Sometimes it's best to start at the end: L'Artisan Parfumeur's new Nuit de Tubéreuse is a stunning perfume. Perfumer Bertand Duchaufour is reportedly not exactly the house nose at L'Artisan, and for that matter, he developed quite a few fragrances for the house before he was officially hired in 2008, but the L'Artisan line feels different after the last three major releases under his direction — Havana Vanille, Al Oudh, and now Nuit de Tubéreuse — and to me at least, different in a good way, although L'Artisan has long been one of my favorite perfume houses. There has been much discussion recently about whether or not niche is still a meaningful term, and of course one could argue that in terms of size and distribution, L'Artisan Parfumeur is not a niche firm anyway. Whatever: Nuit de Tubéreuse is an unusual and impressive take on tuberose, and it cheers me no end to know that there are still companies out there launching perfumes like this. Niche or not niche, I don't care — Nuit de Tubéreuse is the exactly the sort of perfume that keeps me blogging.
All of that said, I'm not at all sure that I like it, and I put off this review so that I might wear it enough to make up my mind. I still haven't made up my mind. It's going in the purgatory basket. But let's get back to the beginning...
L'Artisan, of course, already had two versions of tuberose: the straightforward and very buttery Tubéreuse (1978, and reportedly now discontinued) and the spicy-fresh La Chasse aux Papillons Extrême (2005). Nuit de Tubéreuse, styled as "a perfume for a secret Parisian summer night", is something entirely different, in fact, if you're after something like a tuberose soliflore, be warned that you will not find it here. It starts with a spicy mango, very big and bright and loud, that reminds me of Juicy Fruit gum — does anyone else remember that Frederic Malle mentioned Juicy Fruit gum when talking about Carnal Flower? I can't find a link to the source (please comment if you have one) but Juicy Fruit was the first thing that popped to mind when I smelled the opening of Nuit de Tubéreuse. The spices and a tiny hint of the mango linger into the heart notes, but the Juicy Fruit thing only lasts a few minutes, and I don't find it a loud fragrance once it settles.
If your idea of tuberose is derived from fragrances like Carnal Flower, Robert Piguet Fracas, Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle et al., throw all of that out the window, it won't help you here. The tuberose in Nuit de Tubéreuse is dusky and strange.1 It's tropical, but tropical in the sense of moisture, humidity, heat and decay — it does not smell like any variation on the über-feminine, hothouse floral sort of tuberose we all know and that some of us love. In that sense, it might well be, as some have said, that it's that rare tuberose that a man could wear, although it's still not at all what I'd call masculine.
The base is that particular blend of earthy and resinous notes that any fan of Bertrand Duchaufour will recognize as his signature, and that really ought to have a name by now. Duchaufourade, I suppose, is a little unwieldy? At any rate, it smells like dirt and soft wood and incense and hot skin, and I find it very sexy.
When I reviewed By Kilian's Beyond Love, I summed up my feelings about the major tuberose perfumes thusly:
Fracas said “I am woman, hear me roar”, Tubéreuse Criminelle said “don’t you mess with me, baby” and Carnal Flower whispered something about hot summer nights; Beyond Love tossed her hair and said “I come in a satin-lined black lacquer box with a lock and key, and I cost more than the rest of you”.
And Nuit de Tubéreuse? She says nothing at all, just smiles slyly over her shoulder and then disappears into the night.
The notes for L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubéreuse include tuberose, cardamom, clove, pink pepper, pepper, citrus, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, mango, angelica, gorse, sandalwood, palisander, musks, benzoin and styrax. The lasting power is excellent. It is available in 50 ($115) and 100 ($155) ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for L'Artisan Parfumeur under Perfume Houses.
1. Bertrand Duchaufour talks extensively about tuberose and Nuit de Tubéreuse in this interview at Grain de Musc.