I believe (tell me if I'm wrong) I have given more attention to the Tom Ford Private Blends than any other contributor here at Now Smell This (and I've liked more of the Private Blend perfumes than my cohorts, too). But over the last couple of years, my interest in the brand has waned, as one overpriced, under-thought-out perfume after another joined the range. Tom Ford's Private Blend Atelier d’Orient Collection has been out 18 months and I've just sampled all four fragrances; three were yawners to me, but Fleur de Chine1 was a happy surprise.
Fleur de Chine opens with a brash salvo of aldehydes, floral spice (very wisteria-like), tart citrus, and semi-indolic magnolia (this is not magnolia grandiflora but magnolia stellata, which has a sweeter, more jasmine-like aroma, with a hint of “spring chill” about it).
Fleur de Chine’s heart notes smell of ‘demure’ roses (almost soapy in character) and strange fruit (ripe plum crossed with unripe peach). The stone fruit notes don’t smell of jam, but of “steeped” fruit, as if ripe peels and flesh were warming in a tea infusion. (Fleur de Chine’s tea note is subtle.) An interesting fragrance note guides Fleur de Chine to its conclusion: the aroma of bouquets of dried peony blossoms, with their brittle bitterness mixing with their sweet floral “past” of once-fresh flowers.
Styrax (just slightly smoky) arrives at the far end of the base notes and is accompanied by floral (faded rose) and fruit “shadows” (remnants of the fresher opening and heart notes). One base note made me think of peach slices dried in old-fashioned talcum powder. Fleur de Chine’s wood note is faint, but has an evergreen glint and an incense-like quality. I “sensed” more than “smelled” Fleur de Chine’s vetiver (does that make sense?)
I like Fleur de Chine; it’s one of the more interesting Private Blend fragrances. It has a vintage vibe, reminding me of old-style talcs, soaps, and lotions, as well as perfume. It’s very feminine to my nose, and I won't be wearing it myself (though I'd love it as a soap).
When I sprayed Fleur de Chine on my skin, its vibrancy faded quickly, beginning with the arrival of the heart notes. The exciting, bold opening lasted for at least two days on my jacket sleeve, which only received one spritz of perfume. All the interesting twists and turns of Fleur de Chine on skin can be experienced in two ways: spray normally and keep nose close to skin for an hour…or spray lavishly — seven, eight, ten sprays. When sprayed liberally on skin, the fragrance’s many facets are more readily apparent. Fleur de Chine has good lasting power (when applied with a generous hand), but its sillage is mild.
Tom Ford Fleur de Chine Eau de Parfum is available in 50 ml ($215) and 250 ml ($525). For buying information, see the listing for Tom Ford under Perfume Houses.
(ASIDE: I’ll complain till the cows come back to the barn: why doesn't Tom Ford re-release Purple Patchouli? WHY?)
1. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux; listed fragrance notes of clementine, bergamot, star magnolia, champaca, jasmine, hyacinth, rose, wisteria, tea, plum, white peach, cedar, amber, styrax, vetiver.
Note: top image is Branch of Flowering White Jasmine, attributed to early 12th century Chinese artist Zhao Chang, via Wikimedia Commons.