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    Foustie's avatar

    Scotland Scotland

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    Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

    Much has been said already about the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle.
    In my view there are two ways to interpret the opening of TC. There is something of camphor, menthol, wintergreen, eucalyptus. I have seen it said that it smells like Dettol or TCP. I think that it is closest to Germolene. If you are familiar with Germolene you are with me, if not, stick with a disinfectant smell.

    Or is it.....is it really? There is another way to interpret this extraordinary opening. Have you ever had a pot of hyacinth bulbs in your house, or in your garden, a vase of longiflora lillies maybe, some jasmine? Have you ever smelled them when they are at their most redolent? I once had a pot of tiny narcissi which filled a whole room with a heady, almost overwhelming, fragrance. At their most fragrant stage these flowers are approaching the boundary of what could be considered to be pleasantly floral. On the breeze they are intoxicatingly lovely. Close up they are pungent and challenging. We can read the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle in this way. It is very clever.

    Sugandaraja describes it as having "a lively cooling sharpness". Yes, that is what I experience, not gasoline or rubber. The first time I smelled it I almost recoiled in surprise. Very soon, I came to crave it.

    I know that many of you will be thinking Indoles, why hasn't she mentioned indoles? Well, I have, but just not by name. I don't like the association of indoles and feces. There is no fecal aspect to this fragrance. When the flowers come they are stunning. They are not pretty flowers. A friend of mine swears that at night, longiflora lillies, cut and in vases, turn their heads and spit. Yes, these flowers are of that ilk. Intoxicating, narcotic, but not stodgy or overbearing like some Tuberose fragrances are. They are cut with that cooling menthol effect. The mid development and the drydown are very closely intermingled. I have never smelled a real Tuberose. I can only tell you that TC smells something like a hyper realistic bouquet of hyacinth, jasmine, lily, gardenia, perhaps even a little carnation, with some ultraviolet light thrown in. But then, finally, as if they have spent themselves, a somehow appropriate, softer, creamier, floral and vanillic ending brings the show to a much quieter close.

    23 March, 2012