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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tom Ford Private Blend

Review by Tom

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), and we both commented that blog reactions have made us have to get over our initial (in my case somewhat snobby) reaction to Tom. I find him somewhat louche and when I read about these I kind of rolled my eyes. Even more so when I read the piece in The New York Times skewering his Madison Avenue boutique. Reading some of the reviews I realized that I was coming in with my own prejudices against Tom Ford: not just because he's cuter and way more successful than I (and somehow steadfastly refuses to date me..), but because it seems unbearably.. showy I guess is the word to pop up with so many new releases. It gets an automatic "oh really?" from me.

Having written that I will try to keep an open mind. As open as it's rusty hinges will allow: since everyone else has covered these pretty exhaustively, I'll keep this short.

Velvet Gardenia

Intense gardenia, but not as intense as say, Fracas is intense in its tuberose. It's certainly not something that I would recommend wearing to a meeting with the boss, unless you two have a very interesting relationship. I can see where some people get the blue cheese bit- it skates that edge of decay that gardenias do in real life. I like this, but it cries out to be dialed up- Tom cranks the dial to 7, and I wish he had dialed it to 11. But god love him for even going up that far on the dial in this world over-run by fruity floral.

Black Violet

Candied violets (which Fran Lebowitz wrote of as "the Necco Wafers of the overbred"), woods and a plummy sweetness. I don't get much that's "black" here, and at just the point I start to get actual violets, it gets a case of the vapors and heads off to its boudoir.

Tuscan Leather

Really, they could call this one Eau de Coach Store. Just the smell of a new Coach bag, that slightly berry-sweet leather smell. It becomes harsher further on (which I think is a good thing), losing some of the sweetness and becoming more biker jacket than clutch.

Moss Breches

Earthy green Old-School Chypre with an unexpected bit of sweetness and... mint? Easily my hands-down favorite. Would I buy? Perhaps not.

Bois Rouge

Rather cologney citrus opening that frankly doesn't go very far on me until the drydown, with its woody leathery goodness. Perhaps the biggest "meh" of the group.

Purple Patchouli

For me opens with a brief blast that reminds me of Chypre Rouge, which drops immediately and becomes a weird combination of soap and...crystal meth? (don't ask) Becomes more and more "purple" in the drydown, in a "purple prose" kind of way- there is patchouli in there but it's buried under that tickle-the-back-of-the-throat iodiney note that reminds me club days before I woke up and decided to be an adult. Great cover for some of the girls at Hyde "No officer, it's Tom Ford"

Japon Noir

Seems as light as Florida Water after some of the others: light leathered amber. Keeps doing a sort of Lutens thing, somewhat like smelling the ghost of Fumerie Turque on a sweater you wore last week.

Noir de Noir

Sweet saffron and gentle roses. Not showy but quite luscious. Like Colombina, I can see where this will become the best seller of the line. I can't say it's my favorite, but it's the most approachable.

Amber Absolute

Delightfully smoky amber: incense, woods and rich amber goodness. If Moss Britches weren't here with its wonderful weirdness, this would be my favorite. It has fairly intense sillage, so another one that's not for the office, unless you work in the Playboy mansion.

Oud Wood

Marvelous sly oud and vetiver. Like Colombina I get leather in there- that new purse smell. It has a lovely woody amber drydown. Certainly the most "unisex" leaning toward masculine smelling one for me. Kelley, I think this Oud is for you..

Tobacco Vanille

Not nearly enough tobacco or for that matter vanille. I get March's Play-Doh, candy, and something that smells like the scent from that Christmas Tree shaped air-freshener you get at the car wash over the holidays. No thanks.

Neroli Portofino

4711 on steroids. Check, please!

