White tuberose close view

Tuberose Fatale

Tuberose Fatale. You are the flower of Mata Hari and other dangerous seductresses. Your carnal and sexy, yet  rubbery and creamy white floral scent leaves a magnificent but tenacious trail. Your fragrance is extremely powerful and polarizing thus you have as many lovers as detractors in this world. Some compare you to jasmine or gardenia, but if those would be floral princesses, you would surely be the queen dowager.

Polianthes tuberosa or tuberose is related to the agave family, also known for producing tequila in Mexico, where the flower is originated from. Despite its name, the tuberose has no close botanical relation with roses. Each plant produces clusters of intense-smelling waxy white flowers, blooming at night, as to embalm human passions. In Hawaii, tuberoses are called kupaloke and used in the beautiful and fragrant lei garlands.

Close up of Tuberose or Rajnigandha of Southeast Asia with herbal extract
Close up of Tuberose or Rajnigandha of Southeast Asia with herbal extract

In perfumery, tuberoses are first processed by the enfleurage technique, consisting of enrobing the flowers with fat, letting them rest in it for days, thus slowly transferring their amazing nectar. The resulting pomade is then treated with solvents that will purify the precious scent into a very expensive absolute: it takes more than 50 kg of flowers to make just 1 gram of tuberose absolute ! Nowadays, most tuberose notes in perfumery are synthesized to remain affordable.

My first encounter with tuberose in perfumery was about 25 years ago, in Paris, in the first boutique of the legendary Serge Lutens in Palais Royal. “Tubéreuse Criminelle” from Lutens goes one step further in revealing the scandalous humanity of the scent, it is the scent of a desperate love affair. More classic and discreet are the “Jardins de Bagatelle” of Guerlain. “Passage No.9” of Dior divulges a wonderful tuberose sealed into a perfect-matching bottle designed by John Galliano himself.

Passage No.9 of Dior
Passage No.9 of Dior

Oh, my dear tuberose, queen of the torrid twilight, my soul embraces you tonight!



About Laurent 70 Articles
Born in Switzerland but lived half of my life in fragrant Asia, I want to share my passion for scents and flavors

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