Wednesday, December 30, 2009
SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle (and note reconciliation)
I'm over that. So over it. I'm doing everything short of chasing tuberose perfumes with a butterfly net. Is this how it is when you and a hated note reconcile? Do you love that note more than the ones that you were able to appreciate at first sniff?
Of course, it helps that I always appreciated that tuberose was beautiful. The dislike was an association thing. I felt irritated, annoyed, crowded, even as I could perceive the marvels of the note. It appears that piling up enough positive associations, mostly with Tubereuse Couture, was enough to drown the dislike as if it had never been.
So, I'm holding my own private tuberose festival. And Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle is a fine, fine festival exhibit.
The opening is challenging. People have compared it to Vick's Vapo-Rub or gasoline. At least one person (OK, me) has compared it to mothballs. The first time that I tried this fragrance, that put me off. That note skimmed off some of the beauty of the tuberose, and with tuberose on probation (at best) with me anyway, what's the point?
Now that tuberose and I are friends, I love the weird mentholated opening. It seems to add an edge of humor and an edge of, well, edge, to keep the flower from being purely Shirley Temple ruffles and batting-eyes pretty.
That anti-prettifying function is usually achieved in white flower perfumes with indolic notes, so this cleaner version is a nice change. It's similar in function to the green notes in Tubereuse Couture, but utterly different in the final result. It's strong, but also cold, smooth, solid, and a little distant - it's a presence, not a smothering blanket. It makes this a perfume that a (brave) man could wear, and I have a strong preference for unisex perfumes.
Much of the mothball weirdness wears off in the first hour, enough to let you see the tuberose clearly, but there's just enough of left to keep the perfume from being cloying. Other things are going on, too - the listed notes are tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, hyacinth, nutmeg, clove, styrax, musk, and vanilla.
I can faintly sense the spices and vanilla helping to bridge the gap between the flower and the mothballs. I'm guessing that the orange blossom and hyacinth are making the normally-indolic tuberose and jasmine a little cleaner and brighter.
I want. Tubereuse Criminelle is in the non-export line, so I'm going to have trouble getting my hands on it without going to France. But I'm sure that there are Ways.
Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Bois de Jasmin and Sweet Diva and PereDePierre and For The Love Of Perfume and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume Posse and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and Grain de Musc and Basenotes and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and Eiderdown Press and Perfume Shrine and Perfumista dot org and Nathan Branch and Perfumum and FitForAFemme and The SF Examiner and Pink Manhattan (scroll down) and Perfume Nerd and Muses in Wooden Shoes and Scentsate.
Modified to add to the Review Roundup.
Image: Albert Joseph Moore, The Green Butterfly. Wikimedia Commons.