TOM FORD has certainly explored the world of his bestselling cologne, Neroli Portofino with undeniable fervour. The range consists of a dazzling array of interpretations, ranging from the original Eau de Parfum to last year’s honeyed Fleur de Portofino, and all that’s in between. This year, TOM FORD is sandwiching the original between two exciting new concentrations, with the lighter Neroli Portofino Acqua to its left and the intense Neroli Portofino Forte on its right. Both take the bold neroli-musk accord of the original and present it as something either more accessible or luxurious, but always interesting.
A week or so ago we took a look at the Acqua, the lighter, less spendy and more accessible take on NP and this week we are throwing caution completely to the wind with Neroli Portofino Forte, which is pretty much the opposite of Acqua in every respect, being stronger, more expensive and less widely distributed. So, how does a more intense take on TOM FORD’s neo-classic cologne fair in the sniff test? Well, there’s only one way to find out: read on.
Neroli Portofino Forte is a bold, exhilarating intensification of the Neroli Portofino Experience. The classic scent is rarified with rich, sublime depth as the amplified concentration of its floral core is lavishly heightened to utmost opulence. With the bold and impassioned introduction of coastal Italian woods and smooth leather in its composition, Neroli Portofino Forte marks an exquisite monument in the Neroli Portofino collection.
– TOM FORD
Neroli, Leather, Woods and Musk
How Does it Smell?
The Forte edition of Neroli Portofino opens in much the same way as the original but also not in the same manner at all. What I mean by that is, that one knows this scent is part of the Neroli Portofino family, but at the same time something immediately seems different and unlike Acqua, which simply lightens the NP signature, Forte doesn’t simply intensify, it extends the fragrance to new heights. The first new addition is cumin, a big old sweaty dose of it that marks Forte as surprisingly quite dry, right from the outset. Not only does this add a spicy facet to the mix, it also cuts through the citrus notes, allowing them to effervesce in a more intense way.
Speaking of intense, the floral heart is much stronger too with a richer texture. The neroli and orange blossom are less breezy and more waxy, evoking the idea of freshly picked flower buds as opposed to a floral scent carried on the breeze. Blooms and buds here are supported by a dry down of rich leather and woods, with a touch of musk thrown in for good measure. As it heads to the base, Neroli Portofino Forte smells like neroli-soaked leather that has dried in the sun for an age. To my curious nose, Forte creates the impression of perfectly dressed Italians flitting about the streets of Milan. Their outfits are spotless, their shoes are tan leather and they look as stylish af.
Neroli Portofino Forte really is quite something. It takes the familiar neroli-musk accord that was so redolent of summer in the original and pushes it into a formal setting. This is a truly luxurious and sophisticated cologne that feels like it should be worn in the finest of hotels or offices. The addition of leather creates a richness that contrasts the florals perfectly, adding warmth and depth, but also an underlying sense of dirtiness that is in direct opposition to the sterile freshness that sits firmly at the heart of each member of the Neroli Porfotino family. Forte is Neroli Portofino elevated from summer linens to black tie – a sartorial splash, if you will – and it’s bloody brilliant.
Neroli Portofino Forte is available in 50ml (£195), 100ml (£290) and 250ml (£445) Eau de Parfum.
Sample and quotes via TOM FORD. Images are my own. Notes via Basenotes.