Christian Lacroix Tumulte pour Homme (2005) was another entry in the “dry woods” phenomenon that took hold in the wake of Gucci Rush for Men (2001) and Yves Saint Laurent M7 (2002), utilizing novel woody-amber aromachemicals to make strikingly realistic woody accords with little to no sweetness. Most of this ilk has fallen to discontinuation, like Tumulte pour Homme itself, and been lifted upon high as a “holy grail”, while survivors have either been disregarded as clones to the “great ones” taken away, or were niche/luxury tier fragrances with high price tags and limited distribution in the first place. Some of these fragrances leaned more towards an abrasive woody note like M7, while others like Diptyque Tam Dao (2003) followed more of a woodshop vibe, and still others such as Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man (2004) took a peppery path. Tumulte pour Homme seems to play fast and loose with pepper, woods, and cold spice, which makes it feel very much like pencil shavings, especially with four types of cedar claimed to be in it. If you want masculinity, it doesn’t get more manly than a sillage trail reminiscent of $1 Home Depot carpenter pencils.
The opening to Christian Lacroix Tumulte pour Homme is as it sounds, with sharp black pepper, bitter juniper, and an intense bay note. Many Comme des Garçons fragrances come to mind with this opening, especially with the “incense” heart flanked by violet leaf and metallic geranium. This incense note is the star of the show for most of the wear life, until a very impressive cedar comes in to join it, bolstered by Iso E Super and patchouli, although not in the same way as Terre d’Hermès (2006). The cedar here is very lucid but falls shy of “hamster cage” levels of photorealistic, which is a huge plus in my book. Dry sandalwood finishes this up with the black pepper, incense, and cedar, playing with just a touch of musk mallow like an old “cold” chypre. Nathalie Gracia-Cetto pulls no punches in this humorless rendition of woody gloom, with no oakmoss to soften or tonka to sweeten it up, and you’ll feel very stern-borderline-sinister wearing Tumulte pour Homme around town. Wear time is long at 10hr and unlike the pricier Ormonde Man, projection never fades away. You’ll have to wash off Tumulte when you’re done tumbling with it. Best use is office or formal wear year round.
Being perfectly blunt here, you really don’t need this at the prices it commands, as much like the creamier Azzaro Visit (2003) can perfectly substitute for Gucci Rush for Men, this can easily be replaced by Tam Dao or a discounted bottle of Ormonde Man for much less than surviving bottles of this commercial failure fetch on eBay. The cool ornate purple bottle is a definite collectors plus, but if that’s what you’re dropping $300 for, you’re likely not using the scent anyway. Christian Lacroix Tumulte pour Homme is really a unicorn by proxy, since it wasn’t being priced so high until people realized it was similar to something else already vaunted and sought after, similar to the relationship Carven Homme (1999) has to Gucci Envy for Men (1998). Christian Lacroix Tumulte pour Homme is a very good fragrance from an austere genre that briefly reignited interest in fresh cut wood smells for men in the mainstream, after they peaked in the 60’s then waned from view in the 70’s, but was also victim of the oversaturation flashpoint created in the wake of such a briefly reinvigorated fad, becoming exponentially more appreciated by hobbyists after its crash and burn. Thumbs up.