Category Archives: Tuberose

TWO HOT, GORGEOUS FLORALS FOR EARLY SUMMER : : : : : :: TUBEROSE & MOSS + JASMIN ANTIQUE by ROGUE PERFUMERY (2020)

 

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I have an innate and continual respect for the renegades, the people who do things differently. The artists who stick to their guns. Those that refute the common banality. Give the crud of mediocrity the middle finger. Manuel Cross, the perfumer for ‘non-commercial, non-contemporary fragrance‘ house Rogue Perfumery  – who does not abide by regulatory restrictions on ingredients but instead goes his own way in indulging his instinctively plush and plenary tendencies in rich, smooth, unctuous blends, ironically  – despite, or because of the stubbornly rebellious pose, actually creates very relatable, legible fragrances that strike at the heart chords without extraneous pretension.  I don’t find them old-fashioned in any way: just real: uncluttered and not bogged down in conceptual codswallop or visual metaphors. Created for the simple pleasure of smelling fine and hedonistic skin adornment :Flos Mortis, the wintergreen indolic tuberose I have been wearing quite a lot of in recent months – or rather, my smouldering, flamboyant monster alter-ego, Burning Bush has been draining the bottle beyond what is permissible  –   is now a permanent staple in my mental fragrance wardrobe. A perfume that I need. When I smell it from the bottle I feel immediate intoxication. It is like poison: indeed, a ‘flower of death’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I will not be buying a bottle of Tuberose & Moss. But I do think that it is an excellent perfume. Feminine, warm, soft, expansive  –  unlike the silvery coconut exotica of Rogue’s first tuberose, Champs Lunaires – which I look forward to wearing once the weather turns to real blazing summer  –  and the extreme, medicinal hiss of Flos Mortis, with its mothballed elixirs of almost frightening flowers – the new Tuberose & Moss, in its ultramellow, calming accords of ‘vanilla buttercream’, oakmoss, cedar, allspice berries and amber, is a maturely erotic  – and expansively American – sensual, skin-scent floral that puts me in mind, almost, of eighties’ dreaming swan seductresses such as Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt (1980);  that same ‘warm thigh and negligée’ aroma that will be perfect  – windows flung wide open – for the subtle arousings of mansioned ladies in the night.

 

 

 

 

 

A love perfume.

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I will be buying a bottle of Jasmin Antique. Not for myself, but for my mother, who needs this jasmine masterpiece ASAP. I don’t know anyone who can pull off jasmine the way Judith Chapman does, whether it be in Patou Joy, Van Cleef & Arpels’ First (which this reminds me of, somewhat, just amplified and modernised without all the aldehydes and chiffonic greenery), Grandiflora’s Madagascan Jasmine: verdant, just opened flora on the rainforest floor – or even Gorilla/ Lush Perfumes’ almost grotesquely indolic jasmine, Lust, which she can easily pull off and render beautiful. The best of the jasmines on her, though, surely, is the original Rochas Lumière (1984), a sensational and not much talked about perfume that is a hallucination – a bright, solar-jasmined sillage of bright florality like the light in California; but I think that Jasmin Antique, in truth, could equally quite easily become the one. With nothing but a touch of vanilla and clove lulling somewhere in the meniscuses of the base, this is a swirling, enveloping, living jasmine that smells like our garden in England in July; a ‘simple’, but expertly blended, and hyper-realistic jasmine that is without the feral rasp of, say, Sana Jardin’s arresting-in-summertime Savage Jasmine  (which I also rather like),  but instead goes for smoothness: clarity, and a blatant suffusiveness that is explicitly meant for summer evenings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The greatest jasmine soliflore of all time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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POISON AND THE FLOWER OF DEATH

 

