Blog post by Gwen

Fracas – creamy and heady and seductive

Photo - Wikimedia Commons - Tuberose blooms

I have a friend who loves to wear Fracas, the iconic white floral fragrance from Robert Piguet. Her mother wore it and now she does too. But it’s not just for sentimental reasons. She’s a ‘great white’ girl – a lover of jasmine, orange blossom, gardenia and tuberose – especially tuberose. And, Fracas is the diva of tuberose fragraces.

Tuberose isn’t a rose at all, but a night blooming plant with clusters of fragrant white waxy flowers that belongs to the lily family. Its odour profile is floral and creamy with mentholated and rotten-meat facets. It smells opulent, rich, deep, fleshy and wanton. It’s a pass/fail scent and I think those who pass on it, fail to develop an appreciation for it.

Thought to be native to Mexico, tuberose made its way to Europe and beyond by the end of the 16th century, earning a reputation as an aphrodisiac everywhere it went. In India, it was considered dangerous for unmarried women to smell the open blooms at night for fear of falling under their hypnotic smell, while the Victorians feared women would have spontaneous orgasms if they smelled the flowers.

That’s the rumored effect smelling tuberose has on women, but my friend believes Fracas has some kind of hypnotic mojo, that is especially effective on men. The family story goes that her mother was wearing Fracas each time she conceived a child. I’m sure her mother wore Fracas more than four times, but still, my friend believes that there is a connection between Fracas, pleasure, danger, seduction and sex. I don't disagree.

Created in 1948 by perfumer Germaine Cellier it has become the classic reference for tuberose fragrances – a bold, dramatic, animalic scent masterpiece. Tuberose is a difficult raw material to work with, but Cellier wrangled the best out of it in Fracas, balancing its lush creaminess with an herbal top note and a woody base. The vicissitudes of the marketplace meant that Fracas disappeared for a while but was re-introduced in 1996. Over the years, there have been adjustments to the original formula to comply with new regulations and the current Fracas is tamer but very close to the original – just ask my friend, she’s had two children born after 1996.

So much has been written about his legendary fragrance that it really comes down to how it smells on you. On me, it smells like I need to buy an industrial drum size of it.

Fracas opens with a note of bright bergamot and sweet mandarin. I smell peach here too, along with a hint of green. And then, because every successful seduction begins with an unexpected move, tuberose, creamy, lush and fleshy makes a dramatic appearance flanked by jasmine, gardenia and orange blossom, which emphasize the floral facets of tuberose over its menthol aspects. Jonquil and orange blossom extend the green note from the top so that the tuberose doesn’t get too cloying. I smell violet leaf, green and a little sweet, woody iris root, and a whiff of carnation. As it moves to the base, musk gives it an animalic dimension, sandalwood extends the woodiness of the iris root and  vetiver echoes that sliver of a green note at the top to the drydown.

Body heat animates Fracas enlivens it so that the drydown is lush, creamy, heady, seductive and yet so well-balanced and blended that it’s sophisticated and chic. Well, that explains the magic, the mojo and the beauty behind Fracas, but there are no words to explain the feeling of wearing it.

Check out Fracas in our Shop.