Archive for the ‘Tuberose scents’ Category

Perfume Review: Amouage Honour Woman

Date released: 2011

Perfumer: Alexandra Carlin and Violaine Collas

Sample provenance: sample purchased from Aedes.com, 2012

Sub-category: Summer-weight white floral with tuberose

The following never happened. But it could have…

Mals was having an amazing day. She was walking down a city street, the heels of her new brown leather boots tapping on the sidewalk, shopping bags swinging by her side. She was musing to herself that the cashmere sweater she’d found on sale was just perfect – simple, classic, a lovely soft shade of gray-blue. And the boots! Will wonders never cease? The boots were perfect, too. Butter-soft, the right heel, they fit her ankles, and they didn’t make her feet ache. She’d worn them out of the store. And that tablecloth, that was a wonderful find for $10… White linen with drawn-thread work, just the size for her harvest maple table, guaranteed resistant to the tiniest food stain, machine washable. Perfect.

A storefront caught her eye: The Dream Perfumery, lettered in a clean but flowing script above the door. Her eyebrows went up, and she dodged across the lanes of oncoming walkers to have a closer look. The building itself seemed to be made of marble, and the interior was softly lit. The heavy glass door swung open when she put her hand up to it, and then she realized that someone inside had opened it for her.

Thank you,” she said in faint surprise to the young woman holding the door.

Oh, do come in,” the young woman said. “Lovely day, isn’t it? I’m Graciela, and we’re so pleased you stopped by.”

Mals blinked. This was not what the kind of treatment to which she was accustomed. And the inside of the shop was absolutely luxe, with a whisper-soft carpet and walls hung with fabric in rich colors. It smelled of many mingled scents, as a perfume shop should.


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Stephanie bottle, from Michael Storer website

I think I first saw a mention of Stephanie from Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am, shortly after I first saw her mention Michael Storer in a review of Monk. Monk still doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, but Stephanie sounded right up my alley.

Perfume Review: Michael Storer Stephanie

Date released:2007

Perfumer: Michael Storer

Sample provenance: bottle split, 2011

Sub-category: Lush white floral with tuberose

I still don’t know much about Michael Storer, except that he has a website and sells several fragrances which are not exactly hot topics on the perfume blog circuit but are generally well-regarded. The webside tag says, “Niche fragrances for the individualist.” I’m down with that, I suppose. Besides Stephanie, the other feminine fragrances are Yvette and Genviève (what, all Michael’s women are French?); also available are Kadota and Winter Star, described as unisex, and two masculines called Djin and Monk. The website explains that after many years spent in the fashion industry, Mr. Storer began making perfumes, and that his philosophy of fragrance leads him to create scents which are somewhat linear so that the “signature accord,” so to speak, the central character, is what sticks around.

To read about each fragrance, you click on the bottle in the photo, whereupon you immediately get a brief flash of a black-and-white arty nude or partially-clad body, rolling through to a description of the fragrance notes. (Can it be a coincidence that the images of women are soft-focus and fuzzy, while the images of men are stunningly crisp and clear? No matter.)

As far as I can tell, the fragrances are all eau de parfum, and priced at about $85 for a 2-ounce bottle: a good deal compared to a lot of niche fragrances.


White Gardenia, from Wikimedia Commons

Stephanie is described as being a gorgeous, accurate recreation of the headspace of a gardenia flower. The notes listed, with the admission that it’s an incomplete list, are: pink pepper, black pepper, galbanum, angelica root, sambac jasmine absolute, tuberose, and chrysanthemum for a green finish. I love gardenias – sweet and floral and swoony and sort of weird, too – and I think Mr. Storer has done a lovely job with this scent, although I admit that it doesn’t smell distinctively gardenia to me. In practical terms, gardenia absolute is extremely rare, produced in minuscule, ridiculously expensive quantities, and any “gardenia” scent on the market is pretty much going to be custom-built out of tuberose. Which is fine with me, really.

In my opinion, rather than being strictly gardenia, Stephanie is a straight-up, no-twists, white floral. She (I know, a cheap and easy anthropomorphization – sorry) reaches out and grabs a handful of your shirtfront and pulls you close, where you fall deeply under her spell.

Well, you have to like white flowers to fall under the spell, but still.

I smell the spiky-sharp green of galbanum and chrysanthemum right away, but it doesn’t last long before we are into white floral territory. I can pick out tuberose and the jasmine sambac, and I think there must be a honkin’ dose of orange blossom in here as well, because there is a faintly soapy aspect to the scent. I smell the black pepper, too, which is fine, I like that, and it just adds a little counterpoint to the sweetness of the florals, which is indeed pretty sweet. Underneath the florals is a quiet, unobtrusive base of wood – cedar, maybe? – and musk.

I think it’s beautiful. Stephanie’s floral notes seem to be mostly natural; I don’t get any of that astringent-yet-too-sweet quality that pops up with synthetic tuberose. And like most tuberose scents, it lasts a good long time on me, though with much quieter sillage after the first hour or so. I usually get about six hours from two spritzes (one wrist, smeared to the other, and base of throat), which is pretty good longevity for me.

Is it better than some of the other gardenia fragrances I’ve tried? Not sure. It’s not nearly as diffusive and long-lived as Estee Lauder’s pretty-pretty Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, and it’s not as green as the tropical Kai. However, it didn’t feel like the throwback scent that PCTG did to me, and it seemed better blended than Kai. Stephanie is swoony, a lovely tropical vacation in a bottle, and I know I’ll enjoy wearing my small decant.

