Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
While tuberose can be restrained by a masterful blending, its sensual dark side reigned in, the true beauty of the flower is best evident in the dark fragrances. One such example is Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle, a lush, unusual creation. It includes notes of tuberose, orange blossom, hyacinth, jasmine, musk, vanilla, styrax, nutmeg, and clove.
If one tries it on expecting sweet creamy tuberose, the reaction will be that of pure shock since the top notes are not unlike a mix of menthol and gasoline. It is completely unexpected and almost disconcerting. And then cutting through the icy veil, tuberose grows brighter and hotter. It is a rather representative rendition of tuberose, complete with its unique unpredictability, sweet creamy layers, rubbery accord and warmth of human skin.
If one judges fragrances by the top notes, this is a perfect example of the need to rectify that practice. Weathering the initial opening is worthwhile, since the ugly duckling can turn into a beautiful swan. Personally, I find the petrol redolent opening accords beautiful, much like I enjoy atonal compositions by Schoenberg. They provide a cool backdrop, against which the tuberose unfolds its dark sensual beauty. If I were forced to have only one tuberose, Tubéreuse Criminelle would be that selection.
Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle is at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, at sergelutens.com, Aedes, Barneys and Luckyscent.
Painting: Two lovers by Riza ‘Abbasi, Isfahan, 1630. An examplary piece of Safavid dynasty art, featuring a favorite subject of the time–human body and its sensual expression.