Tuberose Dressed for Day

tuberosecAnyone who has stood in front of a display of perfumes soon becomes aware that a number of those bottles are going to contain the name “tuberose” on the label.  Even if they don’t, as in the case of say, Fracas, they soon announce their tuberose intentions to the world.  Even a perfume novice learns to recognize tuberose early on. Tuberose is hard to miss, and once you’ve smelled it, you never forget it.

It’s a winner, that much is certain. Of all the floral notes out there, tuberose is the one that never seems to go “out of print” (or let us say, “out of bottle”).  This is not the case with many other florals. There have been long stretches of time when there were relatively few rose perfumes on the market, and times when neither carnation nor lilac was plentifully represented – now, for instance. 

Tuberose, however, is a perennial.  Most people who have smelled tuberose know it from such recent costumes as Carnal Flower, or By Killian’s Beyond Love, or its current bubblegum get-up, Juicy Couture.

Then there have been tuberose ensembles, usually involving vanilla;  Annick Goutal’s Passion was one of the first, and probably inspired the big Maurice Roucel tuberose in her 80’s pouf outfit, 24 Faubourg (surely the only certifiably vulgar perfume* ever to come out of the impeccably tasteful House of Hermes). But I’d contend that no other note would ever have tempted the management of Hermes over that line in the first place.

There have been silly attempts to corset tuberose into ridiculous outfits, all sequins and carmine satin, bringing her out in a pink fleshed sweat, things like Fragile, with no pretensions to being lady-like. I liked Fragile when it came out. It was unashamedly camp, a fragrance for a drag queen, something to wear with your six inch heels and leopard nail gels.

The question that periodically interests me is, can tuberose actually show some restraint? It’s a slightly more vexed question than you might imagine.  Different materials lend themselves to different treatments. Tuberose, like pink satin, doesn’t lend itself to strict tailoring.

In this context I have to mention Caron’s soliflore Tubereuse.  This is a fragrance I never hear mentioned on perfume forums, and my guess is because it is a little obscure and also because Tania Sanchez gave it such a poor review in The Guide.  Her review was way off point, I thought.  It was a bit like berating Lanvin for designing a simple dress when you were expecting some kooky Vivienne Westwood couture.

Tubereuse uses a bit of freesia, and some peach, but otherwise leaves the tuberose unembellished. Sometimes simplicity is misinterpreted as blandness, and here the perfumer Andre Fraysse knew he was working with something that customarily went over the top, like some over-embroidered Lesage bustier, but something that would sell in US and Latin American markets whether or not it sold in Europe. (Caron, by the way, has always made some perfumes exclusively for the US market, Narcisse Blanc and  French Can Can, for instance. Tubereuse was probably the latest in what you might call the Caron Export line.)

It remains one of the driest treatments of tuberose I’ve ever come across and the only one I’d consider wearing. But then it’s an achievement of sorts. This is a perfume that manages to get tuberose to shave her legs, wear undergarments, and to don a tailleur.  That’s pretty good going for a note accustomed to wearing Betsey Johnson.

Besides, she can always take it all off again by Friday night.

* With white florals, most of the time, you go big or go home.

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25 thoughts on “Tuberose Dressed for Day

  1. I think there are a few instances where Tuberose shows restraint. The best example I can think of is L’Artisan’s Nuit de Tubereuse, which is a perfect tuberose I think, for a man who doesn’t want to attract too much attention. Tubereuse Criminelle is another one, although it is more tuberose-y than the former, but tempered by that wintergreen accord.

  2. And then there’s Vamp a New York, which although it is beloved of many women, smells like a man’s scent to me, despite the fact that it’s tuberose centric. There’s a lot of benzoin in that, almost as much as Prada Candy, and a distinct rum note.

    What about Cedre? That’s really tuberose despite the name. Nuit de Tubereuse I know I smelled but I’m drawing a blank, can’t recall what I thought of it.

    The Caron Tubereuse is- not unisex- but understated, dry, almost peppery. In that sense similar to Cedre.

