Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood ~ fragrance review

Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood

Tom Ford launched the Private Blend Collection in 2007. There were 12 of them (now there are more). They were (and still are, of course) expensive; they were in very limited distribution (that has eased somewhat). I smelled four of them on blotters (a friend had small lab samples) before they were launched, didn't love any of them, and promptly decided, for the sake of my sanity (there were already over 800 fragrance releases that year), to ignore the collection entirely. Kevin apparently decided the same (are we cranky, or what?) but he eventually fell to temptation (see his review of Purple Patchouli), and passed a set of samples on to me, and I've been working my way through them slowly. My favorite so far: Oud Wood.

Tom Ford, of course, has already done oud (aka oudh aka agarwood aka aloeswood), with M7, created under his direction for Yves Saint Laurent and introduced in 2002. You might expect Oud Wood to be the edgy, niche house version of M7, but that would be hard to pull off seeing as how M7 was already pretty darned edgy — if you'd never heard of it before and gave it a sniff, you'd be forgiven for guessing that it came from some obscure niche house instead of Yves Saint Laurent.

Oud Wood, then, takes off in another direction: it might be the mainstream (i.e., toned down) version of M7. That's not to say it's necessary easy to wear, it's just easier than M7, and while it hardly seems like something you'd expect to smell at Macy's, my guess is that it would do better there than M7 did. It's a dark-ish, earthy wood scent, as was M7, and the latter's bitter, almost medicinal undertone is still there (the notes for Oud Wood: rosewood, cardamom, Chinese pepper, oud, sandalwood, vetiver, tonka bean, vanilla and amber). It's lighter in Oud Wood though, and it doesn't last as long; overall, Oud Wood is a quieter fragrance, with the oud itself softened by the vanilla and other wood notes. It does have a nice bite to it, but it isn't nearly as heavily spiced as M7. If you almost liked M7 but found it a bit much, Oud Wood might be perfect. By the same token, if you've become accustomed to the so-thick-you-could-cut-it-with-a-knife style of oud from houses like Montale, you might find that Oud Wood doesn't scream OUDH! quite loudly enough to suit you.

To my nose, it's easily the most masculine of the Private Blends, or at least, of those I've smelled — there are still a few I haven't tried. Whether a woman could wear it, of course, depends on the woman. A reviewer at Basenotes shouts that "THIS IS A MENS FRAGRANCE", so perhaps you should consider yourself forewarned. If you want to fem it up, I will say that it layers quite nicely — nicely enough, in fact, that for about 10 crazy seconds I considered whether I might want bottles of each — with the newer Private Blend Champaca Absolute, probably the most feminine of the Private Blends, and a scent I found too predictably pretty and well-behaved to want to wear on its own.

Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood was developed by perfumer Richard Herpin, and is available in 50 ($180) or 250 ($450) ml Eau de Parfum.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Great review and a nice one to see, Robin. I was salivating to get my hands on some Oud Wood for quite awhile, but I really got over it. Kevin got me wanting a sample of Purple Patch too, but I also got over that. The great thing about this market is that one never wants for new lemmings for very long (and by very long I would mean about three days).

    I love Montale Black Aoud & Red Aoud. And from the sound of your review, it sounds like M7 would really be more up my alley. I feel like my skin sucks up fragrance, so even relatively “heavy” scents tone down well on me. I almost ordered a decant of M7 the other day (along with YSL Jazz since I haven't smelled it in twnety years). Instead, I fell victim this morning to Feminite du Bois extrait. Woe.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Robin, would you say this is a good beginner's oud fragrance? I haven't really explored this note before; although I think it's responsible for the medicinal opening I get in SSS's Fireside Intense.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Soooo true…a new lemming will come along to replace the old one if you just wait. I'd like to have a bottle of Oud Wood but $180 is a bit more than I'm willing to spend on it. If TF did 15 ml bottles I'd be in trouble, but I don't think we have any worry of that ever happening.

