Tuberose

lat. Polianthes tuberosa

Group: 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.
 

 

Perfumes and Colognes With Tuberose

1.5024162371134
Velvet Desire Dolce&Gabbana
1.5019866838488
Tubereuse L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.50139604811
Tubereuse Annick Goutal
1.5013423539519
Bolt of Lightning Jar Parfums
1.5012349656357
Dior Passage No.9 Christian Dior
1.5009664948454
Tuberosa L`Erbolario
1.5007517182131
Spiced Tuberose and Orchid Potter & Moore
1.5007517182131
Madly MariaLux
1.500698024055
Sex Desigual
1.5005906357388
Eclair de Tubéreuse Il Profvmo
1.5005369415808
Tubereuse Rosee Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
1.5003758591065
Black Tuberose Michele Bergman
1.5003758591065
Tuberose TerraNova
1.5003221649485
Couture Tuberose Versace
1.5003221649485
Soliflor Line Eclair de Tubereuse Il Profvmo
1.5003221649485
Artisan Collection Belle Route Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.5002684707904
Tinta Roja Fueguia 1833
1.5002147766323
Amarena Bvlgari
1.5002147766323
N° XV Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5001073883162
Roll-On Perfume No. 11 Melange Perfume
1.5001073883162
Tuberosa d’Autunno I Profumi di Firenze
1.5001073883162
Sensuous Vanilla JoAnne Bassett
1.5000536941581
Nocturne Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.5000536941581
Tuberose Royal Hawaiian
1.5000536941581
La Belle au Bois Dormant Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.5000536941581
Eau de Tubereuse Le Jardin Retrouve
1.5
Midnight Shadows Neil Morris
1.5
Tuberose CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Marie Claire Guerlain
1.4999463058419
Tuberosa Imperiale Officine del Profumo
1.4999463058419
Muse Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4999463058419
L'Eau de Tubereuse Mathias Paris
1.4998926116838
Delight Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4929999072165
White Tubereuse Reminiscence
1.4813966254296
Cologne Intense Tuberose Angelica Jo Malone
1.4791201065292
Mi Corazon Oscar de la Renta
1.4763150137457
Tuberosa Profumum Roma
1.4656890996564
Mirror Mirror Collection - A Travers Le Miroir Thierry Mugler
1.4647155532646
Tuberosa Miller Harris
1.4620212474227
Tuberosa Agave Voluspa
1.4618064707904
Leilani's Lei Stand Maoli
1.4549438247423
Coconut Tuberose No. 821 Gap
1.4547060824742
Tuberosa Les Voiles Depliees
1.4448198591065
Tuberose, Hyacinth & Lily of the Valley Antica Farmacista
1.4353736357388
Carolina Mazzolari
1.4296448831615
Io Hilde Soliani
1.4290005532646
Sexy 4 Gardenia Trish McEvoy
1.4287320824742
Day Project D by Dannii and Tabitha
1.4287320824742
Anjali Reminiscence
1.4286246941581
Tuberose Elizabeth W
1.4220194948454
Jasmine & Tuberose Henri Bendel
1.4211603883162
Razala Ayala Moriel
1.421073628866
Do Son Diptyque
1.4169354707904
Gelsorosa Farmacia SS. Annunziata
1.4169354707904
Palermo Don Corleone La Via del Profumo
1.4168817766323
Dos Gardenias Fueguia 1833
1.4118723883162
01 02 Vapeur de Tubereuse Fragrance Republic
1.4008054123711
Shantoung Galimard
1.400401209622
Narcotic Venus Nasomatto
1.4
Frederic Frederic Haldimann
1.3932369896907
L.A. Style Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
1.3858499656357
Four White Flowers Marilyn Miglin
1.3852396254296
Flor y Canto Arquiste
1.3829740618557
Gold Michael Kors
1.3801903402062
Infusion de Tubereuse Prada
1.3800774364261
Beyond Love By Kilian
1.3792814364261
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3784814398625
La Vie La Mort Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.3753758591065
Heart of Glass Ava Luxe
1.3679913298969
Gateways House of Matriarch
1.3677408831615
Michael Kors Gold Luxe Edition Michael Kors
