Rogue Perfumery‘s Tuberose & Moss is intended to be a tuberose chypre inspired by vintage fragrances of the 1960s but with a modern character as well. My experiences with the scent were complicated, to say the least.
ROGUE PERFUMERY – BACKGROUND & GENERAL AESTHETIC:
Rogue Perfumery is an American artisanal brand that was founded in 2017 by Manuel Cross, its owner and nose. Mr. Cross began as a chef, working for almost 25 years in the field, including with such legends as Wolfgang Puck. He believes that “there is a strong correlation between food and fragrance,” a statement with which I agree wholeheartedly. The “About Us” section on Rogue’s website elucidates further on how Mr. Cross ended up in the fragrance business:
Manuel Cross began his path to perfumery as a fragrance aficionado amassing a sizeable collection. In 2005, one of his favorite colognes was discontinued and his interest was piqued at that moment; a “hobby” evolved into a notable career. From the kitchen to his first perfume studio, he began mixing essential oils and experimenting. As a self-taught perfumer he wasn’t following in anyone’s footsteps, his nose was his guide.
The ethos behind Mr. Cross’ creations appears to be influenced by the vintage and classic greats:
Manuel Cross reinvents classics genres including Fougères, Chypres and Florals that are IFRA compliant with his own “Rogue” signature.
“My drive to learn perfumery was from the frustration of trying to track down older perfume formulations and the high prices they commanded. I was really stuck on the nostalgia of the accords and themes of fragrances that I remembered growing up with … I later began digging deeper into the construction of floral fragrances which always had fascinated me, especially narcotic white florals. This eventually led to my tuberose fragrances and Jasmin Antique.”
Creating from the base accords up, using the finest ingredients he can find and selling his collection at affordable prices, Manuel is reinventing artisanal perfumery for fragrance lovers and his perfumes are sold throughout the world[.]
I want to highlight one part of that brand description: IFRA. Prior to reading the website in prepping for my review, the things that I had heard about Rogue in passing from people somehow led me to think that the American brand was “rogue” with regard to IFRA restrictions. After all, American perfumers are not subject to the EU laws; and with a name like Rogue Perfumery as well as a reported vintage-skewing brand aesthetic, it didn’t feel like a leap.
Obviously, I was wrong, but I’m highlighting this issue now in case others, particularly overseas readers unfamiliar with the house, might jump to the same conclusions. It also seemed like an important thing to mention before describing a fragrance with “Moss” in its title, so let me be perfectly clear: This is not a chypre with rogue, non-IFRA-compliant levels of oakmoss.
TUBEROSE & MOSS:
Tuberose & Moss is an eau de toilette that comes in two sizes and was released in 2020. Rogue describes the scent and its notes as follows:
A fun, fruity 1960s style chypre. Tuberose & Moss focuses on a fantasy fruity tuberose note, sweetened with creamy vanilla and musk.
Bergamot, labdanum, and oakmoss provide a traditional but light chypre backdrop.
The tuberose note is reinforced with a fine tuberose absolute from Eden Botanicals.
Notes: Tuberose, Bergamot, Allspice Berries, Vanilla Cream, Cedar, Oakmoss, Labdanum, Musk.
It’s difficult to know where to begin in describing Tuberose & Moss due to the results of my testing. The first time I tried it, the outcome was unexpected to such a degree that, when I subsequently looked at Fragrantica, it felt like my experience was from Mars. I essentially ended up with a gourmand floriental or gourmand floral amber, complete with insane levels of sugared sweetness and even crème brûlée aspects. I concluded that I must have applied too much scent, so I did a second test with a much smaller dosage (the equivalent of one small spray from a bottle) and ended up with something that was roughly the same as my first test.
After that, I tested Tuberose & Moss with a small dosage on my right arm, the one where the skin chemistry is so schizophrenic that I almost never end up with the scent that everyone else does. To my surprise, on this arm, a 1-spray equivalent of Tuberose & Moss resulted in a chypre bouquet that was extremely similar to what everyone else described on Fragrantica. So I later did a second test on this arm (we’re now up to 4 tests in total) using my standard 2-spray smeared equivalent. The result was again a tuberose chypre that ended up as a floral woody scent, only it was even simpler in its nuances, flatter, and more linear.
