Tuberose

lat. Polianthes tuberosa

Group: WHITE FLOWERS

Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa
Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa
Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa
Odor profile: carnal, creamy and fleshy floral note which can present mentholated facets when blooming or even rotten meat off-notes when ripe; extremely polarizing and yet popular in fragrances



No note in perfumery is more surprisingly carnal, creamier or contradicting than that of tuberose. The multi-petalled flower is a mix of flower shop freshness and velvety opulence. Which is why it is the perennial polarizing flower note having as many ardent fans as passionate detractors. The Victorians must have been among the latter: they forbade young girls of inhaling the scent of tuberose in the fear they might have a spontaneous orgasm! Roja Dove is right when he says that tuberose is really loose, the "harlot of perfumery".

THE PLANT,  THE OIL, THE SCENT PROFILE

Polianthes tuberosa doesn't have any botanical or olfactory relation to roses, despite the name. This small white blossom flowering plant is its own thing, a "white floral" (in the same class as jasmine and orange blossom) with an intensity and creaminess beyond any other: Though the scent can be likened to that of orange blossom and gardenia, tuberose has interesting facets of camphor in the opening (comparable to - but not quite that green - as budding gardenias), of dewy mushroom and earth when in bloom and then of rot and bloody meat when browning. Buttery, rubbery and even metallic facets also emerge if one searches for them. The natural blossoms are so powerful they can fill a room and continue to exude their scent for days after picking.

Loading...

In fact this is why tuberose had been a prime candidate for the enfleurage technique ever since its introduction in Grasse, in the south of France in the 17th century ("Enfleurage" is the traditional and now almost defunct technique of enrobing flowers in fat, letting them wilt in it for days, releasing their scent, and then treating the resulting pomade with solvents to render a very precious absolute).  The tuberose blossoms are actually still in bud when picked, so that they can give off their full spectrum of scent as they wilt. It takes over 1200 kilos of buds to render 200gr. of tuberose absolute, which makes tuberose one of the most costly natural raw materials to use.

NATURE vs. NURTURE

It therefore comes as no surprise that most tuberose in commercial perfumery is synthesized in the lab rather than natural. Though this cuts down on the cost factor and facilitates picking up one facet over another in the context of a given concept (say, emphasizing the creaminess over the camphorous, or the sweet floral over the indolic rot), the synthesized aroma is removed from the complex and at once fresh and carnal natural.

Thus a tuberose note in perfume can appear sickly and almost sticky, cloying, sledgehammering you over the head with its intense message. We can trace this as far back as 1980s if not before, as Giorgio, one of the defining perfumes of the decade, was using tuberose with all the subtlety of nails on a chalkboard. The effect was bombastic, powerfully floral, appearing as showing off one's affluence, just held in check by a base of vetiver that muted all the neon brightness. In contrast the natural oil rendered from good Indian tuberose varieties (or from the now very small fields left in Grasse) brings out all the base notes: ranging from buttery to leathery, from menthol to rubber and earth, all the way to woman's skin and even Chamonix orange cake! A good example of tuberose oil being used with naturalistic effect is Carnal Flower in the Frederic Malle niche line Editions des Parfums. This is the fragrance with the highest percentage of tuberose in the formula currently in the market.


THE HISTORICAL MILESTONES

The uber-classic reference for tuberose fragrances has always been (and will always be, it seems...) Fracas by Robert Piguet: the tuberose against which all other tuberoses measure up, influencing as diverse things as Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld, Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain and Amarige by Givenchy

Fracas, a transliteration of effect in name if there ever was one, judging by the derisive reception it has on people smelling it, came out in 1948, composed by Germaine Cellie; this maverick and iconoclast of a perfumer considered carefully conceived disruptive effects more important than over-ornamentalisation in her craft. The mastery of Fracas is that it achieves the creamiest, most calorific and lush floral effect (combining jonquil and orange blossom to tuberose to give a green and cleaner edge) while at the same time retaining a modicum of balance through a herbal top note and an abstract drydown of powder and woods. It's striking, dramatic, overpowering even sometimes, like a Callas aria, but it is full of beauty and emotion all the same. It takes a diva to carry it off successfully, which is why lesser mortals fail and attach a stigma to the fragrance; it's not the fragrance's fault!

