Thursday, 5 August 2010

The World Doesn't Need Another Review Of Nuit De Tubéreuse... L'Artisan Parfumeur, but you knew that anyway.

Because, let's face it, the world really doesn't. Not now, not weeks ago. There are at least a dozen bloggers with more credible noses than mine who have already done a comprehensive job of reviewing Nuit de Tubéreuse, so why, you may ask, am I bothering to write about it at all?

Well, the thing is, I find myself seriously niggled by this scent: both in terms of its smell (I use the term advisedly), and also its "back story". Oh, I do dislike that expression, but there I go using it. My own writing is niggling me now. Okay then - the inspiration for the perfume - namely a "secret summer night in Paris".

I know where Bertrand Duchaufour is going with this idea, for Paris is the quintessential setting for romantic trysts in hotels. I can confirm that this is the case, for I have often heard tryst-like noises emanating from the room next door. I am usually awake myself in the small hours, copying up interviews, polishing shoes, and trying to identify bus connections from the end of Line C on the RER. So the whole conceptual premise doesn't really work for me, though I daresay my jaded view of Paris nights is atypical.

But if I could make the imaginative leap from my drab budget hotel near the Gare de L'Est to the Georges V, I am not convinced this perfume would be conducive to getting jiggy, even in the summer night of my fantasies...

So, turning to the scent itself, I am one of those who get the well documented Juicy Fruit opening - sadly - as I am not a chewer of gum. Nuit de Tubéreuse is cool in an almost mentholated way - orangey menthol that would be - or if not menthol exactly, some kind of austere herbal accord, overlaid with the chewing gum / vinyl note. Or is it petrol? Frankly, it doesn't much matter, as it simply isn't very nice in my view.

It is nothing like Fracas or Carnal Flower, or the coconut-tuberose fright wig that is By Kilian Beyond Love. If you crossed Bond No 9 Chinatown with the new L'Etat Libre D'Orange Like This, then chucked in some random things from your herb rack, you might get a little bit closer.

Notes (from the L’Artisan Parfumeur web site): Cardamom, clove absolute, pink berries, pepper, citrus, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, mango, angelica, gorse, palisander, sandalwood, musk, benzoin, styrax

I deliberately didn't read the note list before writing this post, but having seen it now, it is quite clear to me that NdT didn't have a prayer. Not with clove and angelica, gorse and styrax for starters. And who or what is "palisander"? I am thinking quite possibly the hot date - or trystee.

On the sample card, the blurb does speak of "the ambivalence of tuberose", but with that eclectic list of fragrance notes I'd say the whole thing was doomed to be ambivalent, which goes a long way to explaining my chronic state of benigglement. There was a silly scene in Big Brother recently, where a contestant had to make a dessert out of the ingredients left over by two other housemates: pastry, liver, custard and squirty cream. Needless to say, her valiant effort was inedible. But Bertrand Duchaufour has a wide palette of congenial notes at his disposal. Yet he comes up with this forbidding tuberose oddity.

And if I could not "get" Nuit de Tubéreuse, it is not for the want of trying, truly. I have had my sample for about a month, and have worn it on a prime skin site and given it my undivided attention on 5-6 occasions. This is unprecedented behaviour for me with a scent I don't much care for. Normally I would toss it into the "bag of hell" after a single trial if it didn't immediately grab my fancy. But in the case of NdT I stuck with it, in the hope that I would eventually come to like it, or at least understand it better. It reminds me of the novel "Fugitive Pieces" by Anne Michaels, where you are never quite sure where the action is taking place (Toronto?) or who the characters are, and find yourself reading the same pages over and over again.

I persisted with NdT partly because of its "notoriété" (the French word for "famous" seems apt here), and partly because of my soft spot for Bertrand Duchaufour, and a sentimental determination to like everything he turns his hand to. To have been sniffed by the man on not one but two separate pulse points was a curiously bonding experience. : - )

I fear, however, that even a further 6 trials would probably not change my opinion on this one. For all that Nuit de Tubéreuse defies classification, it remains - doubtless on account of the gum/vinyl note - the most "plastic Bertrand" I have yet to sniff. So I am afraid I can't say: "Ca Plane Pour Moi"*...

* (literally "this glides for me", or - more idiomatically - something along the lines of: "this works for me"). Plastic Bertrand is Belgium's most famous punk rocker.)


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this review! Was so tired of everyone waxing poetic about this one. You know what I get from NdT? Cedar, cedar, cedar. That's it.

