Tuberose (Polianthes tuberose): the flower of spiritual ruin, the carnal blossom, the heady mistress of the night (nishigandha or rajnigandh in India, a reader informs me), a lily plant originally native to the Americas. Do Son: a coastal resort in Vietnam that inspired Yves Coueslant, one the founders of Diptyque, to name thus their fragrance. It launched in autumn 2005 in a time frame not especially receptive to such compositions, at least in the Northern hemisphere. The two combine in an unexpected composition by perfumer Fabrice Pelegrin in Do Son, the perfume and the time is now more than ripe to reap its cooling benefits. Diptyque sounds a bit like diptych, the two-paneled painting so popular in religious art. Yves Coueslant has associations with Vietnam obviously and tuberose is used for pious rituals in that country, which begs the question why on earth we haven’t incorporated it in ours as well.
Tuberose has traditionally been seen as dangerous due to its intense odour profile, its headiness, the spin it produces in one’s head when one inhales deeply. In 19th century Victorian-era young girls were discouraged from smelling it, as it signified both voluptuousness and dangerous pleasures, in an effort to keep their “purity” from naughty thoughts. Flowers are after all the sexual organs of plants...
Do Son however could pass the test of chastity, I think. With its airy and crystalline character, it manages to smell like a diaphanous gauze draped around the body of an eastern girl with hair flowing. Like a fluted ornament by a crafted Murano technician, like the breeze of warm air on one’s face while walking in a summer garden.
Compared to other tuberose scents, the most iconic of which among perfume circles is Germaine Cellier’s classic Fracas, it is nothing like them, since most rely on the carnal aspects of tuberose and marry it with other heavy numbers such as jasmine and orange blossoms, enhancing tuberose's rubbery or creamy facets. Fracas is almost brutal in its bombshell beauty, a trait that rocketed it into the hearts of the rich and famous. Gianfranco Ferré for women, Carolina Herrera, and Blonde by Versace ( a wannabe Fracas that is actually very nice in parfum, surprisingly) are all heady seduction numbers destined for discerning women of a more mature age. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Tubéreuse is also very sweet and shares that element of opaqueness with the rest. Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens is a completely different, unique affair.
Do Son rather shares the light playful tuberose note of L’artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillons or even Carnal Flower’s (although the latter is more exotic smelling) and weaves it through in a similarly girly formula that makes it perfect for young coquettes.
Do Son by Diptyque opens on a rather green and also slightly citrusy start of light orange blossom, to then proceed to tuberose mingled with light rose and smooth iris. Rose is an official note; however my nose which is a tad biased to all things rosy, doesn’t discern it clearly. The powderiness of iris is not especially present here either, although I can smell its earthiness and the whole remains very bright, very happy, with nary a melancholy or poignant note that iris might add. The finish off with white musk (synthetic clean musks as opposed to animalic) makes it linger seductively on the skin for some time, never intruding, just reminding you of its presence whenever the body is heated up.
There is also a little element of sourness, at least on the skin if not on blotter, that could make for some disappointment for people who usually complain about such a thing. However the solution to that problem would be to spray one’s clothes. It’s such a light number anyway, that this solution would be probably best to appreciate the fragrance’s volume and sillage.
The bottles of Diptyque perfume are always a chic, understated affair. It is obvious that those three friends who founded the company (Desmond Knox-Leet, Christiane Gautrot and Yves Coueslant), had been students at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. You know upon opening the box that you’re in the presence of unquestionable bon gout. Here the sketch of a woman in a garden pavillon is delineated on the label on the austere, rectangular bottle.
Available as Eau de Toilette from Diptyque retailers.
artwork by David Graux