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

1.5055044215846
Tuberose Angelica Jo Malone
1.5014889009204
Tubereuse Annick Goutal
1.5012633098719
Bolt of Lightning Jar Parfums
1.5011279552427
Dior Passage No.9 Christian Dior
1.5011279552427
Soliflore Tuberose Dame Perfumery Scottsdale
1.5010377188233
Le Beau Parfum Maison Francis Kurkdjian
1.5008572459845
Jolie Fleur Bleue Tory Burch
1.5007670095651
Tuberosa L`Erbolario
1.5006316549359
Eclair de Tubéreuse Il Profvmo
1.5006316549359
Spiced Tuberose and Orchid Potter & Moore
1.500315827468
Tuberosa d’Autunno I Profumi di Firenze
1.500315827468
Tuberose Royal Hawaiian
1.500315827468
Black Tuberose Michele Bergman
1.5002707092583
Jasmine Renee
1.5002707092583
Tuberose TerraNova
1.5002255910485
Soliflor Line Eclair de Tubereuse Il Profvmo
1.5001804728388
Artisan Collection Belle Route Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.5001804728388
No. XV Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5001353546291
No. XV Pink Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5000902364194
TNT PK Perfumes
1.5000902364194
Pastoral Severnoye Siyanie
1.5000902364194
Roll-On Perfume No. 11 Melange Perfume
1.5000451182097
Tuberose Mary Chess
1.5000451182097
Capri Night Profumi Capri
1.5000451182097
Tuberosa Imperiale Officine del Profumo
1.5000451182097
Tuberosa Di Notte Voluspa
1.5000451182097
Eau de Tubereuse Le Jardin Retrouve
1.5
B.B. Chic Clash
1.5
Midnight Shadows Neil Morris
1.5
Marie Claire Guerlain
1.5
Tuberose CB I Hate Perfume
1.5
Night Blossom La Via del Profumo
1.4999097635806
L'Eau de Tubereuse Mathias Paris
1.4956374376466
Tubereuse L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.4886736293088
Tuberosa Profumum Roma
1.4878657379534
White Tubereuse Reminiscence
1.4835711277748
Carolina Mazzolari
1.4807218913554
Tuberosa Miller Harris
1.4801804728388
Herrera Tuberose Carolina Herrera
1.4765509456777
Couture Tuberose Versace
1.4706782364194
Monbloom Ramon Monegal
1.4681559009204
Marlowe Jardins d’Ecrivains
1.465393159538
Mirror Mirror Collection - A Travers Le Miroir Thierry Mugler
1.4618989456777
Tuberosa Agave Voluspa
1.4615831182097
Leilani's Lei Stand Maoli
1.4552773737592
Coconut Tuberose No. 821 Gap
1.4445793546291
Tuberose, Hyacinth & Lily of the Valley Antica Farmacista
1.4444891182097
Delight Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4423563003068
Hauto Jeroboam
1.4310902459845
Tubereuse Rosee Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
1.4295194724779
Narcotic Venus Nasomatto
1.428886827468
White Tubereuse Eau de Toilette Reminiscence
1.4287514728388
Pearl Silver Novae Plus
1.4287514728388
Tuberose Elizabeth W
1.4287063546291
Day Project D by Dannii and Tabitha
1.4286161182097
Dalliance She Who Dares
1.4243403098719
Jasmine & Tuberose Henri Bendel
1.41800715647
Velvet Desire Dolce&Gabbana
1.4121577827107
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.4095873003068
Tinta Roja Fueguia 1833
1.4063714280816
Fatale Gloria Vanderbilt
1.4001804728388
Tuberose Vertigineuse Molinard
1.4001353546291
Tuberosa Les Voiles Depliees
1.4
Frederic Frederic Haldimann
1.3959191557481
Do Son Diptyque
1.3917551820971
Chic Michael Kors
1.391304
Tubereuse Les Sens de Marrakech
1.3854042808157
Infusion de Tubereuse Prada
1.3835204185165
Un Air de Damas Tubereuse Dorin
1.3825564598448
La Vie La Mort Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.3817190095651
White Tuberose Anthousa
1.3811324728388
01 02 Vapeur de Tubereuse Fragrance Republic
1.3792352459845
Io Hilde Soliani
1.3778231182097
Tenebra Royal Crown