Quality: A

Grab-scale score: 8.

Short description: Lush white floral.

Cost: $$

Earns compliments? Yes.

Scent presence: Moderate, with moderate sillage. Lasts about six hours with two spritzes.

Review report: Abigail at ISTIA, Sweet Diva, Scent Signals

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Perfume Review:Diptyque Do Son

Date released: 2005

Perfumer: Fabrice Pellegrin

Sample provenance: sample from The Posh Peasant, 2011

Sub-category: Atypical (green) tuberose soliflore

I admit it: I was influenced by the lackluster review in Perfumes: The Guide, and I did not originally intend to include Do Son in my ongoing Tuberose Series Reviews. However, a perfumista friend (Hi, Heidi!) or two were raving about it a few months ago on Facebook, calling it a “summery tuberose” and “full of sea air,” and I caved.

I have noticed, and probably you have too, that the reviews in P:TG are heavily weighted toward the preferences of the writers. (Which they, in all probability, would freely confess.) I don’t think it’s even possible to remove personal preferences from fragrance reviews. One of the things which seems to consistently annoy Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez is the use of synthetic tuberose. Witness this review of Michael Kors: “Shrieking hair-singeing horror, probably first rejected for use in industrial drain cleaner. One of the worst ever.” Or this one, for Amarige: “…truly loathsome, perceptible even at parts-per-billion level, and at all times incompatible with others’ enjoyment of food, music, sex and travel.” Here, TS weighs in on Do Son, which she calls “alleged tuberose”: “Coming out at roughly the same time as Carnal Flower, Do Son never stood much of a chance with tuberose lovers. It didn’t have the budget: the whole thing seems chemical and empty, and, after an okay fresh floral start, alternates between cloying and stale.”

I don’t think it’s as bad as that. But I can tell you that I have now smelled a lot of tuberose fragrances – I mean what my British childhood friend Sarah used to call a whacking great lot of them. This is review #19, and I haven’t yet formally reviewed several of the ones I’ve tried. I’ll also tell you that you can get samples of tuberose essential oil and even tuberose absolute online, and the Real Deal is both fairly inexpensive and truly wonderful-smelling. The synthetic tuberose begins to stick out, the more tuberose scents I smell; it seems to have a greater sweetness level than natural tuberose, and also a… how to say this?… perhaps it’s a blockiness, a sharpness to its edges, that the natural does not have. Mind you, I still do like synthetic tuberose, but compared to the natural essence it does suffer quite a bit. Powdered nondairy creamer is definitely not the same as heavy cream.

Do Son is, like the (few) other Diptyque fragrances I’ve tried, light. This is not necessarily bad, given that the synthetic tuberose does sort of rise up and tap me ungently on the nose after the first ten minutes of soft, sweet-green floralcy. The opening is really, really pretty, and I wish it lasted longer. From there, it just settles into the straight-up, clearly-chemical tuberose angle and stays there. The drydown is a whisper of musk and a hint of vanilla, with the satiny-cool aspect that often results from iris, all of it still under a very faint veil of tuberose that finally begins to smell really, really nice. The whole thing does smell rather clean – not cleaning products, or chemical “fresh” notes, but without the milky or buttery notes you often smell in conjunction with tuberose, and I doubt it would actually offend anyone unless you drenched yourself in it (please don’t, anyway).  I like the opening very much, and the far, far drydown is also extremely pleasant.  I do suspect that there is a bit of real tuberose oil in the composition, and both before and after the center section, when the synthetic note dominates, the real is discernible.  I have seen several references to an aquatic or watery note in Do Son, but I don’t pick up on such a thing – or perhaps the synthetic tuberose is drowning it out for me.

Notes for Do Son, from Fragrantica: African orange flower, rose, tuberose, musk, benzoin, and iris.  Luckyscent mentions orange tree leaves rather than orange flower, and I think it’s probably more accurate, given the green quality.

I also wish there were more interesting things to say about Do Son. It was inspired by childhood memories of Haiphong, Vietnam, named after a resort in Vietnam, and I suspect that the real-life place smells much more intriguing, with jungle and dirt and wood and incense as well as the flowers. To be perfectly honest, I really prefer the much-cheaper B&BW Velvet Tuberose. It smells cheap and is, rather than smelling cheap and costing much more the way the Diptyque does, and apparently I’m vulgar enough to like my cheap fragrances.

I feel I ought to apologize to my friends for disliking their “light, aquatic” tuberose pick. I also notice that several perfume bloggers like it quite a bit better than I did, calling it “misty” and “delicate” and praising it for being a light and wearable tuberose scent.  I’m sorry – I tried to enjoy it. But I’m still not sure whether I’d rather have Do Son or nothing.

Quality: D

Grab-scale score: 3. Headache city.

Short description: Bare tuberose.

Cost: $$      ($88 for 50 ml at Luckyscent)

Earns compliments? No.

Scent presence: Moderate, with moderate sillage. Lasts about three hours when dabbed very generously.  Probably would last better if sprayed.

Review report: Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Perfume Smellin’ Things, The Non-Blonde, Pere de Pierre.  (As always, please point me to any other reviews I’ve missed.)

