Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum ($205.00 for 1.7 fl. oz./50 ml) begins with an initial blast of spices, like cardamom, cinnamon, and clove, followed by sweetened vanilla bean, and rum–warm, boozy, and fragrant. There’s an undercurrent of chocolate after about forty-five minutes of wear while, for me, a blend of vanilla and spice continues to be the main event. I felt as if there was a general haziness to the scent, which gave it a darker element, but it didn’t smell smoky or incense-like; more unsmoked pipe tobacco. I very much had the impression that I was breathing in the aromas from a freshly-made vanilla Chai tea latte–there’s a milky creaminess that really made me feel like cozying up by a fire with a good book.

Tobacco Vanille is not a scent that I would have thought would appeal to me. I tend to like heavier, amber-rich scents that are often masculine, but I do like the pairing of vanilla and amber, and here, with Tobacco Vanille, I love how well the spices and vanilla that play with the ginger, fruity tartness, and tobacco notes. On me, it’s not a complex perfume, but for all of its simplicity, it is exactly as described:  a potent mix of spice, tobacco, and vanilla.  It wore close to the skin, and three sprays lasted around fourteen hours.  I think if you like rummy, boozy scents, spices like cinnamon and cardamom, and vanilla, this perfume might interest you.

Fragrance can be a difficult category to cover, because smell is so intrinsically linked to personal preference, our memories, and our associations. Even a quality perfume may be held in contempt by one person while revered by another. Long-time reader Kafka urged me to hone my “nose” and dive into the world of perfume, and forty some-odd sample vials later, the scent that captured my attention was Tobacco Vanille (after reading her review, linked above).  It is no secret that I’m a fan of Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection (Oud Wood, Amber Absolute, and Bois Marocain are staples for me; Lavender Palm my night time accompaniment). I tried several other houses but this is the scent that I felt inspired to put on paper (well, post)–for now. I think, perhaps, it is a nice counterpoint to the scents I love.

Have you tried Tobacco Vanille?  Is there a house that you always find your favorites from?

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Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum
Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum

A Sweet Slice of Cherry Pie

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau de Parfum ($64.00 for 1.0 fl. oz.) has notes of black cherry, almond, berries, rose, licorice, black tea, tonka bean, vanilla, and patchouli.

When it opens, it’s a barely-sweetened black cherry with a fizzy pop of crispness (reminds me of sparkling water) that gives away to a sweeter mix of cherries and almond. The almond starts to disappear, and then I get licorice peeking through with an occasional whiff of black tea. It is almost syrupy-sweet and is cherries, cherries, and more cherries. Even when the other notes come into play, they are always in the background, as the sweet scent of black cherry permeates from beginning to end. The vanilla note started to come through after a few hours, as did the rose (just barely).

On me, it was mostly a sweetened fruit and floral mix. I found it to be a fairly sweet scent but not syrupy-sweet or cloying, but on some, it might be that way. I think the fizzy quality helps lighten the scent in the beginning, and then the hints of licorice and black tea keep it from becoming too sweet as the perfume wears on.  It lasted eight hours on me, and it wore fairly close to the skin.  I could not compare it myself (as I don’t have it) but many have said this is a lighter version of Lolita Lempicka, so that may be of some help if you are familiar with that scent.

I am actually in love with the artwork surrounding the campaign, more so than with the fragrance itself (I tend to lean towards woody, resinous kind of fragrances, so it’s just not my personal preference).  I could just see some of the imagery framed and hung near a vanity.

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Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum
Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum

Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum ($98.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) is a recently released scent that was supposed to mark the return to Oriental fragrances for Chanel. It has notes of grapefruit, bergamot, orange, rose, jasmine, geranium, patchouli, tonka bean, vanilla, sandalwood, and white musk.

Coco Noir spends most of the time smelling like sweet berries and patchouli. From beginning to end, a lot of the other notes are barely detectable; if I wasn’t specifically looking for them, I don’t think I’d have caught on that they were, in fact, supposed to be there. Initially, there’s a hint of grapefruit–a little zest–but it fades too quickly. In the first hour or so, the rose and jasmine notes peek through. They linger but disappear beneath a haze of sweetened berries, patchouli, and a hint of musk. On me, there’s some soapiness after four or five hours.

It wears close to the skin on me with two spritzes (one on each wrist), and the fragrance wears noticeably for around six hours and is mostly gone by eight hours. It’s a blend of sweetness and light, berries and patchouli, that never gets too sweet but never reads noir.  (It is a bit like how I felt about Tom Ford’s Jardin Noir collection.) The scent is incredibly well-blended, and on the whole, a wearable, easygoing fragrance that many will love, but if you were looking for something particularly interesting, innovative, or noir, you may not be so keen on this scent.  Coco Noir is soft, lightly warmed up–like a light jacket for the first days of autumn.

