Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica (2014) // A Lightly Gamey Bois de Tubéreuse {Perfume Review & Musings}


Jo Malone visual rendered in black & white

Right off the bat, Tuberose Angelica by Jo Malone unfurls as a big, fleshy, carnal tuberose - but this passes like a flash of lightning. And then, the sensation comes back deepening an impression of drunk flower having ingested too many indoles. The scent is part of the Intense Cologne collection, so depth is expected. In-between the clap of thunder and the brooding floral storm, a bridging note of orange has been introduced. This pairing is classical and almost de rigueur as an harmonious olfactory atmosphere around bottled tuberose. Tuberose Angelica then starts smelling like deeply scented shoe polish. There is something oily and glimmery about it. I happen to think that furniture polish often smells like tuberose. The fragrance smells almost leathery; and now soapy and rough around the edges too...

I'm not sure what the angelica seasoning is meant to convey. You take in a slight green fruitiness. Jo Malone describes the angelica effect on the tuberose here as "the green spiciness of Angelica".

The overall sensation is that of a powdery, subtly spicy tuberose with a depth of woody, resinous undertones. In fact, if I had to sum up the main idea for the scent, I would say that it smells like a lightly putrefying Bois de Tubéreuse, that is the fragrance of a wood, even cedarwood like in Bois de Violette or Féminité du Bois, but so naturally impregnated with the essence of a tuberose that the two form a new material as if tuberoses grew on trees and when you felled the preternatural trees and made planks out of them, they exuded a creamy tuberose scent like rosewood naturally smells rosy.


In 2017, Jo Malone collaborated with Poppy Delevingne on a collector edition of Tuberose Angelica, one of two favorite scents of the socialite, together with Orange Blossom

Once you hold that visual in mind, it becomes obvious that the perfume smells also more volatile. Again, you think of shoe polish but now it's closer to the smell of furniture polish. There are aldehydic nuances. Salicylates too. It smells of ancient, Flapper-era sunscreen at times. The powderiness you had perceived makes renewed sense as the smell of fragrant cedarwood saw dust.


What you can enjoy now at leisure is the typical aromatic profile of a tuberose - and it is woody. It smells like corrupted, rotting wood a bit. Tuberose has a carrion aspect to it and you can now roll in imagination in its pleasantly deleterious fumes. It's never disagreeable. It is just enough of a whiplash that you can feel like you're wearing tuberose and never jasmine. This whiff of putrefaction is what makes the scent of tuberose one for people who appreciate "noble rot" (la pourriture noble). Usually, you taste it in cheeses, wine, nuoc mam sauce or gamey meats. In the scent of tuberose, which is finally and obviously perfectly captured by perfumer Marie Salamagne of Firmenich to the point of coming across as a photograph of it, there is both the poison and the antidote: the rot is always counterbalanced by a dose of pharmaceutical camphor. It makes it a dangerous, ambiguous, liminal flower. This is perhaps why it smells so much like human flesh on the verge of putrefaction. It remains a discreet suggestion, yet tangible, like a memento mori made of black jet you carry with you.

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