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.

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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

1.505540417802
Tuberose Angelica Jo Malone
1.5014986376022
Tubereuse Annick Goutal
1.5011807447775
Bolt of Lightning Jar Parfums
1.5011353315168
Soliflore Tuberose Dame Perfumery Scottsdale
1.5011353315168
Dior Passage No.9 Christian Dior
1.5010445049955
Le Beau Parfum Maison Francis Kurkdjian
1.5008628519528
Jolie Fleur Bleue Tory Burch
1.5007720254314
Tuberosa L`Erbolario
1.5006357856494
Eclair de Tubéreuse Il Profvmo
1.5006357856494
Spiced Tuberose and Orchid Potter & Moore
1.5003178928247
Tuberosa d’Autunno I Profumi di Firenze
1.5003178928247
Black Tuberose Michele Bergman
1.500272479564
Jasmine Renee
1.500272479564
Tuberose TerraNova
1.5002270663034
Tuberose Royal Hawaiian
1.5002270663034
Soliflor Line Eclair de Tubereuse Il Profvmo
1.5001816530427
No. XV Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5001816530427
Artisan Collection Belle Route Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.500136239782
No. XV Pink Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5000908265213
Roll-On Perfume No. 11 Melange Perfume
1.5000908265213
TNT PK Perfumes
1.5000908265213
Pastoral Severnoye Siyanie
1.5000454132607
Tuberose Mary Chess
1.5000454132607
Tuberosa Di Notte Voluspa
1.5000454132607
Eau de Tubereuse Le Jardin Retrouve
1.5000454132607
Capri Night Profumi Capri
1.5000454132607
Tuberosa Imperiale Officine del Profumo
1.5
Midnight Shadows Neil Morris
1.5
Tuberose CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Marie Claire Guerlain
1.5
B.B. Chic Clash
1.5
Night Blossom La Via del Profumo
1.4999091734787
L'Eau de Tubereuse Mathias Paris
1.4955601834696
Tubereuse L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.4886043415077
Tuberosa Profumum Roma
1.4873003160763
White Tubereuse Reminiscence
1.4835764386921
Carolina Mazzolari
1.4805903723887
Tuberosa Miller Harris
1.4801816530427
Herrera Tuberose Carolina Herrera
1.4765533060854
Couture Tuberose Versace
1.4681656376022
Marlowe Jardins d’Ecrivains
1.4650372543143
Mirror Mirror Collection - A Travers Le Miroir Thierry Mugler
1.4619013060854
Tuberosa Agave Voluspa
1.4615834132607
Leilani's Lei Stand Maoli
1.4551974641235
Coconut Tuberose No. 821 Gap
1.4522990354223
Velvet Desire Dolce&Gabbana
1.4449435458674
Hauto Jeroboam
1.444580239782
Tuberose, Hyacinth & Lily of the Valley Antica Farmacista
1.4444894132607
Delight Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4310958519528
Tubereuse Rosee Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
1.4291476975477
Narcotic Venus Nasomatto
1.4287980663034
White Tubereuse Eau de Toilette Reminiscence
1.4287526530427
Pearl Silver Novae Plus
1.4287526530427
Tuberose Elizabeth W
1.428707239782
Day Project D by Dannii and Tabitha
1.4286164132607
Dalliance She Who Dares
1.4243485712988
Jasmine & Tuberose Henri Bendel
1.4146499845595
Fatale Gloria Vanderbilt
1.4121672243415
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.4095905458674
Tinta Roja Fueguia 1833
1.400136239782
Tuberosa Les Voiles Depliees
1.4000908265213
Tuberose Vertigineuse Molinard
1.4000908265213
Cologne Fine Tubereuse Absolue Institut Très Bien
1.4
Frederic Frederic Haldimann
1.398082537693
Do Son Diptyque
1.3917581326067
Chic Michael Kors
1.391304
Tubereuse Les Sens de Marrakech
1.3847648455949
Infusion de Tubereuse Prada
1.3847058265213
Monbloom Ramon Monegal
1.3835239591281
Un Air de Damas Tubereuse Dorin
1.3824762797457
La Vie La Mort Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.3817240254314
White Tuberose Anthousa
1.3811336530427