It's fun to consider Amarige by Givenchy (1991) the other face of Janus: the two fragrances form two neat bookends; one loud but beautiful, the other loud and over the top. Givenchy enrolled Dominique Ropion to the task and he seems to have been so intent on at least matching the drama of Fracas (and his own godmother, Germaine Cellier) that he produced the highest-pitched tuberose in existence. The radiance of Amarige is felt for miles, a fact that is not always appreciated and the creaminess and greenery of tuberose is substituted by the popular for the time frame synthetic base of cassis (a big element in 1980s perfumery) and a cluster of -right about that time emerging as soon to be popular- fruity notes. If tuberose is a diva overshadowing a full symphonic orchestra, Amarige put her on speakers too. But Ropion didn't match Fracas with Amarige, nor did he surpass it artistically. He fared much better when he was free of commercial restraints for his stint for F.Malle and Carnal Flower; this solar floral is choke-full of all the natural elements inherent in the living flower itself. The camphor qualities are exploited to the max via a eucalyptus note to render a life-like hologram, while the coconut tinge and the salicylates (ingredients that appear in some tropical flowers and also in suntan lotions) remind us that tuberose is really a tropical flower coming from warm climates and pelvis-tilting-friendly cultures. 

But there's something for everybody and where there's noise and animated conversation there can also be some quiet and silken promises whispered in the dark. Serge Lutens, aided by his perfumer ally Christopher Sheldrake, composed the most gothic tuberose in existence and a historical landmark in the treatment of this capricious note: Tubereuse Criminelle is an etude in the polished facets of the flower with a most disconcerting top note of Vicks vapo-rub, an aberrant chill which takes you by surprise but subsides in the first 10 minutes. The contrast between the camphor and the flower are echoed in Carnal Flower (F.Malle), its successor, but the shadowy, menacing character of the Lutens perfume is not poised as natural as in the Malle, but as a solidly, cleverly manufactured effect that you perceive as a vignette of Expressionism or the fangs of a vampire slicing through vibrant flesh. This fire & ice game is as good as a thinking woman's (or man's) kinky romp in the bedroom.

Rounding the attempts at competition, attrition and infatuation with Fracas, there's nothing left but a sincere homage and the one who paid her respects more convincingly was none other than perfumer Calice Becker for the niche brand By Kilian in her Beyond Love. It admittedly smells close to Fracas, but on the other hand its more refined trail of the best Indian tuberose and Egyptian jasmine absolutes presents something new. The perfumer's reference was not only the aromatic oil but also the living flower and in her perfume composition she tried to bridge the two into an harmonious melody. The womanly skin like note marries to the gourmand note of Chamonix orange cake and the effect is nothing short of truly beautiful and, curiously enough, more natural smelling than Fracas. Perhaps a pixelized installation of the Mona Lisa at the MoMa and not the prototype, but still a work of art on its very own. 
 

OTHER WORTHWHILE TUBEROSE-HIGHLIGHTING FRAGRANCES:

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (more of the gardenia part, for those reluctant for the full dosage of tuberose)
Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion (traitorously to the name, this is actually a tuberose)
Annick Goutal Tubereuse (a very high percentage of natural tuberose in this one)
Diptyque Do Son (a diluted but fresh and naturalistic tuberose for the shy)
Madonna Truth or Dare (another homage to Fracas, surprisingly pleasant and grown up for a celebrity scent)
Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle (a fantasy of a garden with prominent tuberoses and other white florals)
Honore des Pres Vamp a New York (the most playful tuberose on the market and a great one to wear even casually)
Calvin Klein Beauty (a delicate and restrained, yet non timid tuberose with a polished sheen)
La Prairie Life Threads Silver (razor sharp pitch over buttery base notes)
Guerlain very rare Marie-Claire (a beautiful tuberose fragrance with lots of ylang ylang)
Balenciage vintage Michelle (a very elegant and complex tuberose blend)
Dior Passage No.9 (a creamy tuberose with sparkly qualities)
La Via del Profumo Mona Lisa (an animalic and sexy tuberose with skin-like properties)

Photo of the blooming plant in the slider by Swami Stream, conbon33, jayeshp912
 


Author: Elena Vosnaki is a historian & perfume writer from Greece and a Writer to Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests. Her writing was recognised at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she has been contributing to publications around the world.
 