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The smell was too much. Vintage Poison Esprit de Parfum in the hair and clothes, and Rogue Perfumery’s Flos Mortis poured liberally on the neck and body. Sweet. Tawdry. But somehow perfect for Marc Almond, as I emerged from the karaoke booth as Burning Bush and we made our way to the concert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bottles were caked in face paint (I had neglected to put lids back on in my fur coat pocket), and both flacons emerged later as though through ectoplasm. Smeared with the evidence of the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(  convenience store clerk encounters a creature she didn’t suspect)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The thing with perfume is that it stays on your hands, it stays on your clothes; it soaks up a memory while creating it. So the next day, the combined smell of tuberose remained on everything, in the kitchen despite of me, and Flower OF Death is now already quintessentially the smell of Saturday night. I have been overworked these last six weeks and really needed to let go; clad in uptight citrus the whole time  I was ready for something more outsized and ridiculous, more Soho Pink Flamingo, and it worked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(BB makes its way to the stage……….stage left       )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And although at first I was skeptical – the stage presentation, the volume, the choice of songs, the everything, after a while magic started to happen and I rushed forward to the stage even though you are not allowed to and actually sang Say Hello, Wave Goodbye with him AT THE STAGE ………………………….he physically handed me over the mic for the ‘goodbye’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TAINTED LOVE

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Just packing up the suitcase for mine and D’s costumes for tonight’s Marc Almond concert at Billboard Tokyo. The scent is going to be a velenous mix of Vintage Dior Poison and flower of death, Flos Mortis by Rogue. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HEARTLESS HELEN by PENHALIGONS (2019)

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I had promised myself I wouldn’t write anything today as I am feeling mind-wiped, but seeing this just-out-in-Nippon release in Takashimaya ( a take no prisoners, self confidently fresh and sharp mandarin tuberose neroli that she would never wear in a million years though I might ),  I am simply putting this up to pique the amusement of my best friend Helen – who is anything but heartless

 

 

 

 

 

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– though she can be severe and cut to the core and tell it like it is because she seems to understand me better than possibly anybody else: a soul twin, telepathic understanding that, though we speak far too little ( as we are both lazy and crap ) we know, as long as we remain intact, we will always have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

( the picture above is H giving me a pep talk before my Perfume Lovers London talk of 2014 ….. god how time so quickly flies……)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen has talked me through many a difficult situation: like my mother (in the earthquake, my operation, both were amazing ) they tell me just the right combination of reality and boost. A hotwire to my sensibility;  fraternal umbilical straight to my fevered, potholed  brain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are also both hypochondriacs. So god knows how she would feel being here where I am today, in Yokohama,; the biggest China Town in all of Asia, where a cruise ship is quarantined off shore walking distance from where I have lessons with passengers coming down like flies with the coronavirus, and where, as you can see, masks are selling out and there is a very uneasy feel in the air – as there is globally – as people are wondering what to believe, and whether they are over or underreacting; where being on packed trains feels unpleasant and dangerous, and where tempers get frayed —

 

 

 

 

– —- my ragged own, especially ( I had an argument with my closest Japanese male friend on the bus earlier this afternoon. about a common colleague who was espousing theories the other day about only the ‘weak’ being in danger of contracting the virus and being very arrogantly ‘unconcerned’ about the illness –  —- so would that include me, then?  having had very serious pneumonia in my left lung twice before ; I didn’t like the almost Nietzschean Ubermensch implications of what he was saying (and what of the immune stressed sleep deprived students, just before the most important exams of their lives ?); my friend said it was a linguistic misunderstanding: I responded with something below the belt about the man’s appearance…., oh when I get on the defensive I can be very venomous ; bile slips from my tongue with slippered ease.,..  …. never mind Heartless Helen; it is more like Noxious Neil (so should I wear the partner in the set, then  : the devilish and dastardly woody tobacco scent, Terrible Ted? )

 

 

 

 

 

No : I think Helen would suit me much better : we need proud nosegays in these pestilential times; bright flowers (Penhaligons calls this a ‘fearless conquistador’), and everybody knows that I love oranges.  don’t think about it, H would say, rationalize, hone in to the very best perspective; reverse or brake my hysteria  —-   ———- or at the very least, just try and  steer me towards a more pacified lucidity

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KILLER FLORAL : : : : FLOS MORTIS by ROGUE PERFUMERY (2019)

 

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This is the first perfume I have smelled by Rogue Perfumery and I need to know more. I am in love. Described by the company as an ‘indolic dirge’, Flos Mortis, or Flower Of Death, is a tuberose and jasmine tincture of potent florals over leather, osmanthus and redcurrant that, despite the thematics of decay and floral decadence, is in truth more like a fresh and scintillating Lazarus  (‘wow, that is so vivid‘ said Duncan when he smelled Flos Mortis last night).

