Tory Burch by Tory Burch ~ perfume review

Tory Burch fragrance advert

I was going for tomboy meets feminine, and I wanted the vetiver because not only did my father wear it, I did too and so did my brothers. Then we looked at how we could mix it with citrus and florals — I’ve always loved tuberose. [The juice is] unexpected, but fresh.1

That's Tory Burch, talking about her debut fragrance, Tory Burch, which launched last month under licensing arrangements with Estee Lauder. And who, exactly, is Tory Burch?

Flip through stacks of glossy magazines, and you are all but guaranteed to find Tory Burch, the designer who has built an empire on tunics and gold-medallioned flats.

[...] But she seems to be modeling her cool image after that of her former boss Ralph Lauren, the Bronx-born onetime necktie maker who turned a small business making polo shirts in the 1970s into a billion-dollar global lifestyle enterprise.2

And the Tory Burch fragrance? Well, it's a pretty good fit with all of that, especially if you've been watching the designer fragrance market long enough to read between the lines. It's a likable enough fresh floral, a bit sweetish, with a big burst of crisp citrus in the opening and a touch of green tempering the watery floral heart (mostly tuberose and jasmine, or at least, tuberose and jasmine in their modern, cleaned up forms).3 The base does have noticeable vetiver, but it's hardly the focus of the composition, which is otherwise mostly pale, mostly flat, and no more than mildly earthy. Tomboy meets feminine, perhaps, but the feminine mostly won the battle. 

Verdict: Tory Burch is not quite linear, but it's close — once the citrus burns off, it's just a slow fade to the end, and while the lasting power is reasonable enough, the end came a bit sooner than I expected from an Eau de Parfum from Estee Lauder. Still, that's the only aspect of the Tory Burch fragrance that justifies calling it "unexpected". It smells completely modern, completely mainstream, and maybe just a little more dull than seems necessary — perhaps a perfect fit with Burch's preppy-chic following? It would fit just fine into the Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger fragrance lines. But if you want something preppy-chic and tomboy, my advice would be to get some Guerlain Vetiver and just wear that — it's what Tory Burch wears, after all.4 Kenzo Air would make another great preppy chic / tomboy / vetiver fragrance, or if you want less vetiver altogether, there's always Dior Eau Sauvage.5 The possibilities are endless.

The reviews for Tory Burch at MakeupAlley, as of this writing, are pretty dismal, but it reportedly did just fine at Bloomingdales when it launched.6

Tory Burch fragrance range

Tory Burch by Tory Burch features notes of grapefruit, pink pepper, cassis, mandarin, neroli, peony, mimosa, jasmine, tuberose, sweet alyssum, carrot seed, vetiver, cedar, sandalwood and white musk. It is available in 30 ($62), 50 ($82) and 100 ($110) ml Eau de Parfum and in a solid perfume pendant ($150).  Matching bath & body products are also available.

1. Women's Wear Daily, 8/23/2013.

2. What Does Tory Burch Want? at the New York Times.

3. As always, floral notes are relative, right? A perfumista raised on Robert Piguet Fracas is not likely to find Tory Burch "too floral", and certainly not heady or indolic. But I did read reviews on beauty blogs complaining it was too heavy and too floral, so obviously, your mileage will vary.

4. When she was younger, she also wore Chanel No. 5 and Chanel Cristalle. See: Tory Burch, Designer at Into The Gloss or Tory Burch Talks Summer Beauty Staples at Style.

5. Just for fun, I tried the Tory Burch next to all three — Kenzo Air, Guerlain Vetiver and Dior Eau Sauvage. To say the Tory Burch came off as comparatively uninspired is an understatement, but it made a lovely argument against the idea that you need niche, or expensive, to smell fabulous, in fact, of the four fragrances, the Tory Burch was by far the most expensive (unless you insist on paying full retail price, and I don't).

6. According to Women's Wear Daily, "Bloomingdale’s sold an estimated $45,000 to $50,000 of the new Tory Burch fragrance at its first day on counter." 9/27/2013.

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  1. chandler_b says:

    Too bad the juice doesn’t seem to live up to the interesting bottle. I can imagine many buying this unsniffed just because of the “Tory Burch” name. Wearing Eau Sauvage at the moment though, which never gets old.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I’m sure it will sell just based on that! The bottles are very cute, esp. love that squat little 30 ml.

