The ways to a perfume are a bit intricate sometimes and we do not remember exactly how we ended up testing Le Labo Tubéreuse 40, but we do remember that suddenly we had to know more about the story behind the scent when we read that it had been created for Kirsten Dunst for her role as Marie-Antoinette in the Sofia Coppola’s movie. Without having what could be termed a “fetish” for Marie-Antoinette, we nevertheless love to follow some of her steps or rather the traces of them that she left here and there as a fashionista, a perfumista, a mother, a wife, and arguably as a martyr. So we asked some questions to the founders of Le Labo, the young, purist, and “revolutionary” perfumery that exists between Grasse and New York City. Fabrice Penot provided insights into the development of the perfume that you can read about in our Q & A conducted with him this week........
Tubéreuse 40 has an element of theatricality and perhaps even discreet ostentation and restrained power about it as the featured bloom, tuberose, only makes its entrance when all are in the room waiting for the lead figure to appear. It makes us think both of what the art of stage entrance constitute in and of the labyrinthine architecture of corridors that appear at Versailles. The person you want to see is at the far end of a succession of apartments and you have, either physically or mentally, to cross them to reach your destination. The structure of the scent is therefore it seems fitting for a perfume that was destined to embody Marie-Antoinette and help Kirsten Dunst get into character.
The perfume starts with an elegant, refined, even exquisite cologne accord that we most closely relate to L’Eau de Cologne Impériale by Guerlain except that Tubéreuse 40 has slightly rounder and fruitier hesperidic notes and a more complex garden-like impression underneath this accord in which several of the essences used already subtly peek through. A softly sweet musky and woody ambrette almost imperceptibly warms up the scent while the main impression remains that of a Cologne perfume on a warmer base.
Like a scene in which folding screens and fans progressively close to lead you to the heart of what was hidden or preciously guarded, Tubéreuse 40 announces the imminent entrance of the central tuberose flower by starting to warm up also in the higher notes thanks to an orange, tangerine note that acts as transition and bridge to the tuberose, as this flower is often associated with orange in perfumery to counterbalance its danger-signaling character.
Then the tuberose appears and blooms on a musky woody animalic accord that feels a bit ancient perhaps due to the oak moss absolute and rich orange blossom and reminds us of MA Sillage de la Reine, but as in a purer, more ethereal rendition of the tastes attributed to Marie-Antoinette that feels radically different in spirit from MA. Tubéreuse 40 captures the giggles and laughters of a young Marie-Antoinette and the party atmosphere of Versailles as sparkling and festive as its fountains.
Tubéreuse 40 is an interesting tuberose perfume that showcases the flower in its core rather than prolongs it all throughout the perfume. Once the tuberose unveils itself it is quite present but never in any obvious domineering fashion as is most often the case. This is an intelligent, non-literal, re-thought tuberose fragrance that will delight amateurs of subtle ideas and perfumes. The cologne notes that self-effaced in the heart of the fragrance come back in the dry-down with renewed longevity and with the added sense of a diaphanous floral bouquet. One is left with a tuberose fragrance “à secret”, like one of those furniture that contain hidden a secret drawer or panel. It visibly transforms itself into an exquisite long-lasting cologne parfum, that is this most unusual thing that is a Cologne with a high parfum extract concentration.
Tubéreuse 40 includes notes of ambrette absolute, bergamot, cedar, jasmine absolute, orange blossom absolute, mimosa absolute, oak moss absolute, petit grain, Centifolia rose, tuberose absolute.
It is a New York exclusive and can only be bought on site at the New York boutique. It was made of precious absolute essences and therefore the price reflects the selectivity of the ingredients. Each perfume is made fresh to order and labeled with one's name on it.
Read our interview with Fabrice Penot for more background information about Tubéreuse 40.
In general you can sample some of their perfumes (but not the exclusives) by purchasing a discovery set comprising 3 samples through their website.