 

 

 

 

 

This is a perfume that truly leaps from the bottle : alive, with an onslaught of pungent, but pure, wintergreen notes that make Tubereuse Criminelle seem like a cowering ninny in comparison. The clean, accompanying  jasmine absolute that tangos with the tuberose puts one in mind, at certain moments, of Sarrasins, as well as Lust by Gorilla Perfumes (which is fascinating and ravishing on some people, but just too indolic for me, like suffocating on mothballs), while the beautiful, natural tuberose absolute at the centre of the perfume  – green, creamy, pink – blowing concurrently hot and cold – does at times, as you might expect with a high percentage of natural tuberose oils, also remind you, albeit briefly, of the seminal Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle, which is greener, transparent, more ‘scientific’.

 

 

 

Despite these tuberose and jasmine remembrances, Flos Mortis works entirely in its own right,  with a discrete identity fully intact, and on my skin, rather than the faecally sour indoles you might expect from the perfume house’s descriptions (its “sweet, deathly opening“, its “dark-minded Victorian themes”), the central locus of the perfume is more comparable to vintage Poison: rich, a bit dangerous ; warm; glowing; gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Antidotes to the banality of modern times, Flowers, Jasmine, Tuberose

SOMETIMES A MAN’S GOTTA DO WHAT A MAN’S GOTTA DO

 

 

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Is it sacrilege to dilute a parfum?

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe – I do think so,  but I had this Michelle, you see – Balenciaga, in vintage parfum, and also the eau de toilette, from the same era (all based on Michelle Stevens, who you see above, who was one of Cristobal’s favourite models of the time:: 1979), and they just weren’t quite right somehow, in and of themselves, and I knew that I had to mix them, (even if it was wrong and I might hugely end up regretting it later)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

and so I did, last night

 

 

 

 

 

 

and came home, tonight,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND THE RESULTS ARE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT

 

 

 

 

 

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TUBEROSA

 

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Burning Bush, a creature from my imagination made flesh by my person ( see above ), an occasional entity I find quite necessary to embody in these dumb, fascistic times (no matter how ‘horrifying’ some of my old friends and family may find it), performed at a Tokyo cabaret this last Saturday night, singing a slowed down semi-acappella piano version of Kate Bush’s yearnful song from 1978, The Man With The Child In His Eyes.

It was an incantation : an exorcism; pure catharsis.

The scent: :  Dior Poison Esprit de Parfum Proche; Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, and Roja Dove Tuberose Parfum.

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AMERICAN SILLAGE : : : ESTEE LAUDER PRIVATE COLLECTION (1973) + PRIVATE COLLECTION TUBEROSE GARDENIA ( 2007 )

 

 

 

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Private Collection is an American classic. Extremely distinctive, there is nothing else quite like it. Green, lush, austere but yearningly romantic, melancholic yet somehow perennially optimistic, this powdery, vetiver-based, ravishingly and sharply green floral is a perfume that pierces the senses and remains lodged in the memory forever.

 

I should know. Not only did my mother go through a period of wearing this in the eighties, when I was about seventeen (she was never averse to trying new pastures when it came to fragrance, although with many selections, this was limited, like Private Collection, to only one bottle or two), but my high school French teacher would also wear this anomalous perfume in too high profusion in the lessons, creating an odd dichotomy between her dimininutive, dumpy presence, appalling French accent, and the plushly orchestrated delight of fresh flowers and grasses that would fill up the room like a crushed, vernal symphony.

