Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Serge Lutens- Tubéreuse Criminelle

Tubéreuse Criminelle is one of Serge Lutens most daring and shocking perfumes. As if tuberose is not a difficult enough note for many, the opening is so camphorous, medicinal and rubbery it doesn't even smell like perfume. And it's utterly marvelous.

Lutens avoids all the pitfalls, cliches and comparisons to the other famous tuberose, Fracas. Tubéreuse Criminelle is not a big diva with the feather boa and cleavage. It might have  it in its depth and dry-down, depending on the wearer's skin chemistry, but at first it appears stubborn and unyielding, hiding behind its uninviting facade. It makes me think of Ingrid Bergman's character in The Cactus Flower (1969), one of my favorite movies. Ms Bergman plays the prim and proper Swedish nurse, spinster and schoolmarmish who ends up blooming, like the cactus flower, for the first time in many years.

So, what happens to Tubéreuse Criminelle on skin? I like rubber and camphor and don't feel too self-conscious about the medicine cabinet blast. It's what happens about 20 minutes later that is so amazing. All of a sudden you smell a real tuberose in 3D- white and pure, feminine and grand, straightforward and mysterious all at the same time. Tubéreuse Criminelle is green and sweet and floral. There's a luminous quality to this scent which I wish lasted longer- the dry-down ends up too polite and mellow- all that drama for a soft petal-like flower. It has it advantages- after an hour or so Tubéreuse Criminelle stops drawing any attention to itself. It hangs close to the skin and behaves. It's beautiful, friendly and rather dignified- can be worn at just about any setting, as long as one's skin chemistry can handle the jagged edge of the opening.

Tubéreuse Criminelle (125 euro, 75ml)  is one of Serge Lutens non-export perfumes, only available in the Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido in Paris and by phone/web for residents of the EU.

Photo of Ingrid Bergman with her cactus from imdb.com.


  1. I love that film as well. And TB is so silky, really. Wonderful, wonderful stuff!

  2. We must have been smelling a different fragarnce.
    My tuberose criminelle was a thin little thing, that tried to shock with an usual opening that wasn't that strange after all, and followed with a poor crumpled flower...
    Nothing daring or divaesque, strange or grand.
    it's that teenage girl who tries to be shocking but only looks sad and bland - you wish to offer her an apple pie, juct because you pity that age so much.
    Like most Lutens, I find the development the development quite linear (too linear), and it mostly resembles a smell rather than a perfume.

  3. I have just ordered a bottle of Tubereuse Criminelle from France and can't wait to wear it =))))

  4. Great review - I love this fragrance. All I have is a decant, but ... well it's simply wonderful. I adore the madness of the opening - my favorite phase of the scent, but once it's past that opening, I am always amused to find that it is probably the most wearable tuberose I've tried on my skin.

  5. I also like the opening best. The drydown of Tubey Crim is far from my favorite tuberose, but that opening! Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

  6. I've never gotten the camphor...and I want to. For me it opens with Wintergreen. The effect either way, is very intriguing. I wish more fragrances had some kind of "criminelle" trickery in their composition..some little jolt of happy sensational discord.

  7. I really like the camphor-and-menthol bit. What I absolutely cannot take is the Rotting Raw Chicken of Death aspect before TC relaxes into that pretty, chilly green/white tuberose. I love tuberose and other white florals, and it's rare that I find one I can't wear - but TC (and Manoumalia) is meaty to a degree that I just can't get past.

    Sigh. Luckily, there are quite a few other wonderful cold-green tuberose scents out there (favorites include Carnal Flower, of course, Beyond Love, and Eclair di Tubereuse).

  8. I've been wanting to try TB for a long time, I've heard so many good things about it. And if this is true, then us non-EU residents might finally get the chance!

    (about TC being the exclusive export release this year) :D

    Love your blog Gaia, I'm a long time lurker but finally have decided to make a comment. Thanks for the amazing effort you put in!



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