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Perfume Review:i Profumi di Firenze Tuberosa d’Autonno

Date released: none listed

Perfumer: none listed

Sample provenance: sample from The Perfumed Court, 2010

Sub-category: Atypical (spicy) tuberose soliflore

Tuberosa d’Autonno opens up with the grape-candy effect that has become so familiar to us from Giorgio Beverly Hills – and from the Tuberose Monster par excellence, Dior Poison. (Elena at Perfume Shrine says this is methyl anthranilate; see her excellent post on aromachemicals and their effects here.) In fact, I have begun noticing this artificial-grape-flavor smell fairly frequently while testing tuberose/gardenia scents lately, and it always yells, “POISON!” pretty loudly in my ear. Giorgio BH may have been the first scent to pair it with tuberose, but Poison was the signature for this aromachemical, if you ask me. It’s almost medicinal in its artificiality – I think first of the Dimetapp my mother used to give me when I was a sniffly kid.

Within a few moments, a nice natural tuberose enters the room, and as usual, all attention follows, leaving the grape note off in the corner to itself (where it should be). I think there may be a small amount of orange blossom in the scent; at this stage, Tuberosa d’Autonno reminds me most of Fracas. It’s quieter than Fracas, but very creamy under the fascinating lilt of tuberose, which here has a “cool” cast. The whole scent spends a good long period in this creamy-cool-white petals mode, and I like it quite a bit.

After a few hours, the scent takes a noticeably spicy turn into warm spices under the cool white flowers, and it begins to remind me of Honore des Pres’ bombshell tubey, Vamp a NY. TdA lacks Vamp’s cheerfully trashy bubble-gum accent and overt sweetness, but it picks up on the spicy, rich, resinous goodness of the root-beer base of Vamp. This cool/warm dichotomy is enjoyable to me in both fragrances, but TdA is restrained and mysterious, where Vamp is limboing in her mini-skirt.

I’m aware that it’s probably not good form to review Fragrance X by comparing it to Fragrance Y. But this is my 18th review of a tuberose scent, and since tuberose is such a take-charge sort of note, many of these fragrances start smelling a bit alike after awhile. I apologize.

I can’t find any list of notes for this one anywhere; I Profumi di Firenze apparently plays its cards close to its chest. But if you want my guess: grape notes, tuberose, orange blossom, perhaps a hint of jasmine, a bare hint of clove, tolu balsam, myrrh and perhaps woods.  The website (Isabella Imports) says this about it:

(Floral) Bewitching tuberose scent. Enchanting, intoxicating, for late nights.
Tuberose Polianthes from Italy

Lasting power, like most white floral scents, is good on me: about six hours.

Quality: B. Good quality stuff in there, but accented in an unusual fashion.

Grab-scale score: 7. Winds up close enough to Vamp a NY that I didn’t feel I needed any (I have a decant of Vamp).

Short description: Tuberose spice.

Cost: $$

Earns compliments? Yes, once the Grape Dimetapp accord goes away.

Scent presence: Moderate, with moderate sillage. Lasts several hours; after 4 hours, the sillage is much less and the scent stays close to the skin.

Review report: No full reviews available, other than a brief mention by Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am, and another brief mention by Robin at Now Smell This.  Both reviewers found it “cooler” than I did.

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A kind swap friend sent me a sample of this lovely, discontinued mixed-white-floral scent.

Perfume Review: Kate Spade EdP (Beauty)

Date released: 2002

Perfumer: none listed

Sample provenance: sample from swap via friend’s personal collection

Sub-category: Gentle white floral with tuberose

I’d never heard of this scent before it showed up in a swap bag. I know very little about Kate Spade herself, except that her handbags seemed to be the de rigueur purse accessory for fashionable women over the last decade or so. Since I’m not a fashionable woman, there’s where my knowledge stops.

I had no idea what to expect before I popped open the sample vial and dabbed on the fragrance, but immediately after applying it, I knew I had one of those big bosomy white floral bombs on my wrists. I went straight to Fragrantica to find the notes, which are: jasmine, gardenia, tuberose, honeysuckle, lily of the valley, and coconut. Those are the only notes listed.

And those are the only notes I get, too. There is a faint opening whiff of camphor, and then the scent sort of moves around from white flower to white flower, as if it were a handheld video camera trained on a group of debutantes in white ballgowns, focusing briefly on each girl. First the focus is on Tuberose; her fashionable gown is satin and her lipstick and precision-cut hair are perfectly glossy as she smiles and waves at you. The next ready for her closeup is Gardenia; her bouffant dress is tulle and perhaps a bit too decollete, her hair is down in soft waves and her pink lipstick is smudged, as if she broke off kissing the best-looking boy at the party to come and join her friends. The camera moves on to Honeysuckle, too shy to look directly at the camera; her lace dress is simple and modest, and then we’re on to jasmine. Jasmine is the most conventionally pretty one of the bunch in her taffeta dress, everything about her carefully chosen. Lastly, the camera focuses on Lily of the Valley, slender and regal in a tailored silk shantung gown, with a simple loose chignon and a wonderful smile. She’s got her arms around her friends, chatting happily, and the camera lingers on her, and you begin to realize that the cameraman must be a little in love with her.

The longer this fragrance wears, the less about tuberose and the more about lily of the valley it becomes. It is above all a blend of white flowers, with the lily of the valley keeping the fragrance from being very tropical and perhaps too sweet, but never too antiseptic, as muguet fragrances can sometimes get. It is not linear, exactly, but a panoramic view of a range of white flowers is not going to change all that much, and its character stays a soft floral melange. I actually do not smell the coconut, but it is probably there in small quantities, just to keep the scent from going too bathroom-cleanser (as L’Artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillons did on me).

