There are certain fragrances which I know I will have to brace myself for mentally right from the start. That was the case with Sotto La Luna Tuberose, the latest release from Andy Tauer and the second entry in his Sotto La Luna (Under the Moon) Collection. I love tuberose and it’s my favorite flower, both in nature and in perfumery, but after my experiences with Mr. Tauer’s Sotta La Luna Gardenia, I prepared myself for something that was a mere abstraction and nothing remotely like the real thing. More to the point, after that same Gardenia turned gruesome on my skin, all I hoped for this time around was for a wearable fragrance. Of any kind. Well, after trying Tuberose a few times (and scrubbing it a few times as well), all I can say is that it’s better than the Gardenia on my skin. I’m not sure that’s saying much.
Sotto La Luna Tuberose is an eau de parfum that Tauer Perfumes describes as follows:
Andy Tauer’s TUBEROSE under the moon is an invitation to revisit this white flower and rethink tuberose: brilliantly different – peppery green and beguiling.
The natural rendering of the queen of the night’s airy freshness sets this tuberose apart and redefines floral elegance and measured suppleness.
Cinnamon, clove, geranium and fresh galbanum.
Tuberose, ylang ylang, jasmine and a dash of rose.
Tuberose, patchouli and dark ambergris.
My experience with Sotto La Luna Tuberose can be summarized in a nutshell as: Miss Havisham’s dusty mansion; the bottom of a dirty ashtray filled with cigarette butts and ashes; powdery Pez candy and pink sorbet; the diesel pump at a gas station where someone has driven off with burning rubber tires; smoky tar; and soot — all suffusing a creamy, very mushroomy, white floral abstraction that’s been coated in biting cloves, spicy patchouli, and ylang banana custard, then leafed at the edges with peppered greenness. After 6 or 7 hours of those various permutations, I end up with dusty, spicy, rose potpourri. (And, yes, all of this is still better than my experience with “Gardenia.”)
Sotto La Luna Tuberose opens on my skin with a momentary flicker of something vaguely tuberose-ish, creamy, and green. Within mere moments, it turns into a closer approximation of gardenia, complete with powerful mushroom overtones. It’s coated with burnt rubber and burnt tar, then heaped with sharp, dusty cloves, peppery notes, and the dregs of a dirty ashtray filled with cigarette butts and black smokiness. Strong layers of geranium, a cabbage-y rose, spicy patchouli, candied sweetness, and a custardy, banana-ish ylang-ylang arrive on scene a few minutes later, trailed distantly by a wisp of dusty, dried galbanum. The result is a multi-faceted floral bouquet, leafed with piquant greenness, then cocooned within a strange mix of burnt rubber, black tar, cigarette ash, dust, candied sugariness, and sharp, earthy, musky spices.
From a distance, things are different, smelling primarily of a generalized floral bouquet infused with clove and patchouli. The Picasso-esque distortion of “tuberose” certainly doesn’t dominate on my skin. Instead, it’s a tie between the banana custard ylang-ylang and the spicy, syrupy, but dry rose/rose geranium. To the extent that I can smell “tuberose” at all, it’s only a mushroomy, rubbery, green-white, creamy abstraction that reads like a completely different flower to my nose. Things are worse up close on one arm than the other, though. For some reason, the creamy floralcy, rose, and ylang banana custard notes on my right arm are almost swallowed up by hefty amounts of rubber, black smokiness, tar, and cigarette ashtray notes.
On both arms, however, new arrivals make the mix even more unpalatable. Roughly 5 minutes into Sotto La Luna’s development, a strange chemical smell wraps itself around the flowers. It smells a lot like diesel fuel, making me I feel as though I’ve picked up a bouquet of white mushroom flowers in a gas station where someone just drove off with screeching, burning tires. The discordant mélange isn’t helped by a syrupy, slightly powdered sweetness that reminds me of both Pez candy and grainy pink sherbet at the same time. It’s the same note that is in a number of Tauer fragrances, from his Gardenia to Eau d’Epices, and I’m never a fan of it.