 

Tuberose Perfumes

1.5058815666355
Tuberose Angelica Jo Malone
1.5014703916589
Tubereuse Annick Goutal
1.5013367196899
Bolt of Lightning Jar Parfums
1.5012921623669
Soliflore Tuberose Dame Perfumery Scottsdale
1.5011139330749
Dior Passage No.9 Christian Dior
1.5008465891369
Jolie Fleur Bleue Tory Burch
1.5007574744909
Tuberosa L`Erbolario
1.5006238025219
Eclair de Tubéreuse Il Profvmo
1.5006238025219
Spiced Tuberose and Orchid Potter & Moore
1.500311901261
Tuberosa d’Autunno I Profumi di Firenze
1.500311901261
Black Tuberose Michele Bergman
1.500311901261
Tuberose Royal Hawaiian
1.500267343938
Tuberose TerraNova
1.500267343938
Jasmine Renee
1.500222786615
Soliflor Line Eclair de Tubereuse Il Profvmo
1.500178229292
TNT PK Perfumes
1.500178229292
Artisan Collection Belle Route Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.500178229292
No. XV Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.500133671969
No. XV Pink Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.500089114646
Pastoral Severnoye Siyanie
1.500089114646
Roll-On Perfume No. 11 Melange Perfume
1.500089114646
Cerimonia Pour Femme Pal Zileri
1.500044557323
Capri Night Profumi Capri
1.500044557323
Tuberosa Imperiale Officine del Profumo
1.500044557323
Tuberosa Di Notte Voluspa
1.500044557323
Tubéreuses Castane Lancome
1.500044557323
Tuberose Mary Chess
1.500044557323
Eau de Tubereuse Le Jardin Retrouve
1.5
Tuberose CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Midnight Shadows Neil Morris
1.5
B.B. Chic Clash
1.5
Night Blossom La Via del Profumo
1.5
Marie Claire Guerlain
1.499910885354
L'Eau de Tubereuse Mathias Paris
1.4956116368578
Tubereuse L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.4886326845787
Tuberosa Profumum Roma
1.4877892100878
White Tubereuse Reminiscence
1.4836501464599
Carolina Mazzolari
1.4807129171679
Tuberosa Miller Harris
1.480178229292
Herrera Tuberose Carolina Herrera
1.476546458584
Couture Tuberose Versace
1.4715244327853
Mirror Mirror Collection - A Travers Le Miroir Thierry Mugler
1.470677114646
Monbloom Ramon Monegal
1.4681373916589
Marlowe Jardins d’Ecrivains
1.461894458584
Tuberosa Agave Voluspa
1.461582557323
Leilani's Lei Stand Maoli
1.4552566209509
Coconut Tuberose No. 821 Gap
1.45499057323
Golden Tuberose Daniel Josier
1.444577671969
Tuberose, Hyacinth & Lily of the Valley Antica Farmacista
1.444488557323
Delight Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4424392451989
Hauto Jeroboam
1.4412476050439
Le Beau Parfum Maison Francis Kurkdjian
1.4310795891369
Tubereuse Rosee Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
1.4293933433587
Narcotic Venus Nasomatto
1.428882901261
White Tubereuse Eau de Toilette Reminiscence
1.428749229292
Tuberose Elizabeth W
1.428749229292
Pearl Silver Novae Plus
1.428704671969
Day Project D by Dannii and Tabitha
1.428615557323
Dalliance She Who Dares
1.428571
Essence No. 9 Tuberose Elie Saab
1.428571
Taersìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.428571
Purple Orchid ArteOlfatto
1.4243246050439
Jasmine & Tuberose Henri Bendel
1.416800671969
Mini Liberty Ulric de Varens
1.4134195699327
Velvet Desire Dolce&Gabbana
1.4120952770129
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.40953657323
Tinta Roja Fueguia 1833
1.4063997196899
Fatale Gloria Vanderbilt
1.400178229292
Tuberose Vertigineuse Molinard
1.400133671969
Tuberosa Les Voiles Depliees
1.400044557323
Carrera Femme Carrera
1.4
Frederic Frederic Haldimann
1.3931123553892
Do Son Diptyque
1.39174957323
Chic Michael Kors
1.391304
