Tuberose Series 15: Nuit de Tubereuse

I’ve seen several reviews of this scent, and at least one excellent interview (Denyse at Grain de Musc’s interview of Bertrand Duchaufour – warning, the accompanying image is a Matisse nude, probably NSFW) commenting that the reviewers are really enjoying the perfumer’s “new direction.” I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m not very familiar with his earlier work, and I can’t really address the issue. I like Amaranthine very much, however, and if this is M. Duchaufour’s future, I like it.  To be brutally honest, I like Amaranthine much better – it seems so comfortable – but NdT is fascinating.

Perfume Review: L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse

Date released: 2010

Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour

Sample provenance: split of fresh bottle from retailer, 2010

Sub-category: Ummmm… freaky tuberose? (I just created that one.)

 Notes for NdT:  Tuberose, mango, citrus, cardamom, clove, pink pepper, pepper, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, angelica, gorse, sandalwood, palisander, musks, benzoin and styrax.

After reading Denyse’s tantalizing “guess what tuberose scent I’ve been wearing lately that hasn’t been released yet?” teaser in December, and finding a bottle split active, I jumped right in, unsniffed. (Oh, don’t worry, it was 5ml. And tuberose. How could I go wrong?) And then the decant bottle arrived in the mail. I pulled the cap off and sniffed. “Huh. It smells like… dirt,” I said to myself. “I can tell there’s tuberose in there, but it’s mostly… dirt. Wet potting soil, actually. And maybe… is that mildew?”

(Those of you who are familiar with Duchaufour’s earlier work may stop laughing at me now.  Thank you.)

Put off by the mildew, I tucked my small decant away for several days. Pulled it back out again and smelled the nozzle… nope, still mildew, with something floral under there somewhere. Put it away again for another week. Then received an advance sample of another tuberose scent (yes, yes, review of this one on June 23, I promise) called Vamp a NY, from Honore des Pres’ new We <3 NY series, which also includes I <3 Les Carottes, and Love Coco. Vamp was so terrific that I felt I really must give NdT a real chance, instead of just sniffing the cap and getting frightened.

And the next time I picked up my bottle, it wasn’t nearly so mildewy/earthy. I could actually smell the tuberose, just a bit. So, okay, here goes: I sprayed a little on my thumb. And immediately thought of jungles. All that moisture in the air, and on the ground, and in the vegetation… so much vegetation, and every bit of it just this side of rotting.

There is at least one review that relates the opening to “Juicy Fruit gum,” and others that say, “big ripe mango,” and one that veers off someplace else with “neon and electric.” To be honest, I don’t get any of those things. What I get is JUNGLE, and it’s just that little bit scary. It’s borderline grossly overripe, and definitely weird, and I love March’s description of the opening: “The mind grasps at the smell, trying to categorize it as pleasant or unpleasant – and it’s both.” Yep. Exactically, as Tigger would say.  

The more I wear NdT, the more I discover new aspects of it.  On my first wearing, I found it nearly unbearably earthy on the open.  The second wearing revealed a green, sour mango up top.  (Neither experience was enjoyable, by the way.)  But on the third wearing, I got the pink pepper.  Now, you can whine about the ubiquitous pink pepper all you want, but in my opinion that’s like whining about the ubiquitous bergamot.  Nearly everything – particularly classical compositions – has bergamot in it, and it has the advantage of connecting notes you might not think of as connected.  Bergamot bridges fruit and floral, herbal and floral, citrus and herbal, citrus and floral, citrus and incense, floral and woods… you name it.  Pink pepper does that too, since it seems to work well in bridging fruit or citrus to floral, spicy, incense, or woody notes.  In Nuit de Tubereuse, it’s connecting that weirdly aromatic turned-earth aspect to that whanged-out mango and from thence to a muted tuberose and some jungly, moist greenery. 

