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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Mr. Colombina (sniffing loudly): What’s this smell?

Me: What does it smell like?

Mr. C (thinks awhile): Sweet. It smells sweet.

Me: Is it good sweet or bad sweet?

Mr. C (after a longish pause): I guess good…Smells like bubblegum.

Why this vignette from the life at chez Colombina? To prove yet again what is indisputable anyway, that people’s perceptions of scents differ. When Mr. Colombina smells Tubereuse Criminelle, he is reminded of bubblegum; for some wearers the top notes are leaden with the smell of hot rubber tiers, diesel and gasoline. Many get Vicks Vapo Rub, some get Clorox. When I spray the scent on the blotter, Tubereuse Criminelle does go through the “Dominatrix with a sore throat” beginning of cold menthol and rubber. The shockingly unattractive top notes prepare for the even bigger shock, that of the beauty of the tuberose. On my skin, however, Tubereuse Criminelle skips the odd start; it is all beauty, none of the beast.

And what a beauty it is. Tuberose rules the composition, it is all about her, her, her; other notes are here to enhance, complicate and enrich, not to distract. Thus the purpose of jasmine and orange blossom is to make the star flower even headier, to add layers of complexity to its dazzling appearance. The vanilla is present to smooth and soften (if I try really hard, at one point in the middle stage, right where vanilla meets jasmine, I can sort of intuit the vaguely banana-like bubblegum smell that Mr. Colombina gets in Tubereuse Criminelle). I adore the way clove is woven into the velvety whiteness of tuberose; it prevents the flower from being creamy and sweet, although, probably thanks to the aforementioned vanilla, the scent cannot be called dewy and fresh either. The warm piquancy adds the air of danger and mystery to the languid beauty of the flower. Indolent and enigmatic, Tubereuse Criminelle is like a magnificent, seemingly lazy animal...always ready to pounce.

Tubereuse Criminelle is, sadly, a part of the Exclusive range of the Lutens collection, and is only available at Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido in Paris, €100 for 2.5oz.

The image is from


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the most shockingly beautiful scents ever created. The scent showcases magnificently how this intoxicating flower develops. Truly a haunting composition and a dear friend. You took the words right out of my mouth. Merry Christmas too.

11:13 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

"This is one of the most shockingly beautiful scents ever created." I absolutely agree!
Merry Christmas!!

11:16 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

This is the loveliest tuberose. I love the kick-ass opening; I love the creamy drydown. I spritz it on on the evening convinced that I can get away with it, I awake knowing I can't. At least not to the office. But maybe if I zap the drydown with Kolnish Juchten?

If this ever makes a special guest appearance in the exports, I am so there.

As always, a wonderful review!

11:17 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Please layer those two and report!!
And if does become non-export, I'll buy 10 bottles :-) Love it.

12:30 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess this is one of the most contradictory tuberoses out there, judging by many different reviews and emotions it triggers. I (as you so well know ;)) am an avid lover of tuberose, but Tuberose Criminelle is absolutely horrible, disgusting and nauseating on my skin. I tried it once and can't even stand the bare thought of applying it to my skin again.
I can admire Mr. Lutens for creating such a monster :-D, but I won't be sporting it any time soon.

4:30 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Interesting! Oddly enough, on me, the beast never completely goes away. Oh, the tuberose appears, and it is lovely; but the opening lingers. . . .And I love it!!

6:31 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Great review! However, am now turning an unfortunate shade of chartreuse after reading Judith's comment and finding that the opening notes *stay* on her skin. Sob! I adore that quirky jolt of mentholated diesel and tar, but it disappears in less than 15 minutes on my skin. OK, it's still a heartbreakingly gorgeous tuberose after that, but I do wish the first notes wouldn't leave the party.
Oh, but I am *very* grateful not to have Mr. C's skin chemistry. :-)

7:35 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Like Judith, the opening notes never quite go away. Unlike her, I just ... can't bear it. I just can't. I will note, however, that the couple of times I've taken it for a test-drive I've gotten several compliments (which also means that it's throwing some wicked sillage, and I'm not applying a ton, either.)

8:46 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

As I wouldn't have mind the bizarre beginning, let's switch skin chemistries. As I said, on my skin, I get none of that horror you describe. It is basically an amazingly beautiful tuberose, that's all. :-)

9:06 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I want your skin chemistry :-) Don't get me wrong, I LOVE TC, but I wouldn't have minded some of the weirdness you get.

9:07 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I dare you to layer it with CB Musk :-)

9:08 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh so you too don't get much of that gasoline-vapo-rub thing? I am with you there. And I am also thankful I don't smell bubblegum there :-)

9:09 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

It IS throwing sillage. Mr. C hardly ever notices my perfumes, and in this case he certainly did notice and even was able to discuss what he was smelling :-)

9:10 AM EST  
Blogger IrisLA said...