The vast difference between the two versions can only be ascribed to my personal skin chemistry. As I have frequently mentioned, the skin on my non-standard-testing right arm seems to have little in common with that on my main, testing, left arm.
While I hate writing excessively long reviews (and I know many of you simply end up skimming things as a result, understandably, or just jump to the end), I feel as though I have no choice but to recount both versions. The reason is that, judging by more than a decade of my reviews, quite a few people experience the same or similar scent bouquet as develops on my standard testing arm, so perhaps some of you will experience the anomalous gourmand and heavily ambered version of Tuberose & Moss as well.
WHAT TUBEROSE & MOSS IS SUPPOSED TO SMELL LIKE:
On my usually atypical right arm, 3 small smears of Tuberose & Moss roughly equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, resulted in a bouquet that opened with fresh, green tuberose lightly coated with vanilla, minimally dotted with bergamot, and lying atop a moderately thick oakmoss base. Within minutes, the latter develops rivulets of dry woodiness, abstract spiciness, and hints of patchouli. A clear labdanum note flickers in the base after 11 minutes, adding a touch of faintly toffee’d resinousness. The overall bouquet is sheer, airy, weightless, yet strong in scent, and unquestionably a chypre in character.
Unlike my tests on my other arm, there is no crystallized sugar, no benzoin-like caramel, no crème brûlée, and only a light touch of vanilla cream.
Roughly 45 minutes in, the oakmoss recedes into the background and turns rather abstract in feel.
In the 3 hours that follow, there is no noteworthy change to Tuberose & Moss on my skin. It’s a nice but basic, and very simplistic, green-tinged tuberose bouquet infused with fluctuating levels of sweet, slightly sugared vanilla atop a base composed of quiet, muted touches of dry woods, a patchouli-like note, spiciness, muffled labdanum, and a light musk – all set against an impressionistic oakmoss-ish backdrop. The only real change is that the notes begin to overlap after 75 minutes and the scent begins to turn blurry at the end of the 2nd hour.
The start of the 4th yields a stronger woody note that, for the first time, reads as cedar. It is dry and smoky, weaving itself around the now-blurry, vanilla-infused tuberose bouquet with greater presence and prominence than any of the accompanying notes, particularly the moss. The latter is now a mere suggestion of something vaguely green. The cumulative effect skews more to the side of a vanilla floral woody musk scent than a chypre.
Tuberose & Moss dissolves and simplifies further in its remaining hours, ending up as a bit of soft, pale woodiness with just the merest suggestion of floralcy subsumed within.
This version of Tuberose & Moss had moderate longevity and initially moderate sillage that turned low after 2 hours. With the 2 spray equivalent, the fragrance opened with about 4 inches of sillage that doubled to 8 after 25 minutes, then dropped back down to 4 at the end of the 2nd hour. Tuberose & Moss became a skin scent on me after 5.75 hours or late in the 6th hour. In total, it lasted just a bit shy of 9 hours. That’s pretty good for an eau de toilette on my skin, particularly on my wonky right arm that normally eats through fragrances of all kind with the rapidity of a ravenous termite.
When I tested Tuberose & Moss with the equivalent of 1 spray from a bottle, the outcome was largely the same. The only real differences were an even wispier, lighter oakmoss note, hardly any bergamot, no patchouli-like flickers, less projection, and shorter longevity (about 5.75 hours which translates as late into the 6th hour).
By and large, these two accounts are similar, roughly speaking, to what others have described on Fragrantica with the exception of one person who found (as I did in my initial two tests on my main testing arm) that vanilla was one of the dominant and central notes.
WHAT TUBEROSE & MOSS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO SMELL LIKE:
On my main testing arm, using several wide smears equal to roughly 2 to 2.5 sprays from a bottle, Tuberose & Moss opens on my skin with multifaceted tuberose surrounded by an equally nuanced, layered mossy greenness. The later is delicately spiced, slightly earthy, quietly ambered (and patchouli-ish), diaphanous in texture, and weightless in body. The tuberose is simultaneously: fresh, bright, floral, fruity, citrusy, green, candied, and light yet also strong. It evokes images both of the green-hued buds that have barely opened and of sugared, pink-tinged flowers that have opened so much that their aroma is heady and rich. Bright bergamot and rather sugary vanilla are intimately entwined within the flowers, while the allspice is an integral part of the oakmoss base accord.
