Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino series is a collection within a collection. Housed like a fragrant Matryoshka inside the Private Blend collection, the four colognes that currently comprise the series (Neroli Portofino, Mandarino di Amalfi, Costa Azzura, and now, Fleur de Portofino) tick all of the required boxes; 1) they smell great; 2) they are so much more than straight-up Eau de Colognes; 3) they’re unique; and 4) they have decent longevity and sillage. Don’t be fooled by the (rather beautiful) transparent bottles cast in varying hues of blue and green, because there are some intriguing, and complex juices within.
Fleur de Portofino is the latest addition to the Neroli Portofino collection and it marks a bit of a shift from the world of contemporary Eau de Cologne, to the domain of the floral, where the wistful reigns supreme. The spirit of the collection is well and truly alive here, with lots of aquatic vibrancy and freshness however, flowers take centre stage and the beauty of citrus has been instructed to wait in the wings. The result is a floral that presents a new olfactory take on the mediterranean – one that is teeming with life.
“Vibrant. Carefree. Captivating. Private Blend Fleur de Portofino is inspired by the cascades of white flowers that spill off the the branches of the white acacia beloved shade tree that dots the mediterranean’s gardens and lines its tranquil avenues. Fleur de Portofino creates a crisp and bright floral accord from this bloom, then surrounds it with effervescent citruses and acacia honey. The fragrance creates an effect of sheer floral possession that is incomparably hypnotic and extremely bold.”
– Tom Ford
Top: Bergamot and Citruses
Heart: Osmanthus and Black Locust
Base: Black Locust Honey
How Does it Smell?
I’m just going to come right out of the gate and say that I like Fleur de Portofino which, seeing as I adore just about anything remotely floral, will be a surprise to absolutely no one, I’m sure. The opening is a light and bright, fragrant dawn, filled with the promise of dewy petals and crisp fruits. With the first spray, Fleur de Portofino takes a big bite of a juicy green apple, crunching its pearly whites into the fruit’s stiff flesh and sending forth zingy droplets of bergamot and lemon. The whole thing is clean, fresh and awash with white light.
The ‘Fleur’ in Fleur de Portofino refers to osmanthus and black locust, at least that’s what the notes lead one to believe. To my nose the reality is entirely more abstract than that, and it paints a picture of an imagined garden filled with lush white and turquoise flowers. There’s a touch of hyacinth, green and astringent, and a dash of jasmine, hot and heady, as well as a splash of honeysuckle, rich and honeyed with stripes of pungent pollen. There’s a wonderful biting bitterness to the whole thing that makes me think of Estée Lauder’s tremendous Beyond Paradise (a true ode to experimental botany, if there ever was one), but Fleur de Portofino isn’t quite as lush as the Lauder – it may not be ‘beyond’, but it certainly is somewhere in paradise. Paradise adjacent, perhaps?
The honey note really comes into its own in Fleur de Portofino’s base, which sees the sweetly animalic note wrapped in waves of creamy white petals and musk. Cedar adds a sense of dryness that plays nicely into the hands of the scent’s sharper facets, and keeps things from ever becoming too sweet. Fleur de Portofino remains fresh and green right until the very end and maintains its strong presence. It is never weedy, boring or even overcomplicated, it is simply resplendent.
Fleur de Portofino ties with Neroli Portofino as my favourite fragrance in Tom Ford’s collection of modern colognes, yet it doesn’t really feel much like an Eau de Cologne. This is a story of fresh and vibrant flowers in shades of white and turquoise, that have an aqueous feel. It’s a song of green stems flowing gently under a body of cold water, bubbling up to the surface and popping with fragrant air. Wearing it is a blissful experience and one that calls for days spent under the mediterranean sun. In fact, with that in mind, I will most definitely be packing it when I head to Italy later this year.
Fleur de Portofino is available in 50ml (£142) and 250ml (£330) Eau de Parfum.
Sample and quote via Tom Ford. Notes via fragrantica.com. Image 1 my own. Image 2 thefashionspot.com.