A shape-shifting, smoky floral leather with resinous darkness and honeyed sweetness lies at the heart of Tubereuse 3 Animale, a most unusual, unconventional take on the flower from Histoires de Parfums. Instead of icy floralcy, the flowers are restrained and blanketed by a dense haze of honeyed immortelle which slowly turns them into a shimmering mirage before swallowing them up entirely in sweet smokiness that verges on the sulfurous at times. The whole thing lies on a thick river of resinous leather, dark tobacco, dry hay, and prunes with an almost molasses-like richness and flecks of chocolate. This is not your regular tuberose, and it’s certainly not your mother’s Fracas. No, this is a different beast entirely — a dark, wholly unisex, sometimes challenging, often sexy fragrance that some consider to be one of the great gems in the Histoires de Parfums line and many love with great abandon. I think it bears a definite kinship to 1740 (Marquis de Sade), its sibling in the Histoires de Parfums’ line, and is a “tuberose” that might surprise you.
Tubereuse 3 Animale (hereinafter just “Tubereuse 3”) is an eau de parfum that was created by Histoires de Parfums’ founder and nose, Gérald Ghislain, and released in 2010. On its website, the company describes the scent as a “floral, tobacco leather” and adds:
The mystical flower of the rituals and magic! The tuberose always provokes! More than a poison her nectar of honey is a real invitation to seduction! How not to feel bewitched when you face this mixture of blond Tobacco and Immortelle!
Originality: Plum, herbs and dry grass bring a singular, unique and strong smell. Blond tobacco and immortelle flower surround tuberose in a captivating note.
The official notes do not list the herbs or grass mentioned above, let alone the “leather” mentioned in the classification or the hay that I smell on my skin. Instead, the list is merely:
Top Note: Tuberose, Neroli, Kumquat;
Heart Note: Tuberose, Aromatics, Prune;
Base Note: Tuberose, Blond Woods, Immortelle.
Tubereuse 3 opens on my skin with zingy neroli, tart kumquats and sweet hay, but the trio is quickly subsumed within a wave of tuberose bearing an undercurrent of prune. For a moment, the tuberose smells as though it is mixed with a dash of jasmine, but it soon turns into something sweet, almost clean and green like the unopened buds of a young flower.
Tubereuse 3 is a rapidly shifting fragrance in the early minutes, throwing off facets and undertones like rays. The tuberose and neroli fruitiness are soon infused with golden sweetness, dark prunes, dry hay, and aromatics. The latter are hard to separate except to say that there are touches of green, along with something almost herbal but not quite. The tuberose begins emitting whiffs of greenness and camphor, while the immortelle suddenly explodes from the base, enveloping everything with a sticky syrup that smells exactly like concentrated honey. In fact, it is so much like honey that I am simply going to describe the immortelle that way from this point forth, particularly as it shares the exact same sulphurous quality that honey absolute often manifests. Taking its place in the base is something dark that goes beyond the prunes listed in the notes. It vaguely feels like leather, only this is a resinous version that is like a balsamic treacle and has the same sort of sticky quality as the “honey.”
When I first tried Tubereuse 3 some years ago, I really hated the opening. The neroli-kumquat combination often smelt sour on my skin and, in conjunction with the “honey” (immortelle), the end result felt urinous. Part of the problem was that I made the dual mistake of applying quite a bit of Tubereuse 3 and doing so in the middle of summer. Any scent with a lot of honey or ambrette musk runs the risk of turning into complete cat pee on my skin during intense heat, particularly when I apply a lot of it. (Starting in June, the heat index where I live is frequently over 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 Celsius, and only gets worse over time.) In that weather, scents I usually enjoy — like MFK‘s Absolue Pour Le Soir and Serge Lutens‘ Musc Koublai Khan — turn into utter catastrophes. With Tubereuse 3, the sourness of the neroli and kumquat simply exacerbated things further, and the first 60-90 minutes were almost unbearable. In a nutshell, it smelled like sour tuberose with sulphuric “honey” syrup and sour cat pee over a dark base of prunes and leathered resins.
Putting aside the heat issue, Tubereuse 3 is different and better when I apply a lesser amount, but I still struggle with the first stage. The kumquat’s sourness isn’t the easiest for me, especially when juxtaposed with the immortelle’s syrupy sweetness. Equally difficult is the sulphurous quality of the “honey,” though it’s much less with small smears equal to one spray from an actual bottle. For me, “sulfur” is different than regular smokiness, but the latter is here, too. Roughly 20 minutes into Tubereuse 3’s development, the fragrance feels as though it has a hefty dose of styrax because it emits a resinous smokiness that goes beyond mere leather, prune molasses, or the usual resins.
