Strange Partners

fontaine Tuberose is often considered the most feminine -  no, strike that, the most female scent going.

There may be many reasons for that, but the headiness of its white floral, the often commented upon smell of blood, or some people say iron, that is part of the flower, intrigue perfumers, and the result is a parade of scents, everything from Carnal Flower to Tubereuse Criminelle, that attempt to recreate the flower.

But what about tuberose in partnership? 

It’s been done, naturally.   Tuberose and cedarwood in Cedre, and again in By Killian’s Straight to Heaven.  They’re interesting perfumes, but far from the daffiest  tuberose bouquets  I’ve come across. Those include fragrances by Gaultier, namely Fragile, or Versace’s Blonde, and de Nicolai.  One of the weirdest was the now defunct Cococabana, a de Nicolai perfume that cast tuberose in an uneasy wobbly duet with… coconut?

It was a very curious performance, and didn’t quite come off, but the pairing was interesting.  Cococabana really didn’t smell like anything on the market back then-that’s for sure.  The tuberose kept on melting into a kind of greasy coconut balm, and well, the whole thing came off less as poetry than sun-tan lotion.  You weren’t sure that the treatment had done either material much good.  Bain de Soleil didn’t have to worry about losing its edge, but the perfume was original.

That wasn’t the last of such odd pairings though.  There was another not three years ago when Honore des Pres put Tuberose together with benzoin in Vamp a New York.  Wow.  Tuberose as floral oriental!  Vamp was a peculiar concept and that partnership came off as  more somber than tuberose’s collaborations’ generally are.   Vamp smelled to me, like the old ballet duo of Dame Margot Fonteyn, with her nervous faded beauty, and Rudolph Nureyev with his tartar cheekbones, and distinctly unfaded allure.  Ultimately, benzoin gets the better of tuberose in that partnership, just as Nureyev frequently managed to upstage the dame, but you were still glad of the performance.  As time goes on, I think that Vamp a New York may be one of Olivia Giacobetti’s best perfumes, up there with Premier Figuier, and her Iunx work, or her Idole for Lubin.

Then there is one of the Arquiste line of fragrances Flor y Canto.  That one pairs tuberose with tagetes, which is marigolds to you and me, and the result is a flashing orange, flamboyant fragrance.  It is hard to make stately tuberose get off her tutu and dance a fandango, but that is what Flor y Canto does.    Is it wearable?  Is it, strictly speaking, in good taste?  Who knows, and does it matter?  If you like this you have a fiery, probably Latin sensibility, and the perfume will be beautiful and intriguing on you, and false advertising on the rest of us.

Will tuberose tie on her toe shoes again at the end of 2013?  Who knows, we will just have to wait and see.

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9 thoughts on “Strange Partners

  1. Ah, Fonteyn and Nureyev, the most amazing ballet partners ever! Just finished watching a documentary about them. I saw them on TV as a kid, but was too young to really appreciate them. When I was an older, ballet-crazy kid, I was fortunate to see both of them dance live, although not together.

    The strangest partner to tuberose that I’ve found is the mango in Nuit de Tubereuse. It’s not overwhelming, and there are many other strange elements in that one. I get a woody note from it and Tubereuse 3 L’Animale. Have you ever noticed that aspect of tuberose?

    • You got to see Nureyev? Wowza! That’s like saying you got to see Janis Joplin in her heyday, or were at the Newport Folk Festival when Dylan went electric-only I think we’re too young for that one. Still, major bragging rights.

      Tuberose does have that woody component. Tend to notice it most in the end of Tubereuse (the Caron one) and a slightly peppery note as well. Haven’t smelled L’Animale. Nuit de T I cannot remember clearly, but then I liked the original L’Arisan Tuberose pretty well, and didn’t see why for they replaced it. Low sales probably…

  2. I hadn’t really thought about tuberose and its many partners before (it’s a bit promiscuous, isn’t it? ;) ), but now that your post has prompted me to do so, I’m thinking “tuberose and … what?” I can’t think of a non-obvious pairing that I’ve really loved. Perhaps because tuberose has the potential to make me a bit queasy, and most of the unexpected pairings exacerbate that a bit.

    • Yes indeedy tuberose does get around, she’s a bit indiscriminate. And of course I went and forgot one of the strangest partnerships, tuberose and… absinthe. t A Travers le Miroir, one of the odder Mugler offerings, and the only really and truly bisexual tuberose I’ve ever come across!

    • Sounds like I’m pushing Krigler shamelessly these days, though not as I only stopped by the boutique once or twice (it’s really a kiosk) at the Plaza.

      They had this tuberose/heliotrope combo called Dolce Tuberose that I liked and don’t like sweet perfumes usually. This might be something to check out the next time you pass through NYC, as it might prove to be tuberose for those who don’t like tuberose.

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