Lasting power, like most white floral scents, is good on me, about six hours, even dabbed.

Quality: B+ Smells fresh and fairly natural, even the lily of the valley note.

Grab-scale score: 7 If this were still being produced, at the current prices of Kate Spade’s new fragrance, a fruity floral called Twirl, I’d have a bottle.

Short description: White floral blend.

Cost: $$$ or $$$$ Discontinued, and extremely rare on eBay, so that when a bottle comes up for bid, it’s quickly pushed into the over-$100 range, whether 50ml or 100ml. I could “buy it now” for $200, if I were desperate.

Earns compliments? Yes, of the “you smell pretty” variety.

Scent presence: Moderately strong, with moderate sillage. Lasts several hours; after 4 hours, the sillage is much less and the scent stays close to the skin.

Review report: No reviews available, other than brief ones at Basenotes and Fragrantica.

Image of Kate Spade eau de parfum from Fragrantica.  Image of debutantes at the Royal Debutante Ball from Artsopolis.  They actually look quite a bit sluttier than the ones in my imagination.

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A new scent from the Honore des Pres house, which specializes in all-natural fragrances. Vamp a NY is part of the We Love NY series, which also includes I Love Les Carottes and Love Coco.

Perfume Review: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

Date released: 2010

Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti

Sample provenance: sample from Honore des Pres via giveaway at Grain de Musc

Sub-category: Loud dressed-up party composition – except that it’s not all that loud.

As you might have guessed from the post title (if you didn’t already know, because I’m not quiet about it), Tuberose is my BFF. I love it, and tend to feel very comfortable in tuberose scents. When I read at Grain de Musc that Denyse was excited about another new tuberose scent, and that it was very different than L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse but that so well-done that she wanted both, I got excited too. Until I read her review – which mentions the Dreaded Tolu Balsam. If you didn’t already know this little bit of trivial, tolu doesn’t play nice with me. It’s not even a frenemy, it’s a Mean Girl. I sighed a little and decided not to enter the very generous drawing offered by Honore des Pres. I said so in my comments there. But when Denyse gave us the update that HdP had made more samples available and I was eligible for one, I decided to give it a shot. I’m very glad I did.

Vamp a NY starts off with the now-familiar rubber-and-camphor opening of good tuberose absolute, and then there’s a big fruity hit of something – ylang-ylang, with its banana preserves note, perhaps? (Edit: since reading Annelie’s comments about cucumber at Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, I do smell something aquatic-cucumbery in the opening, just after the mothballs. It doesn’t last more than a minute or so, though, and I’m not surprised I missed it the first six or seven times I wore Vamp.) I think there are some other tropical florals (jasmine sambac? frangipani?) in the mix too, although it smells very tuberose-y from start to finish. The heart of this scent, in my opinion, is a big pas de deux with tuberose and coconut, with all the romantic flourishes you could wish for – sweeping violins, purple sunsets, soft caressing winds, crashing waves, golden sands, the whole Tropical Honeymoon deal.

I like it very much. (My own honeymoon was spent in Maine, hiking around small lakes and up granite mountains… in early May. It was cold enough to wear sweatshirts. And on the way home, I’m not kidding here, we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play. Well, The CEO went to see the Red Sox play; I just tagged along. You could say that Capital-R Romance, at least in terms of setting, was a bit lacking, and perhaps I’ve longed for Capital-R Romance ever since.)

Luckily, Vamp a NY delivers. Eventually, up under the tuberose-coconut heart come warm spices and a rich vanilla. I can’t identify the spices (Edit: Denyse suggests the spicy notes are coming from the balsams, so color me shocked – the Dreaded Tolu isn’t bothering me here!), but they assist in keeping the fragrance from becoming unbearably sweet. It is sweet – very sweet – but the vanilla is rich and buttery rather than sugary and marshmallowy, and I just dig this thing right down to the ground.

Back in January, I was testing Havana Vanille and enjoying the way that the very far drydown, some twelve hours after application, seems to be a clear vanilla liqueur, very intense. I dabbed some Beyond Love near the HV, intending to test it, and found that tuberose + vanilla is a gorgeous smell. At the time, I lamented, “Why-oh-why doesn’t somebody make a tuberose-vanilla scent?” Apparently, Honore des Pres already knew how terrific the combination is, and I need search no longer.

Vamp a NY lasts five to six hours with one spray, which is rather long-lasting for me. Of course, it helps that it’s primarily composed of the few notes that tend to hang around a long time on me – but that’s good. Sillage is probably biggest during that fruity stage, but with only one spritz you’re not going to asphyxiate anybody. If I’m going to be at home, I’d do two or three spritzes, but that amount would be too much for work, in my opinion.

I’ve used up about half the generous spray sample HdP sent. I don’t know how big the bottle is, but it’s bigger than the 2ml spray bottles I have on hand – my guess is 3ml? – which is a fantastic size for a sample. I’m impressed, too, by this marketing strategy. Scenario: You’re a niche company, with limited distribution outlets, and you’re bringing out a new scent. How to get cost-effective publicity? You find a way to get your fragrance in front of as many noses as possible – the more fragrance-savvy, the better – and let them tell everybody else how great it is. Genius, my friends, genius. Kudos to Honore des Pres, and I wish the company much success.