    Congrats on your FdB! I've never tried the extrait.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I would think it could work as a beginner oud scent. Trying to think of what else would…give me more time though, and I'll see what else I can come up with — or maybe others will chime in.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, i've never thought that this could be better than m7, because to me m7 is the perfection rsrsrsrs Was the first fragrance that i bought and continues to be my favorite. To me, the niche version of m7 is cruel intentions, by killian. The oud in cruel intentions is worked in a similar way that in m7.

    Robin, to me the best from the private collection is tobacco vanille. Have you already tested it? It's a perfect balance between the swetness of vanilla and the spicy quality of tobacco. It's simple, elegante, and beautifully done.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This one sounds lovely. I had the same reaction to the collection as you, Robin. Hard-to-get, overpriced… why bother? Now you've piqued my interest. The Montale's are *way* too much for me, so Oud Wood sounds promising. Now, how to go about obtaining a sample? See? Hard-to-get. I hate that.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree that Oud Wood is pretty unisex, at least for women who are used to wearing unisex frags, particularly dry, woody ones. I have often read reviews by the guys on Basenotes asserting that scents I love to wear (as a woman) are absolutely extremely masculine. Now I take it with a grain of salt ;) I personally think that with a few exceptions most scents will just smell more feminine on women and more masculine on men, and your brain adjusts to the context.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wow! It sounds great.

    However, I have to wonder if I really need this one (yeah, like need ever is involved in the purchase of a new frag)

    I already have M7 and just love it. It took me some getting used to, and when applying at 7am it is quite a wake up call, but it feels just perfect. So, if Oud Wood seems lighter, maybe, i'll save my money and stick to M7. Yeah. I'll save my money for some by Killian

  9. Anonymous says:

    sarahn: I see samples of it on ebay frequently, you might try there now and then.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Okay, we all laughed at the Trish McEvoy Precious Oud for $100(?) for such a small bottle, I took some flaming for that, but that's def. an oud for people who don't like too much oud. It smells great.

    I ran through several of the TFs the other day at Neiman, and again my collective impression is: TOO SWEET. Including Champaca. However, the Oud was my favorite from the line.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I think of 10 Corso Como as a beginning oud scent. Oud Wood made no impression on me when I tried it. I prefer my ouds in the Montale style, I guess. Love 10CC though.

  12. Anonymous says:

    My collective impression is — “too much”' — many of them are just too much of whatever they are, you know? Too sweet, too heavy, too plodding. Still think several of them read as early mods for an unfinished fragrance. Oh well, in general they're probably better than I thought they'd be.

    Still haven't smelled the TM!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, that's another good one. I have a sample of the new version & keep meaning to compare to the old…don't know if it's still as “oudh-y” as it was.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I don't think it's better than M7 at all. But, if I had both bottles, I'd probably drain the OW first. It's just easier to wear, esp. since M7, IMHO, really is one of the few scents I find too masculine to really pull off in public.

    Tobacco Vanille is a great scent that I just don't think I'd ever wear — it's just too heavy for me. I know it's heresy but I might like “Tobacco Vanille Light”.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Although I've never done it myself, I believe these were meant to be layered with each other. I'm a big TF fan, prob one of the only few round these parts…lol. I've gone through alot of them, if not all, but I'm down to my absolute favs of the line…Amber A, Black Violet, and Italian Cypress. Arabian Wood is on it's way. I will let you know my thoughts on that.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am wearing Tobacco Vanille right this moment, have been for the last week or so. Of course I live in Minnesota and heavy works for 6 months out of the year! :D I like heavy, prefer heavy, in fact have a harder time in the heat of summer because I hate florals and I hate citrusy smells. I stamp my little feet and raise my fists in the air and scream to the perfume heavens, Why can't I wear Ambre Sultan in 80 degree heat?