Tubereuse Les Sens de Marrakech
1.3852861809918
Infusion de Tubereuse Prada
1.383513687876
Un Air de Damas Tubereuse Dorin
1.3827617926302
La Vie La Mort Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.3817094744909
White Tuberose Anthousa
1.381130229292
01 02 Vapeur de Tubereuse Fragrance Republic
1.3791800318139
Io Hilde Soliani
1.377822557323
Tenebra Royal Crown
1.375311901261
Moon Garden Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.375222786615
Anjali Reminiscence
1.375222786615
Very Michael Kors Michael Kors
1.375089114646
Osa Zeromolecole
1.375089114646
Muse Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.375
Intensia Prime Collection
1.3744297037829
Madly MariaLux
1.3729192451989
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3722915699327
Flor y Canto Arquiste
1.3716334706144
Beyond Love By Kilian
1.3706233333333
Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
1.368465557323
Sita Nina`s Nature
1.3656928661498
Gold Flowers Montale
1.3642822929198
Mi Corazon Oscar de la Renta
1.3633506209509
L.A. Style Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
1.3625357800205
J'Adore L'Absolu Christian Dior
1.358847458584
Tuberoli Space NK
1.3584000921445
Bubblegum Chic James Heeley
1.357187557323
Notes from Michael Glenplaid Michael Kors
1.357143
Epice Orientale Kristen Michele
1.355195458584
Donna Margherita Pantheon Roma
1.3549244744909
Tubereuse Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
1.354839
Tres Chic Vivienne Sabo
1.352985557323
Inveja Abinoam
1.347870557323
Cowgirl Grass D.S. & Durga
1.3460264490933
Carnal Flower Frederic Malle
1.3436814360825
Tubereuse Indiana Creed
1.3344469330749
Cepes and Tuberose Aftelier
1.3342241464599
Tubereuse DSH Perfumes
1.3342241464599
Mood Yearn Victoria`s Secret
1.3340013598449
Dianoche Night Daisy Fuentes
1.333734015907
1910 Bésame Cosmetics
1.333600343938
$ D.S. & Durga
1.333511229292
Moroccan Tuberose Illuminum
1.333422114646
Feromone pour Femme (Pheromone for woman) La Via del Profumo
1.333422114646
Theosiris Classique Guy Bouchara
1.333422114646
Dos Gardenias Fueguia 1833
1.333422114646
Golden Hour Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.333333
Jasmine Soap & Paper Factory
1.3329662578087
Kiss My Name Ramon Monegal
1.3314020871096
Michael Michael Kors
1.3283888403511
Fire Island Bond No 9
1.327977872165
Gardenia Passion Annick Goutal
1.3262347004857
Gold Michael Kors
1.3260562770129
Bouquet Blanc Le Labo
1.3256683598449
Dolce Tuberose Krigler
1.324063687876
So Nude Eau de Toilette CoSTUME NATIONAL
1.322937458584
Tuberose Angelica Limited Edition Jo Malone
1.322625557323
Dream Big Benetton
1.321066901261
Tuberose Renee
1.3207129171679
Ekstasis Re Profumo
1.31751857323
Hanako Syed Junaid Alam
1.315967229292
An Ideal Wife Lise London
1.315878114646
La Dame Blanche Le Cercle des Parfumeurs Createurs
1.3147498820568
Tubereuse Caron
1.3143268502428
Dreaming Pearl Tommy Hilfiger
1.3129481464599
McQueen Eau de Parfum Alexander McQueen
1.3127399166332
J`adore Christian Dior
1.312589114646
Edenwood Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3117793598449
Shantoung Galimard
1.3110120729403
Jour d’Hermes Gardenia Hermes
1.3108392611059
Four White Flowers Marilyn Miglin
1.3093851782738
Tuberosa Santa Maria Novella
1.307692
White Lies Agonist
1.304348
Fleurs de Lys Art Deco Perfumes
1.3021833088268
Very Sexy Now 2015 Victoria`s Secret
1.302020671969
Castillos Fueguia 1833
1.3005002419017
I Love New York Earth Day Bond No 9

Advertisement

Advertisement

Popular brands and perfumes: