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Monday, March 02, 2009

Tom Ford Champaca Absolute: Perfume Review

A fail-proof way to create a perfume I am guaranteed to like is to make it smell Like a Chanel. Or what is my idea of a Chanel (forgive me for quoting myself, in a review of Beige):
"...abstract, complex, and, regardless of whether it is full of natural ingredients or totally synthetic, (...) man-made, for a lack of a better term."
...In other words, to make it smell as a Proper Perfume (again in my interpretation):
"...to smell of no particular ingredient but rather to appear as an amalgamation of several, almost indistinguishable notes ... to interpret its inspiration in a non-literal, non-obvious manner ... to smell man-made, not found-in-nature."
Clearly, the Tom Ford Beauty team has decided to follow my requirements (as every perfume-creating team should by the way!) and to create a Proper Perfume. They also were clearly aware than I have always been a big fan of Cold Perfumey Florals (a category made up by moi and thus very subjective) in vein of Chanel's Beige, Gardenia and Hermes's 24, Faubourg. In his new Champaca Absolute, Tom Ford created a bespoke Cold Perfumey Floral fragrance for yours truly...it's just that he doesn't know it.

So much does Champaca Absolute remind me of Beige - in concept not in notes!- that I could almost take my old review, change freesia and frangipani for champaca and jasmine and be done with it. When I say, in concept, I mean that, like Beige, Champaca Absolute strikes me as being "a cold, somewhat arrogant beauty, a "better than thou" scent." For most parts, it is a stylized floral bouquet, a chic and meticulous arrangement made of flowers that have been grown and pampered in an exclusive orangery with man-controlled environmental conditions...and not of those you gather in the wild, carelessly bring home and put in a rustic vase in a haphazard manner.

Having said that, there IS a very green and very natural part right after the heady, tiny bit boozy (cognac, Tokaii (yes, it is that specific) wine and the naturally drunken davana) floral top notes subside, where it might seem that -oh the horror!- the bouquet could indeed have come from some kind of unruly forest...for some time, Champaca Absolute just smells so...real and untamed. I suspect that what gives the silken blend of champaca, jasmine and orchids that ragged, dry, windswept edge is the broom note (in Beige, it was hawthorn). And then the wild note disappears, sleek bob smoothed, slinky dress straightened, face back to its expression of polite superiority. Nature? One has never been to nature, nature is too dirty and uncontrollable. And one has never heard of Oliver Mellors either.

What's remarkable is how remarkably filthy the drydown smells on my skin, not animalic-filthy like musk or civet but more like mineral-rooty-filthy...whatever it is in the inoffensive-sounding base of vanilla, amber, marron glace (!) and sandalwood that makes it smell up to good I do not know. But I suppose that what it shows is that you can take champaca out of the wild but you can't take the wild out of champaca.

Available at Nieman Marcus, $180.00-$450.00 for 50ml-250ml of -very, very long-lasting- Eau de Parfum.

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24 Comments:

Blogger Flora said...

Uh-oh - am I going to have to start liking Tom Ford now? From your gorgeous review of Champaca Absolute, I think I might have to cave in....

10:11 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Предпоследнее предложение- сразу в цитатник ) Снова убеждаюсь, что Крюгер на тебя похожа.

10:11 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Donna,
After this, you'll probably have to start liking him, yes :-)

10:13 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Аноним,
Ну не знаю, может капельку где-то чем-то как-то

10:14 PM EST  
OpenID scenthive said...

What a fun read! Thanks for the review of Champaca.

"slinky dress straightened"...love that line :-)

11:52 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Scenthive,
Thank you, I am glad you liked :-)

7:12 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

You've absolutely captured the elegance of this scent! It truly is a gorgeous, couture version of champaca. And that photo is *perfect* for it.

7:27 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

L,
Couture is a great word for it!

7:29 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love champaca absolute but have never bought any to play with because it's so...complex. I don't know what to do with it yet. But someday! Wonderful review!
-Masha

10:29 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Masha, what is it like straight, on its own?

6:57 PM EST  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

I am going to have to try this as soon as possible-which is what I usually say after reading any of your reviews..lol..Hopefully, it is available in my local nordstorm

11:22 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lavanya,
Please report afterward on what you thought of it!

11:23 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! Drat, now I have to keep it on the list for few FBs I will purchase this year. I'd tried a spray, once, and liked it immensely. . . ladylike and wild all at once, but you say it soooo much better. "Bob straightened," indeed! Tom Ford should pay you some concession: you'll drive many perfumistas to the sample counter, wallets in hand.

Thanks!

11:36 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Anonymous,
I am glad you liked. Tom is not charged, because he is so handsome. I do have my standards :-)

11:37 PM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Hi lovely! I do love Chanel Beige as well -- I'm into a big green-white floral kick right now, moving away from spices, leather and general skankiness... But, well, we *do* want a bit of an edge, still, don't we? I can only say, as everyone here: I have to try this now. If it's made it to Paris yet.

3:35 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

D,
I am moving away from that too...it is the end of the world as we know it :-)

9:09 AM EST  
Blogger Kiki said...

The only other Champaca scent that I've tried (and LOVED) is CdG Luxe Champaca...how does this compare to that?

4:58 PM EST  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Tokaii ??? Then I have to try it ! (remember Budapest, Marina...)

2:53 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

M,
of course I remember *sigh*

9:47 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Kiki,
I believe, if I remember it correctly, CdG's was lighter, more transparent. I think.

9:48 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

I just received a sample of champaca essence from a supplier, and was shocked at its wonderfully wild, raggedly complex edge and a lurking filthiness under the surface. I have champaca essence from a different purveyor and it is narcotic, sweet and lush, but nothing at all like the one I got yesterday. Your review of this fragrance was the first thing that sprang to mind!

12:42 PM EST  
Blogger Marina (Colombina) said...

L,
The 2nd sample that you just received sounds more like this scent, I think

12:47 PM EST  
Blogger Weatherly said...

So I have decided I adore your Cold Perfumey Floral category! I splurged and bought Chanel Beige last weekend in NYC after wearing Hermes 24, Faubourg for years. I happy to now add Tom Ford Champaca Absolute to the list!

12:05 AM EST  
Blogger SpaGoddess said...

hilarious and awesome review. thanks for the insight!

9:47 PM EDT  

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