Tuberose side by side

Our weather has cooled and we got some torrential rains last week. It’s perfect for really heady florals.

I’m wondering if I’ll see tuberose in my wooden box this year. I got one blooming tuber a few years ago but nothing since. And that single tuberose did its thing in August. So, there’s still time.

My Nepalese lilies, which I planted years ago and did nothing, finally decided to bloom last year – just when I’d given up. This year, I’ve got three lilies and some pup plants which I’m going to move to different pots at the end of the season. The flowers are amazing – not just for how they look. They only offer scent at night and they smell heavenly: vanilla, spices and pepper.

Anyway, tuberose.

Someone mentioned that our friend Uncle Serge had decided, in his infinite wisdom, to ditch Tubereuse Criminelle. Apparently, the brand has said goodbye to a few old heroes. I guess this is cost/benefit analysis but it’s not a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

I was still kicking myself for not getting TC when it briefly entered the Lutens export line. So, with this news I pulled the iPad and ordered a decant from Surrender to Chance (couldn’t find a remotely reasonably priced anything here).

It arrived last week and I spent a few days making adoring noises and playing with it before doing a side by side with Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower, the only other tuberose I own.

Unlike Fracas, these are both tuberoses I can wear. Not hugely often but enough to want to have them around. So, I’ve got a travel size of CF (10ml) and 8ml of TC. I’m having serious wonderings about whether I should go back and get a backup 8ml (along with a decant of Sarrasins, which also appears to have gone bye bye).

So, off we go.

First, Tubereuse Criminelle. Released in 1998, I’ve found various notes lists, including jasmine, orange blossom, hyacinth, tuberose, nutmeg, clove, styrax, musk and vanilla. And, possibly, menthol salicylate, which maybe provides the weird, cold, menthol-moth ball opening.

It is some weird opening. Very much love or hate. I fall very much on the love side – to the same extent I fall on the hate side for another weird Lutens Iris Silver Mists. Whereas in the latter the cold stays cold on me, TC, after that strange shivery opening, turns into a gorgeous warm floral on me.

That opening of menthol and moth balls. Really, really strong for about 15 minutes. Then, it calms down and the florals and spices start to open up, but there’s still a whisper of menthol.

After a while, we leave behind the menthol and this is soft, spicy florals. The drydown is another surprise, as I get something green. So, in the end we come to a soft green floral. From nose tip to tail tip, this is gorgeous and odd. Just outstanding.

Sadly, this is not that long-lived on my skin, at it’s strongest for a bit over two hours – which isn’t very long, and then fades to a sweet tuberose over another few hours. Still, I’d happily respray – if I’d has the sense to buy that export bottle. But, I didn’t.

Second, Carnal Flower. Released in 2005, notes include bergamot, melon, eucalyptus, ylang, jasmine, tuberose, salicylates, more tuberose, orange blossom, coconut and musk (sorry it’s difficult to see the name on the bottle).

Whereas TC opens cold, CF definitely does not. The whole side-by-side thing ends up being a study in contrasts.

CF starts (on me) green fruity (that melon and eucalyptus) and a whisper of citrus (the bergamot) with a promise of hot florals. And then the florals come to the fore. Sigh. How freakin’ beautiful can you get? Big, heady jasmine, ylang and, of course, tuberose. Just lush.

As things move along regarding the florals, something chalky appears. I am assuming this is the salicylates and maybe the appearance of orange blossom. In any case, it keeps the flowers from getting to be too much.

The drydown is weirdly compelling: a sour whisper (maybe coconut and musk) anchoring beautiful heady florals. Very warm but not hot. Like that perfect humid but not too humid very warm tropical evening. Huge sigh.

Hours later (I’m talking this can still be smelled on my skin after 8 hours) it has morphed into a soft pongy musk.

While I do love TC, CF sits much better on my skin and lasts much longer. Would it be accurate to say the former ‘unfolds’ on me while the latter ‘opens up’, implying more heat?

Anyway, that’s that. An interesting experiment.

Either of these in your stash? Both? Other tuberoses you adore (beyond Fracas – I really really can’t wear that no matter how many times I try)?

Pics: Wiki and mine

  • Filomena says:

    I have both of them and intend to wear them before summer is over.

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t think I would ever wear TC in colder weather. As to CF, I find it’s happier on my skin when it’s warmer but it does come out every once in a while in autumn/winter.

  • Dina C. says:

    Several years ago I also did a TC vs. CF wear test but I didn’t end up buying bottles of either one. I love tuberose, jasmine and orange blossom notes. I think I loved TC more than CF but I can’t be sure. I need to order samples again and retest, don’t I!?! As for Fracas, I wore it in college when a friend gave me a handmedown bottle of it. I love the topnotes, but the drydown is overpowering to me nowadays.

