I have always wanted to ensure that The Candy Perfume Boy is a diverse blog that not only features perfume reviews but also showcases interesting articles and pieces on different aspects of perfume/fragrance. One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while is a series of guides to particular perfume notes and genres, including information on the fragrant facets of the note/genre as well as a list of ‘reference perfumes’ that showcase the note/genre in different and interesting ways.
I’m a tuberose freak, so it makes sense that I start with one of my favourite notes. Why do I love tuberose? Well, as you probably know, I’m a bit of a ‘Fragrant Magpie’, in the sense that I am attracted to those perfumes that are shiny, loud and showy and tuberose is most definitely shiny, loud and showy!
Tuberose is a night-blooming white flower, which despite the name, has absolutely no relation to rose whatsoever. The name actually comes from its swollen, tuberous roots. Tuberose has been used in for perfume for many years but it is also used as wedding and funeral flowers in some cultures.
On a side note, Tuberose is a flower that I’ve always wanted to grow, but it is really difficult to find in garden centres over here and a lot of places haven’t even heard of it, which is a shame because I need me some of those pretty white flowers on my balcony!
Tuberose is a complex smell that can be described as; lush, green, cool, almost camphorous and also buttery, rubbery, exotic, sweet, tropical and like white hot flesh.
Reference Tuberose Fragrances
These are the fragrances that anyone exploring tuberose should smell, they are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch as it were, but of course everyone has their own opinions.
The Diva Tuberose
Fracas by Robert Piguet
As far as tuberose fragrances go, none are as chic and outrageously audacious and infamous as Fracas. To be a diva you have to have real character and presence, qualities that Fracas is not short of. Fracas showcases the white hot fleshy facets of tuberose and mixes them with a warm, buttery base. Touches of green leaves and civet compliment the hyper-tuberose notes.
Fracas is the reason why a lot of people dislike tuberose, it is LOUD with a capital L, but it is also the reason why so many people love the note. Madonna is reported to be a big fan (she loves all things tuberose and you can see her basting herself with a bottle in her documentary ‘I’m Going to Tell You a Secret’) which is a fact that just boosts Fracas’ diva status.
The Freaky Tuberose
Tuberéuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens
Tuberéuse Criminelle is an oddball, it seems to emphasise the white hot fleshy parts of tuberose as well as the cool menthol parts. You can read about Tuberéuse Criminelle’s menthol top notes time and time again but nothing, and I really mean NOTHING, can prepare you for smelling them. My initial thought when spraying TC for the very first time was “Well, I wasn’t expecting that?!”, and I really wasn’t.
TC starts with a a blast of ice cold camphor (think mothballs and you’re on the right track) and hot, fleshy tuberose, this pairing is astoundingly beautiful and whilst it may seem scary at first TC settles to a softer, almost earthy tuberose that is wonderful in absolutely in every way.
The Ditzy Tuberose
Juicy Couture by Juicy Couture
No I don’t have a pink velvet tracksuit with ‘princess’ etched in rhinestones on the rear and yes I am being serious including a Juicy Couture fragrance as a reference tuberose. The eponymous fragrance from Juicy Couture is a good entry-level tuberose, it has enough of the note to be recognisable but at the same time it is not so entirely tuberose-centric that it becomes terrifying (an accolade that could be awarded to the two perfumes above).
Juicy Couture isn’t your typical fruity floral, it uses notes of vanilla and crème brûlée to emphasise the sweetness of the tuberose and fresh, fruity and floral notes to stop it from becoming too sickly or cloying. Juicy Couture is ditzy and fun but at the same time it is a well made tuberose that fits most occasions.
The Photorealistic Tuberose
Beyond Love by Kilian
I have to admit that Beyond Love is not my favourite tuberose fragrance but that doesn’t stop me from respecting it any less. Beyond Love is the most natural smelling tuberose fragrance I have encountered, and for that reason it earns its status as ‘The Photorealistic One’.
