Tom Ford White Musk Collection: Urban Musk, White Suede, Jasmine Musk & Musk Pure ~ fragrance reviews

Tom Ford Private Blend White Musk Collection

In my “perfume notebook,” I found an entry from last January: “Always drenched in musky cologne, he smelled like a mixture of excrement and flowers.” Judging from my wobbly writing, this note was written at night in bed. I was not alert enough to record the book this sentence came from and when I think of the books I read last winter, there are several candidates — all dealing with personalities and events of the French Revolution. The courtier who loved musk back in the 1700s would not believe Tom Ford’s modern “musk” fragrances contain “musk” at all; the Ford musk fragrances are pristine, far removed from musk sacs, anal glands and the like.

The White Musk Collection’s four new perfumes add a lighter, feminine character to the richer, more masculine, Private Blend line-up. These new “white” musk fragrances are sheer and have been put through the hot wash cycle, twice, to remove anything “dirty” or animalic. (In fact, it seems most of the musk went out with the rinse water.)

Urban Musk

(jasmine sambac, white pepper, ambrette seed absolute, cumin, musk, honey, black plum, incense, Tonkin musk headspace, benzoin)

Urban Musk opens with green-ish jasmine; it’s the least “washed” jasmine in this collection. Pepper adds a whiff of “bad breath” to the opening (imagine a dry-mouthed socialite of a certain age — her fur coat redolent of yesterday’s application of Joy, a burning cigarette between her lips — blowing in your face at close range). As Urban Musk develops, I detect mildest honey and cumin but only a touch of muskiness. I’d say Urban Musk is more beige than white; it’s a tad darker in character (for awhile anyway) than the other perfumes in this collection. On first spray, I thought: I might need to buy this. When I used an entire sample vial of the fragrance to experience its full effect, I was less enthusiastic; Urban Musk turns into a pleasant, gauzy amber fragrance (an effect I can get with many colognes at half the price).

White Suede

(Bulgarian rose, saffron, thyme, mate (tea), olibanum, Lily-of-the-Valley, white leather, suede, amber, sandalwood, and musk)

If Montale took one of its rosy-saffron-oud scents and reconfigured it for the drugstore baby powder market, you’d get something close to White Suede — a  cheap-smelling take on Middle Eastern perfumery. Rose, saffron and olibanum are discernable but scream: synthetic! A jarring note, that I’m guessing is mate, appears near the opening and “herbalizes” the scent for a minute or two. This old-fashioned fragrance is more starlet than diva: think Veronica Lake, not Bette Davis. No matter the talk of leather, suede, amber, sandalwood and musk, this perfume is very feminine. White Suede turns into pure laundry-detergent musk in the dry-down; it has absolutely amazing (or should I say absolutely frightful?) staying power.

Jasmine Musk

(ylang ylang, orris, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, citrus, amber, musk)

Jasmine Musk opens with a clean and artificial smelling “banana” note — a mingling of jasmine and ylang ylang I assume (or maybe it’s just an aroma chemical that ‘reads’ “jasmine” by means of “banana”); the ‘jasmine’ is sweet, dusted with vanilla sugar. As the fragrance dries, the jasmine becomes a tad citrusy and if you put your nose to skin you’ll smell, briefly, a hint of musk. This fragrance is on the light side, with minimal sillage and so-so lasting power. The majority of Jasmine Musk’s listed ingredients are in hiding or used in small quantity.

Musk Pure

(ylang ylang, white pepper, bergamot, jasmine sambac, Lily-of-the-Valley, orris absolute, tonka, benzoin, beeswax, musk)

Musk Pure smells of benzoin and tonka-vanillic notes (verging on “amber” in the extreme dry down); it’s powdery but to my nose Musk Pure is the most unisex of the collection. Musk Pure isn’t interesting, does not present anything “new,” and doesn’t smell worth $180 but it’s the only one of this collection that I’d happily wear if  a bottle of it fell from the sky into my lap. (Note to Self: I should review Givenchy Pi because so many fragrances I’ve sniffed this year remind me of it, including this one. Givenchy Pi can be had for around $30/50 ml if you shop around.)

I prefer my musks in the Muscs Koublaï Khan/CBMUSK style and this White Musk Collection (Eaux de Parfum) is too light and feminine for my tastes. Musk preferences aside, these perfumes still don’t “qualify” for Tom Ford Private Blend membership — or the Private Blend price of $180 for 50 ml.

For buying information, see the listing for Tom Ford under Perfume Houses.

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Parfums Raffy


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  1. teachesofpeaches says:

    i would love to try the last one , i have been a big fan of tom ford for a while ever since he launched black orchid , i haven’t smelled the last wild orchid which is more flowery , but i loved white patchouli and is one of the few i use on a weekly basis , so sad i just can’t seem to get them where i live even tough we have a saks !!!! i hope they release it in a wider scale , i am so curious about the private blends !

