Perfume Review: Tableau de Parfums Loretta

Back in March, Brian Pera (of the blog I Smell Therefore I Am) proposed a novel fundraiser for the next installment of his film project, A Woman’s Picture: donate a certain amount of money, and choose your “reward” based on the amount you donate. Some of the choices included fragrances composed by Andy Tauer, including one expressing film noir (Dark Passage, a seriously-limited-edition thing that was only available for this fundraiser, and which did not appeal to me based on its described notes of dark chocolate and patchouli and tobacco), and one (Loretta) that would eventually become available through the film’s website, evelynavenue.com, as one of the characters’ fragrances.

You might remember that I fell very hard for the first Evelyn Avenue-Tauer collaboration scent, Tableau de Parfums Miriam. When I heard that the next one would be a tuberose, my eyes rolled back in my head. I offered some financial backing to Brian’s film, and chose as my reward the 7ml purse spray of Loretta and the tuberose soap.

I haven’t tried the soap yet, though it smells wonderful in the package. But Brian’s description of Loretta as “dreamy, moody, voluptuous, mysterious, forbidden” intrigued me. So did the notes list: “Ripe dark fruit, velvet rose, spicy tuberose, orange blossom, patchouli, woody notes, ambergris, leather and sweetened orris.”

And it was to be a Tauer tuberose! What tubey fan wouldn’t want her hot little mitts on that? I certainly did. Badly. Especially after I read Andy’s blog post on the floral essences involved in Loretta.

I’ve taken a couple of weeks with Loretta, trying to get a handle on it, before writing this review. I’ll confess right now: at first, Loretta – and this was much like my experience with Amouage Memoir Woman – confused the heck out of me. I remembered very well Brian’s and Andy Tauer’s comments on Loretta, and the notes list, and the things I was supposed to be getting out of the scent. But the smell on my skin was Not That.

Brian talks about lush tuberose and even-lusher dark fruit, as well as balsams and woods. Andy talks about the beautiful rose note and the spiciness of the tuberose, and the connection between the floral orange blossom and the woody notes.

The first six times I sprayed it, I got the tuberose, all right. Which is only to be expected: tuberose takes no prisoners. But you know what else I got? The only other thing I got? Patchouli. A very nice patchouli, to be sure, all camphoraceous-herbal-greeny patch, not the earthy-dusty stuff that bothers me so much. The camphor tones of the patchouli echoed the ones in good tuberose oil, so that Loretta smelled mostly of mothballs. Well, maybe mothballs plus oregano and Dior Poison.

And did it last! One spritz, not even a hefty one, would last ten hours. Nothing lasts ten hours on me. (Well, okay, a few things. L’Arte di Gucci. DSH Chypre oil. Sometimes Vamp a NY.) So there I was, having supported Brian’s film – which made me happy – and now possessing a purse spray of Poison+oregano mothballs – which did not.

I wonder now if the contents of my bottle needed to macerate and blend there, because the seventh (and eighth) times I wore it, it smelled completely different.

I got the fruit. And the balsams. And the spiciness. Sure, the tuberose stayed front and center (because, hey, it does that and you can’t expect it not to). And the mothball-oregano patchouli stayed, too, but it hung out at the back of the room instead of dominating the party. The whole thing was complex and dark and downright sexy. It started echoing some of the best bits of Andy’s Une Rose Vermeille, with the rose and the wonderful berry note.

Dark Fruit
It had a little bit of the balsamic growl of Soivohle Rosa sur Reuse, which is a gorgeous rose-tuberose over a woody chiaroscuro. But it was even more complex than the wonderful Rosa sur Reuse, with those spicy notes, those overripe berries and plums, that spectrally-green patchouli. And that sweet leather note.

WHOA.  All modern Femme Fatale, vulnerable and yet lush and mysterious.

The Modern Femme Fatale

I don’t pick up on the orange blossom. I don’t get the orris either. The ambergris note seems to be whatever-that-is that comprises the famous Tauerade base – sometimes it works for me, sometimes not. It’s pretty powerful stuff, but I don’t find it overwhelming here, probably because the rest of the players here are power hitters as well.

I still don’t think I was wrong in being overwhelmed by the patchouli. I do still get lots of camphor when I wave my arms in front of me. I just think that it’s taken awhile for things to settle down in this little aluminum spray canister – you know, kind of like a dorm hall full of college girls, along about Spring Break. The shy ones get brave enough to start talking, and the bold ones have told most of their own stories, so they can relax and listen to the others speak too.