  17. Anonymous says:

    LOL — I am sorry, there really ought to be an Ambre Sultan Light for summer too ;-)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Dawn, yes, have a feeling it has layering possibilities I haven't even begun to discover! Unfortunately, my sample is likely to run out long before I discover them all.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I revisted this one recently (the first time I smelled it, it left me cold) and I liked it a lot. In between, I think I became more evident of aoud in fragrances (I love and own Black Aoud by Montale) and I see how it's wonderfully woven into the overall accord of OW so nicely.
    This is coming from someone who hates M7. But yes, OW is a user-friendly M7. Nonetheless, I'm not rushing out to buy a full bottle.
    The funny thing is Arabian Wood (exclusive to the TF Dubai boutique, I think…) is VERY similar to OW. I smelled a tiny sample, so maybe I need to re-smell, but the first thing I thought of was: he mixed together Oud Wood and Noir de Noir. Why?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Oud Wood was given to me from the TF rep with the words: It smells like sex. Okay I thought, but really no one turned around that day, though I might have bathed in that scent.
    However, the TF private collection scents are all pretty male, they turn on my skin to the “men in me”. The violet stuff still I need to revisit, though I cannot afford it anyway…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Oh and I'll take Montale Oud over TF's anyday!

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think another CLEARLY fem private blend is Velvet Gardenia. In fact that is the one I like LEAST from the line.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I loved M7 and considered it very masculine. Glad he's makiing more along that line.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hows Black Violet?…..I dream of smelling it!!!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Agree absolutely: if you think you can pull it off, that's about all it takes.

  26. Anonymous says:

    This is much lighter than most of the Montales. You might also try The Perfumed Court, they undoubtedly have samples.

  27. Anonymous says:

    If it's oudh you'd like to smell predominantly in a “beginner's” oudh scent, I'd suggest By Kilian Cruel Intentions; it's light-ish like the TF, but a little more feminine. For a blended oudh with lots of authentic punch but gussied-up for an easier introduction, I'd suggest Montale White Aoudh — pretty, meringue-y — or Aoud Blossom, with a flurry of white petals.

    P.S. Thank you, Robin, for overcoming your TF PB resistance. More, please.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin, I need your help if you don't mind… I bought Shalimar Light through Amazon, and now I am unsure if it's real Guerlain or not. I am not familiar with the later versions of it, past 2003. I posted pics on my blog, so if you could please take a look and let me know what you think. I'd really appreciate it, and will hopefully be relieved. The seller says it's the 2006 version. Thankyou for any help!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I'm guessing that yes, if you already love M7 you won't need OW. If M7 gets axed, maybe you'll be glad this one is around, though…

  30. Anonymous says:

    Everybody likes to say their scents can be layered now — I think it's all mostly talk, I mean, you can layer *anything*, and beyond that most of these are pretty heavy on their own.

    Would like to try that Italian Cypress, that sounds nice.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Another I haven't tried, but thanks, now I don't feel like I'm missing anything!

  32. Anonymous says:

    LOL — gosh, that's rather fanciful. Doesn't smell like sex to me in the least.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Yes, that one too, although still think a man could pull off VG before CA…but perhaps your average man would rather not wear either, LOL…

    I don't know which one I like least. There were quite a few I didn't care about either way.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Can't argue w/ that.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Very nice, and has oodles of fans. Still, to me it seems like a sketch for what was to be a really fabulous perfume, only they ran out of time & never quite finished it.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Looks ok to me. Not sure I understand why you think it might not be — some other reviewer at Amazon says it is?

  37. Anonymous says:

    I would def agree with you. Just e mail me where to send the Cypress, and I'll get it out to ya.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Lovely review , as always.

    I tried ten of the original twelve (missed Neroli Portofino and Amber Absolute) and I liked the OW and Black Violet the best. None of them is a patch on Comme des Garcons + Stephen Jones (which is about the same money to juice ratio).

  39. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the seller had some remarks that their perfume was fake. Since I don't know much about editions of it past 2003, I was not sure. Thanks.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Well, it looks legit to me. How does it smell?

  41. Anonymous says:

    I liked the Neroli, but wouldn't pay that much for it. I'd take the CdG first too, in fact, I'd REALLY like a bottle of that CdG. Everything costs too much!