Have you tried Coco Noir?

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Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The gist of Tom Ford’s newest Private Blend launch (which contains four scents) is about revealing the “forbidden sides” of four flowers: rose, narcissus, lily, and hyacinth. None of the scents struck a forbidden chord with me; I didn’t envision clandestine meetings near the ivy at midnight. Each seemed to be a different take on some of the usual ways these flowers are presented, so they may be darker, but they just didn’t resonate as truly rich and dark and forbidden.

Cafe Rose ($205.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) contains notes of saffron, black pepper, Rose de Mai, Turkish rose, Bulgarian rose, coffee, incense, amber, sandalwood, and patchouli. It begins with a strong dose of rose with a peppery edge that transitions into more and more rose over a backdrop of amber and coffee–almost reminded me of something chocolaty.  If you are looking for a real coffee or cafe presence, it’s not quite there. It’s rather subtle.  It evokes an image of sitting in an elegant rose garden after you’ve sipped your morning coffee and are just now getting up and preparing to go to work.  There’s a natural sweetness from the rose that prevails throughout the wear of the scent, a hint of spiciness that begins and ends after a few hours, while amber, patchouli, and rose remain most potent until the very end. On me, Cafe Rose lasts for eight to ten hours. It wears close to the skin for the first hour, then seems to become more present, but finally returns to a closer wear for the last couple hours.

Jonquille de Nuit ($205.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) contains notes of Wild Alpine cyclamen, acacia and angelica seeds, Egyptian violet leaf, bitter orange leaf, narcissus, orris, and amber. You may know narcissus by its more common name, daffodil. The former sounding far more in sync with the concept behind the range/scent! Of the four scents, this was the most dominated by its floral; this is narcissus over and over again. There’s a crispness with a subtle citrus–like the rind of an orange–in the beginning; it reminds me of spring gardens after a fresh rain. Within a half hour, though, it sweetens and smells like a mix of narcissus and jasmine, even if it’s not listed, that’s what I’m detecting. It loses a lot of its intriguing character once it dries down on the skin. This fragrance was particularly strong, both in its sillage and wear. The wear was still going strong after twelve hours, and even by morning (so almost twenty-four hours), I could still detect it. At that point, it was an nondescript, sweet floral.

Lys Fume ($205.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) contains notes of Italian mandarin, pink peppercorn, nutmeg, turmeric, white lilies, ylang ylang, davana, rum, vanilla, labdanum, amber, styrax, and oakwood. It’s warm, lightly sweetened and somewhat musky; it’s lily and nutmeg with a touch of pepper–it reads oriental to me. All that spice and warmth just envelop me like a soft blanket on a cool autumn evening.  Slowly, it becomes a patch of soft lilies over a background of rum, pepper, and amber. In its final stage, there’s the ylang ylang and lily playing together to create a pleasing but soft floral with the warmth of amber and the sweetness of vanilla rounding it out. Of the four, this was the “darkest” scent to me. I don’t think I’d really describe it as a dark scent overall, though. This was my personal favorite, but I tend to gravitate towards scents with amber and vanilla. The wear was around eight hours, and it wore closely to the skin.

Ombre de Hyacinth ($205.00 for 1.7 fl. oz.) contains notes of galbanum, violet leaf, magnolia leaf orpur, olibanum, hyacinth, pink peppercorn, jasmine, benzoin, and musk. The opening is intriguing–it’s sharp, crisp, and green–all hyacinth and gardening with dirt on your elbows and knees. It’s grassy and earthy and a little bitter. Then I catch jasmine and more jasmine, but it softens, and the whole scent becomes less sharp, less bitter. Finally, it’s floral and musk in a way that’s not spectacular but not displeasing. There’s a lingering greenness to the fragrance that persists throughout the development and wear that makes it appeal to me. This scent was a bit stronger, so it wore longer (twelve hours) and was more noticeable when worn.

I’m not actually drawn to most floral fragrances. I’m picky about them, as too often it’s dominated by the flower of choice and translates as”springtime allergies” in my brain. By that measure, the scents I enjoyed the most were Cafe Rose and Lys Fume.  All four scents seemed a little… tame, or perhaps, restrained, is a better way to describe these.  Ombre de Hyacinth was more interesting than Jonquille de Nuit, which tended to get more generic as it wore on, while Ombre de Hyancinth managed to keep some interest with the ever-present green note–it’s a scent that, while floral, may be more polarizing. All four scents are also available in 8.4 fl. oz. bottles ($495 each).

