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

1.506950740405
Tuberose Angelica Jo Malone
1.5014678582222
Tubereuse Annick Goutal
1.5014246859215
Soliflore Tuberose Dame Perfumery
1.5013383413202
Jolie Fleur Bleue Tory Burch
1.5012088244183
Bolt of Lightning Jar Parfums
1.5010793075163
Dior Passage No.9 Christian Dior
1.5007339291111
Tuberosa L`Erbolario
1.5006044122091
Eclair de Tubéreuse Il Profvmo
1.5006044122091
Spiced Tuberose and Orchid Potter & Moore
1.5003022061046
Black Tuberose Michele Bergman
1.5003022061046
Tuberosa d’Autunno I Profumi di Firenze
1.5002590338039
Tuberose Royal Hawaiian
1.5002590338039
Tuberose TerraNova
1.5002590338039
Jasmine Renee
1.5002158615033
Soliflor Line Eclair de Tubereuse Il Profvmo
1.5002158615033
TNT PK Perfumes
1.5001726892026
No. XV Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5001726892026
Artisan Collection Belle Route Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.500129516902
No. XV Pink Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5000863446013
Roll-On Perfume No. 11 Melange Perfume
1.5000863446013
Pastoral Severnoye Siyanie
1.5000431723007
Tuberosa Imperiale Officine del Profumo
1.5000431723007
Capri Night Profumi Capri
1.5000431723007
Ruby Hervé Domar
1.5000431723007
Tuberosa Di Notte Voluspa
1.5000431723007
Tuberose Mary Chess
1.5
Marie Claire Guerlain
1.5
Midnight Shadows Neil Morris
1.5
Tuberose CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Night Blossom La Via del Profumo
1.5
B.B. Chic Clash
1.4999136553987
L'Eau de Tubereuse Mathias Paris
1.4988206488365
White Tubereuse Reminiscence
1.4936606183137
Carolina Mazzolari
1.48636092583
Tubereuse L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.4831364394508
Tuberosa Profumum Roma
1.4803022061046
Herrera Tuberose Carolina Herrera
1.4765353784052
Couture Tuberose Versace
1.474547446013
Tuberose Flash Tauerville
1.4740293784052
White Tubereuse Eau de Toilette Reminiscence
1.4713587033199
Mirror Mirror Collection - A Travers Le Miroir Thierry Mugler
1.4706743446013
Monbloom Ramon Monegal
1.4618833784052
Tuberosa Agave Voluspa
1.4615811723007
Leilani's Lei Stand Maoli
1.453693446013
Tuberosa Miller Harris
1.444573516902
Tuberose, Hyacinth & Lily of the Valley Antica Farmacista
1.4444871723007
Delight Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4369550643267
Coconut Tuberose No. 821 Gap
1.4302209944308
Narcotic Venus Nasomatto
1.4287436892026
Pearl Silver Novae Plus
1.4287436892026
Tuberose Elizabeth W
1.428700516902
Day Project D by Dannii and Tabitha
1.4286141723007
Dalliance She Who Dares
1.4271725474248
Le Beau Parfum Maison Francis Kurkdjian
1.4242858244183
Jasmine & Tuberose Henri Bendel
1.4222154394508
Velvet Desire Dolce&Gabbana
1.4123694122091
Tubéreuse Trianon Le Jardin Retrouve
1.4120955136209
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.4096090676078
Tinta Roja Fueguia 1833
1.4093500338039
Essence No. 9 Tuberose Elie Saab
1.400992962915
Tubereuse Rosee Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
1.400129516902
Taersìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.400129516902
Tuberosa Les Voiles Depliees
1.400129516902
Mini Liberty Ulric de Varens
1.4000431723007
Carrera Femme Carrera
1.4
Frederic Frederic Haldimann
1.3921865136209
Fatale Gloria Vanderbilt
1.3917357230065
Chic Michael Kors
1.391304
Tubereuse Les Sens de Marrakech
1.3904078470837
Do Son Diptyque
1.3863551831369
La Vie La Mort Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.384615
Fleurs de Lys Art Deco Perfumes
1.3834970676078
Un Air de Damas Tubereuse Dorin