A few months ago, I tested a tuberose scent from (abdes salaam attar) called Scents of the Soul: Night Blossom. From the website: “This olfactory jewel (the tuberose is the most precious of floral essences) is set in a thick tropical night, smelling of humid underwood and strewn with scent traces of freshly trodden grass.”  What it smells like to me, though, is PATCHOULI PATCHOULI tuberose PATCHOULI PATCHOULI.  Nuit de Tubereuse, far from being the “perfume for a secret Parisian summer night,” that L’Artisan describes it as, is really what Abdes Salaam Attar was going for: a sweltering tropical night, where wafts of tuberose float over the “humid underwood.”  There’s no Paris in NdT – no wine, no baguette, no formal perfumey odors, no asphalt, no smells of humanity. 

The longer NdT is on skin, the more it relaxes. The tuberose gets softer and softer and the incense comes out on my skin, and the whole thing gets rather… pretty. It doesn’t seem to be either feminine or masculine, which I suppose is the best description of a unisex scent. The tuberose might make it seem to skew girly, but it’s not, trust me. Robin at NST struggles to define the drydown but calls it very sexy – and I don’t get that, either. I find it to be really pleasant, though, and very comfortable, although I suspect the woody-incense base just feels that way because I’ve recently experienced the hair-raising crypt dirt and jungle mildew of that bizarre-o opening. (It makes me think of the story about the cowboy who always bought his boots a size too small: “Don’t them boots pinch, Clem?” “Waal, sure they do. But it feels so good when I take ‘em off!”)

I really must address a few comparisons to other tuberose scents: the new one from the naturals line at Honore des Pres, Vamp a NY, which I am dying to tell you about but can’t until next Thursday, is another fragrance that takes certain unusual aspects of tuberose and overemphasizes them. But Vamp I found very, very easy to wear, unlike Nuit de Tubereuse. Both are intriguing and bold, tackling tuberose from new angles, definitely Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile Not Your Mother’s Fracas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Fracas, mind you.) And, of course, I’ll refer you back to my review of Tubereuse Criminelle – another tubey frag with a weird, difficult opening – with the comment that I found TC “difficult just for the sake of being difficult,” and I don’t have any appreciation for the Rotting Raw Chicken of Death that accompanies TC’s otherwise-lovely tuberose. Nuit de Tubereuse, however, is entirely wearable. Weird, difficult, funhouse-mirror freaky maybe in spots, but wearable.

Quality    A   Definitely natural ingredients.

Grab-scale score   Ummmm… 4 to 9, depending on where it is in its development.

Short description   Freaky (dirt, jungle, and incense) tuberose. Maybe mango tuberose, if you get the mango reference (I don’t).

Cost   $$$   And can I just say? I think the bottle is gorgeous.  Oooh.  But we never buy perfume for the bottle, right? 

Earns compliments?   Yes, many – even when I was saying incredulously to my husband, “How can you call that alluring? It smells like mildew!” Strangers commented positively and spontaneously, which never happens to me.

Scent presence    Moderately strong. Moderately wafty sillage, approximately a five-foot diameter. Long-lasting (6-8 hours).

Review report:    Everyone in the world: Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, March at Perfume Posse, Olfactarama, 1000Fragrances, Marla at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, you name it.

I find that the entire exercise, playing up the odd aspects of tuberose absolute, reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows.  I love the Food Network, and am positively addicted to Good Eats.  Host Alton Brown’s show is a wacky combination of Julia Child’s The French Chef (anybody else remember the time she dropped a turkey on the floor?), Bill Nye the Science Guy, Dr. Who, and middle-school plays with bad costumes and terrible puns.  I love this thing.  Where else can you learn about the coagulation of egg proteins and the history of maize, while watching cavemen in glasses eat their first mussels and a giant squid attack a boat? (Seriously, go watch it.  It’s Not Your Mother’s Cooking Show.)

And Nuit de Tubereuse?  An intellectual essay on the less-attractive properties of tuberose absolute, that somehow manages to be quirky, attractive, unsettling and fun all at once.  It’s growing on me.  I’ll mention that The CEO’s comment on it was, “Alluring,” and various unsolicited remarks included, “You smell nice,” and “What smells so good in here?”  Wearing it, I still feel a little bit like I’m wandering a Heart of Darkness jungle – but there’s a light up ahead, and if I can just get out before that creature that’s following me catches up, I can soon be wearing a gorgeous coral silk faille halter dress, sipping a Planter’s Punch on the verandah.  I have hope… there’s that light, see?

