In Tyger Tyger, Francesca Bianchi Perfumes seeks to contrast but also balance a post-apocalyptic darkness with refined, sophisticated brightness and seductive floralcy. The whitest of flowers are juxtaposed, in theory, with oud, animalics, and the darkest and smokiest of leathers. But as writers going back to Sophocles have made clear, there is a chasm between theory (appearance to be specific) and reality. Skin chemistry made my reality quite different from the intended objective.
Tyger Tyger is an extrait or pure parfum that was released in 2020. Ms. Bianchi describes its scent and her olfactory objective, in part, as follows:
In this composition I have been searching for the perfect balance between two opposite elements, and the expression of their clashing contraposition. […][¶]
The perfume is built around an accord of narcotic white flowers with sweet-fruity facets, which includes also an absolute of Tuberose – like a prima donna, the protagonist of a dramatic piece, she’s the finest example of a refined civilization of a bygone world; in opposition to that, the base notes present different kind of woods, with some burnt and leathery qualities, referring to a post-apocalyptic scenario of destruction, mystery and darkness.
The result of these parts – which wouldn’t work individually – is a clashing, sparkling fragrance which gives me an exciting emotion of highly dramatic sophistication – the kind of contrasted sentiment that anything attractive arouses in me.
Tyger Tyger’s notes are:
Narcotic flowers, honey, peach jam, patchouli, sandalwood, oakmoss, oud, leather, heliotropin.
I’m going to tell you at the start that I don’t think my experience with Tyger Tyger is at all representative of what others have experienced, judging by Fragrantica descriptions. When I read them after my test, I had the weird experience of thinking to myself, “Huh, I know they’re talking about the same fragrance based on the notes they mention and, yet, it’s as though they’re describing something quite different.” Unlike others, I did not experience either an animalic, leathery, or chypre-ish fragrance nor one heavy on tuberose or at least not any clearly delineated tuberose.
Tyger Tyger opens on my skin with an avalanche of sweet, floral, almost raw-style dark honey like the sort with a complex, layered olfactory scent that you find in the Maluka honey sold by artisanal beekeepers. The honey is poured over jasmine, tuberose, and peach jam. The bouquet is then lightly dusted with floral and vanillic heliotrope powder that has a subtle undertone of sweet, doughy Play-Doh.
Tyger Tyger develops additional facets rapidly. Initially, the peach jam is cloying in its sticky heft and sweetness but both aspects dissipate two or three minutes in when the drier base notes awaken. Speaking of which, the honey-soaked white floral and peach jam bouquet lies atop a base of vaguely mossy but mostly indeterminate greenness in addition to a wisp of oud and a sliver of leather. The oud is quite dry and minimalistically animalic (if even that) in a gentle purring musky way. There is a momentary blip of a nebulously skanky undertone but it’s a will o’ the wisp on my skin. The leather smells partially like uncured rawhides and the smokier variety; it’s likely isobutyl quinoline, a material that is used to create the cuir de russie style of smoky leather in addition to sometimes being used with chypres and tobacco fragrances. (If you’re interested, you can read more about the material at Pell Wall or The Perfumer’s Apprentice.)
Tyger Tyger continues to change within the first hour. 10 minutes in, the clearly delineated jasmine and tuberose turn into a soft, airbrushed blur of honeyed white floralcy. 45 minutes in, the primary driving force becomes the honey; it engulfs the florals within its increasingly rich, thick cloud. To put it another way, Tyger Tyger essentially turns into a multifaceted honey bouquet on my skin, evoking the image of honey made from bees that flitted from white flowers to fruit trees and, occasionally, a bit of nebulous, abstract greenness and woodiness. The peach jam is also subsumed within the honey but it now veers constantly between being a concrete, clear note and something much blurrier, something that just nods to being thick, sticky, peachy-ish sweetness. Oddly, when I’m outside, the peach note is crystal clear and unequivocal for many hours. Inside is a different matter.
As the first hour draws to a close, the honey’s richness, heft, and power overtake everything. First, it drastically reduce the oud’s dryness but also blanket it in such a way that it’s a tertiary note, at best, on my skin. The leather is wiped out completely at this point. Ditto the heliotrope powder. Tyger Tyger is essentially smooth, dense, dark, fragrant raw honey with indeterminate, white-ish floralcy, a dollop of vaguely peachy-ish jam, and a fleeting whisper of an equally indeterminate greenness. The flowers don’t read as particularly “white,” merely honey sheathed.