Tuberose & Moss shifts in its nuances and notes within mere minutes. The oakmoss recedes to the background, thereby allowing the tuberose to shine in the spotlight by herself. Two other things occur which I don’t quite understand. First, the scent of spicy, rich patchouli — not a material listed in the official notes or description — is growing more and more pronounced, to the point of smothering a fair portion of the bergamot. Second, the amber smells far, far more like caramel-sweet benzoin than of labdanum. In fact, the benzoin-like note or whatever combination of notes is mimicking its scent to a T continues throughout the lifetime of Tuberose & Moss. (I’m guessing that it’s a side-effect of the vanilla and the labdanum interacting together?)
Part of me wonders if the note list is complete. After all, if you remember, the traditional chypre structure always included patchouli in the base alongside the oakmoss and labdanum. As a side note, it will be unwieldy for me to write “benzoin or whatever is causing its replication” each time the scent pops up in my analysis, so I’m just going to write “benzoin” as if it were part of the scent.
Roughly 10 to 12 minutes into its development, the proportions and balance of the individual notes in Tuberose & Moss changes quite significantly. The vanilla’s candied and sugared aspects triple, possibly quadruple, in strength, further overshadowing the bergamot and the light, crisp, bright freshness that it imparts. At the same time, the oakmoss in the background recedes into the shadows.
The cumulative effect wipes out the tuberose’s initial freshness, greenness, and lightness, turning the bouquet ambered more spicy, more patchouli-laden, significantly sweeter, richer, and heavier in both scent and body.
Honestly, it’s far too sweet for me. Regular readers know that I’m extremely passionate about tuberose, my favourite flower in life, nature, and perfumery. They also know that I have a low threshold for anything candied, overly sugared, and excessively sweet.
The two emotions collide head-on here for specific reasons. First, the “vanilla cream” accord feels as though it’s 70% sugar, only 30% rich vanilla. The effect of that evokes a flower encased within a thick coating of crystallized white rock sugar, thereby ruining much of what I love so much about tuberose. Second, the addition of the caramel-scented benzoin interacts with the sugar and its lesser vanilla component in a way that results in the smell of crème brûlée. Specifically: candied, sugar-encased tuberose lying atop a bed of thick crème brûlée.
While I personally find it excessive, unbalanced, and outside my threshold, I recognize that the resulting bouquet is bound to appeal to the many, many people out there who love sugary-sweet fragrances. On a related note, please do not interpret my personal antipathy to crème brûlée notes and/or sugar in perfumery to mean that Tuberose & Moss is a bad fragrance. It’s merely a question of personal tastes and skin chemistry. (Plus, things improve later, as you will soon see.)
1.5 hours to 1.75 hours in, Tuberose & Moss enters its next micro-stage, changing yet again in its nuances and in its note proportions. In the most reductivist nutshell, the fragrance goes from being a chypre to a gourmand floral to, now, an ambered floriental. The oakmoss background has vanished. The crystallized sugar has, thankfully, been cut down by half, reducing the degree of previous excess, comparatively speaking. To be clear, Tuberose & Moss is still very sweet in nature due to what remains as well as the vanilla, the crème brûlée, and the benzoin that I’m convinced is part of the fragrance. It’s simply not cloying or as painfully shrill as it was earlier. While all this is happening, the patchouli is growing richer, the labdanum assumes a resinous, balsamic character, and woodiness awakens in the base.
The cumulative effect as the 2nd hour draws to a close is: a faintly clove-ish, heavily spiced, sweet, patchouli-slathered tuberose that has turned gold and orange — thanks to a sheath of benzoin creamy vanilla crème brûlée amber — and that now lies atop dark, sticky labdanum resin and a growing layer of indeterminate, amorphous woodiness. (It’s only in the middle of the 4th hour that the woodiness takes on a cedar-ish character, complete with quiet smokiness, though that may stem from the patchouli and/or labdanum as well.)
