Saturday, November 6 at the “Beauty Concept” store in Monza, I took part to the event "Focus on tuberose" where participants were able to sniff and discuss dozens of raw materials and perfumes tuberose-focused.
First, our host Gian Luca Perris (founder of Perris Monte Carlo, website here) invited us to enjoy a fantastic tuberose absolute, that surprised many for its leathery character, dry, salty, smoky, "bacon", which took more than twenty minutes to show a soft and delicate floral facet, which speaks of flowers in a shy and persuasive way. While the steam distillation collects the lighter, more volatile and fresher notes, the absolute extracts the flower scent in its wholeness, with all its warm, earthy, heavy basenotes. Smelling the tuberose absolute I was struck by the fact this flower seems to work "backwards" compared with other flowers: you generally perceive the first more gentle and floral notes, and only after they get deeper, weightier and become dark and indolic. Tuberous starts with darker notes, leathery, smoky, to become gentler and floral over time.
We then explored a range of perfumes kindly offered by the participants in Adjiumi Forum:
Piguet's Fracas (we could compare an outstanding vintage with the modern version)
Tubereuse by L'Artisan Parfumeur, both the first version and the renewed one.
On the table we also had Giorgio Beverly Hills, Poison by Dior, Beautiful by E. Lauder and others...
Then we dedicated to "modern" tuberose, including
Carnal Flower (F. Malle)
L'Eau Scandaleuse (Anatole Lebreton) the “Criminelle” by S. Lutens, Voyance by Baruti, the Animale by Histoire de Parfums, Narcotic Venus by Nasomatto, then those of Memo, The Cercle des Parfumeurs, Amouage, Mona di Orio and others).
The serial sniff made it clear that the first famous perfume with tuberose (Fracas) set a standard that no one dared to challenge for a long time: from Fracas on, tuberose perfumes had to be sumptuously floral, sound, creamy, seductive, narcotic. In these, tuberose is indeed associated with other flowers like rose, neroli and other white flowers (as in Giorgio, Chloe, Mahora), but also fruity notes (as in Tubereuse, Mahora) or metal, aldehydic ones (Michelle), to enhance the extremely feminine character.
Actually, smelling the absolute allows you to grasp the essence of the flower, and in this case we immediately realized that tuberose is much richer and multi-faceted then it was made up to two decades ago.
And in fact, after forty years of "feminine" tuberose a few years ago composers have started to approach this note in a different way. Tubereuse Criminelle (1999 Lutens and Sheldrake for S. Lutens), unusually pungent and medicine-like, and Carnal Flower (2005, Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle) that explores the intensely green side of this flower, were followed by other increasingly less "domesticated" tuberose scents, up to the wild MAAI released last year.
Modern tuberose forced us to enrich our idea of the flower, leading it out of the "pushy femininity" idea to include the most intensely green, smoked and salted facets, which for many evoke the male universe. This way, tuberose might be seen as a sort of Tao, a union of opposites that can hold everything inside.
In any case, we must credit the Lutens/Sheldrake and Malle/Ropion duos (authors respectively of Tubereuse Criminelle and Carnal Flower) who first broke a pattern and approached this flower with a different vision, inspiring others to do the same.