I adore TC. It is a scent I never want to be without. I've grown to love the menthol note. No one has complained about the opening, so I take that to mean it doesn't smell that outlandish on me.

11:19 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I adore it too. And I don't find it outlandish either. I am sure it smells stunning on you!

11:23 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

utterly creepy stuff... a dear friend of mine referred to it as "bathrooms, toilet paper and laughter"... followed-up with an "oh no... old lady underwear!"... (my friend's quite clever)... i understand it's considered quite novel for a man to wear?... yeah sure... about as butch as some delusional warrior wearing the skin of his scented victim?

11:35 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd love to smell this one a man, just to see what it's going to be like. My husband flat out refused to be a test subject in this case. Oh well.

11:38 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If old ladies' underwaer smells like this, line em up, honey!

I want that opening to last longer too, but the tuberose comes through quickly enough to make the contrast between the smell and my voice and face all the more bizarre and laughable.

A beautiful creation - and I've just been reading about the new SLs this year. Oh me oh my...

11:47 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't wait to try those new SLs, they sound fantastic!

11:48 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

One of my all time favorites, certainly a desert island scent :-)

And always glad to see another we share, even if we are EFT most of the time!

1:16 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am always happy to see a scent in common too! I think we pretty much share the love of tuberose? (I can't even believe I am saying, I love tuberose...:-))

2:14 PM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

I just discovered this about two and a half weeks ago and am one surprised little wrist-sniffer. Of all the Serges I'd hunted down, I just never really bothered with TC - probably because I've had had trouble with tuberose before and because the camphorated beginning of Borneo that I'd so looked forward to was disappointingly awful on me (a hippie eating Junior Mints). Then I tried this and LOVED it passionately. The beginning is everything I wanted from other "weird" Serge openings and more, and lasts on me. Like the whole scent quite a bit better than Carnal Flower, actually. Gotta try that Jasmin et Cigarette that V of BdJ mentioned now - sounds oddly similar in spirit.

4:52 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd love to try that and other Etat scents too. I am not a fan of Carnal Flower either. It is not nearly as wonderful on me as TC. It is just loud and oddly linear.

5:17 PM EST  
Blogger Jenny said...

Well you do know I just love the smell of Tuberose. It's so funny that Mr.Colombina says it smells like bubblegum. Because I love tuberose I ordered an aroma chemical named "Cyclopidene" that has to have a scent like tuberose, when I first sniffed the scent of it it remined me of ..... fruity bubblegum! Maybe Cyclopidene or Tuberose acetate(another name) is used in this perfume.

5:28 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Wow, tat is fascinating and wow, the Talented Mr. Colombina :-)

5:31 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adore Tubereuse Criminelle beyond belief. Adore it. ADORE.

7:02 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Me too. ME TOO. :-)

7:03 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

well, I tried layering it with KJ: didn't work really. The beefy KJ manhandled the tuberose in a way that was not polite.

I also layered it with CB Musk. That should never leave the house: men, women, farm animals and small appliances will be folowing you panting. If this were bottled the only name for it would be "Do Me"

In a nice way.

10:49 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

KJ and polite- impossible. KJ does not do polite. It's a barbarian.
Now, the sound of the second combo makes me wish I did not get rid of my sample CB Musk...but I had to get it out of my house :-) Of course, now I have Human Existence and it's even worse...should I layer That with TC? Nah...I am scared. :-)

10:56 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

ooh, I don't think so: CB and TC is hottie. HE and TC is zombie!

11:09 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, being a foolish headstrong man who was out to dinner with his best friend and had a glass and a half of wine (he's craaazy folks!), I took up the challenge. Once agin TC sort of killed off the HE until the drydown where it sort of overstated the skanky part of the tuberose. It merely pointed up how perfectly blended TC is. The CB musk brought something totally different to the party; that giddy little berry-porn accord neither tried to outdo or detract from TC, it just adds a bit of zest. I makes the Femme Fatale a bit more Irma la Douce.

I got a touch of Human Existence on my thumb. Just a touch. I'm liking this. Do I need therapy, or just a hot shower?

11:29 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You are absolutely fearless. I am in awe. But yes, one drop on your thumb means you need a shower and your house needs a group of men in hazmat suits to exercise the stench. I am scared of that Existence thing. It stands on my shelf and I feel like its alive, a living, breething, hideous creature capable of unspeakable things. Overactive imagination perhaps? No way! :-)

11:32 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

well, I'd say send it my way, but I'm almost afraid you would!

11:43 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am tempted. Then I can sit, look around and say in Tangina's voice, This House is Clean. :-D

11:55 PM EST  
Anonymous posicionamiento web said...

This will not work as a matter of fact, that's what I consider.

5:42 PM EDT  

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