I did several testings of Vamp a NY in the same timeframe as I was testing Nuit de Tubereuse, although I did not actually do a head-to-head contest. I found NdT on the “difficult to wear” side – its earthy, rooty nature is odd and borderline unpleasant for me, the tuberose is somewhat muted, and the woody-incense drydown is lovely but not very tuberose-y. Vamp, on the other hand, is pretty much tuberose all the way through, which suits me very well. It’s comfortable and relaxed, pretty and flirty, and is capable of making pleasant conversation. Simply put, it just makes me feel happy. And what’s better than that? If I want intellectual exercises, I’ll wear Jolie Madame, not tuberose.

Quality: A Smells natural, and the notes harmonize well together. Once it gets to where it’s going, it smells the same for quite a long time, but who minds that?

Grab-scale score: 8

Short description: Tropical gourmand tuberose.

Cost: $$  Vamp a NY has not yet been released in the US; the US launch is scheduled for September. However, it is available at Colette now, at 76 euro for a 50ml bottle plus VAT and shipping. (Don’t think I haven’t been monitoring the currency exchange rate.  I’d love a split.)

Earns compliments? Yes. A coworker said I smelled “like dessert, if desserts were made out of flowers.” Three out of four of my immediate family members like it very much. However, the one that dislikes it does so intensely until it settles into its tuberose-vanilla base. The bad news? It’s Gaze that doesn’t like it, and he’s the family member with what I’d call the most discerning nose. He says that when Vamp gets to its drydown, it’s pleasant and smells like candied flowers.

Scent presence: Moderately strong, with moderate sillage. Lasts several hours; after 4-5 hours, the sillage is much less and the scent stays close to the skin.

Review report: Grain de Musc, All I Am – a Redhead, Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, From Top to Bottom – Perfume Patter, Notes from the Ledge, The Perfume Chronicles, Perfume Posse, Scent of the Day, Perfume-Smellin’ Things.

Image of Vamp a NY from Fragrantica.  Second image is “White tuberose” from Buttersweet, and third is Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Beans from jannza; both are from flickr.

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I’ve seen several reviews of this scent, and at least one excellent interview (Denyse at Grain de Musc’s interview of Bertrand Duchaufour – warning, the accompanying image is a Matisse nude, probably NSFW) commenting that the reviewers are really enjoying the perfumer’s “new direction.” I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m not very familiar with his earlier work, and I can’t really address the issue. I like Amaranthine very much, however, and if this is M. Duchaufour’s future, I like it.  To be brutally honest, I like Amaranthine much better – it seems so comfortable – but NdT is fascinating.

Perfume Review: L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse

Date released: 2010

Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour

Sample provenance: split of fresh bottle from retailer, 2010

Sub-category: Ummmm… freaky tuberose? (I just created that one.)

 Notes for NdT:  Tuberose, mango, citrus, cardamom, clove, pink pepper, pepper, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, angelica, gorse, sandalwood, palisander, musks, benzoin and styrax.

After reading Denyse’s tantalizing “guess what tuberose scent I’ve been wearing lately that hasn’t been released yet?” teaser in December, and finding a bottle split active, I jumped right in, unsniffed. (Oh, don’t worry, it was 5ml. And tuberose. How could I go wrong?) And then the decant bottle arrived in the mail. I pulled the cap off and sniffed. “Huh. It smells like… dirt,” I said to myself. “I can tell there’s tuberose in there, but it’s mostly… dirt. Wet potting soil, actually. And maybe… is that mildew?”

(Those of you who are familiar with Duchaufour’s earlier work may stop laughing at me now.  Thank you.)

Put off by the mildew, I tucked my small decant away for several days. Pulled it back out again and smelled the nozzle… nope, still mildew, with something floral under there somewhere. Put it away again for another week. Then received an advance sample of another tuberose scent (yes, yes, review of this one on June 23, I promise) called Vamp a NY, from Honore des Pres’ new We ❤ NY series, which also includes I ❤ Les Carottes, and Love Coco. Vamp was so terrific that I felt I really must give NdT a real chance, instead of just sniffing the cap and getting frightened.

And the next time I picked up my bottle, it wasn’t nearly so mildewy/earthy. I could actually smell the tuberose, just a bit. So, okay, here goes: I sprayed a little on my thumb. And immediately thought of jungles. All that moisture in the air, and on the ground, and in the vegetation… so much vegetation, and every bit of it just this side of rotting.

There is at least one review that relates the opening to “Juicy Fruit gum,” and others that say, “big ripe mango,” and one that veers off someplace else with “neon and electric.” To be honest, I don’t get any of those things. What I get is JUNGLE, and it’s just that little bit scary. It’s borderline grossly overripe, and definitely weird, and I love March’s description of the opening: “The mind grasps at the smell, trying to categorize it as pleasant or unpleasant – and it’s both.” Yep. Exactically, as Tigger would say.  

