Tom Ford For Men ~ fragrance review

Tom Ford For Men fragrance advert

Tom Ford for Men just “arrived” on the perfume scene and the fragrance has taken a back seat to its advertising campaign. Love it or despise it, the ad campaign, photographed by Terry Richardson [ed. note: if you want to see those ads, you'll find links here], has gotten a lot of media attention. I don’t have much to say about the naked oily woman with red lips and fingernails, and the “perfume-bottle-as-penis” images, but thanks to the advertising, when I hear ‘Tom Ford for Men,’ even after wearing the scent, I don’t think about “the juice” — I think about the ads’ glaring photos: a woman’s big boobs and her shaved genitals. Should advertising loom so large over the product being hyped?

Tom Ford for Men sounds complex “on paper”; its ingredients list includes citrus, lemon leaf oil, mandarin zest, bergamot, basil, ginger, violet leaf, orange blossom, grapefruit blossom, tobacco leaf, black pepper, amber, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, oak moss, leatherwood and cypriol. Tom Ford for Men on skin smells much simpler than it sounds. It opens with a fresh citrus accord (bracing, not “cold”) and violet leaf, and proceeds quickly to the heart of the scent, where amber, cedar, ‘leatherwood,’ and especially patchouli, dominate. There are hints of oak moss and tobacco leaf in the fragrance but I don’t smell basil, black pepper, ginger or blossoms; all these well-blended notes may contribute to the slightly sweet and sprightly aspect of the fragrance. After you think Tom Ford for Men has played itself out, it suddenly “sinks” into a darker, murkier world — a world of unclean muskiness.

Tom Ford For Men cologne bottleTom Ford has made much of his fragrance’s cypriol content. Cypriol is a member of the cyperacae family (papyrus is another member of this plant group) and its roots are distilled to produce a fragrant oil. This oil, also known by the name nagarmotha in India, is used in Indian love potions; a man wishing love, and sex, will anoint his head with the oil. The oil’s scent is described as “woodsy”, “earthy” and “musky.” As I researched cypriol nagarmotha oil online, I read a warning that made me chuckle: “Avoid contact with mucous membranes; severe irritation will result from such contact.” I hope the model in the Tom Ford for Men ad campaign kept the perfume bottle cap securely fastened as she wedged Tom Ford for Men betwixt her thighs, otherwise her open-mouthed photo could mean “OUCH!” instead of “oh!…BABY!…ummm!”

In its Eau de Toilette version, Tom Ford for Men is not “niche” or “original”; it has citrus top notes, violet leaf and oak moss, a good dose of patchouli, woods and ‘musk’ (cypriol) — a classic men’s fragrance formula. That being said, the scent is not dull; there’s a buoyancy and resonance in the fragrance and the ingredients are high quality. I like Tom Ford for Men, but as my perfume ‘collection’ stands, I don’t need it — I have many colognes of its type — most with more interesting touches and stages of development.

Tom Ford Extreme will be released in November; it’s a limited edition perfume version of Tom Ford for Men. Tom Ford Extreme is not only more powerful (and more expensive) than Tom Ford for Men — it comes in a nicer bottle (made of dark amber-colored glass). I hope some of the notes I yearn for in Tom Ford for Men will be more apparent in Tom Ford Extreme — orange and grapefruit blossoms, basil, black pepper, tobacco leaf — but I suspect cypriol, with its ‘sensuous’ and “musky” qualities, will dominate Tom Ford Extreme.

Tom Ford for Men has excellent lasting power and respectable sillage (it neither overpowers the person wearing it nor the room that person inhabits). Tom Ford for Men is available in two bottle sizes: 50 ml ($60) and 100 ml ($85). Tom Ford Extreme, which I will review in November, will be sold in 50 ml bottles and will cost $125. For buying information, see the listing for Tom Ford under Perfume Houses.

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45 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Kevin,
    Thanks for reviewing this scent and trying to get over the disgusting campaign. There is nothing about the campaign that invites me to try the scent, as it is neither aesthetic nor intriguing or seductive about it. Perhaps this is because I am a woman??? Probably… It sounds as if the idea was to draw attention to a not so unusual scent by a very in-your-face campaign. But this is nothing new with Tom Ford.
    Cyperus (AKA Nagramotha) is fromt he vetiver family and has a very intense aroma. It's only pleasant when its in very low concentration, when it has a more alluring incense qualities. It's very similar to vetiver, but sharper and muskier and without that charming cleanliness or coolness that vetiver has. I would have never chosen to use it in an over does, so I am curious how it was utalized in this fragrance. Tom Ford seems to like to take notes that are not usually used in mainstream perfumery and make them into a mainstream thing. I won't be surprised though, if he did with nagramotha what he did to agarwood in M-7 – making it more accessible by using an aspect that is barely invisible (the raspberry sweetness of an intensely animalic agarwood) and playing it up. It's clever in some regards, but in my opinion does not truly respect the complexity of the raw materials – thus making the whole exercise a mockery of the raw material, in my humble opinion. It may have worked in other ways, but in M7 that's what I feel was done to agarwood.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ayala. The cypriol in this scent is very musky…and it only appears in the extreme drydown on my skin. I've only smelled cypriol before in soaps and it was sharp and domineering. K

