Fragrance X
First in Fragrance
My Photo
Location: New York, NY
© Copyright 2005-2011 Perfume-Smellin' Things
All rights reserved
Custom Search

Friday, April 27, 2007

Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Vanille, Tuscan Leather, Velvet Gardenia

Tobacco Vanille

With notes of tobacco leaf, spices, tonka bean, tobacco flower, vanilla, cocoa, dry fruits and wood sap, Tobacco Vanille is described by Tom Ford Beauty as "a modern take on an old world men’s club". In my opinion, to be such a take, the scent has to have a very strong leather note and be even smokier and perhaps a littler harsher. The image that Tobacco Vanilla evokes in my mind is more domiciliary, cozy and warm. It is an image of a dad smoking a pipe, a mom baking something aromatic, maybe gingerbread...It is winter, snow is falling softly, there is the smell of bonfires in the air and the sound of bells...Is it Christmas? Perhaps. It is definitely somewhere in Russia, and most probably even not in the 21st century, maybe even not in the 20th. Tobacco and vanilla go wonderfully well together, and in this particular fragrance the balance of the two accords is perfect. The scent is neither too smoky, nor too fluffy and sweet. The spicy note, which, to me, smells mostly of ginger, ornaments the honeyed smokiness, adding a sweet zing to the composition. The drydown of sugared prunes and soft wood is a cuddly delight. I loved Tobacco Vanille and I think that fans of Ambre Narguile, Sensuelle Russie, Fumerie Turque and Parfumerie Generale's super-secret Un Crime Exotique, should pay special attention to this Private Blend.

Tuscan Leather

Mix Tobacco Vanille with Tuscan Leather and the result would be that very "old world men's club" so dear to Ford's heart. Tuscan Leather, with notes of saffron, raspberry, thyme, olibanum, jasmine, leather, black suede and amberwood, is a husky and warm rendition of leather. The first accord combines tarry smokiness with a very surprising and very delightful raspberry note. I love leather paired with sugared citrus fruits (Piver Cuir de Russie), but I would have never thought that raspberry would be so appropriate in a leather fragrance. And it truly is. It brings charming sweetness, playfulness and sunny warmth to the otherwise rather austere blend. It is like an unexpectedly childish, happy smile on a weather-beaten face. With time, the distinctive berry note subsides, but slight sweetness remains and it softens the composition, toning down the smoky harshness of leather and the peppery sharpness of incense. The latter two notes are the most prominent on my skin throughout the scent's development, with perhaps just a hint of herbs in the heart of the fragrance. Tuscan Leather is rugged and cuddlesome, a very interesting take on leather and a delight for this lover of leather perfumes.

Velvet Gardenia

The last three scents to be reviewed turned out to be my most favorite in the new Ford collection. Velvet Gardenia is perhaps the one that I loved the most. The realization came to me as somewhat of a shock, because I am decidedly not a fan of gardenia perfumes. So far the only rendition that I was able to wear was Jardenia. In a way, Ford's take on the flower reminds me a little bit of JAR's, in a sense that in both compositions the gardenia note has a certain thick, fleshy quality...the note seems so palpable and corpulent, it is almost more than a flower, there is almost something animalic about it. I am invariably attracted to the scents that combine white flowers with incense. In Velvet Gardenia, the incense and the even more prominent ambery-incensey labdanum note pose a striking contrast to the creamy velvet of the gardenia and tuberose petals. The scent has a very vague fruity undertone that enhances the sweet voluptuousness of the flowers. Velvet Gardenia is indolent and dark, slightly brooding, extremely alluring. If I can only have one bottle from the Private Blend line, this would be my choice.

To sum up my impressions from the collection...I was impressed. I did not love all twelve scents, but I liked most, and even in those I didn't like, I still admired the creativity of the blends and the quality of the ingredients. The collection is not cheap by any stretch of imagination, but it smells expensive. I also liked the fact that the scents, different as they are, seem tied together with a certain common thread running through them. To me that thread is a woody-ambery, slightly spicy undertone present practically in all perfumes, even the citrusy-sunny Neroli Portofino. Overall, the perfumes are long-lasting, with a luxurious sillage; most of them have a sleek, urbane feel and a slightly retro glamour that is so very Tom Ford.