      Completely agree about Eau Sauvage.

  2. Omega says:

    I’ve never heard much of her..not interested in the juice. Lol, I just have to say, she looks like such a non fun person though…could be wrong.

    • Robin says:

      I admit right off that I don’t know much about her, and most of what I do know, I’ve learned since she announced this scent. But she does look a lot like the person who would make the things she makes, if that makes sense. And like someone who learned a few things from Ralph Lauren.

      And hey, we have Guerlain Vetiver (and Cristalle) in common.

      • chandler_b says:

        There was a fascinating article in Town and Country I believe, about the battle between her Tory Burch brand and her ex-husband Chris’s brand, C. Wonder, which both basically sell the same things.

        • Robin says:

          How interesting. I am assuming she is doing better than he is because I had at least heard her name, and never heard his? But I’m not a good judge, it’s easy enough for me to miss things since I don’t pay a ton of attention to fashion.

          • chandler_b says:

            She definitely doing better but I think he was still on the board of her company or owned shares in Tory Burch so it was win-win for him.

          • chandler_b says:


        • floragal says:

          I love C. Wonder. Not quite Tory Burch-esque, but some similar aesthetic plus, MUCH more affordable. Fun shop to check out.

    • Merlin says:

      I’v not heard of her before either. In the photo though, she hardly looks vivacious, so I think I know what you mean. Dignified, the ever-important understated and ‘classy’, but fun – no!

      We do not depend on personality, effect or humour, we just ‘are’, lol!

  3. floragal says:

    All I get is Clinique Happy, which is what a reviewer on MA said as well. Such a shame as she is quite original in her style and I’d of thought the same would be true of this fragrance.

    Love the packaging, but that’s all.

    Thanks for the review and all the extras :)

    • Robin says:

      Yes — I’d say it isn’t all that far off from Clinique Happy, although maybe a little deeper in the florals and a little earthier in the base, although that isn’t saying much! But the Tory Burch is also flatter, esp. in the dry down.

      • Omega says:

        This sounds horrible! Lol, not a fan of Clinique Happy obviously.

        • mitsouko says:

          Hahaha re. Clinique Happy. I went through a clean perfume stage and bought a small bottle of Happy. It smells like 7 Up to me . Anyway, after many attempts to like this scent I could not stand it anymore ( very aggressive synthetic musk or something in it ) and gave it to my Mom …who ended up using it as a fragrance on her dog . Worked well on her dog …..

          • Robin says:

            Ack, on the dog! That is a crack up.

      • floragal says:

        Appreciate this nuance! I’m going to compare the two tonight to better understand what you are saying. Thanks!

        • Robin says:

          Happy, to me, is a really well done scent, if not my cup of tea. Frankly, I do not think this is as well done, even if it’s arguably more my sort of thing, or has elements that are more my sort of thing. Ha, that probably makes no sense at all to anyone but me.

          • Robin says:

            Should also add — I do think TB is more fresh than not, but Happy is even fresher/cleaner.

    • Roo says:

      I am getting Happy as well, like a mix of all the flanker fragrances as well as straight up Clinique Happy. Not altogether a bad thing, but it’s been done. And I agree with Robin, she looks like the person who would design the things she sells.

  4. mitsouko says:

    I suspect many women buy this for the name of Tory Birch rather than the juice. I think many non perfume mad people would probably love this scent. The bottle is nice enough.
    Must try but doubt I’ll buy. There’s a little rhyme !! *LOL*

    • Robin says:

      Gosh, let’s face it, that’s probably why most people in general buy perfume, right? The packaging, the name, the bottle.

      • mitsouko says:

        True ! Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

      • Celestia says:

        I’ve been selling perfume since 1995 and what have I learned is that ultimately it is the juice that sells to a first time buyer of that particular fragrance. This is a sweeping generalization, I know. Collectors buy for the bottle, wearers buy for the scent, label hounds buy for the brand name, celebrity worshippers buy for the famous name, etc. I’ve experienced a person loving a scent but buying one they don’t, just for the brand, more than once. Personally, finding a juice I love, in a bottle I love, is the Holy Grail!