  3. Anonymous says:

    K, butting in — haven't you smelled L'Artisan Timbuktu?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes…I don't get as much “musk” in Timbuktu..more of a mustiness/earthiness — I prefer the use of cypriol in Timbuktu to TFfM. K

  5. Anonymous says:

    *shudders as he types*
    At least I know I don't need to wait with bated breath for this'un to reach our shores over here…
    Thanks for dirtying yourself for us, K

  6. Anonymous says:

    Leopoldo: after the last two posts I feel I need to bathe (with a non-cypriol/non-papyrus soap) and then review some PURE perfume made of honey and lavender! K

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is something odd & disturbing about those photos–by their very explicitness, they are totally devoid of sensuality. But maybe I'm the wrong audience, and a heterosexual man would find them totally enthralling. I hope not!

    I thought Tom Ford's ads for Black Orchid, Youth Dew Amber Nude and Opium were actually much more sexy. But on the whole, I want my perfume ads to be either aspirational & cute (Liv Tyler for Givenchy) or playful and cinematic (the Luc Besson & Baz Luhrmann Chanel no.5 ads).

  8. Anonymous says:

    And there was a very beautiful and mysterious online ad/film for Shalimar a few years ago, which has now disappeared into the ether, because Guerlain took down the Shalimar mini-site.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Bathing already, K? What about the rest of “Sex Week at NST”? LOL.

    TFfM doesn't sound too bad — as you describe, typical men's citrus/wood/musk. I'll probably test it on my next sprint through a department store; I doubt I'll ever crave owning it though, regardless of how it smells. I'm curious about this cypriol note…

    When you say you have many colognes of its type, which ones would you most closely compare it to as points of reference?

  10. Anonymous says:

    HopeB: the ads are “glaring”…with an early 80s feel to me. All the ads you mention that you like are for women's scents — rare to find a great ad for a man's scent…usually we get a naked torso in black and white imagery…or somebody on a sailboat!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bring on the Ivoire de Balmain…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Joe: I have no idea if Robin will continue the Sex Week theme tomorrow! I'm done! As for my colognes that fit the bill/general type I associate with Tom Ford for Men: Jules, MPG Parfum d'Habit, Diptyque L'Autre, Etro Patchouly and Czech & Speake's Frankinsense and Myrrh. I think all these have TFfM beat. K

  13. Anonymous says:

    I do love that one Exist….

  14. Anonymous says:

    I find the guy totally repellent. Those sly button eyes! Yuck!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Clive Owen's ad for Hypnose pour homme was pretty great, though!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Blech. That advertising campaign is such a turnoff. I'm surprised by how reasonably priced it is, and that is the only nice thing I have to say. Is that the same bottle design as Black Orchid?

  17. Anonymous says:

    HB: they could have done better than a headshot…perhaps a levitating Clive?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Bela: it was HIM or the You-Know-What parts of the female anatomy! K

  19. Anonymous says:

    Keeter: yes, same bottle design/size. I wish he had used the dark amber bottle instead of reserving it for Extreme.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I finally decided that the campaign is more ridiculous than offensive. Really, who sells things with THAT? I wanted to dislike the scent, but both the husband and I are finding it very pleasant, and dare I say it? Good.

    I wish it was stronger, so the extreme might be the way to go for me, as my skin eats up all the sillage and leaves me with mostly vetiver.

  21. Anonymous says:

    All preferences considered, la Ford is the randiest designer under the atmosphere; I swear he brings samples of worn underthings to his labs and insists on “a little more of something like this” added to his formulas. I wonder if each bottle of “Tom Ford Extreme” will be personally licked by its namesake, before taking its place in some red velvet bedroom in Antwerp.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm… I can see you had a problem there. But there is a four-letter word that applies both to him and them, isn't there? So, much of a muchness, really. ;-)

  23. Anonymous says:

    TNB: I'm curious what the Extreme smells like too…and TFfM is pleasant. K

  24. Anonymous says:

    nlb: I'm sure TF does not have the time to “bless” or “sanctify” each bottle…ONE HOPES. And the display “window” you describe would be perfect for this scent, K

  25. Anonymous says:

    Yes–one CAN hope. He needs to share some of that TF mojo! It's like a high-temp revolution surrounds him in every print ad and magazine spread. Perfectly believable, of course. I await the “TF Extreme” update from you…

  26. Anonymous says:

    I was thinking of the commercial, directed by Wong Kar Wai, on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26n_wXiRI2U&mode=related&search=

    Much better than the Stetson-type ads–I'd love to see a masculine version of the Prada commercial, with poetry.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I found this site by chance when googling “Tom Ford” and “Vetiver”.

