If it was a color? You could call it “cuisse de nymphe émue”, an 18th-century color which could translate as “thigh of a blushing nymph”. Or “tip of a young breast”, after the piquant metaphor vamped up by Colette to describe the budding tuberose… Refreshed by the cool sheen of aldehydes, sprinkled with cinnamon like a freckled cheek, the fragrance, as softly rounded as a peach set on a bed of moss, was called Chloé when it was launched in 1974 by Parfums Lagerfeld. Renamed Tuberosa 1974 for its reedition in Chloé’s L’Atelier des fleurs collection, the fragrance offers a rarely seen interpretation of the flower that inspired it. Here, it is more tender than criminal, and more playful than carnal. A vision of tuberose that would soon be elbowed off the shelves by the linebacker-shouldered divas of the bling decade, from Giorgio to Amarige by way of Poison… Is it because it has been forgotten that it seems so youthful today?
Tuberosa 1974 was originally composed by Betty Busse. The current reedition has been reorchestrated by Dominique Ropion. If anyone has compared the two I'd love to hear back from you. I wore Chloé briefly back when T-Rex strutted onstage, but the new version, which I adore, doesn't ring a bell.
Illustration: The Birth of Venus by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, because no one ever painted did a blushing nymph thigh better than the Grassois master.