 

 

I have talked before of what I see as the ‘rich divorcée’ accord in most Estee Lauder perfumes, a phrase that to me sums up virtually the entire early catalogue, from Youth Dew to Aromatics Elixir, through Cinnabar,  Knowing and Spellbound: that familiarly dense, compressedly aldehydic, ‘respectably perfumed’ aspect that forms the base of all this house’s creations (even the green dewiness of a perfume such as Pleasures, that nineties phenomenon, somehow withholds and extends this very ‘acceptable, take her to meet her future mother-in-law’ aspect that is at the heart of most American perfumery). No, it is undeniable. Madame Lauder’s perfumes have never been dirty, or daring (with the exception of Alliage), nor coquettish, licentious, nor filthy  – that would be the prerogative, surely, of the French, stereotypical though that last sentence surely is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I know, though, that real perfume connoisseurs reading this at this moment know exactly what I mean.  Lauder’s perfumes always kept you at arms’ length, even while inviting you to inhale their peculiar artistry, to sit admiringly in their undeniably impressive aura, and to feel that the person in question, is, undeniably, ‘all woman’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Private Collection, like Gabrielle Chanel’s own Nº19, was apparently created originally for Estee Lauder’s private use, and only later released to the public (“every woman should have this in her own private collection”), a canny marketing strategy that would feel glib and empty to me were it not for the fact that Private Collection really does smell, and quite intensely,  private.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps this is what made me feel so….not uncomfortable, exactly, but dislodged and quietly – at the back of my brain as I tried to learn the finer points of French grammar – mesmerized, offput, during the period leading up to the university entrance exams. Where I would have been there in my Chanel Pour Monsieur or Armani Pour Homme or Givenchy Gentleman, and the girls were all wearing Loulou, Poison, Anais Anais, or Lauder’s own new fluffy pink sweater-in-bosoms release, Beautiful, the elevated olfactory countenance of my French teacher’s perfume, which lawnmowered down all others in the room and filled it to every corner, was like watching a funeral casket from behind a privet hedge, your senses heightened, as you smelled the lilies, green roses, but most importantly, the most mournful flowers of them all, piled high on the gleen of the coffin, a glut of white chrysanthemum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It felt, almost, like intruding. And it is this bitter, doleful and more perspicacious aspect of Private Collection that raises the perfume above all possible banality and, by association, its more slatternly, easy-going peers. It is a classically American grand parfum that was created by Vincent Marcello (who I had never heard of before doing some research for this piece), but who apparently was a perfumer who is credited with only two other creations –  Halston Z14 and Caron’s legendary spiced leather, Yatagan.

 

 

 

 

This is revealing. Where a perfumer’s perfumography is often very extensive, their concoctions and signature style of scent creation lent out to all and sundry who want to use them (think Alberto Morillas or Bertrand Duchaufour), I often think that when a perfumer has only created a handful of perfumes (but classic and enduring ones), this shows us just how much time and effort, inspiration and execution must have gone into the process before the perfume was finally revealed to its eager public; I imagine him or her toiling fervidly behind confidential closed doors in their laboratory, adding and subtracting, sighing and elating, until the exact composition they had had in mind all along reveals itself to them like a slave in a piece of marble by Michaelangelo. The perfume was there, waiting to be exist; it just had to find the right moment to be released.

 

 

 

 

 

Like Yatagan and Halston Z14,  Private Collection is incredibly complex. Beginning with citric, and very incitingly chlorophylled top notes of leaves and grasses, bergamot and coriander, the mordant sting of chrysanthemum and reseda (a fragrant, herbaceous plant), along with Bulgarian rose, aldehydes, honeysuckle and linden, the perfume – immediately poetic, heart beating firmly beneath its worldly veneer – is on-point and extroverted, ready to show off the beautiful home and quintessential gardens; yet simultaneously, just under the surface, obviously, still, quite defensive and withdrawn. Mr. Marcello quite brilliantly counterpoints the pointed and imperious green notes of the grande facade entrance with a more wistful and emotive heart of powdery rose-kissed heliotrope, and a subtle, but lingering, endgame of vetiver, musk, sandalwood, and amber. With these deep psychological complexities, in the tensions between the dark green of the botanical shadows and the more urbane pleasures of the daylight, Private Collection is, thus, for me, one of the most paradoxical and contradictory perfumes that I know: and therein lies its brilliance.

