The scent of tuberose is heady. It is potent, fleshy and sweet. I realized recently that long before I understood what a tuberose note smelled like, I’ve always gravitated toward tuberose-laden perfumes. Givenchy Amarige is usually considered a tuberose bomb. I don’t think of it that way, it seems equal parts tuberose, orange blossom and mimosa over a sultry oriental base, but given that there’s a hefty dose of tuberose in it, it makes sense that I found it and clung to it back in the mid-90’s and wore it as my signature scent for about five years. I mean every single day for five years. I recall sniffing all the available Miller Harris perfumes in a little boutique in New Hope, PA, one afternoon. After spending an inordinate amount of time standing and sniffing (the shopkeeper was giving me looks) the one I selected was Noix de Tubereuse. And, even though I now think it’s one of the most worthless tuberose soliflores on the market, I recall standing in Neiman’s one day and after smelling every Jo Malone fragrance on the counter, I walked away with JM’s Tubereuse in hand.
For the most part, I don’t seek out tuberose soliflores. I prefer my tuberose prominent but mixed with a blend of other white florals over an oriental type base. My favorites are, as mentioned above, Amarige, as well as Roja Dove Scandal, Divine, Noix de Tubereuse and Annick Goutal Songes (which, for the record, doesn't list tuberose among the notes, but seems tuberose-esque to me). These are all love or hate scents, I don’t think there are too many people on the fence about the fragrances I just listed.
I do occasionally wear tuberose soliflores, namely Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Tubereuse, Estee Lauder Tuberose Gardenia and Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture. It’s usually during the warm weather months when I want to wear something that smells realistically and wholly like a tuberose plant.
Here’s my take on the tuberose fragrances I have in my collection. Not all are soliflores, but most are:
Annick Goutal Tubereuse: raw, realistic, unrelenting, unabashedly tuberose. Naked tuberose. For the tuberose connoisseur. Quite a bold fragrance, really.
By Kilian Beyond Love: A gorgeous tuberose. Sultry, sweet and perfect. I can’t explain why I don’t wear this one more often. I guess I must admit to being biased against By Kilian as a line. Their prices pissed me off initially and I never got over it. Since I obviously purchased this one I guess I decided it was, in fact, worth the price tag. It’s just perfect. Not especially sweet, a touch of freshness, just perfect.
Caron Tubereuse: This probably isn’t fair, because I’ve heard so many say this is a fabulous tuberose, but on me it smells like dill pickles. It just never changes from a sour, marinated vegetable into a pretty floral. It’s a pity because I just know there’s something good here.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Tubereuse: sheer tuberose softened by vanilla. My favorite tuberose for wearing in public because it’s not strange, it’s simply beautiful. It’s manages to be an obvious tuberose yet doesn’t display too much of the flowers' carnal nature. DSH Tubereuse is a virgin, not a slut, like most of the other tuberose soliflores. But don’t get me wrong, this pretty virgin is worth checking out, she’s a gorgeous maiden.
Diptyque Do Son: a nice beginner tuberose or perhaps better classified as a tuberose for those who dislike the “challenging” bits of other tuberose scents. Do Son is a beautiful white floral, somewhat fresh and not especially indolic with good longevity and a little pepper.
Estee Lauder Tuberose Gardenia: This is another tuberose virgin, like DSH Tubereuse. Here the tuberose is gorgeous, luminous, bright and fresh, but it downplays the fleshy, carnal characteristics. I think this is beautiful and worthy of a space in anyone’s tuberose collection.
Frederic Malle Carnal Flower: the queen of all tuberose fragrances. Carnal flower is ultra green and realistic. Powerful, sexy, sultry, fleshy, sweet, lush and long lasting. Carnal Flower makes me imagine a gigantic Georgia O’Keefe painting of a tuberose (if she were to have painted a tuberose, that is). This O’Keefe tuberose is erotic and exaggerated.
Guerlain Mahora / Mayotte: Some say these are different, I say it’s too close to call. Both are slightly powdery, tropical tuberoses. Not my favorites but nice. I imagine these would appeal to those who want something more ‘perfumey’ as opposed to something strictly realistic. Mahora/Mayotte are impressionistic as opposed to photographic.
i Profumi de Firenze Tuberosa d’Autunno: This is a cool tuberose. Cool as opposed to warm. It isn’t particularly bright or fresh but simply a smooth realistic tuberose. It strikes me as an alternative to Tubereuse Criminelle which has always seemed a cool metallic tuberose to me. Wait for the dry down, because this shows it’s best side after 30 minutes. This is a great one which not enough people seem to know about.
Jo Malone Tubereuse: weak tuberose. The words “blah” and “waste of money” come to mind.
L’Artisan Tubereuse: weak tuberose with a medicinal sharp edge. Reminds me a bit of Caron’s Tubereuse, though not quite as much pickle.
Le Labo Tubereuse: mostly orange blossom, bright, fresh and sunny. If you want tuberose don’t look here.
Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse: sweet oriental floral with emphasis on tuberose. Warm, spicy and old school. Not a photographic or realistic tuberose by any stretch but a floriental.
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Tubereuse: Lush, deep realistic tuberose with a soft ambergris dry down. This is a great one.
Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture: sugary sweet tuberose with some green and a vanillic base. This one doesn’t receive enough fanfare for it’s beauty. I think it’s gorgeous. Some similarity between this and Kilian’s Beyond Love, in it’s take on tuberose.
Prada Infusion de Tubereuse: sheer beginner tuberose, fleeting, but pretty while it lasts. Seems like a "Martha Stewart" tuberose.
Roja Dove Scandal: big warm white floral with emphasis on tuberose. Not a tuberose soliflore but an impressive white floral for those who love tuberose.
Robert Piguet Fracas: white floral with emphasis on mostly orange blossom though it strangely gets billed as a big tuberose scent. It just isn’t so much about tuberose. It’s still gorgeous, but tuberose is a minor player.
Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle: dries down to a exquisite cold tuberose beauty if you can last through the horrific moth balls at the start. And I mean *IF* because the first 20 minutes are awful.
Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia: very realistic tuberose which emphasizes some of the most unusual elements of tuberose; some say mushroomy, others say moldy, I just think it’s quite fleshy and not particularly wearable for me. It has been discontinued so perhaps most people smelled these off putting notes.
So, what are your favorite tuberose scents? I am always interested to smell a new tuberose...