Now that I think that I’m smelling what Brian smelled, I understand why he loves this stuff. He’s long been a devotee of Dior Poison himself, and in some ways Loretta smells like Poison. It has that white floral core, and that overlay of dark fruit, and above all that intimation of danger, of walking on the edge.

Of course, I haven’t seen any of the film clips surrounding the Loretta character, so I’m afraid I’m missing the scent’s reference to that character. It may have meaning for Brian that I may never get. But it almost doesn’t matter. It’s a fascinating smell, truly a “dark tuberose,” and one that doesn’t seem to carry that connotation of full-on femininity. I think it would be awesome on a guy.

Once the camphor calms down a little, I get this sweet luxurious tuberose-rose accord, all hedonistic. It’s accented mostly with a dark, tangy plum-berries accord, all purple-red and juicy enough to drip. There’s almost a sense of bursting with them, a sense that any minute things are going to explode. And then later there’s a fuzzy, electric sort of jangle from the woody, balsamy basenotes, sort of like the anticipatory hum you get when you turn on a speaker louder than it should be. Taken as a whole, the fragrance seems breathless and very sensual.

Even when it didn’t make sense to me, when it smelled mostly of tuberose and patchouli, it was oddly addictive. I kept shaking my head like a dog who’s bitten a bee by mistake, and then going back for more. “There’s got to be some point to this stuff… got to be. I have to be missing something.” And eventually I got it. And there’s no looking back.

Loretta will debut sometime in the fall of 2012 via the Evelyn Avenue website (and possibly on the Tauer one, too, though I’m not sure). Like another review? Try Tama’s here at Ca Fleure Bon. She likens Loretta to “Le Maroc Pour Elle, except with tuberose,” and I see her point, though I find it both stranger than LMPE and more addictive to me personally.

Note: I’ll be gone all day, driving to pick up Bookworm and PETBoy at drum major camp and bring them home.  I’ll reply to comments over the next day or so.

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10 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Tableau de Parfums Loretta”

  1. I wrote about this one a few days ago. My impressions are much closer to yours than Tama’s, although her idea of a “desert tuberose” intrigued me.

    I agree with you, this one has not worn on me completely the same any two days yet. The first wearing, all I could notice was mothballs + hallucinogenic fruit. But it evolved. The last time I wore it, I was definitely noticing the rose + plum/grape.

    1. Hallucinogenic fruit!! Funny. I didn’t even get THAT the first several times I wore it. Well, I got a Poison-esque vibe, and Poison is rather horribly cough syrupy to me (I still can’t figure why The CEO likes it).

      I’ve gotten the woody stuff and the fruit and rose twice in a row now. Niiiiice.

  2. Fascinating. I’m both a tube lover and a Tauer lover so I definitely need to try this one. I do have a bar of the soap — which smells to me like that grapey kind of jasmine (sambac?)

  3. Not being a big tuberose fan, I read this with appreciation that you like it, but nary a sample-me-lemming in sight, until you compared it to LMPE, and some little ears started perking up. Yup, they’re definitely swivelling. Some of the time, LMPE is just too much, but sometimes it really hits the spot.

    I’m glad you stuck with this one. Personally, I find it difficult to write a review after only one wearing, because I often find something different the second and third tries, especially the fragrances that are “not sure I like it, but it’s interesting.”

    1. Hi, Dionne!

      Actually, I think Loretta is sort of a cross between LMPE and Poison – it’s got the white florals and the dark fruit of Poison, and that ambergris-heavy base and the… thickness (?) of LMPE. I probably wouldn’t have thought of LMPE on my own.

      For full reviews, I wear the fragrance at least three times. For mini-reviews, I don’t feel that compunction – but I agree, I don’t think I can write a thorough review if I’ve only worn something once.

  4. Have you ever been afraid to spray a perfume on your skin? I’ve not put Loretta on skin yet. She is one big tuberose. I’ve taken off the cap, and sniffed. Wow. I’ve smelled it on paper, and get TUBEROSE, grape, patchouli. . .did I mention grape? I’m afraid.

    You love tuberose. I like it, sometimes. Dior’s Poison was poison for me, but smelled great on my best friend in school. I think I’m afraid this also has reeeally sweet notes and big patchouli, and those are deal breakers for me. Eventually, I’ll put on my adventuresome vibe(or big girl panties), and spritz away, and see what happens. Until then, I’m glad to have your review. It *does* sound interesting. Thanks for taking point on this one, Mals 😀

    1. Oh, I’m definitely afraid of some things. Usually not tuberose,though – usually it plays nice with me.

      Loretta’s pretty fruity, all right. I didn’t get grape, though, I got berries. And Poison bothered me back in the day, too.

      I would LOVE to find out what happens on skin when you get brave.

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