 

 

 

 

In his seminal review of Private Collection, The Perfumed Dandy, who adores this perfume, it would seem, as he keeps returning to it, writes of it that is ‘a scent of solitary sorrow, a perfume of private grief and almost immeasurable melancholy, marrying nettles and lawn grass with oak moss and earth to achieve a cool, reserved opening of remarkable detached intensity.’

 

 

 

 

 

I think that this is a perfect way of describing the overall effect of Private Collection,  although unlike the Dandy, I could never wear this perfume on myself. Although I do have a few miniature bottles of the vintage parfum picked up at Tokyo fleamarkets that I treasure for memory’s sake, and which I am in fact wearing while writing this on a grey rainy day in Kamakura, much as I love it, ultimately this most arch of American perfumes is a little too recherché, polite, reserved and conservative for a person like me. Its inherent strictures would bring on irritation. Moreover, it made such an enduring impact on my psyche as an adolescent, that it is definitely too firmly rooted, now, in my past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Which brings us to Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. Fast forward almost a quarter of a century, and Lauder’s grand daughter Aerin, now at the helm of the formidable U.S cosmetics behemoth, revives the Private Collection name in 2007 with a brand new ‘niche’ perfume set aside from the main commercial lineup, Tuberose Gardenia. The fragrance community go wild at the prospect of a linear, American white floral containing these luscious, white flowers, and once again the canny institution has another commercial hit ….

 

 

 

 

Although I had smelled it once briefly in Harrods as the concept had piqued my curiosity (and I must say I quite liked the bottle), it wasn’t until recently, when I picked up a small, boxed miniature of this perfume at a recycle shop here in Japan that I got the chance to study this perfume in thorough detail. I was surprised, and not unpleasantly. Readers of The Black Narcissus will know by now that I have quite schizoid tastes, favouring either the grave, dark and unmistakably elegant, or else sweet, wild, flagrant tropicalia, with not very much in between. I love white flower perfumes of the jasmine, frangipani, tuberose and gardenia variety and find that I am wearing them more and more. Current work perfumes, usually worn (for me at least) discreetly at the wrist under white shirt cuff and under a suit jacket, include Dolce and Gabbana’s exquisite Velvet Desire (the perfect jasmine /gardenia – really, you must try it), Reva De Tahiti’s Eau de Tiare, and, perhaps amusingly, Elizabeth Taylor’s peachy delicious, and very Southern American Belle, Gardenia. I don’t quite know how these perfumes smell to other people, but to me, on me, they smell unclichéd, sensuous, and delightful, a drenched and floral riposte to the limitations of gender, nationality and boring limitations on freedom in general. I do feel liberated in flowers.

 

 

 

 

Given this, it would seem then that Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia would slot perfectly into my scent list for a surreptious scenting on a daily work basis, almost guaranteed in advance to be quite non-threatening, ‘clean’, yet pleasingly alluring, as is the case with most of the perfumes that comes from the ascetic land of the pilgrims and its hysterically deep-seated fear of nudity, dirt, and the flesh. That it is also based on two of my absolute favourite floral notes in existence thus means, surely, that this recent Estee Lauder was destined to be mine.

 

 

 

 

And it is, in many senses. I like it. But although I had been dreaming of an ideal marriage of white petals; creamy and clean and sun-riven with a delicately aquatic touch of sea breeze – the ideal, soothingly light sillage I would like to give off when passing by the students who are sitting near the blackboard –  in fact, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia turns out to be much darker in essence and impact, more tenebrous and far reaching than I had presumed.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, there are the aforementioned flowers at the fore: pristine and fresh, along with a rather overly insistent note of neroli; and in its crisp, state-of-the-art technology, developed by the fragrance giant Firmenich, this perfume also lasts far, far  longer than I would have anticipated, whether on skin or on clothes (despite its being a tiny 4ml vaporisateur, I am thankful that it is one of those spray bottles that allow you to use the fragrance in miniature, infinitesimal spurts that are no more than what you need). Wearing this composition, even if the tiniest doses, I do, I must admit, feel very polished, pleasantly scented, and intriguingly, ‘professionally’ fragranced, throughout my working day.