Tuberose & Moss’ next micro-stages begins 3.5 hours in or in the middle of the 4th hour. In essence, the fragrance turns tuberose-adjacent and into a full gourmand amber as the base notes take over. To be specific, an increasingly impressionistic white, candied, tuberose-ish floralcy hangs over the core bouquet like a sheer, light, demure bridal veil, but the vast majority of the scent (or the bride underneath that thin veil) is something quite different. I’d estimate that roughly 85% of the bouquet pulsating on my skin consists of: sticky, benzoin-vanilla, crème brûlée-scented amber; wonderfully spicy, slightly camphorous, resinous patchouli; dark, resinous, toffee’d labdanum; and dry, faintly smoky, cedar-ish woodiness. As a side note, Tuberose & Moss has returned to its early levels of intense sugariness. (Alas, alack.)
Almost all the notes now overlap, resulting in a shapeless, blurry scent. In addition, a paradox begins to unfold whereby Tuberose & Moss feels simultaneously airier in its scent cloud, yet also somehow heavier in its individual components due to the richer, thick-textured base materials. Furthermore, up close, the scent is unexpected strong in aroma, despite increasingly soft sillage. (More on sillage at the end.) Actually, I’ve been continuously impressed by the strength of Tuberose & Moss’ bouquet despite it being a mere eau de toilette, a concentration that my skin typically tends to either eat through in body, in duration, in sillage, or all the above.
Tuberose & Moss’ drydown begins roughly 7.5 hours in or in the middle of the 8th hour. To my inordinate relief, the sugar has ceased shrieking like a unbalanced, ravenous harpy and is now a relatively quiet, soft, and balanced note. So is the vanilla which is now gentle and creamy in quality. Once the wretched sugar weakens, so does the result of its interaction with the benzoin-like note: the crème brûlée note disappears. These changes affect, in turn, the tuberose. She regains her prominence, though her scent is very impressionistic now. As for the benzoin (or whatever is causing its exact replication on my skin), it remains but its caramel is softer now, lighter, more fluffy, and more akin to a simple sweet warmth.
The greatest change is the advent of the cedar in its full glory. It bounds onto center stage, exuding aromatic, dry, and smoky woodiness, seizing the white floral sprite in his arms and swirling her around the stage in a waltz to the tinkling sounds of the Blue Danube. To my surprise, the oakmoss makes a brief return too, though it clings to the sidelines like a timid wallflower chaperone who can only emits small squeaks whenever the robust cedar tries to grab onto the insubstantial body of the sylphlike tuberose. The spicy patchouli is there, too, woven within the fabric of ambered goldenness that engulfs everything like a bright, shimmering, warm light.
You will notice the abrupt, significant shift in associative mental imagery as I’m describing this stage of Tuberose & Moss. It is deliberate. The fragrance now has a completely different vibe, character, body, weight, and feel, one that is gentler, softer, lighter, and oddly romantic. I can’t explain why but I think the sylphlike airiness of the tuberose — now denuded of its thick, cumbersome shroud of candy — is a lovely and feminine contrast to the dry, dark, smoky, almost aromatic, more masculine-skewing cedar. If the oakmoss were less of a pipsqueak presence and could wrap itself fully around the dance partners, things would be perfect but even its timid presence adds a nice minor touch for the 25 minutes that it lasts.
The departure of the dessert elements also plays a big part in changing the vibe of the overall bouquet as does the more muted, less domineering, less bulldozer-ish, better balanced, and now light-weight amber accord. As a whole, the fragrance doesn’t feel as thick, as dense, in weight or body; it feels more like a soft cashmere shawl that hangs lightly off your shoulders, warm and easy to the touch.
Tuberose & Moss’ drydown lasts for hours. The only real changes are one of degree as the bouquet grows softer, lighter, more abstract, and more golden as the hours pass.
In its final moments, all that’s left is golden sweetness with the faintest suggestion of something floral buried within.
The 2- to 2.5-spray version of Tuberose & Moss had good sillage and excellent longevity, particularly for an eau de toilette on skin as voracious as mine when it comes to lighter concentrations of scent. The fragrance opened with roughly 10 inches of sillage that gradually grew to about a foot after 20 minutes. The scent cloud around me felt airy as well as weightless in body, yet it was also strong in aroma, growing even stronger as time passed. At the end of the 2nd hour, the cloud shrank a little and the sillage dropped to about 6-7 inches. It dropped incrementally thereafter.
