Dark Tuberoses: Heroine, Narcotic and Trapeze by Strange Invisible Perfumes
I reached the stage in my relationship with perfumes which Angela of NowSmellThis once called that of a connoisseur and which I rather less positively call jaded. My nose believes that it has smelled it all and my brain is in the state of ennui. For a perfume to register on my radar, it has to be Great. To excite my jaded senses it has to be Exceptional. The words of the Red Queen come to mind, "If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" In regards to perfume, "twice as fast" means either being absolutely sublime in its "realism" (Malle Une Rose) or absolutely unlike anything else I have ever encountered (Aftelier Tango). There are some sublimely "realistic" tuberoses... I am using quotation marks, because there is always a necessary degree of stylization in perfume, a degree of creative interpretation of the material, which is what makes it a perfume and not an aromatherapy oil... Malle Carnal Flower and Caron's and L'Artisan's Tubereuses are among them. Lutens' Tubereuse Criminelle inhabits the twilight zone between the territory of "realism" and that of boldly taken poetic license. I will talk about the sublimely "real" at some later point. Today I am focusing on the strange.
Strange Invisible Perfumes' take on tuberose, to be precise. And a word to other jaded, if you somehow until now overlooked this brand (I know, unlikely!), do try their creations. They do imaginative things that step close to but never overstep the mark of unwearable. Their descriptions, in which vetivers sleepwalk through bright and textured corridors of lemon verbena, do overstep the mark of ridiculous, but I digress. Three of the perfumes in their collection put emphasis on tuberose. Heroine blends the note with sweetly balsamic opoponax and slightly charred cedarwood. The creaminess of tuberose is enhanced by the presence of frangipane, and you would think that two such heady flowers would dominate the composition, but they let the resinous accord to be always in the forefront. That accord makes tuberose smell smoky and husky and, to me, just irresistible. I find the base, which smells of frying shelled sunflower seeds, strangely comforting.
Narcotic uses orange blossom instead of frangipane to enhance tuberose and adds freshness to the blend by making vetiver sleepwalk through the aforementioned corridor of lemon verbena. In other words, the blend starts fresh and a little earthy, the citrusy accord finds its logical continuation in orange blossom, which in turn draws in sweeter and heavier tuberose enriched in the base by vanilla and sandalwood. Simple, right? Not really. You'd think that breezy citruses would turn the usually not at all innocent tuberose into a blushing bride, but here orange blossom has such a pronounced indolic undertone that it makes tuberose smell frankly indecent. Add to that the earthiness of vetiver and the booziness of vanilla, and you have got yourself a perfume that is X Rated.
In Trapeze, the killer queen tuberose walks a tight rope flung between the red spiciness of carnation and the icy freshness of spearmint, and the rope is weaved out of vetiver roots...And no more reading of the SIP website for me, as their style is apparently infectious. Anyhow, whereas I have smelled tuberose paired with a mentholated accord before, the addition of carnation is fairly unexpected. I love the piquancy and the slight powderiness that the note brings to the mix and even a certain retro quality. It would be a huge stretch to say that Trapeze smells classic...but not as long of a stretch as from here to the galaxy far, far away, in which dwell other SIP creations. The galaxy to which the jaded should take regular tours just to be reminded that there are scents out that can still surprise and excite us.
Narcotic and Trapeze are available at strangeinvisibleperfumes.com (which has been made a little more use-friendly since the last time I attempted to look), $185.00 for 1/4oz. I was unable to find Heroine, perhaps it was discontinued.
Many thanks to Alyssa for the poem and for also seeing the darkness of white flowers. The image is by Ellen Von Unwerth.