Just for the fun of it, I decided to rank the twelve scents, with the first being my most favorite. The hit parade concludes the Ford week on Perfume-Smellin' Things, thank you for reading!

1. Velvet Gardenia
2. and 3. Tobacco Vanille and Tuscan Leather
4. Amber Absolute
5. Bois Rouge
6. Noir de Noir
7. Moss Breches
8. Oud Wood
9. Neroli Portofino
10. Japon Noir
11. Black Violet
12. Purple Patchouli

The scents are available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.



Blogger tmp00 said...

Oy, the descriptions of these last three are soooooo tempting that that I almost can ignore that price for the big bottle.


But those bottles are so pretty..

12:01 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marina, you make these sound so wonderful, and I bet they are. You should read Patty's very different take on Velvet Gardenia. It's like two different fragrances. I'm glad you didn't pick up a blue cheese note. :-D

1:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Bryan said...

I could not agree more with you about the Velvet Gardenia. I bought it unsniffed and was thrilled. My only regret is that I didn't go for the bigger bottle. (Kidding). I also love the Jardenia (another unsniffed purchase which succeeded!) Now, for every one of these successes I have ten failures....does that stop me from buying unsniffed?? 'course not. Lovely review and I am also loving the wallpaper for the week.

1:55 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colombina, thank you for the reviews - they're wonderful, detailed and definitely make me want to have even those less nice ones from the collection.
BTW have you ever read Luca Turin's book about scents?

1:57 AM EDT  
Blogger M1A said...

What an exciting read these were! I hope they're available to sniff in the UK at some point! And you've prompted me to make it a priority to test Black Orchid - which I've not yet (I can hardly believe it)...
A pleasure as ever
x x

5:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I bet you will love TV and TL, for sure. Maybe even VG. There is so much labdanum there, it makes it more than just a heady white floral.

6:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Now that I am done with the review of the TFs, I am going to go back and re-read Patty's. I was reading them with one eye open, so to say, so that I can write mine with an open mind :-)
The fact that you say she picked up a blue cheese note only confirms my belief that there is indeed some similarity between VG and Jardenia, because many people complain about blue cheese note in that one.

6:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

And another confirmation! You loved both VG and Jardenia. Aha! I knew there was something that related the two, even if I can't really put my finger on it.
Congratulations with your purchases!

6:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Lady Jane,
Thank you very much!
I am ashamed to admit that I haven't read Secret of Scent yet. I absolutely must do it very soon. I hear that it is wonderful.

6:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! I hope they start selling these in the UK very soon.
Black Orchid is very much worth the sniff, if only to find out which side of the divide you will be on- with those who loved it, or with those who hated it. It seems that there is no in-between :-)

6:45 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...


I'm with you on the VG, my beauty.
And I'm NOT a Southern Belle, but-
My word !
One could faint from that stuff.

I have smaller sizes of the AA and MB coming, along with [hopefully generous !] samples of these.
[I'd smelled them at Sniffa, and was quite impressed with more than a few.]

For such a lovely girl, how CAN you be so EVIL ?
You must have graduated 'summa cum laude' from the College of Enablers.

7:01 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

And WHAT is so WRONG with blue cheese ?
I'll have to take this up with my beloved Pattycakes.
Blue cheese and I go wayyyy back-

7:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...


I am so glad you are with me on this. VG is gorgeous...maybe not for the faint of heart, maybe, but still gorgeous :-)

7:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You tell them! There is nothing wrong with blue cheese, nothing at all :-)

7:11 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Yes--both Velvet Gardenia and Jarling do smell of bleu cheese to me! Jarling smells ONLY of bleu cheese (but then, I have never put it on), while this seems to have some other things going on (and therefore is somewhat better for me, though not yet completely wearable:) This makes me wonder if what I (and others) identify as "bc" is part of the smell of the actual flower (I am not a flower expert). I don't pick up this note in Isabey, though. The VG is getting better as I leave it on, so we shall see--but I don't think that it is going to cross the line into something I could wear.