The more I wear NdT, the more I discover new aspects of it.  On my first wearing, I found it nearly unbearably earthy on the open.  The second wearing revealed a green, sour mango up top.  (Neither experience was enjoyable, by the way.)  But on the third wearing, I got the pink pepper.  Now, you can whine about the ubiquitous pink pepper all you want, but in my opinion that’s like whining about the ubiquitous bergamot.  Nearly everything – particularly classical compositions – has bergamot in it, and it has the advantage of connecting notes you might not think of as connected.  Bergamot bridges fruit and floral, herbal and floral, citrus and herbal, citrus and floral, citrus and incense, floral and woods… you name it.  Pink pepper does that too, since it seems to work well in bridging fruit or citrus to floral, spicy, incense, or woody notes.  In Nuit de Tubereuse, it’s connecting that weirdly aromatic turned-earth aspect to that whanged-out mango and from thence to a muted tuberose and some jungly, moist greenery. 

A few months ago, I tested a tuberose scent from profumo.it (abdes salaam attar) called Scents of the Soul: Night Blossom. From the website: “This olfactory jewel (the tuberose is the most precious of floral essences) is set in a thick tropical night, smelling of humid underwood and strewn with scent traces of freshly trodden grass.”  What it smells like to me, though, is PATCHOULI PATCHOULI tuberose PATCHOULI PATCHOULI.  Nuit de Tubereuse, far from being the “perfume for a secret Parisian summer night,” that L’Artisan describes it as, is really what Abdes Salaam Attar was going for: a sweltering tropical night, where wafts of tuberose float over the “humid underwood.”  There’s no Paris in NdT – no wine, no baguette, no formal perfumey odors, no asphalt, no smells of humanity. 

The longer NdT is on skin, the more it relaxes. The tuberose gets softer and softer and the incense comes out on my skin, and the whole thing gets rather… pretty. It doesn’t seem to be either feminine or masculine, which I suppose is the best description of a unisex scent. The tuberose might make it seem to skew girly, but it’s not, trust me. Robin at NST struggles to define the drydown but calls it very sexy – and I don’t get that, either. I find it to be really pleasant, though, and very comfortable, although I suspect the woody-incense base just feels that way because I’ve recently experienced the hair-raising crypt dirt and jungle mildew of that bizarre-o opening. (It makes me think of the story about the cowboy who always bought his boots a size too small: “Don’t them boots pinch, Clem?” “Waal, sure they do. But it feels so good when I take ‘em off!”)

I really must address a few comparisons to other tuberose scents: the new one from the naturals line at Honore des Pres, Vamp a NY, which I am dying to tell you about but can’t until next Thursday, is another fragrance that takes certain unusual aspects of tuberose and overemphasizes them. But Vamp I found very, very easy to wear, unlike Nuit de Tubereuse. Both are intriguing and bold, tackling tuberose from new angles, definitely Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile Not Your Mother’s Fracas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Fracas, mind you.) And, of course, I’ll refer you back to my review of Tubereuse Criminelle – another tubey frag with a weird, difficult opening – with the comment that I found TC “difficult just for the sake of being difficult,” and I don’t have any appreciation for the Rotting Raw Chicken of Death that accompanies TC’s otherwise-lovely tuberose. Nuit de Tubereuse, however, is entirely wearable. Weird, difficult, funhouse-mirror freaky maybe in spots, but wearable.

Quality    A   Definitely natural ingredients.

Grab-scale score   Ummmm… 4 to 9, depending on where it is in its development.

Short description   Freaky (dirt, jungle, and incense) tuberose. Maybe mango tuberose, if you get the mango reference (I don’t).

Cost   $$$   And can I just say? I think the bottle is gorgeous.  Oooh.  But we never buy perfume for the bottle, right? 

Earns compliments?   Yes, many – even when I was saying incredulously to my husband, “How can you call that alluring? It smells like mildew!” Strangers commented positively and spontaneously, which never happens to me.

Scent presence    Moderately strong. Moderately wafty sillage, approximately a five-foot diameter. Long-lasting (6-8 hours).

Review report:    Everyone in the world: Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, March at Perfume Posse, Olfactarama, 1000Fragrances, Marla at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, you name it.

I find that the entire exercise, playing up the odd aspects of tuberose absolute, reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows.  I love the Food Network, and am positively addicted to Good Eats.  Host Alton Brown’s show is a wacky combination of Julia Child’s The French Chef (anybody else remember the time she dropped a turkey on the floor?), Bill Nye the Science Guy, Dr. Who, and middle-school plays with bad costumes and terrible puns.  I love this thing.  Where else can you learn about the coagulation of egg proteins and the history of maize, while watching cavemen in glasses eat their first mussels and a giant squid attack a boat? (Seriously, go watch it.  It’s Not Your Mother’s Cooking Show.)

And Nuit de Tubereuse?  An intellectual essay on the less-attractive properties of tuberose absolute, that somehow manages to be quirky, attractive, unsettling and fun all at once.  It’s growing on me.  I’ll mention that The CEO’s comment on it was, “Alluring,” and various unsolicited remarks included, “You smell nice,” and “What smells so good in here?”  Wearing it, I still feel a little bit like I’m wandering a Heart of Darkness jungle – but there’s a light up ahead, and if I can just get out before that creature that’s following me catches up, I can soon be wearing a gorgeous coral silk faille halter dress, sipping a Planter’s Punch on the verandah.  I have hope… there’s that light, see?

Finally got the weird font thing fixed!  Top image is from fragrantica.  Lower one is Tuberose 9517-48 from jane.siet at flickr.

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A hard-to-find scent from Italian niche house Il Profumo which came to my attention through the search-by-note feature at The Perfumed Court. No full-length reviews of this one anywhere else, that I’ve been able to locate. (If you know otherwise, please apprise me.)