  42. Anonymous says:

    I love this one.
    I find it magic.
    I thought I wasn’t an oud fan (but I tried only a couple of montales- probably not the best ones- and only few other oud-based fragrances).
    But this TF oud wood…I find myself in an enchanted forest – moss, woods, resins…
    My boyfriend fell under the spell too.
    We are really tempted to buy the full (beautiful) bottle.
    I didn't want to like anything from this expensive line, usually guarded by ferocious, greedy SAs – but I liked all the fragrances that I could sample (Tuscan leather, Japon Noir).
    Can't wait to test more!

  43. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to add: as diverse as the TF Exclusives are, they are linked by a thread, especially in the drydown (at least this is my feeling ;) ).

    I don't know what's in there, but I find delicious and addicting!

  44. Anonymous says:

    This is my favourite too. I find cardammom to be such a pleasing smell. I put cardammom powder in my coffee while it is steeping, and it's just delicious.

    I've tried a few of these PB's now…….i found the larger bottles must be a purer form, as they smell totally different on the skin. Noir de Noir in particular is completely different when dabbed from the large bottle – it is smoother, richer and deeper. It is a pale imitation from the 50ml spray bottle. Did anyone else find that?

    I also liked Tuscan Leather a lot. I felt like a leathery old cowboy, smelling of saddle and saloon.

  45. Anonymous says:

    It is so wonderful to see all these Private Blend Heads coming out of the woodwork…or should I say the oudwoodwork. HA!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Thanks everyone for the beginner oud suggestions. I see a Perfumed Court order in the very near future!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Will do that — maybe we could arrange a swap? If I can think of anything you don't already have, LOL…

  48. Anonymous says:

    Are the SAs greedy & ferocious?? Well, you can always buy online.

  49. Anonymous says:

    The TF SAs @ LaRinascente? They really look as they would be extremely disappointed to sell a bottle.

    They wander like vultures above their prey….BRRR…

  50. Anonymous says:

    Don't they put a cardammom seed in Turkish coffee? Love that stuff, although they have to pull me off the ceiling from the caffeine….

  51. Anonymous says:

    I've smelled a few ouds, oudh, aoud, aoudh however the heck you spell it and never understood the mystique behind it. It smells like medicine to me. I'm not saying that to go against the grain or to be “edgy”, I just don't get it and it's frustrating.

  52. Anonymous says:

    LOL — then don't hurt their feelings by buying one!

  53. Anonymous says:

    Most things smell different to me dabbed vs. sprayed, but you can always decant from a spray bottle to get the same thing — or vice versa.

  54. Anonymous says:


  55. Anonymous says:

    Why fight it? There are notes I don't like & probably never will. Plenty of other wonderful things to smell…

  56. Anonymous says:

    I highly recommend the M7. This has to be one of the most underrated frags around.

  57. Blimunda says:

    I’m surprised by how much I enjoy this scent – I’d tried it before and was quite taken with it, but found Purple Patchouli and Noir de Noir more interesting. Well, I popped into Harvey Nicks 5 minutes before closing time and had to make a snap decision which scent to spray on me for my night out. Now, the PB’s are a rather odd choice for a night out with the girls – they seem more suited for hunkering down with port and cigars in a private gentlemen’s club. I find them very heavy and masculine. But they do suit the winter months so well. They didn’t have Purple Patch, so I grabbed Oud and liberally sprayed myself. I really enjoyed wearing it through out the evening – it is heavy and intense, but the sweetness and skank are delightfully comforting and delicious, and the skank intensifies with the dry down which I LOVE! I just wish it weren’t so expensive. Otherwise I’d buy a bottle.

    • Robin says:

      Now I’m dying to know: what did the girls think of it?

      And if it were reasonably priced, I’d buy it too.

      • Blimunda says:

        The girls had mixed reactions!! As was to be expected, since none of them are adventurous types when it comes to scent. Their tastes are very much satisfied by high-street brands. Most of them clearly thought I was mad, but two kept grabbing my wrist for extra sniffs as they were intrigued and really liked it. I still don’t think they were interested enough to branch out themselves, but at least they enjoyed smelling my branches!!

        • Robin says:

          So glad somebody liked it! (and yeah, my friends aren’t interested either)

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