A paradox occurred at the end of the 5th hour and start of the 6th wherein the fragrance seemed to project only 4 inches from my arm, yet the air around me was filled with Tuberose & Moss, wafting a caramel, gourmand, but unexpectedly floral-imbued amber, even if the tuberose wasn’t always prominent when I sniffed my arm up close. I suspect it was because I was sitting in the same place as when I started testing the fragrance, so it simply stayed in the air around me.
Tuberose & Moss turned into a skin scent on me roughly 8.25 hours in and lasted, in total, about 15.75 hours.
When I tested Tuberose & Moss a second time on this arm, this time using 2 smears roughly equal to 1 spray from a bottle, the scent opened with a bouquet of sweet vanillic tuberose lying on an impressionistic woody-green base that is dotted with spicy red berries. There is no clear, strongly defined oakmoss note on my skin. The moss that is there is muted and wispy. There is also no bergamot.
5 minutes in, the patchouli, benzoin caramel, and crystallized rock candy appear, just as they did in my first test on this arm, only with greater speed. The difference here is that a soft, clean musk accompanies them. Their arrival and the sharp spike in candied sugariness end up obliterating whatever oakmoss there was on my skin.
10 minutes in, the candied, vanilla-drenched vanilla takes on a quietly creamy note that rapidly spreads to the entire bouquet. It’s pretty. However, Tuberose & Moss is still too sweet for me personally, even if it’s half of what it was the first time around.
30 minutes in, the 1-spray version of Tuberose & Moss turns into an overlapping blur of creamy, candied, sugary tuberose slathered with vanilla and lying atop a minimally spiced, vaguely woody, and lightly ambered base.
At the end of the 2nd hour and start of the 3rd, Tuberose & Moss is merely a smudge of candied tuberose vanilla atop soft woody amber. It is also almost a skin scent on me.
Tuberose and Moss remains this way until its final hours when all that’s left is sweet, sugary vanilla with a suggestion of something woody layered softly within.
This 1-spray version of Tuberose & Moss on my main testing (left) arm had initially moderate sillage (6 inches) that turned soft after 75 minutes. The longevity was decent to good: In total, it lasted 7.5 hours.
ALL IN ALL:
How can one reach any overarching or dispositive determinations about a fragrance that veers so wildly from one arm to the other and that is an anomaly not only in terms of the perfumer’s vision but also in terms of everyone else’s experiences? You can’t. It wouldn’t be fair. I can only say that my individual skin chemistry resulted in a scent that wasn’t to my personal tastes, despite my love of tuberose.
There are, however, some positives to say about Rogue Perfumery as a whole. First, I appreciate that Mr. Cross offers a small 30 ml size as well as a larger bottle. Far too many houses fail to realize that small sizes are a big selling point for the sort of perfumista who would know about or be interested in niche or in small artisanal houses.
Second, and best of all, Rogue fragrances are reasonably priced, particularly when compared to many other niche or even artisanal houses out there. Prices start at $85 for the 30 ml bottle. I’ll be honest, my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw that. Admittedly, I review a lot of luxury and super-luxury brands, including a few exorbitantly priced artisanal oud-centric houses, but still, I can’t recall the last time I saw $85 listed for a perfume with good quality ingredients, no brutal aromachemicals to cripple me, good performance, and a distinct character.
Third, and on a personal note, as someone who firmly believes that a sophisticated, cultivated culinary palette enhances one’s olfactory ability and as someone who follows chefs quite a bit, I have to say that I’m excited to see what else Mr. Cross conjures up. The whimsical, very chef-y South East Asian spin on chypres in Chypre Siam — the subject of my next review — supports my belief that foodies-turned-perfumers are often particularly olfactorily sensitive, original, and creative. (I know a few.) In short, I think Rogue Perfumery is a house that holds promise and I’m looking forward to exploring it further.
Lastly, and despite my skin’s schizophrenic experiences with Tuberose & Moss, I think that it is a scent worth trying out for yourself if you love tuberose, tuberose chypres, or tuberose and vanilla.
If you want to read other people’s experiences with or thoughts on Tuberose & Moss, you can turn to Fragrantica.