01 02 Vapeur de Tubereuse Fragrance Republic
1.3792408519528
Io Hilde Soliani
1.3778234132607
Tenebra Royal Crown
1.3753633060854
Moon Garden Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.3752270663034
Very Michael Kors Michael Kors
1.3752270663034
Anjali Reminiscence
1.3750908265213
Muse Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.375
Intensia Prime Collection
1.375
Osa Zeromolecole
1.3743568519528
Madly MariaLux
1.3741831053588
Beyond Love By Kilian
1.3729303723887
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3721252752044
Flor y Canto Arquiste
1.3700043333333
Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
1.3684664132607
Sita Nina`s Nature
1.3670925967302
Gold Flowers Montale
1.3643165304269
Mi Corazon Oscar de la Renta
1.3638176530427
Times Square Demeter Fragrance
1.3634277039055
L.A. Style Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
1.3623265912807
J'Adore L'Absolu Christian Dior
1.3588543060854
Tuberoli Space NK
1.3584531117166
Bubblegum Chic James Heeley
1.3571884132607
Notes from Michael Glenplaid Michael Kors
1.357143
Epice Orientale Kristen Michele
1.355247719346
Donna Margherita Pantheon Roma
1.354839
Tres Chic Vivienne Sabo
1.3529864132607
Inveja Abinoam
1.3529864132607
Dream Big Benetton
1.3503766121708
Tubereuse Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
1.3478714132607
Cowgirl Grass D.S. & Durga
1.346084880109
Carnal Flower Frederic Malle
1.3436487647593
Tubereuse Indiana Creed
1.340562239782
Castillos Fueguia 1833
1.3358048265213
Michael Michael Kors
1.3342866784741
Tubereuse DSH Perfumes
1.3341958519528
Mood Yearn Victoria`s Secret
1.3340141989101
Dianoche Night Daisy Fuentes
1.3337871326067
Golden Tuberose Daniel Josier
1.333741719346
1910 Bésame Cosmetics
1.333605479564
$ D.S. & Durga
1.3335146530427
Moroccan Tuberose Illuminum
1.3334238265213
Theosiris Classique Guy Bouchara
1.3334238265213
Golden Hour Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3334238265213
Feromone pour Femme (Pheromone for woman) La Via del Profumo
1.3334238265213
Dos Gardenias Fueguia 1833
1.3329464741144
Kiss My Name Ramon Monegal
1.3279579427793
Gardenia Passion Annick Goutal
1.3263922643052
Fire Island Bond No 9
1.3261686475931
Gold Michael Kors
1.3260828110808
Bouquet Blanc Le Labo
1.3256811989101
Dolce Tuberose Krigler
1.3240739591281
So Nude Eau de Toilette CoSTUME NATIONAL
1.322853479564
Tuberose Angelica Limited Edition Jo Malone
1.3210728928247
Tuberose Renee
1.3175271326067
Hanako Syed Junaid Alam
1.315925239782
An Ideal Wife Lise London
1.315789
La Dame Blanche Le Cercle des Parfumeurs Createurs
1.3148003823797
Tubereuse Caron
1.3141802906449
Dreaming Pearl Tommy Hilfiger
1.3125908265213
Edenwood Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3124280554042
Jour d’Hermes Gardenia Hermes
1.3118376121708
Shantoung Galimard
1.3115608374205
J`adore Christian Dior
1.3094177039055
Tuberosa Santa Maria Novella
1.307692
Fleurs de Lys Art Deco Perfumes
1.3074510917348
Four White Flowers Marilyn Miglin
1.3051807447775
Tagete Profumum Roma
1.3025860917348
Cepes and Tuberose Aftelier
1.3025053315168
Me Myself & I Egofacto
1.3022252497729
Very Sexy Now 2015 Victoria`s Secret
1.3003178928247
Perfect Tuberose Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.3000454132607
Mini Liberty Ulric de Varens
1.3
Dilis Classic Collection No. 31 Dilis Parfum
1.2993828928247
Karolina Kurkova LR
1.299105239782
Tuberose Keiko Mecheri
1.2984131089918
Fracas Robert Piguet
1.2976448855586
Flora by Gucci Gracious Tuberose Gucci
1.2954220099909
French Kiss Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite

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