dimanche 21 mars 2010

Histoires de Parfums: Tuberose, times three


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.

24 commentaires:

  1. The day that tuberose becomes an ifrag is the day I quit perfume. Although, they made patchouli into an ifrag, so I suppose it's possible. I'd better hold my tongue. Anything can lose its soul.

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  2. Oh, thank you for this! I've been dying to find out something about these - you know how I love the tubey.

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  3. Amy, they won't knock Carnal Flower off its pedestal for me (and I've got another pedestal to unveil in a few weeks), but I think you might like the Animal one.

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  4. Well, the new prada infusion was a tuberose ifrag (at least, on mouillette)! ;)

    Since I am such a hopeless tubereuse addict, I will try all of these, but honestly I don't feel too tempted (only n°3 rings a bell, yet it is not a loud one!).

    And since I decided to splurge into 2 FB (FM UFDC and ELPC TG) my collections will be on a diet for a while...

    Since we are talking white flowers, I finally smelled the FM candle Gardenia la Nuit you talked about... how beautiful!!!How expensive (for my wallet)!!! Do you know if there is any possibility for Mr FM to make this into a perfume? If I plead? Really too beautiful... I like gardenia even more than tuberose, I fear...which says a lot!!!

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  5. Zazie, I haven't smelled the new Prada but... ok, so I won't quit perfume just yet!
    Congratulations on your buys. I believe Une Fleur de Cassie is one of the best perfumes of the past 20 years. And I do love that Gardenia too... I actually tried out some of the room perfume on my skin!

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  6. Wow. Now I'm wondering about the strength of the samples I received. I tried all three, and, while they were nice scents (I especially liked the Animale) they were ephemeral. They lasted longer on the blotter, but not as much as some. I know I have scent-eating skin. I'm glad they lasted longer for you.

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  7. Olfacta, that's weird. I could still smell the musky drydown on my skin this morning and the last time I sprayed was Saturday!

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  8. Jared and Denyse, that makes the three of us. The thought of it makes me sick... and weepy.

    Marcus

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  9. Marcus, c'mon, get your smelling salts!

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  10. "Tuberosing yourself"! Love that phrase.

    Have been a tuberose babe since I was young, and wore Chloe all through my teen years. I have to comment, though, that it was not terribly big on me, partly because I was dabbing on the edt one drop at a time. Also, I have come to believe that there are some skins that tuberose "sinks down into," cuddling in and becoming friendly, rather than sitting on top and terrorizing everyone within sniff distance - and that I have that sort of skin. Even Carnal Flower is only detectable within two feet of my person (or so my family says).

    Haven't smelled the HdP trio - yet! - and am looking forward to the new L'A, as well as Sonoma Scent Studio's upcoming Bouquet Blanche (centered on gardenia).

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  11. I'm coming to, thanks to you.

    Oh, I can't wait for what's in your pipeline!

    Marcus

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  12. Mals86, I wore Chloé too as a teen, though probably not for years, because I still have a mostly full bottle of it.
    I'd say it's not only a way of "absorbing" or radiating tuberose but a way of wearing it. Also, even though they're still very expansive, scents like Carnal Flower, Tubéreuse Criminelle and Beyond Love, my current line-up, are not at all built in the same way as the big 75-to-85 tuberoses: I think they have more breathing space.

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  13. Marcus, it's going to be great, but it's still a few weeks off...

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  14. Bring on the bitch-slapping!!!

    While I am the ultimate slave to Carnal Flower, I really want to try these...

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  15. March, Carnal Flower is irreplaceable, and cannot be bitch-slapped!

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  16. Well, I really wanted to try these - I love Fracas and Tubereuse Criminelle, and Carnal Flower is my holiest of grails. But now I'm not so sure. Only the 3rd one sounds more or less like the real thing - the first one isn't technically a tuberose and if the second is really a fruitchouli, I'll definitely pass.

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  17. Fashionistaag, you're right, these aren't tuberose soliflores at all, and on those grounds they can't give Carnel Flower a run for her money. They're worth trying though: these aren't cynical or cheapo iFrags, but full-bodied compositions.

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  18. Can't wait to read your interpretation of the new L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse!!!! That bottle is devine and that you've been wearing it for the past three months, gives me the heads up that the juice must be equally as fine!

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  19. Oh, yes, Chloe was my signature scent for more than a decade. I sniff it only for nostalgia's sake now, as it reminds me of the person I no longer am, but I still love tuberose and will definitely want to sample these.
    By the way, the image you chose to head your English text is fabulous (as your choices always are). Can you give us the provenance?
    -- Gretchen

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  20. Gretchen, I picked it up inattributed but I'm 99% sure it's by the Art Deco illustration Georges Barbier. Isn't it adorable? Those little pink knees...

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  21. My favourite tuberose of all time would have to be Le Galion's 'Tubereuse' created by Paul Vascher in the late 1930's.
    Indoles with afterburners, it's so meaty you could almost carve it with a steak knife ! 'lol'
    Luv, Luv, Luv it......

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  22. L'Homme Vert, Le Galion's Tubéreuse is actually one of my first reviews. It's systematically forgotten in discussions about tuberose-themed scents because it was eclipsed by Fracas ten years later. I find its treatment of the methyl salicylate top notes premonitory of Tubéreuse Criminelle.

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