1.3753609456777
Moon Garden Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.3752255910485
Anjali Reminiscence
1.3752255910485
Very Michael Kors Michael Kors
1.3750902364194
Muse Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.375
Intensia Prime Collection
1.375
Osa Zeromolecole
1.3743963641942
Madly MariaLux
1.3732127471576
Beyond Love By Kilian
1.3729265367262
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.37224115647
Flor y Canto Arquiste
1.3705203333333
Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
1.3684661182097
Sita Nina`s Nature
1.3656306740661
Gold Flowers Montale
1.3643047283884
Mi Corazon Oscar de la Renta
1.3638164728388
Times Square Demeter Fragrance
1.3633713737592
L.A. Style Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
1.362471658004
J'Adore L'Absolu Christian Dior
1.3588519456777
Tuberoli Space NK
1.3583743576972
Bubblegum Chic James Heeley
1.3573234728388
Cologne Fine Tubereuse Absolue Institut Très Bien
1.3571881182097
Notes from Michael Glenplaid Michael Kors
1.357143
Epice Orientale Kristen Michele
1.3552450638874
Donna Margherita Pantheon Roma
1.354839
Tres Chic Vivienne Sabo
1.3529861182097
Inveja Abinoam
1.3503718913554
Tubereuse Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
1.3478711182097
Cowgirl Grass D.S. & Durga
1.3462494102148
Carnal Flower Frederic Malle
1.3436590669554
Tubereuse Indiana Creed
1.3342804824039
Tubereuse DSH Perfumes
1.3342353641942
Mood Yearn Victoria`s Secret
1.3340097731456
Dianoche Night Daisy Fuentes
1.3337390638874
1910 Bésame Cosmetics
1.3337390638874
Golden Tuberose Daniel Josier
1.3336037092583
$ D.S. & Durga
1.3335134728388
Moroccan Tuberose Illuminum
1.3334232364194
Golden Hour Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3334232364194
Dos Gardenias Fueguia 1833
1.3334232364194
Theosiris Classique Guy Bouchara
1.3334232364194
Feromone pour Femme (Pheromone for woman) La Via del Profumo
1.3329225749865
Kiss My Name Ramon Monegal
1.3317261488901
Michael Michael Kors
1.3281986515069
Fire Island Bond No 9
1.3279782521206
Gardenia Passion Annick Goutal
1.3266663546291
Castillos Fueguia 1833
1.326145338567
Gold Michael Kors
1.326073664501
Bouquet Blanc Le Labo
1.3256767731456
Dolce Tuberose Krigler
1.3240704185165
So Nude Eau de Toilette CoSTUME NATIONAL
1.3228517092583
Tuberose Angelica Limited Edition Jo Malone
1.321070827468
Tuberose Renee
1.319264837033
Cepes and Tuberose Aftelier
1.3175241820971
Hanako Syed Junaid Alam
1.3159694728388
An Ideal Wife Lise London
1.315789
La Dame Blanche Le Cercle des Parfumeurs Createurs
1.3147829743729
Tubereuse Caron
1.3143498465981
Dreaming Pearl Tommy Hilfiger
1.3130328787223
J`adore Christian Dior
1.3125902364194
Edenwood Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3117877731456
Shantoung Galimard
1.3102007731456
Ekstasis Re Profumo
1.309406491969
Tuberosa Santa Maria Novella
1.3080160317632
Jour d’Hermes Gardenia Hermes
1.3077371182097
Dream Big Benetton
1.3074446006136
Four White Flowers Marilyn Miglin
1.304348
Fleurs de Lys Art Deco Perfumes
1.3024979552427
Me Myself & I Egofacto
1.3022559104855
Very Sexy Now 2015 Victoria`s Secret
1.300315827468
Perfect Tuberose Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.3000902364194
Icon Jewel Ga-De
1.3000902364194
Mini Liberty Ulric de Varens
1.3
Dilis Classic Collection No. 31 Dilis Parfum
1.2997677475185
I Love New York Earth Day Bond No 9
1.299380827468
Karolina Kurkova LR
1.2991043546291
Tuberose Keiko Mecheri
1.2964907406605
Flora by Gucci Gracious Tuberose Gucci

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