WANTED! The Notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.



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.


18 thoughts on “WANTED! The Notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.”

  1. Want here too! This one snuck up on me, I must say. I didn’t find it quite as antiseptic as you, more sort of mentholated maybe? And unlike anything else, that’s for sure. 😉

  2. Hello Iscent, so lovely to see the MN thread get a mention : ) I tried this one recently and was also reminded of TCP and then the smell of fresh creosote on wooden fences. Bizarre but amazing!

    1. Hi Fuzzy! Nice to have you drop by! I have been curious about this ever since the very first post on Worst ever Perfumes. I can see how it would be divisive and I think a year ago I would not have liked it at all. The more I have sniffed the more I have learned and this has become one of my favourites in a short space of time.

      best wishes

  3. I am safely on the side of love with this one (and have a bottle). 😉
    I’d be happy to send you a decant to tide you over until you get a bottle.

      1. Ines, you are making me a very happy woman. I’ve gone and lost that sample yet again! I swear it’s got genuine criminal tendencies. I put it down somewhere and it walks away.

        I will find your email address and email you my snail mail address and my eternal gratitude.

        best wishes

  4. hahaha – “on the chopping board” – talk about a Freudian mystery 😉 I often wonder how something I *know* I left on my dressing table at one end of the house ends up in the pantry at the other end. Once, I found my Kindle in the oven. I kid you not. At least it wasn’t on. (The oven, not the Kindle).

    I haven’t yet made up my mind about TC. I just received a sample from a very generous swapper and have so far only tried it on a strip. I’m working up the courage to put it on my skin. I don’t get TCP but do detect a hint of Germolene – still in the “medicinal” area though.

    1. Hi Sally and thanks for dropping by! I dare you to try TC on skin. It’s a real oddity. In the first ten minutes you can’t understand how they call this perfume, but then it all makes perfect sense. It’s a bit like meeting someone, hating them on sight and then ending up being their best friend for thirty years.

      Germolene! ah yes, I tried that the other day and thought “Hmm, this reminds me of something”. Now I know.

      Oh and these gremlins that hide our stuff- down with them!

      best wishes

  5. Oooh a veritable mystery indeed. I’m a huge fan of Tubereuse Criminelle, and I’m glad you loved it too. I think what makes it so special is really the opening! Oh, and the fact that it’s tuberose, I adoooore tuberose!

    Just to answer for Ines, she’s from Croatia, and she’s definitely very kind and very generous indeed!

    Myself, I’m in the UK at the moment, but my bottle of Tubereuse Criminelle is far, far away in Singapore, otherwise I could have sent you some to tide you along.

    1. Hello smelly,

      I am always honoured when an esteemed blogger drops by- thanks for dropping by and sharing your views.

      Tuberose is one of those things I didn’t use to like in perfume- a bit like Iris. But then it grew and grew and I totally get it now. My previous Tuberose favourite was Estee Lauder PC tuberose & Gardenia, but Tubereuse Criminelle has just knocked it off its perch!

      Ines is delightful- and so very kind! as are you for sympathizing with my TC drought.

      best wishes

  6. So glad you loved it – I wasn’t sure which way you’d go on it but it seems to be a love / hate perfume. I find it quite addictive and in allergy season I find that it’s a great one to clear the head as well.

    1. Megan, my only complaint is that I want a full bottle and it costs ££. I can see why it divides people, but I fell hook line and sinker for it. Can you believe I’ve lost the damned samples again? It’s here somewhere. I think it’s playing mind games with me.

      Maybe I should check the chopping board again.

      best wishes and many, many thanks for introducing me to this new love in my life!


      1. I think because it’s got Criminelle in its name it behaves like one! I’ve got it back now and I think I will wear it on a chain around my neck!

      2. I found it in the middle section of my handbag and cannot remember putting it there. D’Oh!

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