Perfume Writ Large – Tom Ford Sahara Noir Perfume Review

Sahara Noir
Sahara Noir by Tom Ford

I like Tom Ford – not because he is incredibly handsome (although I’m not denying that he is more than a little bit dishy) – but because when it comes to perfume he has a keen sense of volume and seems to favour that which is rich, sturdy and loud. To put it simply he is the king of what I like to call ‘perfume writ large’.

His signature collection (Black Orchid et al) in particular displays satisfyingly loud levels of sillage and many are bold, divisive creations that provoke nothing but strong reactions. The latest addition to the collection – Sahara Noir – is no exception and it is perhaps one of Ford’s loudest and dare I say butchest fragrances to date.

Taking inspiration from “the mystery and luxury of the Middle East” and “evoking the untamed beauty of the arabic peninsula” Sahara Noir speaks of an exotic and wealthy world where bold statements in both fashion and perfume are the norm. This is Tom Ford’s domain and if there is one thing the man knows how to do more than anything else it is make a bold statement.

Sahara Noir
A Bottle Bathed in Gold

The Notes

Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Violet, Ginger and Basil
Heart: Grapefruit Blossom, Orange Blossom, Tobacco and Black Pepper
Base: Amber, Cedar, Patchouli, Oak Moss and Leather

How Does it Smell?

The first thing one notices when spraying Sahara Noir is a big whack of incense – and that’s almost an understatement. It would, in fact, be fairer to describe it as a mushroom cloud of incense. It is an all-enveloping plume of churchy incense smoke with suitably attractive mineral facets. There is a touch of something light and citrus-like at the very beginning but for the most part Sahara Noir conjures up a strong image of dry, arid climes, where refreshment from citrus fruits isn’t easily found.

Sahara Noir’s development is fairly linear, with the incense reigning for the majority of the fragrance’s lifespan. That said, things progress to a softer base where whiffs of warm amber add a feeling of plushness and comfort. There are mere hints of spices and herbs underpinning all of that incense and amber, but that’s exactly what they are – mere hints, and they serve only to inflect a sense of depth throughout Sahara Noir’s structure.

Big ‘n’ bold appears to be Sahara Noir’s motto and its strength is really what makes it so wonderful. There’s something reassuringly grand about it but at the same time its simplicity is refreshing and it is one of a few examples (for another see Serge Lutens’ Féminité du Bois) where a lack of development in a perfume is a plus – after all it smells so good, why would you want it to change?


Sahara Noir is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £100.

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