When a perfume company like Tom Ford produces two distinct fragrance lines, one upper-tier prestige (the exorbitantly expensive, limited-distribution Private Blends) and one ‘simply’ prestige (the more affordable and widely distributed Signature line), I’d expect the quality of ingredients or the quality of the formulas to differ (for instance, the Private Blends should smell “luxurious” and/or innovative compared to the Signature scents). As the Tom Ford lines stand, that is not the case; there are hits and misses in each line (more misses in the Private Blends because the offerings are more numerous).
I liked the first masculine Signature fragrance: Tom Ford for Men (2007); I liked Grey Vetiver (2009) a little less. Tom Ford just launched the third Signature men’s perfume — Tom Ford Noir; the fragrance notes sound promising: bergamot, verbena, caraway, baie rose, violet flower, black pepper, nutmeg, iris, geranium, rose, clary sage, opoponax, amber, patchouli, vetiver, civet and vanilla.
Tom Ford Noir begins with a creamy, slightly vanillic bergamot note tinged with “green,” reminding me immediately of Guerlain Jicky. The citrus opening fades to reveal powdery opoponax. In mid-development there’s an almost-minty “tingle” present in the brash verbena-pepper-(rose) geranium accord (accent on geranium). Finally, light amber, a note smelling like coumarin, and “civet” musk round out the perfume.
As I smelled Tom Ford Noir’s stages of development, a beauty parlor scenario came into focus: a customer, wearing Jicky (good taste!) and lots of make-up (opoponax), goes into a salon, gets her hair washed with an Aveda shampoo (verbena-pepper-geranium) and then has an old-style (semi-stinky) permanent wave (civet). As she leaves the shop…she spritzes on more Jicky.
Tom Ford Noir almost succeeded: I enjoy the opening and closing of the perfume…but the middle! I describe the heart of the fragrance as “shampoo”; a friend said it smelled like an “environmentally friendly” cleaning product. Those geranium-tinged notes are awkward, not interesting, and they make the perfume smell unfinished. These problematic notes last about 20-30 minutes on my skin. If, like me, you enjoy the opening and closing of Tom Ford Noir — buy Jicky.
Has Tom Ford, who used to spearhead some interesting and innovative fragrances, given up control of his perfume business? Have his tastes changed? Is he tired of perfume? At any rate, all of a sudden, after the Jardin Noir collection and this one, the prospect of another Tom Ford perfume does not excite me at all.
Tom Ford Noir, certainly unisex, has so-so lasting power and sillage; it’s available in 50 ($90) and 100 ml ($124) Eau de Parfum.