The end result conjures up 1740 (Marquis de Sade), Tubereuse 3’s sibling in the Histoires de Parfums line, though the resemblance takes a few hours to become noticeable. In essence, Tubereuse 3 slowly starts to turn into the floral cousin to 1740, a floral version of the latter’s immortelle-leather with its bright fruits (apricot), its streaks of prunes and tobacco, and its hefty amounts of blackened resins, smoky leather, and syrupy sweetness. Where 1740 has patchouli, Tubereuse 3 has floralcy; where there was a dusting of spices, there are bits of dry hay; and where 1740 had a vague suggestion of greenness from the coriander, there is a vague suggestion of aromatics and grass instead. The key in both scents, however, is the predominant, almost overwhelming presence of immortelle syrup atop a common base of darkness with smoky styrax and resinous, blackened, sticky leather. Tubereuse 3 is merely the floral feminized version without 1740’s initial bits of earthy muskiness, fleshiness, and spiciness.
You may be wondering why I’ve barely mentioned the tuberose over the last few paragraphs. Well, it’s there but the flower starts to feel increasingly nebulous, a suggestion of tuberose and green-whiteness that is beginning to hover just beyond one’s grasp, dancing at the periphery like a shimmering mirage that is there but slowly flickering like a flame in and out of sight. You can feel it strongly at times but, with every passing half-hour, the flame flickers faster, yet weaker, smaller, thinner, frailer. When the first hour draws to a close, that flickering mirage is almost swallowed up by the incoming sandstorm of syrupy immortelle “honey” atop a base of balsamic resins, pitch-black prunes that evoke “leather,” and sulphurous smokiness. A handful of hay is sprinkled on top, along with some very nebulous, vaguely green aromatic slivers. In the background, the very first hint of tobacco pops up, feeling black and almost as treacly as the prune-covered leather.
Speaking of leather, the note here isn’t akin to actual leather, per se. There is none of the usual birch tar aroma or feel of rawness. The official notes don’t even include leather, despite Histoires de Parfums describing the fragrance as such. Yet, somehow, Tubereuse 3 conjures up leather nonetheless, one that is smoky and stained with the sulphurous aspects of immortelle “honey.”
In the same mysterious way, the perfume now bears a tobacco undertone as well. (Fragrantica lists tobacco as one of the fragrance notes, but Histoires de Parfums does not.) Here, it’s not the usual pipe or cigar tobacco, nor the dry sweetness of leaves drying in the sun. Instead, it’s more like tobacco absolute treacle. It feels leathery and, in conjunction with the prunes, almost has a nuance of chocolate and expresso at times, similar to what occasionally lurked at the edges of 1740 (Marquis de Sade). Only here, the nuance is darker, drier and less sweet. In fact, for all its “honey” and immortelle sweetness, I think Tubereuse 3 is a drier scent than 1740, and less overtly gourmand in nature.
Tubereuse 3 also feels like a more complex scent than 1740 and with far greater nuances. At the end of the first hour, the fragrance starts to emit unexpected notes when smelt from afar. There is a distinct whiff of mandarins, while the floralcy increasingly smells as though syrupy, sweet jasmine has been mixed in with the tuberose. I’ve seen both mandarin and jasmine listed as parts of Tubereuse 3’s notes on Fragrantica, and I can see why. Both are noticeable from afar, though much less evident when the perfume is smelt up close.
One of the difficulties in trying to describe the scent’s development after the 1st hour ends and the 2nd begins is that Tubereuse 3 is a shape-shifter on my skin. Its precise nuances are never the exact same way twice on me. Yes, quantity or dosage makes a difference, but there is something else going on with the notes, particularly the florals. Sometimes, Tubereuse 3 smells purely of jasmine instead of tuberose; sometimes you can detect the merest whiff of the tuberose peeking out from behind the jasmine; and most of the time, every bit of floralcy is completely swallowed up by the immortelle “honey.” Yet, every time that I think I can finally rule out the flowers, especially at the 90-minute mark, a tiny whiff of it pops up in the background or in the sillage trail.
It’s the same story with many of the other elements. In my notes for 3 of the tests, the sour kumquat, neroli, and sulfur largely fade away at the end of the first 60-90 minutes, leaving almost no trace of fruitiness behind. In my fourth test, however, all three notes continued until well into the 4th hour. The opposite situation occurred with the tobacco and hay, as both were noticeable in the majority of my tests until the middle of the 4th hour, but somehow were barely a presence the next time I wore the fragrance.
The best that I can say is that Tubereuse 3’s middle stage generally starts during the middle of the 3rd hour, and it usually consists of syrupy immortelle “honey” over leather with streaks of styrax smokiness, and a balsamic resinous blackness, all enveloped in a haze of golden warmth and all very reminiscent of 1740.
