Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Amber Absolute, Black Violet, Bois Rouge
I have always connected, "clicked" with Tom Ford's style and aesthetics. The decadence, sensuality, slightly stagy, theatric feel, a certain arrogant affectation and the stylized old-fashioned glamor paired with very modern, very urban sophistication - these are the characteristics of Ford's work to which I invariably respond and with which I can, to an extent, identify. I love the unapologetically luxurious feel of his designs, the striking, at times shocking but never tasteless eroticism of his styling. I adored Ford's first scent, the very glamorous Black Orchid, and I was excited to get to try the twelve new scents in his Private Blend collection. "Designed with the true fragrance connoisseur in mind", these unisex blends center around "a precious extraction of a single note, such as amber, tobacco, black violet, leather, gardenia, and oud wood". As the press release hastens to note, however, the scents are not one-note compositions, as the "secondary sequences of extraordinary ingredients are wrapped around" the star notes to create "a completely developed and complex eau de parfum. The result is a series of intriguing, sophisticated scents that may enchant or challenge, stimulate or delight." Private Blend is meant as a means of discovery of the fragrances that suit the personality and moods of a wearer who is supposed to eventually "become the curator of their own individualized fragrance collection".
Over the course of this week, I will talk about all twelve scents. I start today with Amber Absolute, Black Violet and Bois Rouge.
Tom Ford Beauty call this blend of "the purest form of amber", African incense, labdanum, woods and vanilla a hallmark of the Private Blend collection. This is a complex, opulent rendition of amber; although certainly focusing on the title note, the scent is much more than a basic amber mono-perfume, and as someone who is not particularly fond of amber "soliflores", I very much appreciate the multifaceted quality of this scent. I particularly love the dark and somber incense undertone that poses a striking contrast to the honeyed sweetness of amber and vanilla. Incense here has, to me, a definite "churchy" feel, more specifically, for some reason it makes me think of Orthodox churches with their combination of austere spirit and Byzantine opulence. Incense stays noticeable throughout the development of the scent, only after a couple of hours (this is a very long-lasting fragrance) does it give way to the woods. The woody accord reminds me of the note Lutens uses in his Boisees series, which I know is mostly cedar, but which is so velvety-soft, sweet and warmly balsamic that it always seems to me to be more like sandalwood. Sophisticated, luxurious, chic and at the same time wonderfully comforting, Amber Absolute is a delight. Something tells me that it might become one of the most popular of the Private Blends.
Guerlain's Insolence made me suspect that violets and fruits don't go well together (at least for me), and Black Violet proved that suspicion. With notes of citrus, "pulpy fruit", "black violets", woods and oakmoss, the scent, to me, seems to be focusing on the fruits and woods much more than on violets. It starts with a pleasantly tangy burst of citrus; in a matter of seconds, the sweet, ripe fruity accord (plum? peach? berries of some sort? -hard to tell) begins to unfold. It more or less dominates the composition, overwhelming the violets. It smells sweet and "thick" and indeed does have a sultry, "black" feeling about it. Eventually, woods become more apparent; the woody note here is a little spicy, a tiniest bit powdery, resinous and all in all rather attractive. At this stage, the violet is finally perceptible, but it is not a prominent note by any means. Tom Ford Beauty classify this scent as Floral, but it seems to me to be more along the lines of a woody-oriental composition. When smell-able, the violets appear to be sweet and a little "buttery", and not unlike their creamy-gourmand counterparts in Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste. I love my violets to be either gentle and ethereal or dry and earthy-green, I am not a fan of sweet violet fragrances, not even Lutens' celebrated Bois de Violette, and so perhaps I am simply not able to appreciate Black Violet. It seems to me to be too robust and sweet and lacking a little finesse.
Bois Rouge's citrus-herbal-spicy top notes, with their sharp, cold quality set the tone for the rest of the composition, and the tone is decidedly masculine. I like very much the dry patchouli note that becomes apparent on my skin right in the beginning. A forceful, heady jasmine then appears on the scene, and, strange as it sounds in relation to this typically very feminine note, even jasmine here smells masculine. Every note in the composition has a certain bracing, austere quality, an elegant virility of sorts that I can't help but think of as "manly". After the jasmine explosion subsides, I begin to smell cedarwood and sandalwood; the woody accord has a slight cinnamon-like undertone on my skin and an even slighter hint of leather. The spiciness warms up the scent significantly, and vanilla contributes to softening and smoothing the harsh, angular features of the blend. It is a striking, very handsome - in a somewhat severe, jaw-clenched, rugged way - fragrance, and although it is decidedly too masculine for me, it should be breathtaking on a male of the species.
Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances are available at Bergdorf Goodman (not online, it seems), $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.
Image sources, Vanity Fair, Tom Ford Beauty.
Labels: Tom Ford