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

1.5023679648188
White Tubereuse Reminiscence
1.5015222630978
Tubereuse Annick Goutal
1.5014799780118
Soliflore Tuberose Dame Perfumery
1.5012685525815
Bolt of Lightning Jar Parfums
1.5010571271513
Dior Passage No.9 Christian Dior
1.5009725569792
Le Beau Parfum Limited Edition Maison Francis Kurkdjian
1.5007188464629
Tuberosa L`Erbolario
1.5005919912047
Spiced Tuberose and Orchid Potter & Moore
1.5005919912047
Eclair de Tubéreuse Il Profvmo
1.5003382806884
Tuberose TerraNova
1.5002959956024
Black Tuberose Michele Bergman
1.5002959956024
Tuberosa d’Autunno I Profumi di Firenze
1.5002537105163
Tuberose Royal Hawaiian
1.5002537105163
Jasmine Renee
1.5002114254303
Soliflor Line Eclair de Tubereuse Il Profvmo
1.5002114254303
TNT PK Perfumes
1.5001691403442
Artisan Collection Belle Route Sarah Horowitz Parfums
1.5001691403442
No. XV Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5001268552582
No. XV Pink Tubereuse Mad et Len
1.5000845701721
Touberouse Noir Dasa Concept Store
1.5000845701721
Roll-On Perfume No. 11 Melange Perfume
1.5000845701721
Pastoral Severnoye Siyanie
1.5000845701721
Tuberose CB I Hate Perfume
1.5000422850861
Ruby Hervé Domar
1.5000422850861
Tuberosa Di Notte Voluspa
1.5000422850861
Tuberosa Imperiale Officine del Profumo
1.5000422850861
Tuberose Mary Chess
1.5
Marie Claire Guerlain
1.5
Night Blossom La Via del Profumo
1.5
Midnight Shadows Neil Morris
1.5
B.B. Chic Clash
1.4999154298279
L'Eau de Tubereuse Mathias Paris
1.4948934646285
Tuberose Angelica Jo Malone London
1.4936419868071
Carolina Mazzolari
1.4864046841304
Tubereuse L`Artisan Parfumeur
1.4834055174003
Tuberosa Profumum Roma
1.476993416635
Tubéreuse Trianon Le Jardin Retrouve
1.4765282806884
Couture Tuberose Versace
1.4740645657745
White Tubereuse Eau de Toilette Reminiscence
1.4738531403442
Mini Liberty Ulric de Varens
1.4690698812635
Mirror Mirror Collection - A Travers Le Miroir Mugler
1.4618762806884
Tuberosa Agave Voluspa
1.4615802850861
Leilani's Lei Stand Maoli
1.4446131403442
La Dame Blanche Le Cercle des Parfumeurs Createurs
1.4445708552582
Capri Night Profumi Capri
1.4445708552582
Tuberose, Hyacinth & Lily of the Valley Antica Farmacista
1.4444862850861
Delight Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.4380497061187
Tinta Roja Fueguia 1833
1.4370032587002
Coconut Tuberose No. 821 Gap
1.429416701721
Tuberosa Miller Harris
1.4287401403442
Tuberose Elizabeth W
1.4287401403442
Silver Style 9 Arabian Oud
1.4287401403442
Pearl Silver Novae Plus
1.4286978552582
Day Project D by Dannii and Tabitha
1.4286132850861
Dalliance She Who Dares
1.4280260432154
Narcotic Venus Nasomatto
1.4242609824094
Jasmine & Tuberose Henri Bendel
1.4232461403442
Monbloom Ramon Monegal
1.4227679516259
Velvet Desire Dolce&Gabbana
1.4137523990444
Le Beau Parfum Maison Francis Kurkdjian
1.409894416635
Tuberose Flash Tauerville
1.4093447105163
Essence No. 9 Tuberose Elie Saab
1.4065882806884
Herrera Tuberose Carolina Herrera
1.4037461315489
Hauto Jeroboam
1.4009725569792
Tubereuse Rosee Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger
1.4001691403442
Taersìa Maison Gabriella Chieffo
1.4001268552582
Tuberosa Les Voiles Depliees
1.4000422850861
Carrera Femme Carrera
1.4
Frederic Frederic Haldimann
1.3937340820331
Do Son Diptyque
1.3922426929257
Fatale Gloria Vanderbilt
1.391304
Tubereuse Les Sens de Marrakech
1.3872758376676
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3868983946467
Mi Corazon Oscar de la Renta