By the way, your experience of *Fugitive Pieces* was pretty much the same as mine ;)

Karen G.

Vanessa said...

Hi Karen G,

Thanks for stopping by! I wonder whether your cedar equates to my "menthol" impression, because both are "cool" types of note - cf Timbuktu by BD, which to me is a wind whistling through the broken windows of a haunted house.

I fear I may have alienated entire swathes of the perfume community with my unorthodox take on NdT - either that or I shot myself in the foot by correctly anticipating that no one needs another review of it - and consequently no one has read it. Or possibly a mixture of the two. : - )

No matter - I remain a huge admirer of Bertrand D's work (Amaranthine, Penhaligon's Orange Blossom) and you can't expect to like everything someone does.

Fugitive Pieces was very strange, wasn't it? Give me a bonesfest of a Kathy Reichs any day: we're in Montreal, it is 6.32am, Tempe Brennan has just grabbed herself a coffee, when another body shows up.

Wordbird said...

Haven't got round to smelling Nuit de Tubereuse yet, but then, I'm not a huge tuberose fan, so...
BUT I am a big Plastic Bertrand fan and vividly remember trying to pogo to that record at school discos and thinking we were really cool because we were listening to a French song. It's so nice to be able to look back on those teenage years from a great distance.

Oh yes, Kathy Reichs is brilliant. Though I've just discovered the Hamish Macbeth books, which are wonderful (and give me an excuse to remember the lovely Robert Carlyle in the TV show).

potiron said...

I'm with Wordbird on everything she said in her first paragraph. After that she lost me, I'm afraid. I admit to being too young to have gotten the Plastic Bernard reference in your post und must confess that I first heard "Ca Plance Pour Moi" in the mid-ninties when the song was covered by a Swiss casting girlband during their 15 minutes of national fame (a really, really short career condidering the the song alone took up 5 minutes of the 15 they had...).

lovethescents said...

FINALLY!! (sorry for shouting) Finally a review that doesn't love this one. I really wanted to enjoy this and aside from some of the curious spice notes, I really thought I would. Actually, I quite liked the first five minutes of it when I first tried it. Then, disaster! Rubbing-alcohol and fruit, bilious really.

I'm glad others love it so much so I'm hoping to swap my sample awaaaaaaaaay!

Vanessa said...

Hi Wordbird,

Perfumista + former Plastic Bertrand fan - now there's a small marketing segment if ever I saw one! And I understand what you mean about looking back on your youth from a great distance. Just about every stitch of clothing I wore up the age of 37 doesn't bear close scrutiny. If you don't much care for tuberose, then I doubt that you are missing much in Nuit de Tubereuse - I could almost have included it in my "Weird Wafts" series, though I tend to feature scents there that are both peculiar and outside the mainstream. As in "mainstream niche", that would be.

Vanessa said...

Hi Potiron,

I realised the Plastic Bertrand reference was a bit obscure, but figured he was only a Wiki-click away! : - )

Interesting that his hit got covered in Switzerland years after his brief moment of fame on the British music scene. I must confess to my ignorance of the Swiss scene: I don't believe I could name a single pop or indie band from your country, though there were a few playing that weekend I saw you guys in Basel!

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

I knew I could count on you to come through as a non-fan of Nuit de Tubereuse, and in contrast to the others, you like tuberose well enough as a note. Carnal Flower, for example.

"Rubbing-alchohol and fruit" is a great description, and though I tend to drink the stuff rather than rub it, I get just what you mean there...

potiron said...

oh, and did I say "Plastic BERNARD"? Dear me... And when I posted the comment it wasn't even early enough to blame an alcohol induced hazy mind... nor was it early enough to blame an alcohol induced hazy mind from the previous night...
Ah well, I'm sure you're used to my orthographic mishaps by now... ;-)

Don't worry about not being up to date with the Swiss music scene. That can hardly be considered a gap in education. Krokus, Yellow, and (oh dear!) DJ Bobo are the only ones that come to mind as having had at least a little bit of international success.

Vanessa said...

Hi Potiron,

No problem - I thought you might have been typing in adverse conditions, eg from an un-backlit Blackberry in one of your country's many tunnels. Failing that, I was going to blame your youth! Thinking about it, Plastic BERNARD is a fine example of a Swiss Freudian slip..... : - )

And anyway, it would be a case of the kettle calling the Potiron black to critique your spelling, because I went and unilaterally capitalised your name.

ScentScelf said...