Because Tom Ford is by no means an affordable fragrance range, one might consider decants or samples. The way they open seems to be more complex and enchanting than some of the dry downs, so I recommend at least wearing and seeing how they read on you first.  As always, fragrance is quite personal, not only because different scents trigger our own personal memories but with the way the scent interacts with one’s body chemistry.

What’s your favorite floral scent?

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Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Spadaro Sole Nero Eau de Parfum

Spadaro Sole Nero Eau de Parfum

Spadaro Sole Nero Eau de Parfum ($135.00 for 100ml) has notes of Italian grapefruit, bergamot, white pepper, cumin, musk, sandalwood, almond, and vanilla.  The bottle I have is sample packaging, so what is available at retail is larger and prettier–it looks a lot like a lantern.  The bottle design is actually what made me notice the brand to begin with!

The Story

Each day, we climbed steep stone pathways to yet another wonderful outdoor market, where we would shop for fresh produce. Grapefruit has always been one of my favorite oils, and I found myself surrounded by citrus fruits being cut for juice and handed out to passersby for sampling. So sweet and succulent, they are emblazoned in our collective memory. During a mountaintop dinner one night, we watched Mount Etna’s ambient light glow in the distance. The faint smell of smoke wafted in the breeze. We all sat around a beautiful Italian table, enjoying wines from nearby vineyards and reminiscing about our family’s connection to the land. We heard fascinating stories about distant relatives, many of whom we have never met.

When I returned to the States, I was compelled to make a fragrance with just a hint of grapefruit, rounded out by soft musk and spices, to mark that great trip and to celebrate the spirit of family.

Initially, there’s a strong pepperiness that almost smells like black licorice, though it’s certainly not listed anywhere in the description. It fades very quickly to a scent dominated by bergamot and musk. There’s a subtle sweetness and nuttiness from the almond and vanilla that rounds out the fragrance. The bergamot starts taking a backseat, and the sensual woodiness from the sandalwood moves to the forefront alongside the musk.

The scent is strong, heady, sexy–lots of muskiness blended with sweet woods. I don’t get a lot of citrus or spiciness, though–if I take a really slow, deep inhale, I feel like I can almost detect a light pepperiness in the very background of the scent. It’s very smooth, kind of creamy in a way. If you’re a fan of musk, it’s worth checking out (and conversely, if you loathe musk, skip).

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Tom Ford Noir de Noir Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Noir de Noir Eau de Parfum

Tom Ford Noir de Noir Eau de Parfum ($195.00 for 1.7 oz.) is part of the Private Blend series and comes in a dark amber glass bottle. When I first spritz it against my wrist, before it’s even evaporated against the skin, I get this burst of sweet grapes, which really doesn’t last long–on a quick, light sniff, along the perimeter of where I sprayed it, I can detect a very subtle sweetness similar to the more grape-like sweetness I detected off the bat.

It develops into a sweet, but earthy, foreboding rose scent marked by almost chocolaty notes. There are hints of a general floralness playing in the background, along with a very muted and almost forgotten vanilla. Noir de Noir is spicy and woody and built around rose. It’s an interesting interpretation of rose that moves into more masculine territory, though if I had to pick, this is still a more classically feminine scent than it is a masculine one. It is entirely wearable on either sex.  When the scent finally winds down, the vanilla becomes more pronounced, but the rose continues playing center stage, it just because sweeter and less earthy after ten to twelve hours on me.

A dark chypre Asian, this scent opens with an earthy mantle of richly woven saffron, black rose and black truffle, with hints of floralcy. Underneath, vanilla, patchouli, oud wood and tree moss soften the intensity, making the scent a sensual experience.

One of the reasons I really love Tom Ford’s Private Blends is how long-wearing they are on my skin. Only one or two (I distinctly remember Neroli Portofino being shorter in wear) last less than twelve hours, and with all of the scents, a little goes a long way. I usually use one or two sprays for all-day wear.  Full disclosure: this is not my favorite scent, and the first few times I wore it, I specifically didn’t like it (and this was nearly a year ago!).  After wearing it again more recently, I don’t dislike it, but it’s not a scent I would gravitate towards as my preferences lean elsewhere. I liked the composition and the way it transitioned and wore over the hours; it never goes soapy, turns to play-doh, or degenerates into something really commonplace.

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