Okay, I went through all of these in a period of two weeks and I have to write that I don't quite know what to think. On the one hand, I have to applaud both the achievement and the chutzpah: putting out three or four scents at once must be a daunting thing to attempt, but 12? I also kind of wonder if there is a reason that I kind of found most of these a bit wanting: it seems that Tom wants to be out there, testing the limits, but also wants to keep a stylish, loafer clad set of tootsies firmly in a realm where everyday shoppers will feel comfortable. Of course, kudos to him for doing anything that would try to reintroduce glamor back into the perfume world (and some of these are pretty glam). I just kind of wish that he could have cranked up the volume a bit. Jump in Tom honey, the water's fine.

Tom Ford is available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.

Image source, Harpers Bazaar.



Blogger Bryan said...

I really enjoyed your take on the private blends. I was hoping to get your thoughts, and well, thank you. I would have to agree with your sentiments regarding the whole "push the limits but not too far," attitude. Of the set, Velvet Gardenia is a beautiful rendition of Gardenia..not too vapidly fresh, not too decayed. I also adore Purple did things to me...wonderful things I shouldn't talk about. : )

11:51 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I want to hear about those wonderful things, you naughty boy! ;-)

12:35 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You two smutmuffins.

I'm glad you grew up and dumped the tickly throat Tom. There's too many casualties in the world, and we need you around for your chutzpah and smell it like it is no nonsense approach.

6:14 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

This is all true--and really wonderful, but I have to say I am addicted to Moss Breches. I did buy a bottle, and I am wearing it more than I ever thought possible (much more than I usually do any one scent). I also really like Oud Wood (another buy--boy, am I broke) and the Amber.
But you want MORE blue cheese?? God bless ya!

6:57 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

All my menfolk need to take BOTH their minds, and their snouts, out of the toilet please...
That's better.
I LOVE my male canines...

Tomster, if you do 50/50 MB w/ AA, you'll be a very happy camper.
Also, AA w/ VG is nothing to snort at...

Oud Wood just doesn't do me.
I'm trying, honestly.
But, if you'd like to take it off my hands, let me know...

["singing early Beatles...'We can work it out...' "]

Nice reviews, Tateleh.

7:01 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I fully expected to not need any of these. Have issues w/ quantity over quality and *twelve* simultaneous releases - couldn't believe that any single one would be worth it. Have had to a quite a bit of discreet backpedaling. Absolutely love and need Velvet Gardenia, Oud Wood (which really could stand some oomphing up) and Moss Breches. Adore Amber Absolute, but it's maybe too similar to other ambers I already have to merit getting a full bottle. Of course, after Bryan's comment, am going to have to revisit Purple Patch. Intriguing. :-)

8:10 AM EDT  
Blogger rosarita said...

I do enjoy your breezy, direct writing style, thanks for the reviews. Tom Ford's arrogant public persona, coupled with the fact that ah'm poe, has kept me from experiencing these. However, my DH has promised a weekend in Chicago, complete with (limited) sniffage, and I want to try the Amber Absolute. More reasons to be grateful for the busy decant community!

8:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comprehensive review Tom. Of the two, you would recommend going with the Lutens over the TF, I take it? I've been coveting Fumerie for a while now (I really want a bell jar though) but I was hoping for something great with Japan Noir as well (great name, on paper the notes look great). I still have to get a decant...

8:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Love your reviews. It takes me 3 fat paragraphs to say what you do in one.

I *need* Velvet Gardenia (more blue cheese would be great :-)). Would love to also have Tabacco Vanilla and Tuscan Leather, but can live without them.

I want to know about those wonderful things too, simply because I can't *imagine* Purple Patchouli doing anything wonderful to anybody :-)

8:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm hoping that as he takes some out of the collection and brings in new ones, that he'll start pushing a little more. He seems to have the feel for going to the limit... now he just needs to jump over it.

I think that's why the PP tickled me, that one is the one where he went right out on a limb and jumped off. I'm still not sure where he landed, but it is a puzzle.

10:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about Tom Ford. I'm on the fence about him image-wise, too. There's something so predictable about his brand of glamour--it doesn't leave much to the imagination and doesn't have enough quirkiness to make the jump from commerce to art. It's American glamour (not to dis my own country). But I'm really itching to try some of these scents.

11:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for such succinctly fabulous reviews - you craft a phrase beautifully & made me giggle into my cereal.

I've only tried Amber Absolute so far & umm. No. The incense beginning knocked me on my ass & honestly, it smelled a little like the sour-pungentness of this "Honey Thyme" stuff my mother used to give us for sore throats. It did settle down to a strong, sweet amber but a dozen things settle to amber on me, so *eh*, you know? And I'm not sure I can take an hour of Honey Thyme.

I think I NEED to try Tuscan Leather & perhaps Japan Noir. Expecting a sample of Fumerie Turque from Perfume Shoppe next week, will know better what you're talking about once I sniff. As for Purple Patch ... I'll take your word for it. I've turned adult too in the past decades & don't need any olafactory trips down memory lane thankyouverymuch, lol.

11:51 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It wasn't that much fun to begin with

12:51 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Moss Breches would be a purchase for me.

Yes, I guess I do want more blue cheese. Weird, eh?

12:52 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


(stealing and mangling quote)

All boys have their minds in the gutter.

One or two are looking at the stars..

Let's chat about the Oud..

1:00 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I had to happily do some backpedalling as well..

1:05 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...



Oh yes, decanters rule!

1:25 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


If you can get a bell jar of FT, I say go for it (have you tried it?). Even in the 50 ml size, it's cheaper than the Tom Ford

1:29 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Your words are catnip to me..

1:31 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I sort of agree about PP, he went there. I think it's his SM, at 75%

But like I wrote, god love him for mainstreaming that level of wierdness

1:36 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I always think of Grace Kelly or Kate Hepburn as American Glamor- there has to something innate about it. Some aspect of Tom Ford's (and a lot of other designers, including European ones) seem forced.

But these are really worth a try...

1:43 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You made me giggle too!

I love FT- hope you like it too..

1:45 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Well, I shouldn't probably put it here, in case SOME of you random pervs post me...

NOW, if there's ANY hanky-panky, I'll know who did it...

1:47 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

These reviews were great. I still think there's a Tom-ade theme running through many of them, and I'm giggling at the idea of making them stronger. You, my friend, do have the skank-eating skin! The thought of being trapped in an elevator with several of these terrifies me (should someone develop a not-office-friendly sticker for fragrance bottles? Maybe a little vomiting figure?) I feel vindicated by your TV commentary.

2:42 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I do have that deskankotron thing going on, but yeah, I wish a couple of these were more difinite.

I have to write that Velvet Gardenia, while not quite as strong as I would have likes was as resistant to washing as graffitti. I was getting vague whiffs of it off my wrist for days...

4:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I sit writing I have every single one of the scents all up and down both arms and, truthfully, they've all ended up smelling the same after 2 hours. I don't want to end up buying Moss Breches (my favorite at the Neiman Marcus counter) and smelling like every other person in Los Angeles. After leaving NM I ended up stopping at a drugstore to buy eyedrops and tylenol...the scents are way too overpowering.
Perhaps wearing no scent, at all, is much more chic.

8:01 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm French and I'm afraid I did not quite understand what you meant on Bois Rouge. Van you help please ? Actually I discovered the "private blends" last night at Le Bon Marché (Paris) weekly late opening and I liked it very much. It reminds me of Bois d'Arménie, which I wear presently. Japon Noir was not bad either ! By the way, do you know any perfume close to Eau du Fier (Annick Goutal) which is being discontinued ? Thxxx

6:02 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i use amber absolute, but it makes honey coloured stains. Any one any idea how to get this stains out of my shirts?

5:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Play-Doh!! That's what it is! I like Tobacco Vanille on the Handsome Devil (and he loves it), but I sometimes catch whiff-lets of something... jarring. Yep, it's Play-Doh.

2:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous sunglasses said...

I love this fragrance it is so lovely :)

10:59 PM EDT  

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