Perfume Review: Il Profumo Eclair de Tubereuse

Date released: 2005

Perfumer: Silvana Casoli

Sample provenance: sample vial of edp from TPC

Sub-category: typical creamy tuberose soliflore

Like Beyond Love and Tubereuse Criminelle, and to a lesser degree Carnal Flower, Eclair de Tubereuse starts out with some very fleeting green, grassy notes, followed almost immediately by that camphor-rubber aspect of quality tuberose absolute. No notes were released for this scent – I hate that, by the way, anal-retentive Research-Everything Geek that I am – so we’re flying blind with this one. I smell a lot of coconut here, and the effect is similar to that of monoi, that lovely island concoction of frangipani flowers macerated in coconut oil. I think, too, that there is something fruity in Eclair de Tubereuse – peach? It’s not citrus or berries. This is a very sweet scent, although not sugary or marshmallowy from added sugar or caramel or ethylmaltol. The components that I smell are all rather sweet on their own: tuberose, coconut, peach. Maybe some jasmine sambac and/or frangipani too. It is somewhat less sweet than the sugar-cane-enhanced Tubereuse Couture.

I kept sniffing my wrist, and gradually began to wonder if there is any ylang in the composition. I think I’m smelling a very faint hint of that green/creamy banana thing that ylang-ylang presents at times. The Il Profumo website lists this fragrance, along with two others – Rose Secrete and Vent de Jasmin – in their Soliflore line, so maybe I’m nuts about other notes. But I do think that the scent character is very much soliflore, even if there are other notes rounding out the fragrance.

Like most tuberose scents, it’s pretty much tuberose all the way through. The base seems to have some light musk, and possibly a drop or two of woody notes. Lasting power, like most tuberose scents, is very good on me. One drop from my sample vial lasts four to five hours.

I do wonder about the name. Il Profumo is an Italian house that seems to use mostly French names. “Eclair” is either “light” in French (I think), or a reference to that eggy pastry filled with creamy custard! So it’s either Light of Tuberose, or Tuberose Pastry, and I don’t know which. It’s driving me nuts. Babelfish says Flash of Tuberose. Aha.

(I fail to see how anything filled with custard cream could possibly be referred to as a “flash,” but perhaps that’s beside the point.  It also used to amuse the heck out of me that Roscoe P. Coltrane’s laconic basset hound was named Flash, and yes, I am old enough to have watched The Dukes of Hazzard through most of its TV existence.  My little brother was addicted to it, and I just wanted to figure out how to slide across the hood of a car like Bo Duke did.)

Quality: A- Smells fresh and natural. A relatively simple composition, but a lovely one.

Grab-scale score: 7.5 – 8, close to par with Beyond Love.

Short description: Tropical tuberose.

Cost: $$$ (At the moment, running about $125 for 50ml bottle of edp at the il Profumo website.  However, a 7.5 ml bottle of parfum is also available, at about $55.  The prices are in Euros, though, so the exchange rate will fluctuate.)

Earns compliments: Worn at home alone.

Scent presence: Moderately strong, with moderate sillage.

Review report: none, except a brief mention in the comments of a post on tuberose scents at Now Smell This, and one review at basenotes.

Top image is from fragrantica.com.  Bottom image is Tuberose by Meighan at flickr.

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Image of Sand & Sable from fragrantica.com

Another Cheap Thrill/Blast from the Past! I’ve got quite a history with Sand & Sable. It’s not a long history – I didn’t own a bottle until recently – but a history nonetheless. (I’ve told this story before, so if you’ve read it, skip down a couple of paragraphs.) Two or three good high school friends of mine wore it, and I’d smell it on them and sigh with pleasure. I had a perfectly good bottle of original Chloe, and a boyfriend of mine had given me a tiny bottle of Emeraude cologne, which I loved, so I had no excuse to buy any more perfume. But about the time that my Chloe began to give out, I had some birthday money, so I hopped down to the drugstore and picked up a little bottle of Sand & Sable cologne. I spritzed lightly with the tester, paid for my bottle, and took it home, happy. 

My mother made me take it back, insisting that it was “too old for me.” I was seventeen, mind you. I honestly don’t think it was the putative maturity of the scent that bothered her so much as the scent itself, because Mom hates gardenias, and I imagine she was thinking how much she’d hate smelling that perfume repeatedly. Then, too, White Floral has frequently signified Bombshell, which would have been an image she’d have wanted to prevent her little girl from adopting. (Mom claims that she doesn’t remember this incident, twenty-five years later. Well, she also admits that her memory isn’t what it used to be.) 

Perfume Review: Coty Sand and Sable 

Date released: 1981 

Perfumer: None listed 

Sample provenance: my own half-ounce bottle of cologne, purchased for the princely sum of $5 in 2005. 

Sub-category: Loud dressed-up party tuberose composition. 

Notes: green notes, peach, tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, rose. 

This thing is technically supposedly a gardenia, but in actuality, it’s a mix of natural and synthetic tuberose (mostly synthetic) with a few dollops of synthetic miscellaneous florals, and maybe a hint of coconut. There are no top notes and no basenotes to speak of; it’s pretty linear.  

Here’s Tania Sanchez of P:TG on Sand and Sable: 

*** Peachy lilac… If you like Carolina Herrera, you’ll like Sand and Sable. This floral is a lot cheaper, however, starting with a Fracas-like tuberose but diminishing fast to a bare lilac. Stays likable a long time, but in a pushy way. We all have friends like that. 

