Green fragrances are my least favourite, I’m just going to come right out and say it. They so often feel harsh and demanding, not to mention the fact that many of the greats now feel very dated, relying on aldehydes and galbanum (notes du jour of the ’80s) to create a style that is distinct, yes, but definitely out of line with current trends. So yes, green fragrances, bar a few notable exceptions (see Amazingreen & Panorama) are not for me and judging by their absence from the department store shelves, I’m not the only one to feel this way.
But green is making a comeback at the hands of one of perfumery’s titans. That’s right, TOM FORD is bringing back ‘green’. The leading man of fashion and fragrance is reviving one of perfumery’s most out of favour genres – one that permeated the designer arena throughout the ’70s and ’80s, but now seems decidedly absent. But of course, Mr Ford’s idea of green is inspired by the classics, but does not replicate them. Instead, with Les Extraits Vert, the newly-launched sub-section of green fragrances within his Private Blend Collection, Ford adds his contemporary twist, making this tired genre something exciting and new.
Les Extraits Vert consists of four fragrances; Vert Boheme, Vert d’Encens, Vert de Fleur and Vert des Bois, each of which subverts the green genre rather successfully. Vert des Bois, the subject of this review feels like the most ‘TOM FORD’ of the bunch, offering up smoke, leather and greenery in an aesthetic that is masculine and classy. The brand uses words such as ‘expressive’ and ‘provocative’ to describe Vert des Bois and to an extent, I can see why. Vert des Bois is provocative because it challenges one’s notions of what a green fragrance can be and it certainly makes for a verdant experience unlike any other.
Poplar Bud Extract, Spiked Ouzo, White Olive Tree Leaves, Plum, Lentisque, Jasmine, Pepperwood, Cistus and Oakwood Absolute
How Does it Smell?
Vert des Bois opens up spiky and green, but in darker shades than one expects. Those who are used to sniffing the green fragrances of yesteryear will miss the sparkling aldehydes and sharp galbanum because the type of greenery Vert des Bois offers is much damper and mossier. There is a sharpness to things initially, hinting at dark green thistles and needles on the damp floor of a cold forest, whilst smelling distinctly pine-like in tone.
Underneath the initial greenery is a whole heap of smoke and woods. The smoke seems to come from both leather and burning wood chips. There’s a dark, bark-like feel to things that really adds a contrasting layer that is as unexpected as it is challenging. Cistus and oakwood provide depth and warmth, taking Vert des Bois away from the sharpness of pine to something fuzzier and softer. Just a touch of patchouli further extends the gauzy texture, allowing Vert des Bois to finish as a smoking ember of a fragrance, tainted by just the faintest shade of green.
I’ve briefly sniffed all of the fragrances within Les Extraits Vert and I think it’s safe to say that Vert des Bois is definitely the boldest. It’s green, but not as we know it, amping up dark, woody facets to create something that feels distinctly like a woodland fantasy, complete with damp mosses, tree bark and leaves. Vert des Bois comes along way from the bitchy, power-suit wielding galbanum-soaked beasts of the 1970s and ’80s, creating an entirely new style of ‘green fragrance’ that is incredibly modern.
In an instagram post I described Vert des Bois as follows; “Vert des Bois is like a woodland fantasy: it’s damp moss, crunchy leaves and wood smoke, accompanied by a dark stranger lurking with unknown intentions”, which I thought was a really good description until I realised that I’d inadvertently described ‘Eau de Dogging’. Despite this, I stand by my statement: Vert des Bois, is dark, brooding and a little bit dangerous. It’s also very green, but not in the way that one would expect. Go give it a sniff.
Vert des Bois is part of the TOM FORD Private Blend collection and is available in 50ml (£148) and 250ml (£345) Eau de Parfum.
Sample, notes and quotes via TOM FORD. Images are my own.