I like Tobacco Vanilla (especially after the opening, when it begins to smell like my father's pipe), and Tuscan Leather (though it remains a bit too sweet for my tastes), and will have to try them together to see if I love the combo. I definitely agree that there is a thread running through all the scents (a Tom-ade?) which makes them layer very well.

A preliminary ranking ( I haven't given many of them enough of a chance, and I have lost Japan Noir:)

1. Moss Breches
2. Oud Wood
3. Amber Absolute
4. Tobacco Vanille
5. Tuscan Leather
6. Bois Rouge
7. Neroli Portofino
8. Noir de Noir
9. Japan Noir
10. Black Violet
11. Velvet Gardenia (but I'll think about it)
413. Purple Patcholi

7:30 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

adding--REALLY enjoying the TV + TL combo! Yum. I know I also like TV and OW.

Chaya--nothing is wrong with blue cheese--on a salad! But to steal a line from the Elephant Man--I am not a salad, I am a human being (though a pretty stinky one, right now:)

7:39 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Oh, I can't wait to smell all of these! I wonder if I'll be closer to you or Patty on some of these ... I can't predict, it could go either way.

I will say that, in general, these are not frags I would throw on without careful consideration. They're all strong and tenacious on me and enough of a statement to demand some forethought.

7:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Tom-ade- good one! :-)
You know I think Isabey's Gardenia is pretty but too simple - pretty simple :-)- for my tastes. I find it boring :-) This one and Jardenia have oomph and an attitude. I love that.

I am surprised Bois Rouge is not ranker higher on your list. Do you too find it rather masculine?

8:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Great quote!!

8:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree, they should be approached carefully, because they are very long-lived. Cannot wait for your reviews!!

8:03 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

TV is rapidly becoming my favorite comfort tobacco scent. To my nose, it's like the connecting link between AN and Un Crime Exotique. Also feels like a scent CB could have made - and probably wishes he had. And, you're right - it's genius layered w/ TL.
I can't pick one favorite, because apparently I'm missing the gene that allows people to create personal scent hierarchies, but VG will definitely be one of the first I get a FB of.
I'm going to miss TF week and the template.

8:05 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Judith !
Psst !
Over here....
I want to inhale you, oh cheesy sorella mia !

Can't help it.
BC is right up there, with olives and single malt.
Probably will be touted , some day, as the next cure for cancer...

Loved your zinger , though !

8:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

"The connecting link between AN and Un Crime Exotique"- absolutely, you are so right!
I will miss the black too, a little bit, it's ever so glam :-)

8:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You are making me crave all those so much, cruel you!

8:14 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

On BR--Well, that is one of those I need to try more. I only tried it once (briefly), liked it, but wasn't knocked out--and it did seem somewhat masculine (but I don't usually mind that). It might very move up the list upon further investigation (which, since you think I will like it, will occur very soon:)

Blue cheese, olives, and (a peaty) single malt--sounds like a delicious dinner, Chaya! I'm there! And I wouldn't even mind smelling like the single malt--make mine Laphroig, please (though Ardbeg or Lagavullin would also be nice:)

8:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Judith, Chaya and everyone,
What I want is for us all to get together, eat blue cheese, olives, drink Laphroig, and sample TF or any other scents and share impressions. *sigh*

8:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Fleshy? Is that another word for bleu cheese? :)

Agree completely on Tobacco -- love this one, and am quite sure during winter I will be wearing it constantly.

I need to still test thoroughly Tuscan Leather, but just from preliminary tests, agree that Tobacoo and leather scents go together absolutely beautifully

8:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't really get blue cheese, but even if I did...I probably would have liked it even more, ha! :-)

9:33 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had tried Velvet Gardenia on my skin. From the scent strip, I didn't get any incense, and I think incense and gardenia would be lovely. Tobacco Vanille was a little too smooth and sweet for me, and I don't remember smelling Tuscan leather. Wonderful reviews as usual, M. (Pssst. When will you be doing the lotv reviews?)