Finally got the weird font thing fixed!  Top image is from fragrantica.  Lower one is Tuberose 9517-48 from jane.siet at flickr.


24 thoughts on “Tuberose Series 15: Nuit de Tubereuse”

  1. Great review, it’s nice to read the opinion of someone who doesn’t completely love Nuit de Tubereuse. It seems to me that most people rave about it, even if they find it difficult or weird.

    I finally got to try it yesterday, dabbing from a small sample. And for me NdT was love at first sniff, I found it absolutely stunning and fascinating. I’m wearing it today as well, and I know I need a big bottle soon. Everything about it makes me swoon, from the weird, spicy mango opening, the incensy tuberose that follows, to the gorgeous, soft drydown. I reminds me of vegetation in the jungle as well, but in a good way. I get very little dirt from it, just enough earthiness to make it interesting and less sweet. When I wear it, I think of Dzongkha with some fruit and tuberose added, and it makes me smile 🙂 And the fact that it’s so wearable is a big bonus.

    My previous tuberose favourites have been Tubereuse Couture, Carnal Flower and Fracas, but Nuit de Tubereuse might just win my heart and steal the top spot in the end 🙂

    1. Well, Marte – love at first sniff comes along rarely enough that you should seize the bottle! I’m so happy you love it.

      I think I may be super-sensitive to earthy-musty notes. Patchouli, unless it’s very green, nearly kills me, and there’s a violet (I think it’s violet) note that smells like a musty basement to me, too. Really hate that, and that’s the difficult part of Nuit de Tubereuse for me. I still haven’t smelled Dzongkha or Timbuktu, because I’m wary of the earthiness.

      I tend to love tuberose too (Carnal Flower is so gorgeous, and I think perhaps the new Vamp a NY may take second).

  2. Dear Mals,
    you knew I had to chime in and comment right? 😉

    I get green mango. I get pink pepper.
    I get a glorious, beautiful, though not forward or persistent, tuberose note.
    I get a sweet, resinous, almost sticky, drydown. It bares some relation with the austhere yet rich early BD’s signature base, but it has its very own sweet moist character, and you may like the former and not the latter.
    I get some earthy whiffs in between stages.
    I get aldehydes.

    I don’t give to the word fruity-floral an a-priori bad connotation, I just know my falling in love with the genre will depend on the choice of fruits, flowers, and on the level of sweetness.
    I think NDT is NOT a piece of art, as perfume posse tried to state, or NST, I find it a very nice and easy fruity-floral (the proof: the positive comments you received! You know, like if you wear Chance, the number of people telling you how great you smell.), it is recognizeable, and well done, with some interesting tweaks for the snob perfumista nose, but still easy enough for the others. Too bad that BD chose the wrong fruit and the wrong side of sweet to get my love….

    1. Zazie, I knew you’d chime in!

      Now, *I* like the drydown. It’s not very tuberose-y, but I like it. I would like to be smelling aldehydes, but I don’t get them. And I don’t like that mango stuff, and I don’t like the jungle, and I (am whining a lot)…

      Certain fruity florals I do love very, very much. I think there’s too much weird arty rooty stuff going on in this, at least for the first half hour, for it to be a fruity floral. The compliments I got were usually during the heart phase, where it’s more demonstrably floral. But The CEO liked it right after I sprayed it on, while I was still thinking, “Ewwww, mildew.” (He likes tuberose and white florals.) Just goes to show that this scent is perceived in several different ways.

      Everybody goes on about the slutty bits of Amaranthine, and I don’t get that at all. At ALL. It’s not even the slightest bit weird, while I find NdT weird and unsettling and right on the verge of nervewracking. I’ve never had my nerves shredded by a fruity flor – um, maybe I’d better not say that. I’ll say that fruity florals are generally friendly, uncomplicated things (assuming quality materials), and I don’t feel that NdT is either friendly or uncomplicated.