I say “usually,” because it is not always the case, and there is no true consistency in the details from one hour to the next — or even from one wearing to the next. Sometimes, up close, Tubereuse 3 smells like syrupy jasmine-immortelle-leather; sometimes, from afar, it smells like a sticky Middle Eastern baklava dessert with smoky leather, a touch of mandarins, and only a vague suggestion of flowers; once in a blue moon, up close, it smells like creamy tuberose petals covered with honey and cocooned in an ambered haze. Occasionally, you can clearly detect a molasses-like, chocolate-flecked prune note in the base, or small dollops of tobacco absolute in the background. On my skin, they’re as ghostly as the hay which flits about, sometimes smelling dry and sweet, sometimes smelling like coumarin cream. A few times, I could have sworn that Tubereuse 3’s sweetness had a caramel nuance similar to that underlying amber, but perhaps I was imagining it.
Everything is hard to pin down except for the core of golden immortelle sweetness laced with a mix of smoky, leathery, tobacco-ish, dark accords. One by one, the other elements slip away, leaving little else by the end of the 5th hour but that core combination. Tubereuse 3 remains that way for a while to come, changing only in its base when the leatheriness gradually turns into a creamy suede. Up top, the immortelle’s honeyed syrup chugs on with an occasional hint of muskiness. The final stage, the drydown, begins in the middle of the 8th hour, and is a simple bouquet of golden sweetness imbued with creaminess. Eventually, the perfume dies away as a mere wisp of sweetness and nothing else.
Tubereuse 3 has good projection, a nice sillage scent trail, and good longevity that turns into great longevity if you apply a decent amount of the fragrance. Using 3 large smears roughly equivalent to 2 generous sprays from an actual bottle, Tubereuse 3 opened with 5 inches of projection that briefly seemed to expand even further at one point near the end of the first hour before dropping at the 90-minute mark to about 3 inches. There was a definite scent trail that followed me whenever I moved or that wafted up from my arms to linger in the air. At the start of the 3rd hour, the projection was 2 inches, and Tubereuse 3 only became a skin scent on me at the 6th hour. Even then, it was easy to detect up close without any effort at all. The fragrance became a discreet whiff that was harder to notice at the 8th hour when the drydown began. All in all, it lasted just under 13.5 hours.
Using a smaller amount, the fragrance is slightly weaker. With 2 smears equal to 1 small spray from a bottle, Tubereuse 3 opened with roughly 3-4 inches of projection, but the number dropped to 1 inch after the 90 minutes and there wasn’t much of a sillage trail. However, it still took 5 hours for Tubereuse 3 to turn into a skin scent and the perfume lasted just over 10 hours. The greatest difference is that the fragrance feels less dense and is substantially more floral in nature. Quantity definitely makes a differences in terms of which nuances the immortelle syrup displays, particularly in terms of the sulfurous quality. In addition, the tuberose is more noticeable; the floralcy lasts longer; the kumquat isn’t as sour a note; the smokiness is less; the hay seems a hair stronger; the leather is less obvious; and the perfume feels softer and lighter as a whole.
Regardless of quantity, one thing that Tubereuse 3 is not on my skin is “Animale.” It is occasionally musky, and there is something very seductive about it at times, but it is not an animalic scent in the way that term is traditionally used. It’s also not dirty, raunchy, or skanky, despite the sometimes urinous undertone to the immortelle’s “honey.”
I don’t always find Tubereuse 3 to be the easiest scent, and its shape-shifter quality makes it even harder for me to decide how I fully feel about it, but there is something wonderfully original and unique about the fragrance. Tuberose is my favorite flower both in life and in perfumery, and this is the first time I’ve encountered a version of it that is golden instead of icy white or white-green, lashed with blackened leather and then flecked with all the other various notes that are included.
Yet, the tuberose really isn’t the core component to the scent on my skin, which is one of the reasons why I think the fragrance is so different than Serge Lutens‘ Tubereuse Criminelle. The latter has no immortelle whatsoever. In addition, its blackness is primarily from the deconstructed, camphorated flower; it’s not sticky sweet, tobacco’d, leathered, or slathered with prunes. The Lutens scent is purely floral on my skin, while the Histoires de Parfums is either an oriental or a floriental, depending on whether the floral elements show up or end up being subsumed within the immortelle. There isn’t an icy, mentholated quality to Tubereuse 3. Instead, there is golden, almost ambered warmth and such a degree of sweetness that the perfume almost approaches the gourmand territory.