    • Kevin says:

      teachesofpeaches: I like many of the Private Blends…this “white” crop is a bust though.

  2. I love musc, not exactly the MKK area, but these sound too boring.
    And boring it’s not what I am looking for in scents.
    My favourite musc is Muschio Bianco. What do you think about this one, Kevin?

    • Kevin says:

      mybeauthblog: haven’t tried that one!

  3. jonr951 says:

    Great reviews. Sounds like I wont be needing any of them or falling for any of them. I do hope to test them though. Of the Private Blend, I still want bottles of Tobacco Vanille & Noir de Noir. Those r my favorite!

    • Kevin says:

      jonr: Tobacco Vanille is very nice.

  4. mals86 says:

    Thanks for the reviews, Kevin! Veronica Lake once reportedly said that she had no acting talent; all she had was great hair.

    These do seem like a triumph of style over substance. Yet another reason to not join the Tom Ford Fan Club (although I did like Voile de Fleur)… there. Done crossing those off my list.

    • Kevin says:

      mals: HA! I don’t see ANY triumph with these four!

  5. Wow…It’s amazing how a review can sway the masses w/o them even smelling the product….not that 4 comments are the masses…lol. As much as I admire Kevin and his writing, there have been occasions where He loved something and I hated it…and vice versa. Whatever happened to beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Or in this case, in the sniff of the sniffer. HA! Just my thoughts…not trying to cause trouble. I am happy with my Urban Musk thank you very much. :-)

    • Kevin says:

      C: That goes without saying! I’ll bet everyone here will sniff these if they come across them….

  6. Dolly says:

    I too prefer my musks with more weight to them. Thanks for the review Kevin.

    • Kevin says:

      Dolly, you’re welcome.

  7. ScentScelf says:

    I kind of like a light musk, but not for $180. :-)

    Kind of nice flask, though I think the white element says more than intended. Or maybe not…after all, Byredo has Blanche (which was laundry detergent-esque to me), and Francis K is flat out offering laundry detergent. Clean, clean, clean.

    • Kevin says:

      ScentScelf: yep, too much “utility musk” out there right now.

  8. ahsu says:

    Kevin, what refreshingly scathing reviews. Thank you for that. Not my kind of “musk” either. I suspected these wouldn’t be for me, and now I’m even more certain.

    • Kevin says:

      Ahsu: thanks (I think…HA!)

  9. Joe says:

    I have yet to try a single private blend, and I’d happily at least test these if it were easy for me to do so. That’s unlikely to happen though.

    I enjoy musks a little less potent than MKK, but too clean and they can certainly be boring. Musc Ravageur is my favorite, and today I happen to be enjoying a decant of Micallef Royal Muska, which is also clean, but fairly nice (not that I’d pay Micallef prices for a full bottle of this either). I still need a little roll-on of Kiehl’s Original Musk; sounds like a much better investment than the TFs for sure.

    • All you have to do is ask. Be happy to oblige Joe. :-)

    • Joe says:

      Thanks, C! :D

      Kevin, I neglected to ask: how do you feel about any Montale musks with similar vibes? Those seem like they may be much better value for the quality. The only one I’m familiar with and enjoy quite a lot is Soleil di Capri, a citrusy white musk, slightly floral (and C., yikes, I know I still owe you a sample!).

      • I like Ginger Musk by Montale, but AGAIN…I don’t get any funk factor at ALL from it…nor did I in SL MKK. I’m sure it’s MY noses perception.

      • Kevin says:

        Joe: I believe the only musk of Montale’s I’ve tried is Musk to Musk …nice but that OUD took over. But it’s been awhile since I tried it. It certainly had good lasting power.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: I can’t believe Tom Ford is ignoring Santa Barbara!

  10. lsnuing says:

    Hmmm … minimal sillage, hey? That’s disappointing for the price tag. In fact, they sound disappointing all round! But I do like the look of the bottles (and yes I have bought absolutely stinkers before, just because I loved the bottle). Will definitely give these a sniff if they ever show up in Oz! :)

    • Kevin says:

      Lsnuing: Oh, I bet they’ll get there eventually.

  11. Jared says:

    This is topical…I’ve been hankering for a good musk lately, but I like mine more on the animalic side, a la MKK. I’ve had my eye on the CB Musk for a while now, as well as Kiehl’s. Does the CB fall into the skanky side? Please oh please say yes ;)

    • Kevin says:

      Jared: yes…it falls on the skanky side of things…at least when I reviewed it…maybe last year?

    • Existentialist says:

      CB’s musk smells like clothing worn too long by someone who does not bath often and who smokes too much. In other words, it’s fabulous.
      The Kiehl’s does not seem as musky to me, but is worth having. Some people think it is patch-y, which I would agree with. I found it at TJ Maxx some time ago, so you might want to check there, if one is handy. Be curious to hear what you think of them, if you have a chance to try.

