELLNo” running through my brain and I briefly consider a trip to the bathroom to scrub it off. But then the magic happens. The tonka beans and the vanilla accents rise up and coat the gardenia in a delicate, sheer aroma of milk pudding or crème anglaise. This milky accord feels dusted with freshly grated cinnamon and flecked with specks of a freshly scraped vanilla pod. The gardenia is still there, but it glows gently through this sheer milk pudding aroma, like something you only catch glimpses of out of the corner of your eye.

Then, there begins the most incredible aroma of crushed bitter almonds, or apricot kernels. I say incredible, because instead of the heavy, stodgy marzipan feel that most fragrances with almonds have, here the bitter almonds are slightly powdery and give off the most wonderful starch note – starch as in the smell off a steam iron, a reef of office paper, or most strongly, the steam off a pan of simmering Basmati rice. I find this smell intoxicating and heady in all the best ways. In a way, this stage of Sotta La Luna reminds me of Andy Tauer's PHI Une Rose de Kandahar, in that both share that wonderful powdered bitter almonds / papery smell. The effect is to infuse the traditionally heavy, too-rich note like gardenia with a pleasing airiness, like being in church and looking up to see a sudden shaft of light stream in through a stained glass window, piercing the gloom.

Later on, I start to pick up small hints of other flowers – rose and jasmine. But only hints. I can also smell quite a bit of (real?) sandalwood in the base, swirling up from below with that distinctive shifting of notes between creamy, rosy, woody, milky, nutty, and green. But gardenia remains the star, sitting like a queen amongst the other rich elements of vanilla, cream, bitter almonds, basmati rice…and yes, I know that probably half those things aren't even in there! But that is the impression I have when smelling this. The fragrance also gets drier and woodier as it progresses through the day. Andy Tauer is so skilled that he was somehow able to corral all these rich, foody elements and use them to frame an equally rich flower, but in a way that feels delicate, restrained, and almost sheer. It is both a matter of changing textures – shifting from lush, rich, creamy pudding to dry rice steam to paper back to creamy sandalwood – but also a vein of slight bitterness from the bitter almonds and a hint of moss in the base to counterbalance all the richness at the start.

Bravo to Andy! He has made yet another stunning fragrance, and this time the first gardenia fragrance that I have ever really liked and would wear, which for a gardenia-hater like me is quite extraordinary. I see a full bottle of this in my future. Once I finally secure a bottle of PHI, of course. After all, a girl's gotta have priorities.
21st August 2014