There is a lot of praise for Tubereuse 3 on the various perfume sites, particularly from men who usually dislike tuberose, or feel they can’t wear fragrances with that note. On Tubereuse 3’s official Basenotes page, there are 8 reviews, and all are positive with 5-star ratings. Some of the comments read as follows:
- Tubereuse 3 is mainly a woody take on the main theme. Strong withe flowers, sweet and (sometimes) harsh laying on a solid immortelle / leather / pipe tobacco base which is not very distant from, let’s say, 1740. Enveloping, bold but not too overpowering. The animalic element is not remarkably present […]
- Do I like masculine florals? Generally, no. Tuberose? Too feminine. But, I gotta say, I like this a lot. Very floral at the front, there is a robust quality that keeps if from going too far to the femme side. Perhaps, it is leather, not sure. As this dries down, it develops more and more of a honeyed, hay/tobacco accord that is lovely, almost gourmand and suitable for a man. I find that the tuberose transitions to the hay/tobacco without there ever being a time when they truly compliment each other as a single scent. Its almost like there are two different scents…have I noticed this in HdP fragrances before? Regardless, this is definitely worth trying.
- An outstanding tuberose. […][¶] … in this concoction the tuberose is restrained (bad choice of words) by immortal with a sweet hay like aroma. Added to that is a base of tobacco and some woody notes which can make this an interesting choice for a guy. But make no mistake about it, tuberose is present all the way through this scent from the first moments to the very end which takes all day to arrive. Added to all of this is a plum note in the middle (a favorite note of mine) that adds an interesting fragrant diversion in the middle.
- l get a full symphony orchestra of notes in the opening of this one. lt strikes me as a fruity, floral, animalic, leathery incense all at once, & it’s hard to pin down anything for a while. Except for the tuberose, which emerges over the first twenty minutes as the fruity notes recede, like a beam of sunlight piercing the thick forest canopy. There’s a lot going on around it, but the tuberose is right at the centre of the action, providing the focus. At some point while l’m not looking, the animalic note disappears into the shadows, never to reappear. There’s a point where this reminds me of Le Maroc by Tauer; a headshop incense vibe, with tuberose instead of dirty jasmine. The immortelle is so well-blended here that it’s only noticeable as an impression of dry grassiness. After two-three hours, the tuberose remains, but the surrounding notes have collapsed into a soft, sweet, powdery pillow of tobacco & labdanum, settling close to the skin, & fading after six hours. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
On Fragrantica, there is even greater enthusiasm. One person calls it a “crown jewel” in HdP’s line, while several describe it as “exquisitely crafted,” “exquisite,” “sexy,” “highly addictive,” or “delicious.” To my surprise, two people who normally hate tuberose said, respectively, that the fragrance was a “masterpiece,” or that the “tuberose note is perfect … and the drydown is absolutely divine[.]” A significant number of people talk about the immortelle, the tobacco, the perfume’s density, its creamy drydown, and its sweetness. Quite a few call the scent “sexual,” but some find it animalic as well, with several people writing that it “growls” darkly. In terms of sillage and longevity, the vast majority of votes find Tubereuse 3 to have “very long lasting” duration and “heavy” sillage.
And, once again, men are some of Tubereuse 3’s most passionate fans. For one chap, its “decadent beauty” is “addictive,” even though he actually hated the fragrance at first:
This is an acquired taste; for me at least. I found it almost stomach turning on first try. Now I find it beautiful, addictive and the most unlike any other fragrance I own.
As a man I am not sure how often I would wear this in public. However, that is not enough to stop me from buying a bottle. It is worth the price of purchase just to know I can visit this discovered world of decadent beauty.
Actually, quite a few people of both genders were initially lukewarm on the scent, before something suddenly clicked and they changed their mind. As one person added in an edit to their original comment: “OMG… I love it i have to have it now!!” My own early struggles with the fragrance also bears out the fact that patience helps, so do try the scent more than once if you get a sample.
Personally, I would not recommend Tubereuse 3 to everyone. Those who truly hate the flower should stay away, along with anyone who dislikes immortelle, honey, and sweet syrupiness that borders on the intense at times. However, I do think it’s a good scent for those who love white florals like jasmine, but not necessarily the more traditional green, icy, or indolic form of tuberose. I think it is best suited, though, for those who enjoy dark florals with gourmand sweetness, and don’t mind if that sweetness has a slightly sulfurous smokiness as an undertone. The perfect match would be those who are looking for a smoky floral leather with a gourmand quality instead of femininity, true floralcy, or anything genuinely, properly animalic. I would also recommend playing about with dosage quantities, because I think you will see differences in the nuances that are displayed. (I suspect Tubereuse 3 also runs the risk of being a bit suffocating in its richness and potency if you applied a lot.) Dabbing versus spraying will probably alter things as well.
For those who are intrigued, I just want to add that I think Tubereuse 3 is superb value. It’s a very strong, dense scent that lasts a long time, has excellent projection, and only costs $125 or €87 for a 2 oz/60 ml size. Decant options are also available. So, if any of this sounds tempting, do give Tubereuse 3 a sniff. This is not your mother’s Fracas.