Thankfully, Sotto La Luna Tuberose does improve somewhat, though it takes times and the changes occur in small steps. 30 minutes in, the dirty ashtray and cigarette notes vanish, but they’re replaced by a strong wave of powdery dustiness that reminds me of Miss Havisham’s decaying mansion in Great Expectations. It’s not at the level of Mr. Tauer’s Ingrid, though, so I suppose that’s a minor plus. At the same time, the diesel note weakens, though the burnt rubber remains.
Even greater changes occur at the end of the first hour and the start of the second. The cloves, spicy patchouli, and dustiness grow stronger; the “tuberose” turns even more abstract, gardenia-ish, and mushroomy; the cinnamon emerges in its own right; and the Pez candy, smoke and burnt rubber retreats to the sidelines, while the ylang banana custard fades away almost entirely. The end result is a creamy mushroom flower that is suffused with strong amounts of spicy patchouli, cloves, and cinnamon, then lightly laced with dry roses, Pez candy sweetness, black smoke, burnt rubber, ash, and a wisp of tar. The whole thing is finished off with a blanket of dustiness.
Sotto La Luna Tuberose remains that way for a while. The only changes are to the prominence of certain notes. By the start of the 4th hour, there are slowly diminishing levels of creaminess, smoke, tar, and rubber. However, the rose (or rose geranium) is growing increasingly prominent, to the point that the scent trail from afar smells exactly like a rose potpourri. To be precise, it’s a semi-dry, semi-sweet, floral and dried rose potpourri layered with patchouli, then covered in spices. Up close, the mushroom, earthiness, and dustiness are far more pronounced, but they’re fading fast. Absolutely nothing resembles tuberose at this point, not even a Picasso-esque version where everything is deconstructed out of shape.
Sotto La Luna Tuberose turns into total potpourri at the end of the 6th hour. The dried rose petals are layered with patchouli, then covered in cinnamon, cloves, candied sweetness, powder, and dustiness. A subtle smokiness lingers at the edges, soon to be replaced by generic ambery goldenness in the 8th hour. From afar, the powdery, spiced, candied sweetness feels cloying; up close, there is an acrid quality to the bouquet. I don’t like any of it (and I loathe potpourri in particular), but at least it’s better than the unpalatable opening.
Be that as it may, I didn’t have much patience for Sotto La Luna Tuberose after 10.5 hours, and scrubbed it off. It was my third attempt to get through the scent; the first time I tried it, I washed it off after 15 minutes; the second time, after an hour. This third time took a lot of effort to get through, and the fact that Sotto La Luna only became a skin scent on me after 7.25 hours indicated a long, long road ahead of me. I simply couldn’t do it. Quite clearly, Mr. Tauer’s Sotto La Luna series does not work for me or with my skin. Plus, I don’t enjoy the deconstructed, modernist vision for florals that seems to drive him these days.
Sotto La Luna Tuberose has received mixed reviews. Tom at The Perfume Posse seemed ambivalent, saying he probably wouldn’t wear it and describing it as a “bracing” tuberose that “is completely modern” and filled with “a healthy dose in the dry down of that signature ‘tauerade’ note.” Robin at Now Smell This gave the fragrance a good review, saying she could detect the tuberose from start to finish, then adding, “Not once did I smell it and think ah, there’s the rose, or there’s the patchouli, or whatever. I just thought: tuberose.” Her verdict was “Love.”
On Fragrantica, there is only one review for Sotto La Luna Tuberose at this time. “D Men” writes:
Starts off very sharp and dusty with a lot of cloves, cinnamon and tuberose. Has that definite and unmistakable Tauer’s DNA and ever-present boldness. [¶] Then the cloves start to dominate for some time, while the fragrance rounds up and becomes smoother.
No need to talk about the performance, as always with Tauer’s perfumes you will be notices from far away and for a long time.
As a spicy, floral and powdery scent, I think it’s better suitable for women, I don’t see myself wearing this in public. [¶] Likable, good addition to Andy’s family of fragrances.
I’ve noticed that Andy Tauer’s florals are quite polarizing; people either love them or hate them. I don’t think Sotto La Luna Tuberose will be any different.