When it comes to perfume, Tom Ford knows what he’s doing. Not that he doesn’t know what he’s doing in the worlds of fashion and film, mind – he definitely seems pretty good in those fields too, but with perfume it is undeniable that he is a man of extraordinary style and taste. Since the launch of his flagship fragrance, Black Orchid, in 2006, Ford has crafted himself a fragrant empire that has seen the creation of over 50 fragrances. His output is prolific, varied, grand, opulent and fascinating, courting with true luxury through his unique aesthetic. Everything he does is unmistakably ‘Tom Ford’ and therefore, also pretty darn good.
Tom Ford’s fragrance line consists of two collections; the Private Blends and the Signature Collection, the latter of which showcases a more accessible range of masculine and feminine fragrances in that inimitable Tom Ford style. What strikes me as particularly intriguing about the Signature Collection is the excellent quality of the masculine offerings. When fragrances for men are so often dull, tired and unpleasant, Tom Ford’s act as a refreshing surprise that can restore one’s faith in fragrant humanity. They are handsome, stylish, classic and modern, as all masculine fragrances should be.
My favourite of Ford’s masculine fragrances is Noir – a plush, resinous and powdery scent that bears a striking resemblance to the style of the Guerlain classics, but with a modern twist. In a world of ‘fresh this’ and ‘sport that’, Noir is a bastion of hope for those that demand more from their masculine fragrance. Because it is such a breath of fresh air (not literally), Noir has deservedly been very popular, and for 2015 Tom Ford is launching a brand new interpretation of the fragrance (joining the original Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette), entitled ‘Noir Extreme’ – a new chapter in the Noir story that “reveals a new dimension of the “Noir Man”.
Top: Mandarin, Neroli, Saffron, Nutmeg and Cardamom
Heart: Mastic, Rose, Jasmine and Orange Blossom
Base: Woods, Amber, Sandalwood and Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Right from the outset, Noir Extreme is decidedly more gourmand than the original. It opens with a dry dusting of warm spices, with cinnamon and cardamom being the most prominent. There’s an undercurrent of something boozy and rum-like in the background that presents this version of Noir as a scent that really enjoys enjoys the tasty things in life. This fact is only intensified as Noir Extreme empties its pockets of a multitude of gourmand nuances, throwing out sachets of coffee, bars of dark chocolate and pots of kulfi, just to name a few of its many foodie fancies. With this in mind, it is utterly remarkable that Noir Extreme never feels gluttonous, not even for a second. In fact, it is strikingly translucent in its presentation of the gourmand.
The heart and base feel very café like, showcasing an exotic array of apple pies, baklava and assorted pastries, painstakingly hand crafted. The amber at the centre of Noir Extreme is interesting – it’s prominent but also transparent, and feels slightly intangible like a hologram. The fragrance definitely gains more of a solid feel as it dries down, thanks mainly to sandalwood, which keeps things suitably soft and chewy, whilst absorbing all of the deliciousness that proceeds it. In the very end, Noir Extreme floats just above the skin in a soft haze of vanilla and amber.
Noir Extreme is not what one expects at all, and it would be fair to say that it shares few olfactory connections with the original, in fact the word ‘Noir’ really feels like the only thing that links the two together. That said, both Noir Extreme and Noir are on the same spectrum, and share the same depth and richness of colour. The original Noir evokes the idea of steely greys and ostrich-like blacks, whereas this new Extreme version is more auburn and burgundy.
Do I like Noir Extreme? Yes, I do. I find it to be a warm and cosy fragrance in the oriental style, with just the right level of the gourmand to keep it au courant, without being sickly sweet. I must also add that is has a relatively low-key sillage for a Tom Ford fragrance, but it’s one of those scents that kicks up little puffs of scented smoke throughout the day, just to remind you that it’s there. It has a sweet and resinous trail that is difficult for one not to want to follow.
Do I think Noir Extreme is better than the original? In short, no. But the problem with this comparison is that they are in fact, two very different fragrances, with the powdery, and almost Shalimar-esque tones of Noir being far removed from the robustly presented apple pie of the Extreme. One could easily justify having both fragrances in their wardrobe and could pick them out when they want to present a different version of themselves. Noir is the sensitive, yet confident man with a classic sense of style, whereas, Noir Extreme is the exuberant lover of night-life on the prowl. Both are valid, well-executed and undeniably ‘Tom Ford’.
Noir Extreme is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £70.
Sample via Tom Ford. Notes via Basenotes. Image 1 via Fragrantica. Image 2 via Tom Ford.