9:38 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Oh No! Not one, not two but three and possibly four lemmings in one go! How could you Marina? Loved the phrase about a childlike grin on a old face! Now what's all this about the secret Un Crime Exotique? I've clearly not been paying attention. Goes to the back of the class. I have samples of 4 TFs coming but because of your review I know I need to try them all, esp TL and VG. A fevered search through various suspects' web sites revealed that Harvey Nicks either have them or will have them Thank God. I mean it.

9:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Do give VG a skin-test, when you have a chance. *A lot* of incense and labdanum there, almost an equal amount to that of gardenia.

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad they will in the UK too!
I can't tell you about Crime Exotique. They prohibited me from speaking about it :-) It is rich and spicy, and...ask them for a sample, but don't tell them I told you :-)

9:43 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Thanks Marina! Of course I won't say a thing....;)

10:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I want in on the super-secret! *dons a trenchcoat, fedora and dark shades and starts trying out possible passwords*
I thought Tobacco Vanille sounded a bit too cuddly from your description, until I read the list of scents in the same vein.. Now I'm sold.
Tuscan Leather and Black Violet are the only ones i've tried and I wish TL was as interesting on this leather lover's skin as it is on yours. It's a nice suede scent but I don't get any other notes from it and I never thought I'd miss them but I do. It's a bit on the sweet side too - if the sweetness was distinctly raspberry I may have liked it better but I only got the sort of abstract, artificial sweetness they fill so many department store scents with (I'm not talking sugary pink fruity/florals, I'm talking men's scents or whatever, just that added saccarine, like Gaultier2 perhaps, sweet and nothing else, no notes) I'll look for the raspberry the next time I try it.

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Lovely reviews and I am now utterly intrigued by the Tom Ford Collection. The Tuscan Leather and Vanille Tobacco sound absolutely up my alley.

11:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Suede? Interesting. On me it was definitely scratchy, smoky leather

11:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! Those two are definitely lovely and worth a try.

11:56 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Marina,

Thank you for the wonderfully written reviews. I also enjoyed TV and TL, although perhaps not as much as you. I wish TV were not so sweet on me. I, too, got a suede vibe from TL, not a sharp leather scent. But I enjoy soft, suedey leather. I have a sample of VG, but I've been afraid to try it. Perhaps I'll give it a go today. My preference list so far:

1. Moss Breches
2. Amber Absolute
3. Oud Wood
4. Tuscan Leather
5. Tobacco Vanille
6. Bois Rouge
7. Noir de Noir
8. Portofino
9. Japan Noir
10. Black Violet
Velvet Gardenia?
Purple Patchouli doesn't get a number because I thought it was such a terrible stinker.

12:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Why is everyone afraid of Velvet Gardenia? As Douglas Adams wrote about earth, it is "mostly harmless" :-)

12:21 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find gardenia scents very scary -- as in the stuff of nightmares. So, I approach VG with much trepidation. Remember that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: Do one scary thing each day? VG will be my challenge to myself today.

12:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

Marina - Alas, I envy you! I got a little sharp note from it, but it was more like an added green note than like part of the leather. The leather in itself was soft, brown suede to my nose.

But clearly I'm mad since I recently smelled Guet-Apens for the first time and was stunned it smelled exactly like a horse, half-chewed hay and all. And believe it or not, I mean that as a compliment. I'm very nostalgic about the scent of horses and I've sort of been looking for a perfume that would capture it... I'd never think to look for it in Guet-Apens though!

12:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

:-) Well, because it has so much incense and labdanum, this one is not nearly as scary as all other gardenias. I am afraid of gardenias too, believe me.

12:40 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

S, Guet-Apens?...*thud*

12:40 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Just read the Velvet Gardenia-JAR connection over on Perfume Posse, so must repeat what I said there: am trying to ignore these, but now I might need to try at least Velvet Gardenia.

5:06 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

And when you do, please let us now, which side are you on, mine or Patty's :-)

5:25 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Neroli Portofino is more that seven! Is plenty of fragrance. Moreover portofino is my city. In Italy.

Very romantic.

7:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry if this is a dumb question - but how do they get he leather smell? is it derived from hide, artificially created or taken from oils used in leatherwork. i know that sounds stupid but i am vegan and don't wear animal skins, but love the masculinity of this fragrance.
thanks in advance

10:51 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home