This perfume starts out cold and candylike in equal measure. The candy quickly turns to gasoline fumes and decaying roots pulled straight out of the dirt--but not just dirt. Dirt mixed with overturned chunks of asphalt and cement in an abandoned urban lot. Then a cool, slightly weedy, angelica-tinged tuberose steps out of this chaotic scene, like a Hitchcock blonde on a hot, sticky night who mysteriously steps out of a grave, wipes a smudge of dirt off her satin pumps, and fixes her lipstick. Exhilarating opening.
But I should start from the beginning. At first sniff I thought this was going to turn into the vegetal musk of Strange Invisible Perfumes, which I'm sorry to say I loathe. But I tried it again on another night, and find, thankfully, it doesn't get too damp and dank. After that breathless, candy-asphalt-and-decay-opening, it gets softer for a while, then its complexity spirals out into a familiar but still impressive Duchaufour signature incense. The top notes (Robin at Now Smell This attributes them to a spicy mango in her astute review, and I'd agree) of mango mixed with orange blossom gives way to a mesmerizing, juicy floral and wood mixture warmed by cardamom and just a bit of tuberose. Then as it continues to dry down it gets even more familiar to Duchaufour fans (of Timbuktu, especially) with its strangely beautiful, tart incense.
Nuit de Tubéreuse, after living in it for a while, has a most indelible likeness to sweat and skin mixed with asphalt and flowers on a hot summer night. How does Duchaufour make incense that is both ethereal and tartly sweaty? I'm not sure I can wear it, but I can imagine finding it gradually more addictive, like I now find Les Nez's Manoumalia, which I first briefly described as a flesh-eating floral. This is likewise a truly astounding corrupted floral. It may start like the cool, self-possessed Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, but ends more like her good girl pulled over to the wrong side of the tracks by Brando in On the Waterfront.
I obtained my sample from a prize draw hosted by the kind Marla at Perfume Smellin' Things, and you should read her impressive review too.
And if you're yearning for yet more on this truly weird and beautiful perfume, read the fascinating interview that Denyse of Grain de Musc did with the perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour: Parts I and II.
Picture of Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant in Hitchcock's North by Northwest from suspense-movies.com. Picture of Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando in Kazan's On the Waterfront from cinepatas.com.