About 1.75 hours in, the oud and leather return. However, they’re again engulfed undertones on my skin because the floral honey and peach jam remain the majority of the bouquet. If I had to estimate, I’d guess those two notes compromise 85% to 90% of the fragrance.
2.25 hours in, the leather slivers turn smoky, like cuir de russie style leather.
At the end of the 4th hour and start of the 5th, Tyger Tyger is entirely floral honey with a soft fruitiness subsumed within. There is no oud and the leather has disappeared again.
Tyger Tyger remains this way until its final five hours when it turns into simple honey-ish sweetness. All in all, the fragrance lasted just under 15.5 hours on my skin, though it was difficult to detect after the 11th hour unless I put my nose deep into the skin of my forearm.
The sillage was an up-and-down phenomenon on me. Using several spritzes from the atomizer I was sent, an amount roughly equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, Tyger Tyger opened with about 4 inches of sillage that went to 6 inches after 5 minutes, then 8 after 10 minutes. The more the honey bloomed, the richer the fragrance body and the greater the sillage. 30 minutes in, Tyger Tyger radiated about 8 inches. 60 minutes in and at the start of the 2nd hour, the scent trail was about a foot and a half. Then, 2.5 hours in or in the middle of the third hour, the sillage suddenly drops drastically to about 6 inches, while the scent projects at most 1.5 inches above my arm. In the 4th hour, Tyger Tyger becomes so discreet that it feels as though it’s going to turn into a skin scent, though it’s easy to detect up close. Oddly, the sillage grows bigger in the 5th hour; when I’m sitting down inside, the scent is about 5-6 inches again. I can’t detect anything outside, however, unless I wave my arms around. Tyger Tyger became a true skin scent on me in the 8th hour, but wasn’t difficult to detect up close until the 11th. As I said earlier, it lasted 15.5 hours on me in total.
I’m not quite certain what to think of Tyger Tyger. Given the sheer number of extremely different Fragrantica descriptions, I clearly had an anomalous experience and it has to be due to my personal skin chemistry. I wish I had smelled what others did. Quite a few reviews there mention a darkness of some sort, whether it be mossy or leathery. Others talk about an animalic quality.
And then there references to tuberose. That’s where I’m particularly frustrated. As longtime readers know, tuberose is my absolute favourite flower – both in life and in perfumery. I’m simply crazy about it. (Hyacinth comes in second.) While I don’t mind somewhat impressionistic renditions of it, my favourite sort is the narcotic, heady, fleshy tuberose most frequently associated with vintage Fracas.
The Fragrantica comments don’t make it clear to me which olfactory sort dominated most people’s experiences, but it seems clear that they could identify the note as “tuberose” of some kind. That really wasn’t the case on my skin after 5 or 10 minutes.
Tuberose is perhaps the most polarizing flower around, so I don’t know if Ms. Bianchi intentionally sought to create a more approachable, less fleshy, naked, and indolic version of the note – a “refined” swathe of symbolic whiteness designed to contrast the darkness of the post-Apocalypse world that she was aiming for – or if it’s simply an individual, personal problem stemming my skin. (I’m guessing the latter.) If others experience the flower as an impressionistic abstraction, then Tyger Tyger might appeal to a number of people who normally struggle or loathe the note.
Skin chemistry rendered Tyger Tyger simple and linear on me. As I always say, there is nothing wrong with either if you love the notes in question and if the scent and quality of the materials are commensurate with the price.
Skin chemistry is also, I’m guessing, the reason for Tyger Tyger’s minimal to poor note delineation on me after just 30 minutes, though I have noticed an impressionistic and blurred approach to note presentation after a few hours in all the Francesca Bianchi fragrances that I’ve tried thus far. I’m not really a fan of the blurry technique, personally speaking, but there is no denying that it seems to be the common modern style.
I’ll let you turn to Fragrantica to read the other opinions on Tyger Tyger. It seems to be an extremely popular scent. Also, for what it’s worth, I know men who like Tyger Tyger as much as women, no doubt due to the dark or darker elements that they experience.
Tyger Tyger comes in a 30 ml bottle of pure parfum that costs $145 or €108. If you would like to try Tyger Tyger for yourself, Francesca Bianchi Perfumes sells bottles and samples in addition to various sized discovery sample sets. In the US, Luckyscent carries Tyger Tyger as well as the large discovery set. Ms. Bianchi has other retailers which carry her line, but I’ll leave that for you to look up on her Stockists page if you’re interested.
Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of the brand. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews and my opinions are my own.