    • cinnamon says:

      Alas, TC appears to be gone bar, as you say, samples and decants. I really don’t get Fracas no matter how hard I try. It’s just not for me. But that friend — what a kind person!

  • Muzo says:

    I don’t know these tuberoses.But i like MPG s Tubereuse.

    • cinnamon says:

      TC appears to be gone now — discontinued for some unknown reason. CF is available in a 10ml size for not insane money.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    LOVE tuberose. Both of those, Fracas and many others fit my wheelhouse. My favourite though is Pierre Guillaume’s Tubereuse Couture. Stark green yet heady loveliness with an interesting sweetness.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      This looks like I need to try it. It’s even available at a London place that offers samples 🙂 ‘Stark green’ has me wondering.

  • Roxana Villa says:

    Hello! It’s been almost hotter than hell here in Santa Fe, especially when the AC at the perfumery stopped working.

    That menthol opening note in TC sounds soooo very interesting, I can “smell” why he did it, and like how it relates to the Egyptians loving the camphor note, although not quite my aesthetic.

    During an aromatherapy conference in Salt Lake City I was gifted a co-distillate of tuberose + vetiver by a distiller. I fell in love, and then in 2020 worked with it to create a perfume called Dulcet. I currently have more in the works and promise to send some to Tom and Portia for a sniff when its ready.

    In the meantime, if any of you head to Santa Fe, it’s plant smell heaven at the perfumery, and my new AC has been thankfully been installed. I’ve got a gardenia enfleurage going, my jasmine sambacs are blooming and a student just brought me a giant bag of Larrea tridentata, called creosote bush and greasewood.

    • cinnamon says:

      Love the smell of creosote. My previous old shed was painted with it — always a reason to pop in to look for something. Tuberose and vetiver … hmmm… Parts of the US are so hot. Stay safe. And look forward to hearing what Tom and Portia think of their decants.

      • Roxana Villa says:

        Hey @Cinnamon, “painted with creosote”? The creosote I am referring to is a plant, not the carbonaceous chemical, its unfortunate that they have the same name.

        • cinnamon says:

          Yes, the chemical. It’s no longer used here except for by industry. This was a rather old shed.

    • Tom says:

      Oooh! Looking forward to that! And I can certainly vouch for visiting Roxana at her perfumery- I had lovely times going to the one she had in Thousand Oaks, introducing various friends (the picture of the two of us popped up in my FB fees just the other day!)

      I was lucky enough to grab a bottle of TC when it was at fragranceweb or wherever it was when I had the chance. It (and Fracas) aren’t ones that I wear out, but I do love to spritz it and marinate in my own fabulosity. Why this one went into Lutens Limbo I have no idea when there are other candidates that should be there ahead of it (looking at you, Chypre Rouge.) I am hoping they’re just resting somewhere and will make special guest appearances on occasion, in bell jars..

      • Musette says:

        I spritzed El O with Fracas once, just prior to a business dinner…

        …omg! he was ENGULFED by the womenses! En.GULFED!

        He had Neil Morris to thank for that, btw – NM posits that men in those ‘foofy’ women’s fragrances are nearly irresistible to women – apparently so (EL O was look at… but certainly no Idris. So ENGULFED certainly had to do with that Fracas)

  • Musette says:

    I loved this review! I LIVE in CF – seriously. I have the body wash, the body creme (sooo gorgeous!) the perfume. The hair mist (March and me, huffing Patty’s hair on the subway over to Brooklyn.. goobers!)… I love that mentholated floral.
    TC, while loved, doesn’t quite do it for me – dunno why.
    I absolutely adore CF in extreme heat, when it blooms in a much more sensual way. 90F? It’s sheer perfection!

    • cinnamon says:

      Good lord, that’s a lot of CF 🙂 I think TC is (was) just harder going. It’s beautiful but it feels like it’s saying ‘do it, just try me, and see what happens to you’ rather than wanting to be worn.

  • March says:

    I couldn’t make my peace with that opening of TC, although I totally understand why people love it. Carnal Flower is a favorite; the opening always reminds me a bit of the wonderful smell of a florists’ chiller. I think it’s stunning. And I love scents like that in the heat, actually, the way they open up, as long as you’re not annoying people around you in, say, an office.

    • cinnamon says:

      l’Artisan did a scent years ago that was supposed to smell like a florist’s shop. Didn’t on me, sadly. I find CF rather surprising in that it does have something weird going on but it doesn’t shout about it. I mean, tuberose is a sort of weird flower, after all. Not your regular ‘I smell good’ and that’s all you need to know.