    • You got me on the Cedre one – I should have mentioned it considering I own a bottle, and yes, there is definitely a tuberose note! I have a sample of Vamp a New York somewhere – I haven’t tried it for a long time but remember it smelling quite beach-like, with a coconut vibe?

      I haven’t tried the Caron, but it sounds nice.

      • Well Cedre is M. Serge’s 2nd, or 3rd or whatever-eth tuberose. Get’s dizzying after a while.

        Would like to hear what you make of the Vamp if tried again, because kept thinking it would be great on a guy and my Hub, will not wear anything but Sandalwood soap.

  3. 24 Faubourg, vulgar? Wow. It is one of the few florals I really love, and I find it very pretty and classy. I haven’t noticed a prominent tuberose, for me it is all about the orange blossom.

    I used to recoil at the scent of tuberose, but have come to appreciate its “fleshiness”. Madonna’s Truth or Dare was the first to tip me over the edge (go figure!). Next I enjoyed EL’s Tuberose Gardenia, and then I found I could sniff Fracas without keeling over. Even Tubereuse Criminelle with its camphor blast doesn’t turn me off. My favorite tuberoses are Nuit de Tubereuse, Tubereuse 3 L’Animale, and Bandit (yes! After the galbanum blast it goes all tuberose-y on my skin).

    • Knew I was going to get some comments on the “vulgar” descriptive of 24 Faubourg! Do hope it is not a treasured fave of yours, since after all, my opinion is based on what it does on me, which is to wear me instead of the other way around. Let me put it this way: cannot wear 24 discreetly or attractively, and (naturally) my husband adores it.

      24 also reminded me of the 80′s Goutal release Passion-not Gardenia Passion which must have been the gardenia version of the scent- Passion did have a tuberose note, and 24 contains gardenia, but they smelled really similar to me.

      I agree about the note in Bandit, but sadly it doesn’t come out enough, so currently I am putting DSH’s Pandora on with Shikai’s Gardenia lotion, and the combo is wonderful, and does recall some of the best old chypres like Miss Balmain.

      Oh, and, you are the second vote for Nuit de Tubereuse, will have to go and check it out.

  4. Ok, I tried Nuit de Tubereuse ages ago and all I can remember is that I thoroughly disliked it – I really need to revisit.

    The timing of this post is perfect as I’ve spent the last two days totally smitten with a sample of Bruno Acampora Blu (thanks Michael!), it’s a beautiful tuberose and so easy to wear. In fact, I got right on it and ordered the BA sample set – can’t wait to see how the rest of the line stacks-up!

    • Bruno Acampora is a whole line new to me. But an easy to wear tuberose is something different, will have to smell it to believe it.

      Am convinced I will give other people the screaming abdabs if they have to smell tuberose on me. Don’t want to start a stampede of folks running for the car park because I’ve been at the Fracas tester again!

      Also what happened to the old L’Artisan Tubereuse? Discontinued?

      • Yep, the old L’A Tubey is gone. I think that happened shortly after the release of Nuit de T. Have tried the plain old T and did not enjoy it – way buttery and somehow sort of chemical at the same time. Boring.

        Didn’t really love Nuit de T either, though – there’s some rotting jungly stuff in the beginning, followed by some very Duchaufourade-y mildewy incense stuff in the end, and since “jungly” and “mildewy” are two of my least favorite scent angles, I found Nuit hard going.

        • Oh well, it wasn’t one of the better L’Artys. Some of the good ones also seem either to be gone or in very narrow distribution, L’Haie Fleuri for example, but I’m going off topic here.

          As to the Voile de Fleur you mention, that was the only Tom Ford that ever had me sit up and pay attention-so far that is. White Patchouli is a bit harsh, and so is Neroli Portofino-to my mind- Violet Blonde I’d better smell again. V d F was very pretty though, and was one of those things I noticed at Sephora when we were on our way home and my daughter was little and BORED, and had to go to the ladies room and no fooling! So the opportunity passed and the next time I looked up-it was gone.

