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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