Perhaps the most iconic fragrance within M. Ford’s oeuvre is the dramatic Black Orchid (released in 2006) – the brand’s first and most daring outing. With this perfume, Tom Ford sent a strong message, shouting that he wasn’t going to approach the world of fragrance in a typical or boring way, he was going to create divisive perfumes that make their presence know and celebrate all that is fashionable and glamorous. And that, my friends, is what the man has done ever since.
For 2014, Tom Ford has worked with perfumers Yann Vasnier, Antoine Maisondieu, Calice Asancheyev-Becker and Shyamala Maisondieu (a practical dream team of noses, if you ask me), to create a new riff on his incredibly successful debut perfume. Housed within a royal purple flacon and bestowed with the name ‘Velvet Orchid‘, this perfume is seen as an evolution of the legendary Black Orchid and is promoted by the brand as a new signature fragrance within Ford’s wonderful Signature Collection.
“Velvet Orchid lives in a glamorous world of mystique, evolving the carnal grandeur and seductive power of Tom Ford’s original Black Orchid into a harmonious an uber-feminine fragrance. Lavished with cool freshness, dramatic petals, honey and rum, Tom Ford Velvet Orchid is an oriental floral fragrance that teases and caresses with enveloping and brilliant warmth.”
Top: Italian Bergamot, Mandarin, Rum Succan Absolute and Honey
Heart: Jasmine, Turkish Rose, Cattleva Leopoldii Orchid, Black Orchid, Orange Blossom, Moroccan Rose, Heliotropin, Magnolia, Jonquil and Hyacinth
Base: Labdanum, Sandalwood, Peru Balsam, Myrrh, Suede and Comoro Island Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Two things are noticeable when spritzing Velvet Orchid for the first time; 1) it is wholly and distinctly a Tom Ford perfume with that signature richness; and 2) it bears a subtle resemblance to its sister, Black Orchid. In the opening, softly sticky fruits meet a sugary dose of exotic-smelling rum to create an intoxicating blend that feels exotic, glamorous and delicious. A subtle touch of that floral-mushroom accord that makes Black Orchid so distinct sits underneath the heady cocktail that is Velvet Orchid’s top notes, but for the most part these are two entirely different perfumes.
The florals in this floral oriental are most apparent in the perfume’s heart, which is a party of creamy, warm and supple flowers that rub together to cause immense friction and heat. The overall feeling is abstract, with none of the individual flowers standing out, instead creating the image of some unfamiliar and tropical bloom hidden within the thick foliage of a steamy rainforest. It’s hot, rubbery and very easy on the nose.
Velvet Orchid’s base continues the theme of creamy warmth with a dry and spicy vanilla that blends seamlessly with the rounded edges of sandalwood. Suede adds a measured dose of powder, bringing a refined and luxurious texture to all of that floral headiness. It’s at this point, where the narcotic tones subdue and the plushness comes through, that one realises where the name comes from: this perfume is an imagined orchid placed delicately atop a bed of purple velvet.
I like Velvet Orchid, it’s an incredibly enjoyable fragrance that manages to be of a similar style to Black Orchid (offering a firm nod to the original at more than one point) without being a pointless clone, and offers a slightly more dressed-down version of the original’s glamour puss character. It would be fair to say that it isn’t as distinct or as bold as some of the other fragrances in Tom Ford’s Signature Collection, and that’s perhaps where it falls slightly short. That said, Velvet Orchid is a nicely-executed floriental fragrance that smells really good on hot sunny days and I’m sure it will make a good choice for those that wanted to love Black Orchid, but needed something a little bit milder in the manners department.
P.S. That purple bottle is GORGEOUS.
Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid launches in September and will be available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum.
Sample and quotes via Tom Ford. Notes via basenotes.net. Image 1 via fragrantica.com. Image 2 via fashiongonerogue.com.