  12. melisand61 says:

    I do think that these are worth trying for fun, just to experience the range. But I wouldn’t buy any of them either! I did get a slightly dirty note from Urban Musk. I wondered if it was the ambrette seed, which my nose perceives as animalic/musky. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to hold my interest, especially for $180. Nice, but no more than that.

    White Suede smelled like a very boring, slightly screechy, leather musk combo to me. Jasmine Musk made almost no impression at all (yawn). And Musk Pure was very pretty, but I wouldn’t shell out that kinda $$ for it!

    Musks are difficult imo. Hard to justify a full bottle purchase. Although MKK is a big exception. And Clair de Musc satisfies my need for a “pretty” musk.

    • Kevin says:

      melisand61: yes, these are SO overpriced … they must be making a FORTUNE in profit on each bottle sold.

      • annemarie says:

        Yes, at that price these, and those other Private Blend fragrances, must be being marketed to people with more money than sense. If TF was using superb raw materials and buying up fields of Grasse etc, a la Chanel, to ensure the best quality materials into the future, one could understand (maybe). I respect that. But that doesn’t sound like it’s happening here.

        • Abyss says:

          And even with their own jasmine fields the Chanels are £160 for 200ml while TFs are £100 for 50ml, yikes!

          • Kevin says:

            Abyss: TRUE enough!

  13. Is Kiehls supposed have the funk factor? If so, I own it, and I def don’t get it from that either.

    • Jared says:

      I’m not so sure that it does…I was with a friend and tried it on, at which point he recoiled in disgust. I’ve certainly smelled skankier, but it might be there.

  14. Rick says:

    “Tonkin musk headspace” — I hate to think where the intrepid explorer’s head must have been when collecting the atmosphere for this note.

    • Kevin says:

      Rick: isn’t THAT the truth…it should have been FILMED for us to witness. Or perhaps they “reconstituted” some old withered sacs found in an attic?

  15. hongkongmom says:

    we have no tom ford in hong kong….seems like i am not missing out on too much…i did smell a rather good smell on a friend and when i asked her what she was wearing …it was black orchard…

    • Kevin says:

      HKMom: Black Orchid is a big hit…and some of the Private Blends in the amber-colored bottles are quite nice

  16. Dawnkana says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I’m with you that these 4 releases do not qualify for the the Private Blend Membership.

    I thought White Suede was for me, but then after sampling it some more, it wasn’t, so I canceled my order and got the Velvet Gardenia instead which is far better imo.

    I was chatting with the SA at Nordies and he was saying that there are indeed 6 scents in the Private Blend line that are on the chopping block and my beloved Velvet Gardenia is one of them. One of the others is Moss Breeches and I think the other one is Bois Rouge – I don’t know if that is the correct name, but it’s something like that.

    Thanks for the reviews. :)


    • Kevin says:

      Dawn: you’re welcome…do you remember if Purple Patchouli was on the chopping block?????? that’s my favorite!

      • Dawnkana says:

        Hey K….

        I’ll find out this weekend when I go to Nordies to pick up a perfume for someone to ship overseas. He did not say Purple Patchouli, but I’ll doublecheck.

        I forgot to mention in my previous reply that 6 on are on the chopping block to make room for these new ones (gag me – yuck) and a couple more. Something about TF only wanting to have 12 scents consistently in the lineup.


        • Kevin says:

          Dawnkana: thanks!

      • I called my friend at Bergdorfs and up for the phase out are Boise Rouge ( I liked that one), Velvet Gardenia, Moss Breches, and yes Purple Patchouly. :-(

  17. Abyss says:

    Thanks for the reviews, Kevin.

    I’m fan of Tom Ford in general but I’m yet to fall in love with any of his frags. Some are pleasant enough but none are making me swoon and they better at those prices. I’ll sniff these next time I pass the counter but it sounds like I don’t need to go out of my way to do so.

    P.S. maybe it’s just that picture but I hate the bottles.

    • Kevin says:

      Abyss: the bottles don’t do it for me either…but have you seen the BIG amber bottles (the $400+)…they are great

  18. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Thanks for easing my longing for these, Kevin. :) I’d consider trying these if they were available for half their current price. I keep finding fragrances that aren’t “free” but more of a modest cost, though my budget doesn’t see things the same way.

    I love NR’s musk for her line, TBS’s White Musk, and while I don’t wear it now, I used to wear Jovan White Musk in my teens and my boyfriends loved it. Even SJP’s Lovely isn’t bad and can be found for a song.

    I’ve not tried Kiehls or Malle’s musk scents, but found CdM by Lutens gorgeous. I have a Montale decant that I believe is called Berries et Musc or something like it and it is a nice musky fruit scent for autumn.