The first time I read that, several months ago, I thought, “Lilac? What lilac? And what peach? It just smells like tuberose to me.” Then I went back to smell S&S again… and darned if she isn’t right. There is a peachy sort of cast to it (for the record, I don’t smell peach on Bookworm when she wears it – it smells less chemical on her), and eventually the tuberose wears thin and you identify that air-freshener-like lilac and the beachy smell of suntan lotion. Then it’s gone. S&S doesn’t hold on to that swoony gardenia-tuberose focus very long, and these days it doesn’t come anywhere near smelling as good to me as it used to, but I admit to having a sneaking fondness for it. 

The other thing about S&S is that, like many of those 80’s tuberose things, it’s pretty loud. Okay, it’s really loud. I hardly ever do the spray-and-walk-through trick, since it’s such a waste of scent, but I do it for S&S. Light applications seem to keep it more pleasant. And it was so cheap, I don’t mind using it as a room spray (um, best in the summer when tropical-flowers-and-suntan-lotion doesn’t seem odd).  

For such a cheap fragrance, it’s not bad. I’m not sayin’ it’s comparable to Beyond Love in terms of quality. I’m not sayin’ it’s Fracas. But if you only have five bucks, you could do a lot worse. And honestly, I’d rather wear Sand & Sable than, for example, L’Artisan Tubereuse, which might be made of better stuff but which I found lacking in the “fun” department. 

Quality: D+ Really cheap materials. 

Grab-scale score: 4. 

Short description: Cheap and cheerful tuberose. 

Cost: $ 

Earns compliments: Surprisingly, yes. 

Scent presence: Big. Loud. Would probably be better dabbed. Moderate to big sillage. Lasts 6-8 hours. 

Review report: Scentzilla!, Perfume Posse, Chicken Freak’s Obsessions, Now Smell This (brief mention), Perfume-Smellin’ Things (brief mention) 

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I keep seeing reviews of this one that start out, “Usually, I don’t like tuberose…” and then go on to say, “but I love Tuberose Couture.” Make of that what you will. Oddly, there is no review of Tuberose Couture in P:TG, although several other Parfumerie Generale scents are included.

Perfume Review: Parfumerie Generale No. 17 Tuberose Couture

Date released: 2006

Perfumer: Pierre Guillaume

Sample provenance: The Perfumed Court, 2010

Sub-category: Atypical green tuberose soliflore (fresh green) – see below for description

Notes for TC:  Kalamanzi oil, green jasmine shoots, ylang-ylang, sugar cane, Indian tuberose, Sumatra benzoin, papyrus

Opens with the weird mentholated-rubber notes of good tuberose absolute. Kalamanzi is apparently a tropical citrus-lime fruit, also spelled calamansi, and it shows up about three minutes in, giving the scent an even weirder fresh-green cast: you’ve now got menthol, camphor, lime, and stemmy green notes, with a sinuous and sultry tuberose-ylang winding its caressing arms up through the greenery. It’s freaky, but I really do like this stage.

After that psychedelic green stuff fades, the scent becomes a very sweet and yet fresh tuberose. No buttery-creamy veil on the tuberose here; it’s rather transparent and floral, as if drenched in syrup. This candy-like tuberose goes on for hours. A hint of vanilla sneaks in (from the benzoin) during the drydown, increasing the resemblance to candy, but I can’t identify the papyrus. Not that I know what papyrus would smell like, but I’d make the assumption that it’s faintly woody. Really, all I smell is tuberose and sugar, once the fascinating top notes have faded.

So what is it that makes people who don’t typically like tuberose say that they loved Tuberose Couture? I wouldn’t say that it is strikingly different from other tuberose scents I’ve tested.* It is, however, lacking the lactones that usually show up in tuberose scents. Coconut is lactonic, and it’s a natural match for the tuberose so it’s a frequent component of tuberose fragrances. Often, too, there’s a “buttery” or “creamy” aspect to tuberose scents like Fracas and PC Tuberose Gardenia; even my darlin’ Voile de Fleur has a milky cast. There’s no butter, cream, milk, or coconut in Tuberose Couture: here, the tuberose has been glazed, not creamed.

I’ve written twelve tuberose reviews, but at the moment have tested seventeen tuberose scents, whether soliflores or tuberose-heavy compositions. By now I’ve formulated a few categories into which I can place the scents I test. I’ll be going back to edit my previous reviews, to add this arbitrary info. These are the sub-categories for the Tuberose Series: Rich oriental-chypre base tuberose composition; Loud dressed-up party tuberose composition; Typical buttery tuberose soliflore; Atypical green tuberose soliflore; Gentle white floral with tuberose.

Quality   B+ Definitely natural ingredients. I don’t smell any synthetic tuberose here.

Grab-scale score   6

Short description   Candied tuberose. (“Candied” is more pleasant, in my opinion, than “sugary.”)

Cost   $$$

Earns compliments?   No. My kids did not like it, suggesting that it smelled “fake” to them. That might have been due to the candied effect from the sugar cane, but they found it far less pleasant than I did. The CEO was noncommittal.

Scent presence:   Moderate. Moderate sillage. Long-lasting (8-10 hours).

Review report: Aromascope, Chicken Freak’s Obsessions, Perfume-Smellin’ Things, The Non-Blonde.

Image is from fragrantica.com.

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