Wednesday, December 30, 2009

SOTD: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle (and note reconciliation)

A painting, Albert Joseph Moore's _The Green Butterfly_, of a woman in yellow-green draping robes standing on a brick garden pavement in a thoughtful posture, with a butterfly fluttering on her left.
Remember when I didn't like tuberose?

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.

6 comments:

Mals86 said...

(Yay! A comment box! Funny how the little things just make me happy. I still don't know why sometimes I get a box and sometimes nuthin'.)

Tuberose is definitely a Love It or Hate It note. Was it you who commented on NST that you had a harsh kindergarten teacher who must have worn a tuberose scent?

I've always, always been a tuberose fan. Back when I was young and my budget was small, I bought a little bottle of Sand & Sable at the drugstore, after getting a teeny spray on one wrist from the store tester. A friend wore it, and I loved it. But when I brought it home, my (No. 5-wearing) mom insisted I return it, crying, "That's too OLD for you, honey!" I was 17. She didn't like my Chloe, either, but since my grandmother had given me that, she couldn't insist I not wear it. :)

Some tuberoses I wear: BBW Velvet Tuberose and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, lightly applied, are office friendly. DSH Perfumes' Tubereuse I keep getting samples of and wearing but don't own a bottle of - it's lovely. Recently discovered Carnal Flower, and find it ethereally green and gorgeous, very floaty, with no carnality in sight.

Fracas is beautiful, but it wears ME.

Tubereuse Criminelle has been languishing in my samples-to-test pile for a few months. No longer! I will wear it tomorrow, since I won't have to go to work, and can offend my family as much as I like! (The CEO likes tuberose, thank goodness.)

ChickenFreak said...

Yes! That was me! I don't so much say harsh as...weird. :) But weird in a pushy and "get outta my way" way.

One of the reviews referred to the reviewer looking for a saw to take her arm off if she couldn't wash off the topnotes. But wait; it's worth it.

flittersniffer said...

I have a wax sample of this and must confess to never having got past the mothball stage. Your review has emboldened me to have another go, for I do uphold the four hour rule normally (well, a minimum of two, and four if I am feeling particularly robust). : - )

ChickenFreak said...

Yes! Try it! Though I don't know how the wax affects the development. I've never had one of the Lutens wax samples.

Lutens seems to have the longest development of any house, or else it just develops very slowly on my skin - it takes three hours for Serge Noire to really hit its stride on me, for example. And sometimes even longer for Chergui. I think that maybe my skin emphasizes some camphorous/medicinal note that appears in several of his fragrances, and keeps that note going longer than most people's.

Kaelee said...

Oh man. I so want to try that!!! I LOVE the smell of mothballs, actually, and gasoline ain't half bad either. But never have I been accused of being normal...

I have no idea what a tuberose smells like, but if it's a flower I probably like it. Unless it's a stink flower. Yea.

ChickenFreak said...

Hey, Kaelee! Yes! Bwahaha! Try it! No, tuberose is a gorgeous flower that, depending on the perfume, ranges from beautiful and buttery to something not quite altogether decent but nevertheless still beautiful.

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