 

 

 

 

 

Yet despite the listing of notes on Fragrantica (lilac, rosewood, carnation and Bourbon vanilla as well as the anticipated florals, none of which were featured in the original creation from 1973), and the sun-filled, white petalled overture, which really does smell of laboratory-approximated tuberose flowers and gardenias done in the California manner, soon, on my skin, this perfume turns into……………………………Private Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no denying it. Really. It is unmistakeable. The old, original perfume haunts the new one. And looking, just now, more closely at the various descriptions of Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, I see that the perfume was in fact created ‘to honor the memory of Aerin’s grandmother, by creating a new perfume which is based on the fragrance Private Collection created at the beginning of the 1970s especially for Estee Lauder’s use’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We cannot escape her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are suddenly enlightened. Private Collection lies at the very heart of Tuberose Gardenia, subtle, and hidden;  cleverly concealed within the essential structure: the newer perfume, being, I have thus realized, a form of palimpsest, a piece of paper on which the original writing has been erased, at least superficially, with brand new words inscribed on it anew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I think this is a touch of genius. It fascinates me. The full-circle, unintended linkage with my own memories of that first, unforgettable, perfume and the life I am living right now. That having worn Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia in my own classroom, now as the teacher, rather than the student ( I wonder if any of the Japanese teenagers in my class are having their own private cerebral reactions to my smell the way I did with my own language teacher), I can now see the ineffable connections reaching all the way back to my own past history as well that original perfume’s sombre grandiosity; its orthodox traditionalism and inheritance: the dense, dark green of its secret gardens; its strange, American beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Flowers, Gardenia, Green, Tuberose

NINE AND A HALF WEEKS: : : : TUBEROSA by SANTA MARIA NOVELLA (1939)

 

 

 

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Off-white lipid tuberoses float in musked, Italian water: looming, moonstruck flowers that exhale blushlessly with a pure and florally animal sexuality – full, rude skinned smells to make the introspective, the loveless, and the anaphrodisically affected white floral hater shudder.

 

 

But for hot and uninhibited lovers of the flesh, these beautifully erotic flowers, aided and abetted and then captured in rich alcoholic liquid by those Florentine magicians of the monastery (their chastity very much in doubt as the fumes of this tuberosa rise up from the flacon) coalesce beautifully to produce an unfettered and uncensored perfume that is mesmerizing: rich, sweet, natural and heavy;  langid and dripping, like barely sated bodies in blissfully semi-conscious repose.

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Filed under Flowers, Tuberose

ANGELS AND INSECTS: LA CHASSE AUX PAPILLONS by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1999)

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This uplifting, flowery delight by L’Artisan Parfumeur was recently being pushed by Yokohama Barney’s New York as a wedding scent: the window dressings, fancy as ever all swirling linden petals; pink blooms, tuberose princesses; and lepidoptera brides. I don’t know if it is especially nuptial – though that idea certainly does make sense, for the butterflies, fluttering in your stomach – but I do know that La Chasse Aux Papillons is lovely;  heady, joyous, light-winged and summery.

 

A whirl of leaves as you rush gaily past shrubs; a dizzying flourish of petals : tuberose, linden, orange blossom – the linden blossom crucial here, steering the perfume in a different direction from the majority of feverish hot house flowers and giving the perfume a slightly cooler, more mysterious edge, the whole an exuberant delight that I really like and have on occasion even considered buying – but for some, all the giddying, whirling about with the butterfly nets may leave you dizzy, s ick……..

 

 

A fragrance, then for the extovert I would say; for someone not afraid of display his or her colours, of reeling in admirers.

 

 

 

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Filed under Flowers, Linden, Tuberose