As I pick up the new Tuca Tuca by Lush and Gorilla Perfumes, I suddenly realize that this is the origin for the scent of violet leaves which I have been smelling from time to time in the past two days because I had left the perfume on a side-table. Tuca Tuca by Gorilla Perfumes is not about coconut and banana but about violets, I am reminded.
The fragrance was inspired by a catchy Italian song and dance overheard by the perfumers while traveling in Venice.
"The scent of a bright pop song. Tuca Tuca is whimsical; it teases with a fantasy violet accord and works its way into your subconscious. As it settles, you get hints of jasmine and vanilla, too." ...
Notes: The fragrance's 3-tiered structure is reportedly seen as illustrating the three periods of the day: morning, noon and evening. In the morning: a blast of fresh summer air, violet; at midday: warm vanilla and ylang ylang; sundown: "a slightly naughty violet leaf and vetivert bottom."
The perfume, a violet leather, opens on a heavy, deeply ambery and leathery impression with some grape-y violet adding a dark, almost black violet thickness and cast to the scent. Violet originates from Africa so it might be an inspiration taken from this notion of a black continent which ties up well also with the Gorilla theme. On second thought, the leather accord is suggestive of the vision of the thick leathery palm of a gorilla.
Like many but not all of the Lush perfumes, it hints at a nostalgic reminiscence of the 60s-70s hippie headshop turned for better profitability into the international Lush brand of scents and toiletries but still betraying their old libertarian roots. How so? The Lush medley of scents which escapes from their stores and soap mounds and bath bombs casings somehow do not care about structure and hierarchy. They whirl around and occasionally jump on you as you walk by one of their boutiques...
Some of their fragrances seem to take pains in recreating that olfactory accord in their personal scents and Tuca Tuca is one of them. By association, it reminds me of an excellent fresh blackcurrant mask they used to carry - one of the best masks I have ever used - which used to be kept cooling down on ice and would be weighed on demand for customers. Insert a nostalgic sigh.
The advertising campaign for the new subsidiary brand Gorilla Perfumes of Lush which is inaugurated therefore with Tuca Tuca is worth pointing out. This time Lush, which is known for not being the most timid of beauty enclaves, did not ask their employees to show their derrieres in public to make a point but encouraged them instead to tuca-tuca on the street. You can watch several videos of their advertising effort at the end of the post.
Tuca Tuca then turns muskier and a bit candied-violet. The leather note becomes more distinct. The drydown does not smell very refined or qualitative to my nose due I think to the variety of Austro-Caledonian sandalwood oil used (Santalum austro-caledonicum vieill) but also to the rather hefty dose of Ionones (violet), which I tend to find smell cheap unless they are well disguised. It offers a smokier, pyrogenic quality with vetiver. The extreme drydown is a bit more polished and better blended when it starts smelling more like violet suede.
The brand implied that Tuca Tuca was meant to be a "fun" fragrance. I don't find it particularly lighthearted as it rests on big-boned notes except perhaps in the sense that it was not composed with that serious a purpose in mind. The revival of the song and dance Tuca Tuca is definitely fun though. But clearly, it did not take the perfumers years to develop this one. I find it much less well done than Vanillary. I would even call it rather amateurish. I am sure there are people who are attached to a kind of primitivist, outsider-art aesthetics either in painting or in perfumery. As for me, Tuca Tuca just makes me wish they would offer again that excellent purple-tinged and smelling mask which left you with a luminous complexion.
Prices: £23 for 30 ml and £11 for a 10 ml "spritzer."
1) Mira Manga and David show us how to tuca tuca 2) tuca-tuca-ing on Carnaby Street 3) kids join in the fun