The first time I heard of Tubereuse Criminelle was on Mumsnet. A Mumsnetter found it so appallingly bad that she was inspired to start a thread entitled “Worst Ever Perfumes”. The thread is now in its sixth incarnation, which means over 5,000 replies have been posted and the thread has evolved from worst to best, from SOTDs to recommendations hither and thither. Samples have been swapped and perfume true loves have been discovered. And all because of the notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.
Created by the prestigious and prolific Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens, Criminelle is certainly a Madame with dark intentions. I have long thought that Tuberose, when good quality, is creamy almost to the point of being medicinal, and Christopher Sheldrake must have thought the same (I flatter myself to think we agree, he is a genius and I, a mere passionate amateur). Sheldrake has taken the almost chemical notes of uber strong, nuclear Tuberose and concentrated it to the Nth degree until it smells like something else, at least initially.
On first spray, Criminelle smells like TCP antiseptic along with clean fabric sticking plasters. This is not a complaint: I rather like it. Then it smells like the pink mouth wash you get at a dentist, then it finally calms down a bit and the Tuberose (XXX strong), starts to come out after doing a rather tricky striptease in the opening Act.
The Tuberose is accompanied by Jasmine, Hyacinth, and Orange Blossom, with a base of Styrax, Clove and Nutmeg. What this translates to on my skin is: Antiseptic, then Tuberose to the Max, and finally a faint whiff of dried leaves, like old pot pourri still with satiny Tuberose infusing everything.
This is utterly dastardly in its deception and its tricksy opening, and then a triumph as the bud opens to reveals the flower.
Longevity, as you would expect from a Serge, is around nine hours. Two things: don’t wear it in company before noon, and don’t buy it blind. I would love a full bottle of this, and would treasure it like gold.
I have a very kind soul to thank for this sample- follower and friend of the blog, meganinstmaxime sent me this sample all the way from France. In keeping with its crafty nomenclature, this sample disappeared into thin air after I tried it. I looked everywhere- even going through the bin at one point. I turned my house upside down, raiding drawers, my handbag, my desk, the sofa, the kitchen and everywhere you could think of.
This morning I found it- on the chopping board. Why? What on earth…? I tell you, this is a crafty one.