  5. Rappleyea says:

    I saw her in an interview recently (CBS Sunday Morning – I think), where she talked about creating this. It *sounded* like she was really involved. She gushed about how helpful the Lauder people were.

    I agree with the others – her name on the bottle will sell it to non-perfumistas. And of course, fine with me if perfumistas love it too! For jasmine, I’m in vintage Samsara today, although I’m down to the REAL sandalwood drydown.

    Thanks for the review, Robin.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was involved. She sounds like she knows what people want to buy, and hey, most women do not want to buy Guerlain Vetiver.

      For that matter, I’m guessing Ralph Lauren wears something better than most of the fragrances he sells too. And likewise, he knows that you don’t have to make something unexpected, or even inspired, to have a product that sells.

    • Omega says:

      That’s a good scent, that Guerlain. I am in jasmine too, an application of Kilian Love and Tears..which grew on me:). Wasn’t hard I do like my jasmine!

  6. poodle says:

    Whoever she is she’s slapped her name on eyeglass frames too. I had an eye appointment on Monday and tried on some of her frames. I had never heard of her until then and now I see this review practically the next day. Very odd. Her glasses didn’t look good on me. I haven’t seen her fragrance anywhere so I can’t comment on that yet.

    • Robin says:

      I got new glasses this week too…yes, every designer in the world has licensed their name to an eyeglass firm, it must be another cash cow, just like perfume.

  7. nozknoz says:

    “maybe just a little more dull than seems necessary”


    • Robin says:

      You know? I mean, you don’t expect something outré from a preppy brand anyway, but honestly.

  8. Eroica says:

    I sniffed this last night in the latest In Style. It’s not exciting. It’s very tame. The citrus was my first sniff…keeping in mind this is just a mag strip. I imagine the label goer’s will buy and be satisfied.

    • Robin says:

      Will be interesting to see how well it does. I’m just waiting for the 1st flanker…

  9. I truly have nothing more to add other than I think that this is a Really Beautiful fragrance… anything else i might add might be seen as Vitriolic and Mean Spirited…

    I Love this and think it is far more well done than most Perfumnisnobs…. Ahem PERFUMNISTAS are giving it credit for… but then that may just be me. again… the less i say the better.

    • Robin says:

      I am so glad you like it! We are always glad to hear the opposing viewpoint, in fact, I personally am especially happy to hear it because I think the more opinions the better. That’s why we like comments.

      Shame you have to call people names because they don’t, and perhaps the less I say the better too.

  10. Filomena says:

    I heard about her several years back. She was still married to her ex-husband at that time and they were both in the company. Nordstrom’s carried her line of handbags–all of which I found to be boring but her gold logo is on every one of them. At first the line was reasonable–at least for a small designer line, however, through the years the prices have gone up quite a bit. Just the opposite of Kate Spade–whose prices have gone down in the past years. I did not care for the Tory Burch purses, shoes or clothing…too preppy for my taste–a different kind of preppy than Ralph Loren–his line is much more tasteful and reeks of wealth–although I am not a Ralph Loren person either–even if I could afford it. In short, I find Tory Burch designs in clothing and accessories to be boring and not in my taste and thus do no have any interest in trying the fragrance.

  11. Chicago Belle13 says:

    Finally got a whiff of it. I wouldn’t place it with Clinique’s Happy. Tory’s fragrance is weaker and softer. Definitely something you’ve smelled million times, but will never remember. No wow factor here. Pass.

  12. Lucy says:

    I received a sample with my cosmetics purchase. I’m not a fan of any of her other products but in the spirit of getting out of my box and broadening my fragrance horizons I thought I’d give it a try.

    The top notes where definitively floral and “pretty”. Certainly a good pairing after a fresh shower. It was not earth shattering. Nothing took me by surprise – or delighted.

    On me, it didn’t last my commute to work. There was nothing left after just one hour and I didn’t pick up anything in the dry down. So, for me it seems simply that it is a superficial fragrance and even if I liked it not worth whatever the price tag since it had no staying power.

    Hate to waste a fragrance sample, however, and will pass it along to somone else. Perhaps they will get some enjoyment from it.

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