Gigi Hadid for Tom Ford Velvet Orchid
Gigi Hadid for Tom Ford Velvet Orchid [Photographed by Mario Sorrenti]
Tom Ford’s Signature Collection houses a vast array of bold, wearable fragrances that are of exceptional high quality, but are also entirely more accessible than those within his Private Blend collection. They are statement pieces, right from the oriental opulence of Sahara Noir to the casual elegance of Violet Blonde, and as with all things ‘Tom Ford’ they exude a richness that is very much in keeping with the brand’s luxurious and contemporary-classic aesthetic.

Perhaps the most iconic fragrance within M. Ford’s oeuvre is the dramatic Black Orchid (released in 2006) – the brand’s first and most daring outing. With this perfume, Tom Ford sent a strong message, shouting that he wasn’t going to approach the world of fragrance in a typical or boring way, he was going to create divisive perfumes that make their presence know and celebrate all that is fashionable and glamorous. And that, my friends, is what the man has done ever since.

For 2014, Tom Ford has worked with perfumers Yann Vasnier, Antoine Maisondieu, Calice Asancheyev-Becker and Shyamala Maisondieu (a practical dream team of noses, if you ask me), to create a new riff on his incredibly successful debut perfume. Housed within a royal purple flacon and bestowed with the name ‘Velvet Orchid‘, this perfume is seen as an evolution of the legendary Black Orchid and is promoted by the brand as a new signature fragrance within Ford’s wonderful Signature Collection.

“Velvet Orchid lives in a glamorous world of mystique, evolving the carnal grandeur and seductive power of Tom Ford’s original Black Orchid into a harmonious an uber-feminine fragrance. Lavished with cool freshness, dramatic petals, honey and rum, Tom Ford Velvet Orchid is an oriental floral fragrance that teases and caresses with enveloping and brilliant warmth.”

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Rubbing Noses With...
Rubbing Noses With…

‘Rubbing Noses’ is a new series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.

For my very first episode of ‘Rubbing Noses’ I am posing questions to a perfumer whose body of work includes such gems as; Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette, Comme des Garçons’ Stephen Jones, Aqua di Parma’s Magnolia Nobile and Bottega Veneta Pour Homme. I am of course referring to Antoine Maisondieu and I think that we can all agree that his fragrant back catalogue is quite impressive, with a wide variety of perfumes that make him a perfumer that cannot be pinned down to a particular genre or style.

One of Antoine Maisondieu’s latest creations is the beautiful California Rêverie for Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire (a perfume that I’m quite smitten with of late). In our Q&A, we discuss this new fragrance, the inspiration behind it and how this talented perfumer manages to take heavy materials and make them feel as light and soft as a summer breeze. We also talk IFRA and the smell of California, so all-in-all it’s a very intriguing read with a well-respected perfumer who is undeniably interesting in a varied number of ways.

Paysage d'Opale - A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection
Paysage d’Opale – A Shining Piece from the Van Cleef & Arpels California Rêverie Collection

If I was forced to pick my favourite fragrance genre, I would be able to answer with “floral” without a moment’s hesitation. My love for all things fragrant and flowery knows no end and I find myself drawn to a wide range of flower based fancies, ranging from supreme aldehydic floral bouquets to soliflores, and all that is in between. So yes, I love it when flowers and perfume come together, but I especially adore the heady tones of white floral perfumes based on the notes of; jasmine, tuberose or orange blossom.

Not all florals are symphonic beauties however, and it is often tricky to strike the right balance between something that is evocative of nature and something that is more abstract. Many attempts at capturing the hypnotic melody of flowers end up being too thin, due in part to the perfumers not being given enough money to work with, or in many cases they can fall into the trap of simply being ‘too much’ – one wants to revel in these flowers, not be devoured by them. Some however, get this balance absolutely right and this leads me quite nicely on to today’s subject: California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Created by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu (the man responsible for Etat Libre d’Orange’s Jasmin et Cigarette and Comme des Garçons Stephen Jones etc.), California Rêverie is the latest addition to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire – a collection that follows one rule, and one rule only – the rule of “excellence”. Taking inspiration from the brand’s jewellery collection of the same name (a sample of which can be seen above), this fragrance picks the note of jasmine to evoke Californian landscapes. California Rêverie is described by Van Cleef & Arpels as a “dizzying state of sensuality” that allows one to “drift off on a dreamlike voyage to the heart of Californian nature”. That all sounds rather good, doesn’t it?

Atelier d'Orient
The Atelier d’Orient Collection

There is a song on Jay-Z’s latest album entitled ‘Tom Ford’, and in said song Mr Z raps the line; “I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford.” Well much like our good friend Jay-Z, I too am not one for recreational drug use and also have somewhat of a penchant for the offerings of American fashion designer Tom Ford – who knew we’d have so much in common?

Unfortunately that is where the common ground ends and unlike Jay-Z I do not have the adequate finances to rock any Tom Ford clothing (oh but how I wish I did), however my budget can certainly stretch to the designer’s olfactory offerings and like many others I have found there to be a number of sniff-worthy perfumes residing within the Tom Ford corner of the department store.

Mr Ford is relatively active on the olfactory front with two lines of perfume to choose from – the widely available and reasonably priced ‘Signature Collection’, which contains the likes of Black Orchid, Violet Blonde, Sahara Noir, Grey Vetiver and Noir; and the more exclusive and definitely pricier ‘Private Blends.’ Personally, I have found more love for the perfumes in the Signature Collection (much to the relief of my partner and bank balance), however the Private Blend certainly has more than its fair share of gems, which leads me nicely onto Tom Ford’s latest collection – ‘Atelier d’Orient.’

The Atelier d’Orient Collection is inspired by; “the sublime beauty, enigmatic sensuality and exquisite luxury of Asia” and each of the four fragrances within the collection are reported to contain; “ingredients that have treasured prestige in the Orient.” Speaking of the collection, Tom Ford states that each fragrance captures a distinct mood – “captivating romance, colonial elegance, luxurious exoticism and rich mysterious sensuality” – with each serving as a perfect representation of the bold Tom Ford aesthetic.