          It was understated too, which is pretty hard for ole Tuberose to do.

  5. One gentle sort of tuberose is Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, the edt version of the honkin’ beast that is Black Orchid. It’s sort of milky and nutmeggy and woody, very nice stuff. Of course, it is sadly discontinued.

  6. Third vote for Nuit de Tubereuse; it’s the only-tuberose-centric scent I wear, although you have piqued my interest in Caron’s Tubereuse. I’ll have to check it out next time I visit the Caron boutique.

    • There’s a real following for that one. Wow, who knew that Bertrand Duchaufour had such a tuberose hit?

      The Caron Tubereuse is quite dry, which I mention as a caution because if you’re expecting floweriness galore, you’ll be disappointed. The freesia note comes out in it and the tuberose has a spicy quality, altogether a brut tuberose, if you can imagine such a thing.

  7. “Discreet”? What is this “discreet” you speak of? (LOL).

    Nuit de Tubereuse is an oddball – it’s got everything but the kitchen sink (fruit, spices, wood), oh yeah, and tuberose! Although it is not the most prominent note. This fragrance takes you on an interesting journey.

      • Something is not quite right about the reply function. Don’t know what it is, and my technical support has the flu this week, so my apologies for the confusion.

    • My Hub doesn’t care about discreet either. “That’s pretty, that’s really nice, why don’t you wear that?” Uh huh. Or else the biggest, dirtiest leathers ever. He still pouts about Tabac Blond not being the same. Odd really.

      Oddball is always interesting to me so will definitely have to re-try Nuit.

  8. I don’t like most perfumes with tuberose. I doubt I’ll ever change my mind but I keep testing a couple of the well-known ones from time to time just to see if I’ve evolved. Still no.

    • Certainly understand your position vis a vis tuberose.

      Comes down to this probably, tuberose is just a polarizing note, either you love the stuff and it smells like great wafting invisible bouquets on your skin, or else it smells like old vitamin supplements. Ugh!

  9. Oh gosh, you broke my heart and elevated it, all in the same post! :D

    I’m with fleurdelys on finding 24 Faubourg both beautiful and classy. At least in edp and parfum concentrations (I’ve never tried the edt).

    But I absolutely concur with your assessment of Caron Tubereuse. Tuberose comes across as being shackled, to me, in this scent … and yet the restraints make it all the more interesting.

    The easiest tuberose of all is L’Artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillons. Another one where tuberose is not the diva is Aftelier’s Cepes & Tuberose.

    • Oh dear, never wish to make any one who cherishes a perfume feel sad. Perfume is too lovely for that.

      24 Faubourg is beautiful, but alas, not on me. My Hub loves it too, and wonders why I won’t wear it? But then when I wear it he doesn’t recognize it. In fact he’s apt to wonder where that smell is coming from?

      La Chasse I agree, is wonderfully easy, but in this connection must confess, as I did to Fleur de Lys, that I pair white flower notes with a chypre. Usually I put Chasse together with Cabochard, and then call the mix Papillon Cabochard!

      Cepes & Tuberose sounds intriguing but haven’t ever come across it yet.

    • Oh and, I read your review of it yesterday, having written this one. I might as well not have bothered since you already had pegged the Caron very well indeed. The perfume does seem like the delicate mating dance in The Age of Innocence! Beautifully done!

  10. I didn’t notice anyone mentioning Versace Blonde. Though it is the centrepiece in a bouquet I still get a massive and glorious hit of Tuberose in it.
    If you think 24 is vulgar, you definitely need to spend a while in Blonde.
    Portia x

    • Hi Portia!

      Versace Blonde! That one takes me back. It is a South Beach kind of a tuberose, isn’t it?

      You’re right, it is a much better example of over the topness with tuberoses than 24. I had quite forgotten about it. But now you mention it, Blonde is a fine example of lavish excess. How could any perfume for which Donatella was the muse be anything less?

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