      Perception again!

  3. Hi Mals, I have not tried NdT but enjoyed reading about your mixed reactions to it. Love at first sniff is wonderful, but it’s great too to be intrigued, confused, surprised, repulsed even. I’m not sure that tuberose is my thing, partly because of its scent but partly too because I am wary of perfume snob territory and tuberose seems to lead in that direction. I do have a mini of Kenzo’s Ca Sent Beau and I get it out every now and again so that slowly, we can get better acquainted. At least I know I can afford a FB of it if I ever want it, but L’Artisan is a bit out of my reach.

    1. Hi, Anne! I notice that I had a LOT of things to say about NdT that I might not have had if it had been the simple fruity floral that Zazie felt it was – and I’ll admit that at least it’s *interesting*.

      I think tuberose is one of those notes engenders either love or hate – there are not many people who say, “Eh, tuberose, I can take it or leave it.” I love it. LOVE it. But it’s okay with me if other people don’t like it: more for me.

      I will admit that most of these fabulous, expensive tuberose things I review from samples, and sometimes from splits. My Beyond Love is a slightly-used 7ml travel bottle I paid $20 for (no WAY am I paying the $300 for a big bottle). And I’m a member of a group that organizes bottle splits – someone posts a “who’s interested in this scent at this price?” query, and then buys it and splits it up into whatever portions the host chooses, and the split members pay their portion of the bottle plus shipping. Which is how I got this bit of NdT, and how I got my precious bit of Carnal Flower.

      I know you’re in “Oz” and it might be tough to get in on splits like that. There’s always ebay, though: vintage Chloe (the Karl Lagerfeld tuberose one that I wore for a decade), Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur (I paid $22 for a 1 oz bottle, shipped, and when I found out how lovely it is, went back and bought a bigger bottle for $30), and I don’t think Fracas is all that pricey. Of course, if you don’t like tuberose, you should get something else! 🙂

      That Kenzo is interesting, isn’t it? I feel very uncomfortable in fougeres and would much, much rather wear something girly (um, some tuberose maybe?). However, it is certainly a thought-provoking scent.

  4. Hi, thanks for your thoughtful reply. No, I’ve never gone down the split path. But thanks for mentioning the other tuberoses – plenty of inexpensive options there. Fracas sounds gorgeous.

  5. I adore, adore, adore NdT and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my scent of the summer! I find it a really well done and interesting fruity-floral. I don’t get much rooty-mildew – I get green mango and tuberose and little bit of something sexy.
    I’ve also received a number of compliments on it including my husband who almost never says anything about my perfume unless I ask first.
    Anne, if you see this and if you’re interested, send me an email at sharviss at hotmail dot com. I have the gargantuan 100 ml bottle so I can definitely send you a sample.

    1. Well, well… you bought your bottle already! Congratulations on finding something you really love, sharviss, and double congrats on pleasing your husband with it. Mine hardly ever notices unless I say something (or unless he’s already in an amorous mood 😉 )… although I notice that he does really, really like most white florals.

      If I got less of the mildew, I’d like this better. I think I’d still prefer Amaranthine, though.

  6. Thanks! I was wasn’t blown away by Amaranthine. I thought it was nice and that’s about it. All these comparisons in reviews I’m reading are making me want to re-try it.

    Also, the bottle is even prettier in real life! If only I could display it!

    1. Hi sharviss! I’m wearing NdT today, and thought I’d compare it with Amaranthine, which I totally did not like when I tried it before. So, I put Amaranthine on the back of my hand. There are some similar notes, but to me, NdT is much more beautiful. As I mentioned below, I get a cumin note in Amaranthine that kills all other notes. It smelled so awful next to the NdT that I almost immediately scrubbed it off!!!! 😉

  7. Received a sample of NdT from Luckyscent yesterday, and I can’t believe it, but I’m with Marte on this one – love at first sniff!!! As you say, Mals – love at first sniff doesn’t happen often. I’d read so many mixed reviews that I didn’t expect to like this one much. Figured I’d try it, then throw it into the purgatory pile. I HATED Amaranthigh, and after trying other BD scents like Timbuktu, some CdGs, and Eau d’Italies, I thought BD just wasn’t for me.