    I'm wearing this scent right now and it is absolutely KILLING ME. I put on a VERY small amount from a sample about 3 hours ago and it has been agony since after the first 15 minutes. When the warning label says “Avoid contact with mucous membranes” does it mean avoid all contact with it period?

    I've just added a sweater as a 3rd layer in hopes of toning down the scent, as it just seems to keep getting stronger. I work an hour and a half's commute away from home so retreating to a shower is not an option. I CAN smell other notes at times and it's a nice respite from the Cyperus which returns every few minutes to billy-club my olfactories into submission. After reading the review it's good to know I can also look forward to a musky “unclean” smell that will surely please other commuters on my way home.

    Aside from never wearing this fragrance again, I did note that despite the hype the scent is pretty basic. It smells like a MAN…from the 70's. It doesn't take me anywhere (beside a sensory dungeon where I'm to be punished for Tom's folly). Instead I'm trapped in a two-dimensional view of “how a Man SHOULD smell”. Virile, Rough and Musky, as if I've just Quantum Leaped into a “Consort for Men” ad.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Kevin will answer when he gets back in town, but in the meantime, just wanted to mention that next time you try a scent you hate, try applying unscented deodorant on top. Usually works like a charm :-)

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great tip, I'll have to try that sometime. :-)

    After another couple hours the scent finally calmed down and began to smell (to me at least) like a cross between Missoni and Lanvin's “Arpege”, a combination which I find neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Ho hum. Being someone who is head over heels for Black Orchid, I was dying to try his men's fragrance, thinking he'd go even *more* out on a limb. Nope. Smelled it a million times before. And the ads? Unlike some who find them shocking, I think they are boring and unimaginative – takes absolutely zero creativity to create an ad campaign like that. I'm disappointed in Tom Ford. He had such potential to bring true innovation to the world of fragrance; so much potential wasted on this trash.

  31. Anonymous says:

    CBG: Though Ford is always saying he does not need to earn another penny in this life, that he's rich as can be (and that's TRUE), what other reason besides filling the bank accts. even MORE could be behind this scent? He's shortchanged himself and his 'regular' (department store) retail customers. I was hoping this scent would be innovative and “wild”…didn't happen. K

  32. Anonymous says:

    Couldn't agree more! He sold out with this one. Let's hope he comes to his senses and offers his mainstream buyer products that are daring and creative. I know he has it in him!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for a great and detailed review. I received this for Christmas, and knowing how expensive it is [approximately 75euro for 50 ml] I just assumed that the very ordinary bottle would contain some extraordinary scent. Wrong! Not only is it an average scent, with most notes in common with myriad other men's fragrances, it simply does not have any staying power. The initial top notes are very pleasant, as described, but the drydown happens too quickly and the fragrance fades into nothing within minutes. At least it does on me. A great disappointment. The giver of the gift asked me if I liked it or not. What to say? I told her I was wearing it [I'd sprayed plenty on to try to have some lasting scent, to no avail]. She couldn't smell it at all off me, and this was less than an hour after use. I'll stick with my Very Irresistible for the time being.

  34. Anonymous says:

    peteireland: wow…this lasted on me forever; I guess your skin chemistry eats it up. This year only one person gave me an expensive scent gift: a collection of Jo Malone bath oils. I'm not a Jo Malone fan (talk about scents having NO lasting power) so “turned them in” for an Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa. I guess in the future don't open a cologne gift until you run to the stores and smell it in person — then you can exchange the unopened bottle if necessary. I bet your friend would like you to have something you LOVE instead of an expensive bottle of perfume you won't wear. I'm SO glad Christmas is OVER…K

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hi K.

    I guess my skin chemistry is on the odd side! I wore it again night before last, and asked my friends what they thought of it. Only one of them could actually get the scent, and that was less than an hour after spraying it. And I sprayed a lot! As you say, check it out in the stores before opening.

    I adore the Acqua di Parma Colonia Intense. One of my favourite scents of all time. I agree totally with the Jo Malone comment. Overpriced, Overhyped and no lasting power at all.