    • Kevin says:

      Absolute Scentualist: was the Montale Fruits of the Musk…? It’s sweet but I kinda liked it. I still miss the OLD, ORIGINAL Mure et Musc by L’Artisan,,,,

  19. Gardeniagirl says:

    Interesting revue! I was very excited about White suede when I read the notes, anything with saffron and tea gets my attention and together with musk it looked so promising – that could make a sensational combination. But not this time, it seems.

    • Kevin says:

      Gardeniagirl: not for me anyway….

  20. donanicola says:

    Great review, thanks Kevin. I had been wondering if the Urban Musk was to call my name but now I suspect not so I am relieved. My favourite musk is Miller Harris L’Air de Rien so erring on the side of skank for me, though I do also like the Khiels. I will be sorry to see Velvet Gardenia and Moss Breches go from the regular PB line up.

    • Kevin says:

      Donanicola: I guess that the plan all along…have only 10-12 fragrances in rotation…with a changing line-up. BAD if you love one!

  21. Zazie says:

    As a white musk hater, what am I supposed to comment?
    Should I take this as a chance to listen instead of talking?
    Well, the Tom Ford sales assistance highly recommended Urban Musk…. But who trusts him? Don’t get me started.
    The Tom Ford I liked best is Oud Wood, which I think is sublime, even though it is a bit dense… And I don’t like oud, at least phrased in the Montale/CSP alphabet….

    • Zazie says:

      if the idea of white musk and the likes is to smell clean, then get yourself a shower, I say!!!
      I like my fumes to be dirrrrrrrty…
      Well, at least a bit.

      Ok, if you like the smell, that’s another issue. But: most synthetic musks are not those innocuos chemicals that their angelic sex-less smell may suggest…

      • Kevin says:

        Zazie: and many of the CLEAN MUSKS just last and last…can’t even be washed away

  22. zaheer says:

    I really enjoyed this article, i find it strange that Tom Ford will release this collection, carrying these traits. At the risk of sounding small, was his intention to rival D&G Anthology? I can’t wait to smell these, it will probably cometo Africa in 2012 ( lol).

    • Kevin says:

      Zaheer: I wonder how long these musks will “last”…would like to know how they are selling.

  23. smellifluous says:

    Oh my! Thank you thank you thank you for this hilariously evocative image: “imagine a dry-mouthed socialite of a certain age — her fur coat redolent of yesterday’s application of Joy, a burning cigarette between her lips — blowing in your face at close range.” Truly brilliant. And thanks for the review of these–I was wondering whether to order samples…now I know not to bother.

    • Kevin says:

      Smellifluous: you’re welcome! And I’m betting the samples are overpriced too…smell them in a store.

  24. Royal says:

    I sampled these and was also completely unimpressed. So many designers are doing fresh and clean way better than these, give me Infusion d’Iris or d’Homme any day over these. For the price of one of these 50ml bottles I could get myself one of the 750ml IdI bottles! :D

  25. zaheer says:

    Kevin, i’ll have to wait a while to find out.. ;lol

  26. Master says:

    I am not trying to be crude or vulgar, but has anyone else noticed that Urban Musk smells like aroused female genitalia?

  27. eminere says:

    Love reading your reviews Kevin, as always.

  28. Lavandula says:

    Wow, I was reading this review because I am crazyin love with the White Musk collection. It’s funny, for You, Robin, Jasmine Musk has a so sostaying power, and for me it’s the longest lasting one from the three I tried so far. It’s drop-dead gourgeous on me too. Mysterious, animalic, almost musculine jasmine with a beautiful touch of musk. It sorta reminds me of another stunner, Amaranthine. Jasmine Musk is oh my god, too beautiful to be true on me. I also really like Urban Musk, and that one is very musky on me, but definitely more feminine than Jasmine Musk. White Suede is the one I already ordered a bottle of, because the day I received 3 of these samples from Tom Ford, I couldn’t wait and tested them all at once, ehem ehem, I mean two on each arm, one on my… leg haha. Maybe it still got me mixed up because that day White Suede was the winner. It sorta reminded me of what I love so much about Creed’s Love in White. Angelic, creamy, dreamy, cozy and sooo ehhh… white. But a beautiful white. Today I know Jasmine Musk is the number one, possibly my favorite perfume, and for sure the most gorgeous jasmine perfume, and Jasmine flower has the most special place in my heart. I don’t regret buying White Suede first though. It will be my most perfect comfort fragrance. I also really adore Urban Musk which on me is like I’ve stated before, very musky. It smells like a very high-quality musk perfume which is what I’ve been looking for anyways. I love musk… From all of the perfume notes, musk is my favorite. I know that now after many years of loving perfume. I wish I could still try Pure Musk though. I know I will end up with all three of the ones I tried, and if I like Pure Musk as much as the others… well I’ll have the entired White Musk collection on my shelf!

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