The TOM FORD fragrance collection is massive and it touches every aspect of olfaction, boasting colognes-a-plenty, a feast of florals and more ouds than one can shake a stick at. Not to mention many other styles of fragrance! What makes the brand so good, and ultimately so successful, is the fact that the fragrances aren’t afraid to be bold. In the mainstream, fragrances are made to appeal to everyone and their cat, but at TOM FORD fragrances are created to appeal and to resonate with only some, meaning that the scents themselves are often very interesting, and with so many TOM FORD scents to chose from, one is bound to find something they like.
Speaking of TOM FORD fragrances that aren’t afraid to be bold, let’s take a look at Noir Anthracite, the latest addition to the brand’s Signature Collection. Now, if you’ve tried the original Noir, you will remember it as a plush and powdery scent that felt very much like a modern, masculine interpretation of Shalimar. Well scrap whatever thoughts you had about Noir because Noir Anthracite could not be further from the original if it tried. What Noir Anthracite does share with its namesake however, is a sense of shadow and rather than possessing a blissful purr like Noir, Noir Anthracite is a fragrance that will blow your socks clean off with its mighty roar.
Base: Cedarwood, Macassar Wood and Sandalwood
How Does it Smell?
Phoo-wee, the opening of Noir Anthracite is BOLD. It’s sharp, spicy and fresh. The most prominent impression is of hot, piquant peppers, with the zesty, fruity warmth of capsicums creating a vegetal sense of freshness. Underneath this, accents of tar and grit bring a greyness as well a sense of solidness that pulls Noir Anthracite out of the vegetable aisle and plants it firmly on the ground. It’s quite the opening, I tell you – an eye-opening opening, if you will.
So where does it go from there? Does the rest of Noir Anthracite’s development live up to the hype of that opening? In short: yes. The heart is all funk with spice creating a wonderfully retro animalic vibe that I am LIVING for. Noir Anthracite possesses this sharp, sour and slightly sweaty heat that brings to mind the bold masculines of yesteryear. I smell it and sniff out shades of Salvador Dalí Pour Homme and Kouros – two titans of masculine perfumery that are very good company to keep if you ask me.
Familiar territory is traversed in the base which is rich in woods. The difference here however, is the fact that these woods are scorched black and grey, creating an austere play on shadow and ‘noir’. Macassar wood (a type of ebony that I believe Mr Ford uses for his fragrance counters) blends with cedar wood and sandalwood to create a woody impression that is peppery, sharp and stone-like, pulling the fragrance entirely in line with the anthracite that it is named for. It is a strange mix (but a beautiful one no less) that feels like a new substance – a glass perhaps that has the hardness of stone and the multi-faceted grain of wood.
TOM FORD fragrances are at their best when they take cues from the past but add a twist of the modern. Take Fleur de Chine, for example, which took the nutty aldehydic floral of Arpège, twisting it with creamy woods and zesty magnolia. Noir Anthracite follows a similar theme, channeling the hairy-chested animalic masculine fragrances of the 1970s and modernising the style with peppers and gritty woods, creating the perfect juxtaposition of classic and contemporary.
Noir Anthracite is a marvel of contrasts. It’s dark yet luminous, rock yet glass, retro yet modern. There’s so much going on that it can honestly feel like a whirlwind wearing it, but what a whirlwind. Noir Anthracite is truly exceptional and I think it may just be my favourite masculine of the year so far. How’s that for praise?!
Noir Anthracite is available in 50ml (£72) and 100ml (£112) Eau de Parfum.
Sample, notes and quotes via TOM FORD. Images are my own.