Violet Blonde is the latest addition to Tom Ford's Signature Collection (i.e., it's not in his more expensive and harder-to-find Private Blend series). It's his third pillar for women, after Black Orchid and White Patchouli, and it's in the same ribbed bottle with metal label. This time, the bottle is in clear instead of opaque glass — and just as well, thank you; if they'd done it up in opaque violet glass I'd have had to buy it even if it was a scrubber.
It's not a scrubber though. Violet Blonde is soft and cushy-powdery, as is the current fashion, but it's loudly so, in keeping with Tom Ford's aesthetic.1 I preferred it applied lightly; your mileage, of course, may vary. The opening is a heady mix of citrus, sweet fruit, violet leaf and violet (violet fans take note: it does smell like violet in the early stages). It's green early on, and peppery throughout. The fruit notes soften as the top notes dissipate, and the violet fades into a jasmine-heavy floral mixed with a dry, peppery iris. The jasmine is clean, with fruity undertones, and it's strong rather than rich: the ad copy repeatedly uses the word opulence, but it's a decidedly modern sort of opulence. The base is pale earthy woods, smooth and creamy, and mostly clean — as was the case with White Patchouli, the earthy notes are there, but they've been worked over with a fine-toothed comb; there's no must or skank whatsoever.
I think I may be nearly alone among perfumistas in preferring Tom Ford's Signature Collection to the Private Blends. The Signature Collection fragrances strike me as generally better thought out and better executed — they have a kind of polished elegance which stands in stark contrast to the blunt force of some of the Private Blend scents, especially the early ones (I still remember wondering, when I first smelled the Private Blends, if some of them weren't maybe unfinished mods for Black Orchid). The three Signature fragrances fit together nicely; they don't smell the same but they have a similar style, and as such they lend a sense of cohesiveness to the Tom Ford Beauty line that is notably missing from most mainstream designer perfume houses.
Violet Blonde in particular has that same feel of "polished chic" that verges on formal (formal, polished and chic also feature in the ad copy). I likened Black Orchid to a ball gown, and White Patchouli to the upscale New York all-in-black look (trousers, a black turtleneck and boots, big sunglasses, sleek hair, one big piece of jewelry). Violet Blonde, the purple-tinged advertising notwithstanding, I'd put in shades of beige and tan, something rather like the perfectly tailored ladies-who-lunch outfit that model Raquel Zimmermann sports in the advertising for Love, Chloé (although the juice is not so sweet or über-feminine as that for Love, Chloé).
Anyway, the 'verges on formal' style really isn't me, and like Black Orchid and White Patchouli, Violet Blonde is a fragrance I enjoyed visiting but don't want to live in; a coffret of all three in a very small size — 15 ml, say — would be great fun to own, but otherwise, I'm impressed but not tempted.
Tom Ford Violet Blonde is available in 30 (if you can find it), 50 ($100) and 100 ($145) ml Eau de Parfum. The notes include violet leaf, mandarin, pink pepper, orris, jasmine, benzoin, cedar, vetiver, musk and suede. In the US, it is currently finishing up its exclusive run at Saks, after which it will be generally easier to find.
1. Mind you, it's loud in comparison to the current crop of cosmetic powder fragrances, but it's not so loud as Black Orchid.