1.3827856563917
Infusion de Tubereuse Prada
1.381081516902
01 02 Vapeur de Tubereuse Fragrance Republic
1.3796200643267
McQueen Eau de Parfum Alexander McQueen
1.3791551014117
Io Hilde Soliani
1.3753022061046
Moon Garden Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.3752158615033
Anjali Reminiscence
1.3752158615033
Very Michael Kors Michael Kors
1.375129516902
Osa Zeromolecole
1.3750863446013
Muse Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.375
Intensia Prime Collection
1.3749568276993
Ala Moana Antica Farmacista
1.3729444122091
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3723659225489
Flor y Canto Arquiste
1.3709693333333
Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
1.3694154765359
Gold Flowers Montale
1.3684641723007
Sita Nina`s Nature
1.3684372648621
Beyond Love By Kilian
1.3643995812287
Mi Corazon Oscar de la Renta
1.3633857197254
L.A. Style Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
1.3626189159867
J'Adore L'Absolu Christian Dior
1.3613035845098
Hauto Jeroboam
1.360129516902
La Dame Blanche Le Cercle des Parfumeurs Createurs
1.3593981014117
Tubereuse Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
1.3588363784052
Tuberoli Space NK
1.3573356051893
Bubblegum Chic James Heeley
1.357272516902
Notes from Michael Glenplaid Michael Kors
1.357143
Epice Orientale Kristen Michele
1.3558751352156
Madly MariaLux
1.3551843784052
Donna Margherita Pantheon Roma
1.354839
Tres Chic Vivienne Sabo
1.3532863784052
Tuberose Vertigineuse Molinard
1.3529841723007
Inveja Abinoam
1.3494665474248
Marlowe Jardins d’Ecrivains
1.3478691723007
Cowgirl Grass D.S. & Durga
1.3452286951604
Carnal Flower Frederic Malle
1.3426062267841
Tubereuse Indiana Creed
1.3381119563528
Kiss My Name Ramon Monegal
1.334464075163
Gardenia Passion Annick Goutal
1.3344554798169
Cepes and Tuberose Aftelier
1.3341532737124
Mood Yearn Victoria`s Secret
1.3339805845098
Dianoche Night Daisy Fuentes
1.3337647230065
Golden Tuberose Daniel Josier
1.3335920338039
$ D.S. & Durga
1.3335056892026
Moroccan Tuberose Illuminum
1.3334193446013
Theosiris Classique Guy Bouchara
1.3334193446013
Cerimonia Pour Femme Pal Zileri
1.3334193446013
Feromone pour Femme (Pheromone for woman) La Via del Profumo
1.3334193446013
Dos Gardenias Fueguia 1833
1.3334193446013
Golden Hour Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.333333
Yubiley Severnoye Siyanie
1.333333
Jasmine Soap & Paper Factory
1.3322515950438
Michael Michael Kors
1.3286498920261
Tuberosa Santa Maria Novella
1.3269072737124
White Tuberose Anthousa
1.3261643009541
Gold Michael Kors
1.3260133413202
Bouquet Blanc Le Labo
1.3256475845098
Dolce Tuberose 43 Krigler
1.3234754765359
Very Sexy Now 2015 Victoria`s Secret
1.3232258014506
Fire Island Bond No 9
1.3230127230065
Tuberose Angelica Limited Edition Jo Malone
1.3188727568104
Un Matin d`Orage Eau de Parfum Annick Goutal
1.3175047230065
Hanako Syed Junaid Alam
1.3172984798169
Tuberosa Do Egito Phebo
1.3161667906143
Tubereuse DSH Perfumes
1.3159616892026
An Ideal Wife Lise London
1.3130766338989
J`adore Christian Dior
1.3128453784052
Tubéreuses Castane Lancome
1.3125863446013
Edenwood Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3122292061046
Tuberose Renee
1.3117585845098
Shantoung Galimard
1.311604516902
Castillos Fueguia 1833
1.3107656183137
Four White Flowers Marilyn Miglin
1.3092246826404
Tubereuse Caron
1.3089008244183
Me Myself & I Egofacto
1.3079078615033
Oasis La Via del Profumo
1.307692
Art Nouveau Iris Brocard
1.307692
White Lies Agonist

Advertisement

Advertisement

Popular brands and perfumes: