Pierre Guillaume is a busy boy. Since the launch of his first perfume brand Parfumerie Générale in 2002, he has produced more than 73 different perfumes under three different brands. By my count, that's an average of six per year, or one every two months. I once forgot to change my bed sheets for two months, so to say I’m impressed with this man’s dedication to his vision is something of an understatement.
And yet, with such a prolific body of work, you've probably never heard of Parfumerie Générale. The brand seems to fly under the radar of all but the most dedicated fragrance obsessives, playing the quietly confident middle sister to the good-at-everything-she tries older sister of Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfums, and the brassy, blinged-up younger sister, By Kilian. The simple black and cream bottles sit studiously on their shelves, concentrating on the job at hand which is simply to make you smell fabulous. There isn’t a futuristic room diffuser or a snake-embellished clutch to be seen between them. When curious customers ask me to sum up the brand for them, I used to tell them that its real strength is gourmands and hyper-real foodie fragrances, excitedly pulling out Musc Maori’s technicolor chocolate and instant toothache Praline de Santal. Rookie mistake. The brand actually houses something for all tastes, from pretty fresh florals to evocative orientals to spicy chypres and even a rump-grinding dirty musk thrown in for good measure. Each creation plays its own tune, the music swelling up together like a grand symphony.
If the brand itself is an orchestra, then Tubéreuse Couture is undoubtedly the cymbals. Tuberoses and I had a difficult beginning during my first forays into perfumery. For no reason I can think of, I loudly professed to anyone who would listen (which was precisely nobody) that I despised tuberose, hated it, that tuberose was RUINING MY LIFE. It was far too cloying, too sickly sweet and definitely had WAY too much wobbly cleavage on show. Shut up, I’d never even smelled a tuberose. Now, guess what? I love tuberose, I can’t get enough tuberose, tuberose is the BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME. Tuberose can be cloying and sickly sweet, but in the right hands it can also be sophisticated, erotic, narcotic or just a screaming good time.
A screaming good time is what you’re signing up for when you take your first spray of Tubéreuse Couture. A bubblegum-snapping camphorous tuberose rockets up your nose, followed closely by the raspy hiss of spun sugar and overripe banana. Having worn itself out on a manic sugar-high by lunch, the fragrance then went for a siesta, exhaling sighs of tuberose softened by the wet heat of jasmine, woody papyrus and a touch of creamy ylang. But by the time I was ready to leave work, the fragrance was wide awake and ready to party again. I could almost feel it grabbing me by the coat sleeve and pulling me towards a taxi bellowing, “LET’S GO DANCING! COME ON!”
But I am marching determinedly towards the comforts of middle age, and I like my bed. So Tubéreuse Couture went to the party without me, dressed to the nines and ready to shake it. Does she still have too much wobbly cleavage on show? Without a doubt. But I’ve learned to love her for it.
Tubéreuse Couture is £81.50 for 50ml. Samples and full bottles are available to purchase at Les Senteurs
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