    Why did I order a sample of NdT? I suppose I WANT to find something from BD because I’m loving his story and progression as a perfumer. Most of his earlier scents don’t work for me because of the cumin aspect. Amaranthigh has that cumin thing, too, and that’s what totally ruined it for me. NdT to me has all of the wonderful aspects of Amaranthigh without the cumin. On me, it’s a very warm, earthy, luscious floral. Last scent that had this type of affect on me was Attrape Coeur. I foresee a large bottle of NdT in my future…LOVE IT!

    1. Oh, Attrape-Coeur is gorgeous, isn’t it?

      If I was getting cumin/sweat out of Amaranthigh, I’d probably run away too. But I don’t. It’s not edgy – it’s not even vaguely slutty on me, it’s all floral pudding. Tom Ford Voile de Fleur is edgier than Amaranthingy, even.

      So funny how we all get different stuff out of what should be, in the surface, the same smell.

      1. Interesting! I love Voile de Fleur! Yes, definitely funny how we all smell things differently…or perhaps interpret them differently?

  8. Hi Mals, I’m really late to the party but enjoyed your take on Nuit de Tubereuse.
    As I told another perfumista friend, I found it almost mesmerizing; not like much else I’ve ever smelled. As many have said on the perfume boards, on one hand, it’s a comforting scent, but on the other, still manages to remain a little aloof and unsettling.
    It says “Yes, I’m lovely and oh-so fascinating, but I’m also an impish changeling and I have a few tricks up my sleeve, so don’t get too comfortable with me.” I’ve found that when you least expect it, it pops up and tweaks your nose a bit.
    For me, it’s a little like that slightly oddball friend that we all probably have known at one time: She’s got her quirks and you’re never quite sure exactly what she’s going to do or say, but despite it all, she’s beautiful and extraordinary and you can’t help but love her.
    Can’t wait to try the Vamp when it’s available for sampling here in the U.S.

    1. Hi, Ann – I think you’re right, it isn’t like *anything* else.
      “Impish changeling” is a good description.

      I seem to be pretty sensitive to musty notes (witness my patchouli aversion), and that’s probably keeping me on the fence for Nuit de Tubereuse. The opening is sooo…. weird and mildewy. And at the same time, other people don’t seem to mind the opening at all. It might be me. I do like the heart and drydown very much.

      I was really lucky to get in on that sample giveaway of Vamp – I love it.

  9. Mals, I’d nominate to delete this post from “a person” who chooses to slander someone publicly like this. Petty and cruel.

    1. Karin, I just thought I’d let you know – the post from “a person” linked back to Denyse’s blog, and I thought she had posted it herself, as something of a joke, taking the comment to a level of ridiculousness to demonstrate how silly such an accusation was. I attempted to reply in that vein, taking the silly accusation of undue fraternization to an even more ridiculous level. I hope it was clear I didn’t agree. I certainly think anyone who reads her blog regularly would recognize her passion for fragrance, her scholarship, and her excellent research for what they are.

      It was not from Denyse. Therefore I have removed that comment and some of the replies, but since WordPress doesn’t leave a “this post deleted by blog administrator” comment, I am replying to your comment for the benefit of anyone who thought I took the original slanderous comment seriously.

  10. Hi Mals,

    How are you? Hope you are doing well. Sorry to be off topic here, but thought you might know what’s up with the Perfume Posse site? I’ve tried to access it for several days and have been unable to. Any ideas what’s going on over there? Many thanks!

    1. Hi, Ann – unfortunately, I don’t know what’s going on with the Posse. I remember Patty making some comment about having server problems, even after having moved to a new blog host, so my guess it is that it’s a technical problem. My other guess is that PP will be back, and I hope it’s soon.

      I was able to see last Friday’s post (Lee, on summer lists) today, but didn’t bother trying to comment or explore the site.

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