Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse (2010): Eau-de-Géranium Tuberose {Perfume Review & Musings}


The new Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse reminded me of two different types of cognitive experiences. One is the experience of having watched a movie then watching it again and discovering new details and angles to the story that you had never suspected were there the first time you sat in the dark and took in the film. The second one is the pleasure you derive from understanding a point that is made in expository writing...

It reminded me more precisely of a more vivid memory - god knows why- of studying in one of the library sanctuaries of the world then overhearing myself or someone else, I cannot remember, suddenly yelp a little cry of joy in the near-silence of the room where only pages are rustling, pencils and pens are scratching the pages, trouser legs and skirts are rubbing and chairs are creaking. There exists a library white-noise that is very appealing and comforting to those who have spent many years in that ambience. But I digress.

What I meant to say is that I know what that sound means and what experience it denotes: it is the little cry of exultation, of joy, even pleasure, that one lets out when one has understood a new idea. So it was with Infusion de Tubéreuse. At first, my mind tended to interpret it according to the familiar and it seemed to stay safely within those bounds: orangey tuberose, Fracas...why would I buy this instead of Fracas? No way! Then on a second try, all its greenery, its systematic attachment to the green theme unfolded. I had perceived that green note at first but more as only located in the top notes. Now I could see how it was weaved into the whole fragrance, and how!

The creator of the fragrance perfumer Daniela Andrier said that "Infusion de Tubéreuse uses the fresh green buds of tuberose, rather than the very sweet lactonique mature petals,"This is the kind of statement you may read one day and then quickly forget about until you smell the perfume it refers to. The latter moreover is a necessary but not sufficient condition; you have to start understanding something about the fragrance for the commentary to make crystal-clear sense.

Infusion de Tubéreuse opens on an unusually distinct impression of whipped Japanese green Macha tea mingling with the tuberose while white musks bring a slightly grating note to the composition. This frothy Macha-tea nuance, which is pleasantly underlined, is to be found in the scent of yellow freesia and here it is further characterized by the watery nuance of this transparently-scented flower. The aquatic facet smells like the trembling tip of a metallic material. Infusion de Tubéreuse is not content with being a watercolor painting though. Andrier said that "The idea of Infusion is almost as an imprint of the chosen material in water, a kind of watercolor fragrance reworked with colorful pastel crayon." Here the latter part of this sentence is the meaningful bit: the perfume is a reworked watercolor painting making use of a second layer of oilier and more colorful pastel crayons. The scent is orange-y, green, fleshed out with narcotic-smelling indoles. The latter notes were designed so as to be non-conspicuous, included for effect more than for show. Grassy green hints of herbs, vetiver and unripe banana discreetly lay the ground for the green personality of the fragrance to bloom more visibly later on.

These inaugural olfactory threads soon fuse together to result in a warm, syrup-like transparent ambery blend which might be due to the Dynamone from the fragrance description. A little later, the naturalistic olfactory form of the tuberose flower emerges more distinctly from this generic transition; dynamone is said to be difficult to work with and here it seems a bit heavy-handed before it dries down subtly later on in the development. The Indian tuberose is Fracas-like, as in the extrait version which is softer than the other iterations. One recognizes the pairing of tuberose with orange blossom and the creamy signature. An aesthetic compass where tuberose fragrances are concerned, Fracas was it seems embraced by Andrier rather than considered to be the necessary casualty of a war of secession with tradition.

An initial perception of the fragrance might very well be that this composition is too derivative to be of much interest. It is hard to eschew the Fracas-replay sensation in this preliminary introduction of an orange-y tuberose with a certain tropical heft and thickness unfolding like a swirl of generous Chantilly cream while suggesting the sophistication of satin on skin.

But beyond that point of reference, there appears another fragrance altogether: the soft green tuberose signed by Daniela Andrier. Infusion de tubéreuse, it could be seen to be taking place, looks at the natural green medicinal facet of tuberose which was memorably accentuated in Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens who turned it into what is generally perceived to be a shocking and murderous note of cool camphor, a scent incidentally used to perfume the dead in Islam. (For a really disquieting note of tuberose, I usually turn to I Profumi di Firenze Tuberosa D'Autunno which smells to me like the music theme of Jaws when the shark is getting very close, too close for comfort.) Infusion de Tubéreuse is similarly inspired by the green and cold facet of tuberose but fine-tunes it to an idea of light spring renewal and angelica-like suavity, perhaps seeking at the same time to play the memory-laden notes of childhood tasting of pastry decorated with glazed angelica and scented with orange blossom notes.

As stated above, Daniela Andrier explained that she took inspiration from the green immature buds of tuberose rather than the flower in full bloom although the more classic facet of a mature tuberose with opulent fleshes was not completely dispensed with. There are enough competent naturalistic tuberose-cum-gardenia scents available in the markets that it could be perceived to be a welcome change when you feel the scent of tuberose moving away from too predictable a heaving and chalky rendition, unless you personally cannot tire of it. Maybe it could step away further still from this nod to opulence as well as real-world confirmation, is the thought you get from Infusion de Tubéreuse. Like for Like This, Tilda Swinton I see a form of olfactory semi-abstraction which remains partly tethered to our senses by evoking a more disincarnated, yet still material steam-like smell-illusion. It is the evocation of a smell filtered by rain water or by light tea. After all, you remember now, the perfume is called Infusion de Tubéreuse. Literally, it seems, the perfume draws inspiration not only from the green buds of tuberose but also from the idea of a refined vapor of tuberose blossom tea/infusion, without expressing it in so many words as in a tea-fragrance composition in the direct line of descent from Bulgari Eau Parfumée - Thé Vert.

Another interesting aspect I discovered in the fragrance is how much it seems to borrow its personality from the natural facets of Geranium water and Bourbon geranium essence. These are complex, multi-faceted natural aromas. Tuberose left to infuse in Geranium water might smell close to Infusion de Tubéreuse. I am at this point reminded of a long-lost perfume by the author of Fracas Germaine Cellier, Eau de Géranium, a scent she devised for the personal usage of couturier Christian Dior. I cannot help but wonder if the green inspiration might not have been derived in part from the lost green facet of Cellier's body of work who is much better known for her inspirational use of the galbanum material in Bandit and Vent Vert. Geranium water has an absolutely delectable aroma profile, which is also used in cuisine. In Infusion de Tubéreuse, I find those facets as well.

The perfume, like the rest of the Ephemeral Infusions collection, cultivates a wan style as if the boutique Prada perfumes, also composed by Daniela Andrier, had been stretched like transparent parchment skin canvases on the same wooden frames. Infusion de Tubéreuse, from my short life-experience with it, is a perfume to live with rather than one to look at in all its conspicuous beauty. It has enough facets that it can surprise you, disappoint you and then woo you again. One way in which it imposes its presence is to reveal great affinity with your skin thanks to skin-hugging materials such as the Dynamone derived from labdanum and ambrette seed. Its sillage is not as sensual and physical as that of Infusion de Fleur d'Oranger, but it presents that same sense of skin that might convince you the perfume does know how to have the last word. Notes: Indian tuberose, petitgrain bigarade, blood orange and Dynamone.

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