Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Until I started working in the fragrance industry, I automatically assumed that the terms “niche, expensive, Paris-exclusive” guarantee quality, originality and elegance, while the big designer brands and mass market would offer exactly the opposite. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Some niche brands do indeed spend a lot of effort on fragrance, as do some large popular brands, while others spend less money on scent than do detergent companies. And believe me, it is quite little for fine fragrance. In this light, it is liberating to forget about labels and simply look for interesting discoveries in venues other than high-end boutiques. My most recent discovery of this sort is Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose.
Bath & Body Works has an overwhelmingly large collection of fragrances, and while not everything deserves attention (Sun-Ripened Raspberry is a jarring, chemical berry, Cucumber Melon reminds me of what malls used to smell like in the 1990s), some fragrances are quite lovely. Moonlight Path is a gentle Chanel No 5 type; Black Amethyst is an interesting patchouli framed oriental; Butterfly Flower is a strikingly pretty floral. For the most part, they are uncomplicated compositions, with a few dominant features that provide enough interest without being dramatic. The ethos of Bath & Body Works is underscored by its appeal to the younger age group, which means that one will not find polarizing or unusual blends in its portfolio. Yet, while the fragrances are hardly avant-garde, they are done quite well. Moreover, priced at $13.25 for 2.5oz, they are definitely affordable.
Velvet Tuberose is perhaps my favorite of the lineup, if only because it is one of the few successful uncomplicated tuberoses I have encountered. Airy and sheer at first, Velvet Tuberose gains depth from coconut and amber. As it dries down, the petally, green flower impression gives way to a creamy, sweet and spicy accord. In fact, this contrast between the floral heart and the musky-woody drydown provides an interesting aspect to Velvet Tuberose, even if the musk is much heavier than I would have liked. While it by no means rivals Carnal Flower and Fracas, Velvet Tuberose is a good everyday fragrance that is undemanding and easy to wear.
Velvet Tuberose is available from Bath & Body Works. It includes notes of citrus, magnolia, apricot, ylang ylang, tuberose, freesia, cyclamen, gardenia, jasmine, fig, musk.