    Hope your 2008 is a fantastic one for you. P.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Thanks P: Have a great 2008 too. (I'm reviewing Colonia Intensa this coming Friday….) K

  37. Anonymous says:

    Maybe TF is just showing a different side of himself and his art with the ads? Perhaps, he has a sense of humor. Maybe, maybe not. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Kevin, your descriptions of the ad were right on the money of something that are supposed to appeal to the 'typical' man. Maybe TF recognizes the realization that there is no 'typical' man. How 'bout the ladies and gents that are just ignoring his ad (or rolling their eyes, shaking their heads, whatever) and reading the notes, drydown, length of wear from your review? That is a critical piece. I'm female and I so want to sample this based on your review. Thanks for your writing.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Anne: do ask the sales person at the store you go to if they have the “extreme” version of Tom Ford for Men in stock; I've heard from several people it is much better than the version used for this review. My local Nordstrom STILL does not have the extreme version in stock. K

  39. Anonymous says:

    PROFESSIONALY SPEAKING , TOM IS ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED CREATIVES IN THE WORLD.

    HE HAS RUNNED AND MADE GUCCI FAMOUS. THE COMPANY WAS GOING DOWN THE DRAIN. SHOES, TIES, PURSES, SILKS, ETC…

    BUT…BUT…

    THIS PERFUM DID NOT TLOD US THE RIGHT REASON IT WAS ISSUED FOR…

    THE AD CAMPAIGN, COSTED SOME MILLION BUCKS AND..AND…

    IT IS NOT MY PREFERREF SCENT OR FRAGANCE.

    BETTER STAY WITH CREED, PENNHALIGON´S, D.H.HARRIS & CO…FLORIS…ETC…AND DO NOT GO FAR AWAY..

    EXCUSE ME MR. FORD.

    REVIEW, ASAP……

  40. Anonymous says:

    My goodness, I do love it when people don't research.
    So, I was surfing around the blog and found a review for L'Artisan Dzongkha, which contains Ford's never-before-used-in-a-commercial-fragrance-HOMG cypriol. It's curious that Dzongkha came out before Tom Ford for Men….
    Anyway, I sniffed this on a test strip; it didn't make the cut to going on my skin. It smelled rather familiar. Maybe if I tested it on my skin, but, as you mentioned, it doesn't seem as ground-breaking as it tries to be. It's a shame, really. Black Orchid was such a memorable fragrance.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I must add a little anecdote to this thread, since the focus of discussion has been about Tom himself, just as much as his fragrance……..

    Firstly, gay male designers seem to rule the fashion/beauty/cosmetic industry. So fashion trends and markers of feminine beauty are being set predominantly by gay men. (this is all just my own observation, and i'm sure people will disagree!)

    I did some brief work for the opening of Tom Ford's store on Madison Avenue back in 2007. We were hired to dress-up as english country maids, Gosford Park style. Ford designed our 'looks' him self. We arrived at 7am for professional hair and make-up. Our hair was slicked back in a side parting and put into pony-tails. We had black maids dresses to the knee, short sleeves, white collars and white aprons. Ford kindly finished th elook off with 6 inch high heels. The 'maids' had to totter around the salon, wiping the glass cupboards down with cloths and feather dusters, and bashing the carpets with lint-brushes. 6 inch high heels are utterly impractical for house-work, and my legs were permanently stunted after three days of this. All this went on while Tom courted the press, touring Anna Wintour et al around the salon and showcasing his concepts and designs.

    Apparently Mr Ford insists that any woman in his work force be clad in VERY high heels. So all the PR women walked to work in sneakers, manolo blahniks stuffed in their handbags.

    Not only does Mr Ford like to be surrounded by women in high-heeled shoes doing his housework, but Mr Ford also likes to have his photo taken with naked women (see the Keira Knightley/Scarlett Johanssen vanity fair cover he art-directed.)

    I'm not sure quite where I'm heading with line of discussion……I'm not really making any specific point. I suppose I'm just opening up some ideas about gay male designers imposing certain standards and expectations upon women, and needing to sexualise the female body in a certain way…..that most women would not find remotely sexy!! The question is – why??

  42. Anonymous says:

    BTW – just as a quick disclaimer…….in case anyone reads this comment and infers any anti-gay suggestions in what i wrote…….I am genuinely interested in this as an obervation I have made, and as a topic of open discussion, not as a criticism.

    Also – I forgot to say that, I believe Ford is a wonderful designer and a very talented man. His clothes at the salon on Madison were stunning, and made with such high quality and elegance.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Blimunda: you'll have to wait and see if someone with a bit more experience wearing gay-designed high heels and super-sexy dresses comes along…I'm not qualified to comment! HA! Kevin

  44. Anonymous says:

    Kevin – fair enough! I do recommend that you try doing your housework in a pair of six-inchers at least once before you die, for sheer absurdity alone……….

  45. archiegr says:

    does anyone have any idea if there is TOM FORD BLACK ORCHID FOR MEN?thanks in advance

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