And there they were.
We walked into the flower-strewn lobby of the Hotel Tugu Malang. And to my utter delight, there, everywhere, was tuberose. An enormous arrangement of the flowers, right there in the centre. Tuberose in every room, potted. Tuberose placed delicately on plates alongside the delectable Javan afternoon delicacies in the second floor tea room ; a giant vase of the flowers on the landing upstairs gently warming and releasing its exquisite fragrance into the surrounding air, changing with the hours, subtlely, caressing, like warm breath on a woman’s shoulders.
I have wanted to experience these flowers, right there in front of me in the flesh, for so long, searched for them at the Columbia Flower market in London, kept my eye open for them in Mexico, in Asia, but no: nothing.
And then, unexpectedly, I can’t escape them.
The scent pervades my dreams.
And when I wake up, by my bedside it is green; restrained; virginal; tight.
Yes, Carnal Flower you might say: Malle’s modern tuberose masterpiece certainly coming to mind at first; nailing it, but then she changes with her chlorophyll, her moods, and to my fascination, yes definitely, there they are: all the tuberoses we know and love there as well, emanating from her whorls and stems, unravelling their inspired perfumed secrets at differing, surprising, points in the day.
Each evening, as we climb the stairs, there, divinely, lingering magnificently, but with great, refined, unhurried taste, is tuberose tuberose: light, creamy; aerial, inviting, and yes, most certainly sexual, and then you really can sense the botanical whiffs of Fracas and Blonde; all the classic, dressed up French tuberose waters. But then again, when she is in another mood, or at a different time of day, she is rubbery, mentholated, and yes, really, there in the air in front of you is a brief snatch of Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle, lifting tantalizingly and provocatively before your eyes.
Like the ylang ylang flowers I experienced also, one can’t help feeling, nevertheless, that no perfume, or essential oil extraction, has really done this flower full justice.
It is almost as if she has been slandered, actually, forced into some madonna/whore dichotomy that, while buttery, erotic, made for feminine splendour and the night, never fully renders successfully her multifaceted, lunar, lucent, putrescent beauty.