1.386549433845
La Vie La Mort Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite
1.384615
Fleurs de Lys Art Deco Perfumes
1.3838586665398
Flor y Canto Arquiste
1.3834864210326
Un Air de Damas Tubereuse Dorin
1.382778525815
Infusion de Tubereuse Prada
1.3810788552582
01 02 Vapeur de Tubereuse Fragrance Republic
1.379181416635
Io Hilde Soliani
1.3752537105163
Moon Garden Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.3752114254303
Anjali Reminiscence
1.3752114254303
Very Michael Kors Michael Kors
1.3752114254303
Osa Zeromolecole
1.3750845701721
Muse Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
1.375
Amber Notes Palette No. 2 Melange Perfume
1.375
Intensia Prime Collection
1.3749577149139
Ala Moana Antica Farmacista
1.3729319912047
Blu Bruno Acampora
1.3715699648188
Gold Flowers Montale
1.3707273333333
Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
1.3684836045922
Beyond Love By Kilian
1.3684632850861
Sita Nina`s Nature
1.3671418244746
McQueen Eau de Parfum Alexander McQueen
1.363351118356
L.A. Style Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
1.3596466929257
Jolie Fleur Bleue Tory Burch
1.359466701721
Tubereuse Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
1.3589138508605
Tuberoli Space NK
1.3586072015307
J'Adore L'Absolu Christian Dior
1.3572698552582
Notes from Michael Glenplaid Michael Kors
1.357143
Epice Orientale Kristen Michele
1.3558538420652
Madly MariaLux
1.3556607673052
Bubblegum Chic James Heeley
1.3551772806884
Donna Margherita Pantheon Roma
1.354839
Tres Chic Vivienne Sabo
1.3534061359466
Tubéreuse Vertigineuse Molinard
1.3529832850861
Inveja Abinoam
1.3478682850861
Cowgirl Grass D.S. & Durga
1.3455659925578
Carnal Flower Frederic Malle
1.3449316313586
Tubereuse Indiana Creed
1.3392759736141
Tuberosa Santa Maria Novella
1.3344324122373
Cepes and Tuberose Aftelier
1.334136416635
Mood Yearn Victoria`s Secret
1.3339672762908
Dianoche Night Daisy Fuentes
1.3339249912047
Golden Tuberose Daniel Josier
1.3337558508605
Chic Michael Kors
1.3335867105163
$ D.S. & Durga
1.3335021403442
Moroccan Tuberose Illuminum
1.3334175701721
Woman Pure Marbert
1.3334175701721
Golden Hour Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3334175701721
Dos Gardenias Fueguia 1833
1.3334175701721
Theosiris Classique Guy Bouchara
1.333333
Jasmine Soap & Paper Factory
1.333333
Art Nouveau Iris Brocard
1.333333
Yubiley Severnoye Siyanie
1.3326439864265
Gardenia Passion Annick Goutal
1.3317113770561
Kiss My Name Ramon Monegal
1.3310439736141
Marlowe Jardins d’Ecrivains
1.326890416635
White Tuberose Anthousa
1.3267746954205
Michael Michael Kors
1.3262598024864
Gold Michael Kors
1.3259858376676
Bouquet Blanc Le Labo
1.3256342762908
Dolce Tuberose 43 Krigler
1.3253425525815
Me Myself & I Egofacto
1.3230884210326
Tuberose Angelica Limited Edition Jo Malone London
1.3208997101357
Fire Island Bond No 9
1.3174958508605
Hanako Syed Junaid Alam
1.3173599824094
Tuberosa Do Egito Phebo
1.3161472718931
Tubereuse DSH Perfumes
1.3159581403442
An Ideal Wife Lise London
1.3158312850861
Feromone pour Femme (Pheromone for woman) La Via del Profumo
1.3149102499049
Very Sexy Now 2015 Victoria`s Secret
1.3125845701721
Edenwood Artemisia Natural Perfume
1.3122229956024
Tuberose Renee
1.3120752271978
J`adore Christian Dior
1.3120669912047
Tubéreuses Castane Lancome
1.3117452762908
Shantoung Galimard
1.3116018552582
Castillos Fueguia 1833
1.310704701721
Four White Flowers Marilyn Miglin

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