  • Tara C says:

    So sad to hear about Lutens discontinuing scents, they are all so special and unique, even the ones I don’t wear. I have a bell jar of TC and love that wintergreen gum opening blast. The first time I smelled it at the Palais Royal in Paris I had to go sit outside for half an hour to ponder its weirdness, then I went back to buy it. Carnal Flower I also own and enjoy but I have to be in the mood for it, which is not often. Tuberose is not a huge favorite of mine and I find TC easier to wear. I also like Amouage Love Tuberose because it’s a softer sweeter floral than CF.

    • cinnamon says:

      One of these days (after retiring it looks like) I’ll make it back to Paris and will finally, finally visit the Palais Royale. I love tuberose and sometimes used to be able to buy stems from a florist in London. One perfumed a whole room. Will note down the Amouage on the to try list.

    • Musette says:

      I so SO wanted to love Love Tuberose, Tara C. Alas…

  • alityke says:

    Cinnamon, I’m now wondering if we’re scent twins.
    I’m truly kicking myself for selling my export bottle of TC. I just didn’t wear it often, one of those scents I had to be craving to wear it. Now I miss it very badly.
    I too have a 10ml travel size of CF, sadly the tube of the spray mechanism is stuck to the glass & getting any of the scent out is a nightmare! Anyone with any idea of how to solve this without breaking the bottle neck please tell me!
    CF wears quite cool smelling on me but isn’t mentholated. It does sometimes wear me in the heat though. CF does have huge throw & somehow it feels too grown up.
    I can happily wear Fracas but prefer Madonna’s Truth or Dare homage. Again I feel I’m just not big enough for Fracas whereas Truth or Dare seems to be less Amazonian in scale.
    I agree about Iris Silver Mist, to me feels like a morgue viewing chapel written in fragrance. Cold & deathly. 4160Tuesday’s Doe in the Snow gave me the same effect.
    I’m off to put an StC order in now

    • cinnamon says:

      I remember visiting one of those vague perfume shops here a few years ago and they were discounting Truth or Dare. Never smelled it. Might see if they still have it next visit into town. The little red rubber ring has removed itself from the neck of my CF. I’m hoping that doesn’t affect the spray mechanism. Yes, we are sort of scent twins 🙂

      • alityke says:

        T or D is d/ced & people are looking for silly money for it on eBay. My favourite way to get a burst without the commitment is to use the shower gel in a bath. Feels really lux. The bath & body range is cheap as chips on Perfume-Click. Portia is a big fan too

  • taxi says:

    Do Son and Good Girl Gone Bad are my most frequently worn tuberose scents. Do Son is lovely in the daytime.
    I’m a devotee of swansdown-puffed bath powders instead of body lotions. I still have Fracas, White Shoulders, and other powders which I use freely year- round. I don’t use the accompanying edp or perfume in warm weather. The talcs are enough for me in summer & won’t overwhelm anyone else.

    • cinnamon says:

      I smelled Do Son ages ago. No memory of it. Hmmm, a Kilian. Goes on to smell list. I can’t do powders. Make me twitchy. I had a friend growing up though who was all about scented powders and she smelled awesome.

    • Musette says:

      I have the Fracas dusting powder and LOVE IT!

  • carole says:

    Funny- hotter than heck here, and since we don’t get a lot of hot weather it’s hard to deal with.

    So I’m reading on the verandah and playing with my stash. I just bought the 10 ml size of CF. Nothing carnal about it, on my skin-I think it just smells great. I like Andy Warhol’s idea of wearing one scent to remind one’s self of a certain time-then choosing a different scent. This is what I’ll do with my travel size of CF.

    I am lucky to have TC too-in the black gratte ciel format. I do get that slightly odd opening-less odd for me because I work with chemicals and petroleum. I wish it was more tuberose on me-I get the flowers-lots of hyacinths-and green things. A beautiful floral, but not the disturbing beast that some people claim to smell on their skin (nothing sarcastic about the claim to smell- I love that all of us have differences, and that the same scent seems to smell different on all of us).

    I also love Iris Silver Mist-I think of iris as a cool flower. No idea why-they grow wild here and I love them and consider them to be an elegant flower. There’s nothing cold about this on my skin-it’s a calm scent, and its strength reminds me of my mom and her mom, and so it’s a very comforting scent for me. Also seems to have disappeared from the SL website. I bought the travel sets from a few years ago-the le Vapo lines, which was really inexpensive.

    I love how we can all find something different in the same scents. Thanks for the great read, and I hope your Sunday is totally uneventful, in the best possible way 🙂

    • cinnamon says:

      Was thinking yesterday that I wish we could send the US and Europe a bit of our rain. ISM is just challenging for me — just cold carrot every time I smelled it. But I think iris is mostly a challenging note for me. I hope your weather lifts a bit and becomes more comfortable.