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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli

Noir de Noir

In an interview to International Herald Tribune, Tom Ford once said that he have always loved the night. The nocturnal Black Orchid was the first olfactory expression of that love and many scents in the Private Blend collection most definitely possess a nocturnal quality. Noir de Noir, as the name suggests, has a very dark feel. When I first heard about the Private Blend collection and got to read the notes, I had a feeling that Purple Patchouli might turn out to be reminiscent of my beloved Black Orchid, or rather that it will be reminiscent of the earthy, raw aspect of it, which I love so much and which is so prominent on my skin. Not so. The scent that, upon very first application, made me think of Black Orchid, was Noir de Noir. Take Black Orchid, remove the "earth" and the fruits, and what you are left with is an elegantly sweet, rather warm floral accord. As far as my nose is concerned, Noir de Noir is built upon that very accord. The beginning of the scent is a bouquet of dark-red roses, honeyed, over-ripe, extremely luscious. The rose note is paired with saffron, a stunning combination, with the golden, slightly raw spiciness weaved through the crimson velvet of the petals. The raw/rooty aspect, which I always notice in saffron, is complimented by "black truffle" and patchouli. I don't really smell any oud in Noir de Noir, and overall I think I would have liked the scent even more if the woody-earthy aspect was a little stronger on my skin. Noir de Noir is not a shy little scent, it is quite forceful, sweet and with a luxurious trail of sillage. The drydown is incredibly delightful. The saffron note, which disappears during the middle stage, comes back, and the final accord is a soft skin scent composed of delicate spices, gentle vanilla, and a little bit of patchouli. It is my humble guess that Noir de Noir is going to be one of most popular Private Blend fragrances.

Oud Wood

Leathery Oud. I am aware that Tom Ford Beauty does not list leather as one of the notes in this scent, but leather is what I smell as soon as I apply it on my skin and the note stays throughout the scent's development. The perfume really isn't so much about oud as it is about veriver and leather. It is an elegantly smoky blend, quite dry and very earthy. It has slight spiciness in the beginning and quite a lot of rather sharp sandalwood in the middle and in the base. The drydown is softer that the previous stages, but despite declared vanilla and tonka bean, is really not in the least sweet. I like Oud Wood a lot, but feel that it could have been a little more virile, had a little more character. This is a very refined and urbane rendition of oud, and I guess I was looking for something more wild and fierce.

Purple Patchouli

Purple Patchouli is probably the strangest of the twelve Private Blend scents, and I am not quite sure that in this case I mean "strange" as a compliment. With notes of orchid, citruses, "noir leather", "purple patchouli", exotic spices, amber, more patchouli, Peru balsam and vetiver, the composition is a curious combination of fresh, almost soapy and utterly skanky-animalic. I had a "pleasure" of experiencing a molecule called saladolide, which featured the most bizarre clash of aggressively clean and rather putrid odors. Purple Patchouli doesn't actually smell like that molecule, but the disharmony of clean and animalic that it presents is just as striking. The floral accord of Purple Patchouli is sudsy and quite bold, slightly sweet, rather fresh, it keeps battling for domination with the dry patchouli note and the salty, "moist" leather. In the end, patchouli and leather win, aided by a little bit of vetiver; the drydown of Purple Patchouli on my skin is the stage of total skank, no more flowers, no more soap, just a clammy , slimy, morbidly fascinating earthy accord. I am glad I got to try this peculiar perfume, but I will never be able to wear it.

Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli are available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.

I am unable to find a source for the first image. If you know what it is, please let me know, I would love to be able to correctly attribute it. The second image, Female Satyr, is by Thomas Durham, from



Blogger tmp00 said...

Interesting and more interesting. I had a nice conversation with Alessandro, the proprietor of All Purpose (the store in LA that stocks some CB I Hate Perfume- like Cradle of Light and Violet Empire, reviews coming next week..), and we both came to the conclusion that blog reactions to these make us now interested to try them. As he pointed out in his blog Tom has kind of pulled back from the gay ultra-vixen hairy-chested hottie look he previously had and has been a bit buttoned up for a while. Nice to read that these aren't buttoned up, and I can't wait to apply the schnozz to them.

10:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I really adore Noir de Noir. To me it's a darker, more opulent version of my beloved Rose Barbare by Guerlain. I *love* dark, brooding roses, and this is one of the best. Also along the lines of Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens. Oud Wood is another favorite but I don't think I get any leather. Now that you said it, though, I'll go resniff.

P.S. I admire the first image but it kinda looks spooky, don't you think? ;D

11:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great reviews Marina!

You're right when you say Noir de Noir is probably the most popular, my trip to Bergdorfs this weekend to sample so things resulted in me spending considerable time at the Private Blend table where I asked the SA which was selling the best and he said the Noir de Noir was the most popular followed by Japon Noir. I wore Purple Patchouli yesterday and yes - total skank fest and I happened to love every minute of it. I don't know whats so purple about it, but it was interesting none the less. I don't think I'll be dropping the cash for any of the Tom Fords, esp. Purple Patchouli b/c well, as much as I like the skank thing - I don't feel like paying top dollar to smell like one.

Noir de Noir and Moss Breches are my favorite from the line, but even those I'm relieved to report dont have me reaching for the credit card. I still stand firmly behind my opinion that its terribly ambitious to launch 12 uber-expensive fragrances at one time. If it wasn't Bond's intent to be it's own boutique, I would have said the same for them, too.

I would have preferred Tom released 6 or 8 and took a bit more time with them. But thats just me.

I was happy to find out they were giving samples of these at BGs - I loaded up.


1:52 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your description of Purple Patchouli made my stomach roll - I HATE clean and dirty battling it out like that - for some reason it makes me think of people who use a spritz of floral perfume to cover up their filth. If you're filthy, at least be honest about it!

4:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

The oud sounded so great until you said it was a little too refined... Still a must-try though. And the patch sounds like a scary must-try. Scary not because of the skank but because of the clean. I'm with Lee - that dirty/clean thing is horrid. I think it's closely related to the warm/cold thing I'm having so much trouble with in scents too. (Prime example: Chergui. Yuck! I know, I know, swearing in church and all that...)

4:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Divina said...

I am sort of scared to try them..Ford's creations turn overwhelming on my skin, even though I can appreciate the mastery behind them.

5:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked Oud Wood quite a bit but did not think much of Purple Patchouli when I smelled it on the scent strip. I didn't get any of the animalic accord that you mention from the paper. I wish I had had the chance to smell Noir de Noir as it sounds the most interesting, but it is probably too sweet for me.

7:00 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I am having so much fun reading these! I still haven't tried all of my samples, so you're giving me ideas for prioritizing.

I bet Purple Patch turns out to be everyone's least favorite. I thought you were very diplomatic. To me it was like sucking on a grape lollipop while standing next to the sewer in August.

7:27 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I liked ultra-vixen and I like buttoned-up. You know, I'd say Black Orchid was ultra-vixen and these ARE actually much more restrained. Take Oud Wood. It could (should, rather) have been mindblowingly hairy-chested, but it is surprisingly buttoned up :-)

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have no idea what that image is or where I got it. Usually I save the images on my computer with author-name-site in the title, but this one was just a sequence of numbers. It's not so much what's not there that fits Noir de Noir, I feel, as the colors of the thing.

8:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...


Japon Noir second popular? Interesting. I agree about releasing lots of things at once. Sometimes this insta-brand effort pays off, sometimes (hello, Etat Libre!) it doesn't. In the case of Ford, I think, it was successful, but perhaps, as you say, if they focused on 6 scents instead of 12, they could have been even better, who knows...

8:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree, I dislike that combo too. And you parallel with a spritz of floral perfume to cover up filth ...gosh, haven't we all encountered such a thing. Gaah!

8:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am OK with the warm-cold thing. To me the example of a scent that does it best is Fissore Cashmere for Women. There IS another combo I hate: aquatic and gourmand rolled into one scent. The last year's Missoni was like that. I just could not stomach it.

8:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Lovely to "see" you here! Yeah, these are not shy little scents, but, to me, they seem somewhat more restrained than Black Orchid was.

8:23 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Noir de Noir layered w/ Oud Wood is fab. As you said, Oud Wood isn't particularly wild, but it's brilliant for layering and a very comforting scent on its own. I didn't get leather, but am off to resniff. Oh, and NdN is w/out doubt one of the first I will need a FB of. Stunning. But Purple Patch is the scent I'm most terrified of smelling on someone on a plane. I'd like to see it added to the list of banned substances.

8:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I do think that Noir de Noir is on the sweet side. At times I actually foudn it a little overwhelming...and you remember, I wear Black Orchid! :-)

8:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

"It was like sucking on a grape lollipop while standing next to the sewer in August." LOL!! I didn't get any grape, and thus, like MarkDavid, I am left with the question of what is purple about Purple Patchouli. :-)
Of the ones you tried, which one did you like the best?

8:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

What a great idea! Your know another combo that is amazing- Tobacco Vanilla + Tuscan Leather *swoon*

I just had a thought...I wonder if, by layering Noir de Noir with Purple Patch and a tiny bit of Moss Breches, one wouldn't get Black Orchid...not that I am going to do such an experiment. :-)

8:27 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Beautiful reviews! I am trying NdN again because of you (and Ina's mention of RdN). I thought of Black O immediately when I first tried this--and I still do. I like it better than BO (which I couldn't stand), but it's still too sweet for me to love. Perhaps I will try L's idea of layering it with

Oud Wood! I DO love this! I agree completely that it is refined and subtle, and I was initially disappointed by that (I had expected a big, out-there oud). I still liked it best of the group at BGs--until I tried MB; I went home with a bottle of MB and a sample of this. But at home, I worried that I might have made the wrong decision. I still loved MB (and I still do) but that subtle OW haunted me. It drifted up mysteriously when I wore it, prompting the "oh, I smell GOOD" reaction--and I craved it when I wasn't wearing it. It is a really addictive scent, I think. So clearly, there was nothing to do but get a bottle of OW, too!! And I am very happy I did! I think most wood fans will like this a lot if they give it a chance to work its magic (and don't expect too much exotic oud). I haven't thought about leather here, but will do so next time I wear it--which will be soon!

I have a sample of PP, but I have been afraid to try it.

8:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Ah, so I am not the only one who gets the similarity between NdN and Black Orchid. Goody. :-)
I agree about Oud Wood, as long as one doesn't try it with expectations of forceful oud-ness and exoticism, it is a great, very elegant fragrance.

9:05 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well, I have to take a shower soon, so I thought I'd suck it up and try the PP--and yuck! It's very. . . purple (I definitely get March's rotten grape lolly). Every bit as awful as advertised~ I don't know if I can wait for the drydown here. Wonder why he did this. . .

9:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I get the leather in the oud wood too. I think that's what threw me at first, but now that I re-orient my head to expect it, it makes sense.

OW does give great sillage. I still haven't braved the PP or the Velvet Gardenia. Those two scaaaaareee me...

9:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

So you get purple too? Interesting. I would love to know what the brief for this one was. Oh to be a fly on the wall. :-)

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Be scared of PP, don't be scared of VG. VG is gorgeous.

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Oh, I somehow missed that you and MD didn't get purple. I am sure I am influenced by the name, but, yes, I do--and I hate it!

I am trying the Oud again (over the Noir, but it's pretty much wiped that out), and I can see what you mean about leather. I don't get a cuir note per se, but it does have a leathery FEEL to me--and definitely, lots of vetiver.

9:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

Marina: aquatic/gourmand, ooh, that's a scare... I'd probably say aquatic/anything is a scare. And perhaps what I mean with warm/cold is more like warm/aquatic? I can't recall what it was, but I think I have described at least one scent I actually liked as warm/cold... Perhaps it works if it's warm/cold and dry, not warm/cold and watery? I think perhaps I have a problem with cool scents generally, because, well, body odours are warm, so that adds upp to warm/cold. Also, body odours are musky/skanky so adding fresh/aquatic fragrances to them makes for an instant clash too. And I don't necessarily mean blatantly trying to cover up filth...

I get leather from Montale's Black Aoud, but I guess it's the oud. Isn't oud a leathery note in itself?

9:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

yes, leathery feel, definitely...and lots of vetiver. Veticuir feel :-)

9:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Anything watery is an instant kiss of death for me, with very few notable exceptions, like Psychotrope, which is cold, watery leather, and I love it.
I too smell a leathery undertone in many Montale ouds.

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Interesting. I love dark rose fragrances (RdN) and saffron with rose in Taif is lovely but I am slightly worried about the sweetness of NdN. There's a sort of ripe banana thing going on in BO which I'm not sure I like and certainly wouldn't like in NdN. The thing about NdN which attracts me is that it sounds elegant? Anyway the layering possibilties sound interesting and I thought I'd read somewhere that that was his (TF) plan - that people would create their own blend? A verrry expensive blend!

10:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

A very expensive blend indeed!
Well, NdeN is sweet, but it has the floral sweetness, none of the fruity sweetness that Black Orchid had. No banana here.

10:29 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I've only tried Moss, Purple Patch, Black Violet (?) and the Ambre. My favorite is probably the Amber, to my surprise, followed closely by the Moss Breches. The BV makes me laugh but I'm not sure I'll be wearing it.

11:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Amber is lovely. Can't wait to read your impressions about all of them.

11:14 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nothing new... nothing new... i read your wonderful words yet i still feel these are nothing new... being a very jaded scent-a-holic (quite tortured in my quest for the new) i'm constantly on the alert for the latest seduction... yet what i read regarding these ford inventions was yet again... nothing new... they merely brought to mind the brews already concocted by sonoma scent studio... and dawn spencer hurwitz

1:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree, nothing new, but great quality and many of them beautiful. I reached a point where I'll take that over any sort of shallow innovation. *grumble grumble*

1:30 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trivial question: Is there any perfume with "purple" in the name that has been much loved? Not "violet" or "lavender", but "purple".

9:12 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Do you know, I can only remember one scent with "purple" in its name, Hugo Boss Pure Purple, and it was not popular, I think. I certainly didn't like it :-)
Can you think of any more?

9:34 PM EDT  
Blogger artheart said...

bought oud wood from n.marcus the other day. first impression was lovely . subtle, woody, leathery . oud, present but not overpowering .
BUT, when i started to use the bottle , the lasting power is absolutely TERRIBLE !. i was not looking for it to make its presence felt to everyone around me, but when one cant even smell it on ones own skin, 30 mins after application , its really weak ... . reading all the reviews for oud wood, i would constatly read that staying power is not great, but this is like flavored water !! stick with serge Lutens, my favorite.. amouage or montale [ for aoud at least] you get your money's worth. a waste of almost 200+$. glad i bought the smaller of the two bottles.

2:35 AM EST  
Blogger hk401 said...

Ok! which one should i buy? black violet, NdN, or purple patch ? anybody tell me lol, i cant afford all 3 of bottle haha, just pick one.

3:42 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this 12 scent collection in ITALY at corso como and instantly feel in love with Purple Patchouli. I find your critique of it a bit harsh. I love the scent so much i own 2 bottles. sorry that you didnt have a great experience with such a clean and sexy scent

9:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



6:39 AM EST  

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