When you’re doing a tuberose, you know you’ll be up against a lot of scenery-chewing competition – Fracas, Tubéreuse Criminelle and Carnal Flower to start with, not to mention the vocal-chord-popping divas from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, from Chloé to Ysatis…
What you won’t be doing is what I’ve termed an iFrag: there’s no way of dematerializing tuberose, and Gérard Ghislain’s Tuberose Trilogy for Histoires de Parfums, inspired by Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, is meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.
Tuberose 1 – Capricieuse (meaning capricious, temperamental, fickle) muffles tuberose’s loud voice by keeping her locked behind the steely door of iris – saffron provides a metallic note – for most of the proceedings. As the metallic aspect fades, the iris veers towards cocoa, a facet found naturally in some iris products and already showcased in Dior Homme as well as Iris Ganache. The more leathery aspects of iris are underlined by a suede note (possibly IFF’s Suederal, also featured in Cuir Beluga and Daim Blond) which brings Capricieuse closer to another iris-suede scent, Yann Vasnier’s Mythique for Parfums DelRae. The suede note itself is shot with odd, dark, gasoline-ink accents. The top-billed tuberose seeps out gradually from under the door, in its classic, creamy, coconutty guise, but only after several hours into the wearing. In that, it does deserves the name “capricious”: it’s clearly had a good sulk before it decides to put in an appearance and by that time, it wouldn’t scare off even the staunchest tubero-phobe… More of an offbeat iris scent.
Tuberose 2 – Virginale deserves its name inasmuch as virgins might compensate for chastity by gorging themselves on rich, sweet foods. In it, the tuberose is much more present than in Capricieuse, backed up by a Bananarama line-up of jasmine, tiaré and frangipani blossom. Virginale is also, to all ends and purposes, what perfume-land has come to designate as a fruitchouli: fruit in the top notes (in this case cherry, which is listed, and a peach note, which isn’t), patchouli in the drydown, served with a dollop of vanilla and dried out with an ambery-woody note. The result is a cheerful tuberose whose puppy fat may hint at a zaftig future.
Tuberose 3 – Animale is perhaps the least deserving of its name. No musk, civet or indole in this one. Animale bathes its tuberose in tobacco/hay/honey notes of coumarin and immortelle, with the latter’s caramelized aspects pushed to the fore – if there’s one note that can have a good go at drowning out tuberose, it’s immortelle, which is almost impossible to tune down. The bitch-slapping goes on for a while until tuberose finally gets the last word, as she well should, licking out the last, sweet remnants of immortelle with a smug smile.
Clearly, the challenge here was producing tuberose scents that didn’t feel redundant. The classic presentation of the tuberose, particularly in its lactonic aspect, isn’t deconstructed: Gérard Ghislain’s option was to match the flower with other strong notes rather than try for a soliflore, and work with a saturated palette. This is potent, full-out-diva stuff: I’m usually a generous spritzer, but I’d say that one good spray of this should set you up for 24 hours unless you have a particularly scent-eating skin – any more will send your sillage trailing for miles. Which is, after all, just what you’re looking for when you’re tuberosing yourself.