Sure, and as Sir Paul said, you'd think that people have had enough of silly love songs.

But another good one will find a home.

Meanwhile, you offer...the Piaf perspective? Patti Smith? Siouxsie? Help me here; methinks you can provide the proper intelligent scorned (or is she scorning?) woman.

You certainly turned your discomfort into our lemonade. Thanks for the fun and the insight. And you've certainly taken a turn at being dutiful and diligent in your trials. Really kind of rotten when it just keeps on keeping on, when what it does is no good, isn't it?

I have to say, for me, while NdT didn't knock it out of the park, it counts as a solid base hit, given that it's a power flower that didn't send me screaming. Kind of like the girl that drove me crazy when we were younger, because she was SO {girly/giggly/interested in things I could care less about, which is to say couldn't care less about}...but give a decade or two, and I enjoy maybe a coffee or cocktail with her. Occasionally.

I obviously didn't venture far enough into the punk orbit. Now I'm going to have to dig up info and music of Plastic Bertrand. Must you ALWAYS be enlightening me along with your entertainment?


Vanessa said...

Hi ScentScelf,

Patti Smith will do very nicely, thank you! Someone once told me at a party that I looked like her, though it was dark and we were both in fancy dress.

Speaking of punkish rebellion, in my byline I do at least warn readers to expect passion AND irreverence, so that was going to be my get out clause in the event of provoking a furore in fumehead circles.

"To turn discomfort into lemonade" - I like that. It reminds me of Flaubert's ability to turn "mud into gold", though with a quite different meaning.

Interesting to get your take on Nuit de Tubereuse - I agree that it is "flower power that doesn't send me screaming", though I still can't find it in me to like it.

Katy Josephine said...

Love the 'coconut-tuberose fright wig' - that made me laugh!

I have not tried this one, but certainly understand the multiple testings, hoping that your first impression was wrong, and you are about to fall madly, hopelessly in love.

Reverse stalking, one might say.

For now, I will pass on Nuit de Tubereuse and I thank you for your honest review. Well done!

Vanessa said...

Hi Josephine,

I gave this my best shot, that's for sure. If you run into Nuit de Tubereuse in passing, by all means check it out so you can make your own mind up, but I wouldn't go out of your way to try it. : - )

Mals86 said...

I'm with Josephine - the "Fright wig" was wonderful!

Although I rather liked Beyond Love. But then, I'm very fond of tuberose.

And I struggle very hard with the opening of NdT. Secret Parisian nights, what in the name of sweet Joseph Conrad are they talking about?!? For me, it's still that Heart of Darkness jungle, until I finally emerge gasping from it to enjoy the tuberose/cedar/incensey bit.

Vanessa said...

Hi Mals86,

I remembered that you liked Beyond Love, so I was hoping you wouldn't mind my having a pop at it! I don't get on with any of the By Kilians for some reason. That Hennessey chap is easy on the eye but sadly not on my nose.

Heart of Darkness is a good description of Nuit de Tubereuse - I don't detect jungle specifically, but I do sense something offbeat and faintly menacing.

Hebe said...

I loved Plastic Bertrand too! I think that Carnal Flower is my ideal tuberose, tuberose with herbs doesn't appeal. I do quite like the idea of a vinyl note though so will see if my local l'Artisan stockist has this one in so I can be sure that I don't want it :)

You are too funny about Paris. Mr Hebe absolutely hates the place. And guess where we are off to tomorrow, for my brother's wedding....

Vanessa said...

Tuberose with herbs is not the first combo that would spring to my mind either. But nor am I a fan of vinyl, except the vintage record kind.

Mr Hebe probably knows the same bits of Paris as me... Though I do love many of the districts my work doesn't take me to. : - )

Enjoy your brother's wedding - I am sure the setting will be delightful!

Andreea said...

Hi Vanessa, now I tried this one and I would say if you toss a very little bit of Serge Noir in a bubble-gum and flower bowl, you'll get it because it turned that grey thing that incense is (on my skin).
At the end it is rather boring but pleasent, I could though not say it is different from the Amaranthine in the base notes, just that Amaranthine lingers for hours and only shortly before it is gone will be as nice and tame as the NdT is after one hour.
Still, it is nice and it is more affordable then Amaranthine.

Vanessa said...

Hi Andreea,

"Serge Noir in a bubble-gum and flower bowl" - what an excellent description! I don't find it particularly similar to Amaranthine - it was more "weird" on me - but was interested to hear that you find the bases alike.