Leather is just not my vibe. I can just about rock a leather jacket (I have a very casual John Varvatos one that I feel comfortable in) but anything else feels like a stretch outside of my personality. So you’ll never catch me at the Folsom Street Fair rocking a harness, as cool as that would be. My discomfort with leather also covers fragrances and I’m about as likely to wear Cuir de Russie as I am leather chaps – it’s just not gonna happen. For me, leather in fragrance is often too overwhelming – too dry, too meaty, too smoky. But every now and then I find a palatable leather that I can get on with – OMBRÉ LEATHER, the latest from TOM FORD, is one such fragrance.
There are so many fragrance launches each year it’s difficult to write about them all. Speed Sniffs is a way to bring you to the point reviews fragrances that are quick and easy to digest. After all, sometimes all one needs is a few lines to capture the essence of a scent. Speed Sniffs are perfume reviews without all of the faff.
Oud Wood by TOM FORD is a fragrant tour de force. A cult classic that is one of the brand’s most popular fragrances, Oud Wood may not have started the oud trend, but it certainly cemented it as a prominent part of the olfactory zeitgeist. I find it to be a soft, comforting take on oud with an unusually rubbery texture that makes it stand out from the crowd – and even now I’d say that it’s an absolute must-sniff for anyone exploring the world of oud. Oud Wood is sexy and alluring, smart but casual – a complex perfume with a bold signature. Well, fans of Oud Wood can now rejoice because TOM FORD has just launched Oud Wood Intense, which promises Oud Wood but more!
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.
Tom Ford knows his way around the note of oud. Within his own brand he has a mini-collection of oud fragrances amongst his many Private Blends, each of which takes the style of oud in a very different direction. He’s also the man behind YSL’s M7 which was one of the first mainstream fragrances to promote the use of oud (whether it was the first is up for debate). So it’s safe to say that oud is very much a signature of the Tom Ford brand and it’s a style of fragrance (and I say style instead of note because it’s really more of a genre than a singular ingredient).
The latest addition to Tom Ford’s oud oeuvre is Oud Minérale – a fragrance that intends to approach oud from a much fresher angle. The brand describe it as a scent that merges “rare and precious oud with the fresh exuberance of the ocean”, which may lead one to think that perhaps this is an oud too far. After all, smoky, animalic, middle eastern oud is on the polar opposite end of the fragrance spectrum to anything remotely aquatic. But to think that, whilst justified, would not be correct because Oud Minérale is a clever little composition that manages to find the common ground between these two opposing styles.
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.
TOM FORD is a bit of a legend in the fragrance world. Well, that’s more than just a touch of an understatement, if I’m honest, and it would be fair to say that he is one of the few modern fashion designers that has successful built a fragrance empire that works in complete symbiosis with their clothing lines. TOM FORD perfumes ooze with style and finesse, but they often also boast bold signatures that set them apart from the crowd. Sniffing them, one gets the impression that Mr. Ford is genuinely a fragrance aficionado and his collection offers up its fair share of cool classics and olfactory oddities. In short, the TOM FORD fragrance line is one of the best out there.
The first fragrance to be launched under the TOM FORD name was Black Orchid (side note: we mustn’t forget that Mr. Ford launched a number of amazing scents at Gucci and YSL, namely Envy & Rush for Gucci and Rive Gauche Pour Homme, M7 and Nu for YSL) – a scent that quickly established the brand as a serious contender within the industry. Since then, Black Orchid has been remixed and revisited a number of times, the latest version of which is Orchid Soleil, a fantastically radiant blend of florals and warm, skin-like notes. Without giving too much away, I’d say it’s one of TOM FORD’s best offerings to date. Yup, that sounds about right!
INTRODUCING THE SOLAR SIDE OF THE ELUSIVE TOM FORD ORCHID. A RADIANT AND SENSUAL FORCE OF NATURE, THE NEW SCENT CAPTURES THE SEDUCTIVE WARMTH AND REFLECTIVE BARE SKIN OF THE TOM FORD WOMAN.
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’s Neroli Portofino is pretty much legend at this point. Arriving as part of the initial crop of Private Blends in 2007, it has since been repackaged (in a glorious azure blue bottle, I must add) and has spawned its very own line of body products and flankers, scents such as; Costa Azzura, Mandarino di Amalfi and Fleur de Portofino. Neroli Portofino’s success is easy to understand – it is one of the best, if not the best neroli cologne on the market and it does what many fragrances of this ilk fail to do: it presents luxurious, globetrotting cologne nuances in a highly present and long lasting format, all with TOM FORD’s inimitable signature. What’s not to love?
This summer, MR FORD is expanding the Neroli Portofino lineup to include two additional fragrances. The first is Neroli Portofino Acqua, a lighter, more affordable and more widely distributed the fragrance that could be considered as the ‘Eau de Toilette’ version of the scent that we shall be putting to the test today. The second is Neroli Portofino Forte, which is the inverse of Acqua, serving as a more intense, exclusive and expensive take on TOM FORD’s standard bearer cologne, but we’ll get to that later in the week. The brand describes Neroli Portofino Acqua as follows:
“Vibrant. Sparkling. Transportive. Neroli Portofino Acqua is an invitation into the seductive atmosphere of the Italian Riviera from a new perspective afloat in the coastline’s idyllic azure waters, with endless skies overhead and steep, verdant hillsides just within view. A fresher expression of Neroli Portofino’s clear and sparkling facets, it is an irresistibly light way to wear the fragrance’s citrus-and-amber signature.”
Tom Ford is a man that knows a thing or two about glamour. I refer you to this image of Gwyneth Paltrow dressed in TF at the Oscars, should you require any evidence. Mr. Ford creates exceptionally tailored suits for some of the world’s most attractive gents in addition to beautiful womenswear pieces that often channel old Hollywood glamour. He pushes the boundaries too and it’s safe to say that Ford is not averse to ‘sexing things up’ more than a little bit, as many of his advertisements will prove!
It’s safe to say that Tom Ford also knows quite a bit about fragrance too, and since he launched his first fragrance way back in 2006, he has created a veritable empire of scent that dominates department stores across the globe. Of course, when fragrance and glamour meet, the results can be very interesting indeed, and within his brand, Ford has many a fabulous fragrance, ranging from the casual chic of Violet Blonde, to the mysterious opulence of Fleur de Chine, with all of the glamour in the world in between.
I speak of the subject of glamour because Ford’s latest feminine fragrance, ‘Noir Pour Femme’, strikes me as a scent that practically pulsates with fierce feminine beauty. Created as the feminine counterpart to Noir, Tom Ford’s popular masculine from 2012, this interpretation for women has been designed to be as “suggestive as a slashed jet-black dress revealing the curve of woman’s shoulder, or the kissable dip of her back”. As you can probably imagine with a description like that, Noir Pour Femme is all sexed up glamour and no shame.
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.”