1.36725004811
Fatale Gloria Vanderbilt
1.3672039415808
Moon Garden Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.3644113333333
Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
1.3637433883162
Sita Nina`s Nature
1.3629369656357
Nectar of Love April Aromatics
1.3586773024055
Gardenia Passion Annick Goutal
1.357143
Epice Orientale Kristen Michele
1.3556444123711
White Tuberose Anthousa
1.3554833298969
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3551074707904
I Love Tango Dzintars
1.3546592130584
Bouquet Blanc Le Labo
1.3534242474227
Chic Michael Kors
1.3529946941581
Inveja Abinoam
1.3516645189003
Gold Flowers Montale
1.3511926838488
Nectar of Love April Aromatics
1.3497515085911
Bubblegum Chic James Heeley
1.3488510962199
Michael Michael Kors
1.3481481649485
Donna Margherita Pantheon Roma
1.3478796941581
Cowgirl Grass D.S. & Durga
1.3471204948454
Un Air de Damas Tubereuse Dorin
1.3438608350515
J`adore Christian Dior
1.3412813780069
Carnal Flower Frederic Malle
1.3353196838488
Dreaming Pearl Tommy Hilfiger
1.3344068831615
No6 Tubereuse Prada
1.3342458006873
Cepes and Tuberose Aftelier
1.3340847182131
Dianoche Night Daisy Fuentes
1.3339236357388
Tuberosa Do Egito Phebo
1.3337625532646
$ D.S. & Durga
1.3336014707904
Tubereuse Le Galion
1.3334940824742
Roccobarocco Per Lei Roccobarocco
1.3334940824742
Very Michael Kors Michael Kors
1.3334403883162
Maram Al-Rehab
1.3334403883162
Golden Hour Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3334403883162
Feromone pour Femme (Pheromone for woman) La Via del Profumo
1.3334403883162
XIX Spirituelle Verte Mad et Len
1.3333866941581
Mini Varens 31 Ulric de Varens
1.333333
Tubereuse Les Sens de Marrakech
1.3291576597938
Poison Extrait de Parfum Christian Dior
1.3285524948454
Tubereuse Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
1.3248252783505
Fire Island Bond No 9
1.3227996975945
J'Adore L'Absolu Christian Dior
1.3227420824742
Shalini Shalini
1.3192558831615
Forbidden House of Matriarch
1.3174724123711
Francesca House of Matriarch
1.3164962714777
Floral Veil Grossmith
1.3135873573883
Fracas Robert Piguet
1.3128686254296
French Kiss Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.3126073883162
Castillos Fueguia 1833
1.3100319690722
Flora by Gucci Gracious Tuberose Gucci
1.3086048006873
Perry Black for Her Perry Ellis
1.3074367319588
Kiss My Name Ramon Monegal
1.305046024055
Mood Yearn Victoria`s Secret
1.3046254020619
Brilliant White Diamonds Elizabeth Taylor
1.3040884845361
La Chasse aux Papillons L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.3023732646048
Tubereuse Criminelle Serge Lutens
1.3002684707904
Angels Trumpet DL & Co
1.3001173780069
Flowerhead Byredo
1.3
Shandrani Farfalla
1.3
Rozy Extrait de Parfum Vero Profumo
1.2981962611684
I Love New York Earth Day Bond No 9
1.2976896872852
Jeu d’Amour Kenzo
1.2967414948454
Tubereuse DSH Perfumes
1.2943327766323
Tiare Flower Beach Ulric de Varens
1.2929514707904
Destiny House of Matriarch
1.292365024055
Tubereuse Essential Kat Burki
1.292358742268
Tuberosa Santa Maria Novella
1.2907525532646
So Nude Eau de Toilette CoSTUME NATIONAL
1.2905100137457
Ikat Jasmine Aerin Lauder
1.2903909278351
Fleurissimo Creed
1.2894149450172
Tubereuse Indiana Creed
1.2893892130584
Flower Market Maison Martin Margiela
1.2868578316151
Velvet Tuberose Bath and Body Works
1.2860361649485
Little Miss Panda Gets Lei’d Smell Bent
1.2860361649485
Via Veneto I Santi
1.2858750824742
Arabesque Arabian Oud
1.2857676941581
Notes from Michael Glenplaid Michael Kors
1.2857676941581
Songbird Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery
1.285714
Tuberose Keiko Mecheri
1.285714
Exquisite Corpse Smell Bent

Popular brands and perfumes: