She’d sit very close to me…and she smelled of tuberoses, which is not my favorite perfume, not by a long shot.”
– William Holden as Joe Gillis, “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)
Tuberoses were never easy for me. There were not my favorite perfumes, not by a long shot either. But, one day I woke up, seriously, after an unusual dream and I felt the need to find myself a tuberose perfume. I wish I could tell you that I went on a long journey, sniffing dozens of perfume vials during my after-hours, but I can’t. I went to Barney’s. I sprayed on Editions de Parfums by Frederic Malle Carnal Flower and I bought it. This was the tuberose I wanted. My journey abruptly ended as quickly as it started.
You see, I was drawn to Carnal Flower. I was drawn to its iciness and later to its warmth. It immediately reminded me of “Sunset Boulevard”, not really any of the characters, but of California set in a film noir.
Carnal Flower is a cold, icy tuberose that can be aggressively off-putting. It’s like a brittle tuberose, a tuberose dipped in liquid nitrogen. It’s camphoric. It somehow manages to be stark yet extravagant¹. The heart is like a pollen-y white floral, an exaggerated study into the beauty of white florals. What I personally love about Carnal Flower is the skin. It’s like warm skin in sunshine, a hint of lactones like coconut and salicylates that bring to mind French tanning oils. It’s orange blossoms and tiare on warm, parched skin. It’s a radiant tuberose. The dry-down is more of that warm skin, except with more musk and a rubbery tuberose. It’s still very much a tuberose fragrance but it’s lost some of that glimmer but still clutches onto its exorbitance.
When I wear Carnal Flower, I’m reminded of screen sirens and Old Hollywood opulence. And somehow all of this tuberose absolute and warmth also reminds me of the opposite, scarcity. Times change. And when I wear it, I realize that much of my issues with white florals weren’t with white florals but instead of this feeling like I wasn’t meant for them, like they were better than me. It was like my life wasn’t ample enough for them. And this are ridiculous thoughts. If I want to smell like a long gone Hollywood, someone else’s fictional Hollywood, then I will. And I do.
Notes listed include bergamot, melon, eucalyptus, ylang-ylang, jasmine, tuberose, salicylates, orange blossom, coconut and musk. Launched in 2005. PERFUMER – Dominique Ropion
Give Carnal Flower a try if you want a really good tuberose. Or if you like perfumes like Piguet Fracas, By Kilian Beyond Love, Byredo Flowerhead, Hiram Green Moon Bloom and/or Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle.
On my skin, I find projection and longevity above average.
Carnal Flower comes in a few sizes with the 1.7 oz retailing for $250 at Malle.
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – My tuberose; a really great tuberose; a film noir tuberose. Since buying Carnal Flower, I’ve also fallen in love with Hiram Green Moon Bloom. Those are my two favorite tuberose soliflores.
¹OK, maybe it is like Norma Desmond’s mansion…or Norma. I could have referenced notes to the movie, but it seems like such a cop out.
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*Bottle purchased by me. Product pic from the brand. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd from gonemovies.com.