Beyond Love smells like green plant stems and fleshy white flowers, on my skin it stays very cool and green and it doesn’t really change drastically during it’s lifespan. I find Beyond Love perhaps a little bit too cold and austere for my tastes (I’m a Fracas kind-of-guy after all) but if you’re looking for something that smells like the ‘real thing’ then Beyond Love is the one you want.
The Euphoric Tuberose
Carnal Flower by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
Ahh, Carnal Flower, you are perhaps the most euphorically beautiful fragrance ever created. You take the exotic, tropical nature of tuberose and add notes of peppery green stems, eucalyptus, juicy fruit gum (JUICY FRUIT GUM!!!) and round it all off with beautiful coconut, orange blossom, ylang ylang and white musk.
Carnal Flower has to be smelled to be believed, it really is spellbinding and whilst I wouldn’t say it is particularly carnal (it is far too beautiful to be described as such) it does have rather a lot of oomph and that tropical tuberose/ylang ylang/coconut/white musk base is TO DIE FOR.
The Casual Tuberose
Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Estée Lauder
I thought carefully about including Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia as a reference tuberose because, strictly speaking, it is weighted more towards the gardenia in the title than the tuberose. Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia demonstrates how tuberose can be used effectively as supporting act rather than being the star (I reckon the perfumer had a hard time convincing tuberose to take a bit of a back seat, she’s not used to it you see).
The gardenia in PCTG is suitably cheesy and mushroomy, which is exactly the way it should be. The tuberose comes through just as the gardenia takes her curtain call, and in PCTG it is sheer yet indolic and it sits within a base of bourbon vanilla, a smell which is just so wonderful you wish it lasted forever.
The Masculine Tuberose *
A Travers le Miroir by Thierry Mugler
What happens when you combine two of my favourite perfumey things; Tuberose and Thierry Mugler? Magic, that’s what!
A Travers le Miroir is an unusual and dramatic take on tuberose, and it is decidedly less floral than the others mentioned in this guide. ATLM takes an oily, slightly camphorous note of tuberose and supports it with darker notes of wintergreen, absinthe and cedar wood. The effect here is of an anisic tuberose laid over dark woods, it feels slightly alien and out of place amongst other tuberose fragrances and that’s why I have included it here, it really is something quite different. It is that rare thing – a masculine tuberose.
The Radiant Tuberose **
Tubéreuse by Mona di Orio
Tubéreuse by Mona di Orio is a fresh take on tuberose that highlights the green, peppery nature of the flower rather than its hot, fleshiness. This tuberose isn’t just about the narcotic queen of the night, it also focuses on a strong jasmine note which adds a green spiciness. The whole thing is rounded off with a soft, fuzzy base full of creamy white flowers, benzoin and musk. A truly glorious perfume that should be tried by those who think they hate tuberose, this one might just convince them otherwise.
The Labyrinthine Tuberose ****
Nuit de Tubéreuse by L’Artisan Parfumeur
Nuit de Tubéreuse is the tricky tuberose, the one that took me a LONG time to appreciate. It isn’t really a tuberose in the same way that Fracas, Carnal Flower and Tubéreuse Criminelle are, it’s more of a floral that just so happens to have a decent amount of tuberose within it.
This ‘tuberose’ is evocative of the stifling heat of a Parisian night; the pleasure, the discomfort and the danger. It has a wonderfully discordant opening with the heady blend of narcotic flowers, sulphurous mango and prickly pink pepper. As it develops a beautiful incense effect and dry, Duchaufour-style woods appear to tame those devilish white flowers.
Nuit de Tubéreuse is as complex as it is beautiful. It may not be the easiest to love but given time and attention it will take hold of you, and it will be worth the effort!
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All descriptions of perfumes in this guide are based on samples or bottles from my own private collection.
* changed from ‘The Dramatic One’ on 04 November 2011 because the new title sums it up more perfectly.
** added to the guide on 10 December 2011.
*** all reference Tuberoses names changed to ‘The xxx Tuberose rather than ‘The xxx One’ on 04 January 2012
**** added to the guide on 29 February 2012.