Tom Ford Private Blend London: Impressions

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The Tom Ford London flagship store on Sloane St.

I’ve had the opportunity to try a few new scents lately and Tom Ford Private Blend London was at the top of my lust list based on the notes. And, okay, lets face it, the exclusivity. Can’t get it anywhere but the new flagship store on Sloane St.? Sign me up!

imagesThe scuttlebutt on the fragrance was that it was Tom Ford’s first coffee scent. The note list also promised cardamom, saffron, incense, jasmine, oud and woods. While all the notes are up my alley, they pretty much had me at coffee. I simply had to know what a Tom Ford Private Blend based on the note of coffee would smell like.

So without further adieu, here’s what it smells like: not coffee.

All the other notes seem to be present and accounted for but coffee, sadly isn’t one of them. It starts very peppery, spicy and complex. The oud and cedar are in the fore from the start. When sprayed lightly, it’s a peppery, spicy (cardamom, cumin) incense and wood scent. Sprayed heavily, it’s very dense like many TF Private Blends can be – dark oud cloaked in spices and smokey incense, and with a sweet almost candied floral heart. It’s unisex, but leans masculine with its dense, woody, smokey darkness. The sweetness at the core allows women in the club, but only the strong, self-assured ones who don’t mind playing with the boys.

Am I disappointed Tom Ford London doesn’t have a prominent coffee note? You bet! But it’s a complex, interesting, sophisticated scent nonetheless that I’m glad to have a decant of. It also has massive longevity and sillage that rivals other powerful Tom Fords like Tobacco Vanille and Amber Absolute.

Will I buy a full bottle? Don’t think so. While it’s a very good scent, the blend seems a bit ‘jagged’ and lacks a certain refinement to my nose. But if you’re in the Sloane Street neighbourhood, it would absolutely be worth having a sniff and checking out the new store (opened at the end of July 2013) while you’re at it. Tom Ford London will be available internationally at the end of January 2014.

Inside Tom Ford's London store.

Inside Tom Ford’s London store.

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The Beauty of Sadness: The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

Dear Scent Diary,

To my husband’s utter dismay, I’m a jasmine lover.  If I wear a jasmine perfume in his presence he respectfully pretends not to notice, but if we’re in the car, he’s been known to roll down the windows dramatically and hang his head out, mock gasping for air. You now know what I’m dealing with. We’ve finally traced his repulsion to an association he has with his mother wearing jasmine perfume in the car when he was a boy during a time when he was prone to being carsick. Okay, based on that, I suppose I’ll allow the goofy histrionics.Unknown

Jasmin de Nuit is not exactly a jasmine scent. I know this to be true because my husband likes it. He nods his head and pushes his bottom lip out when I slip my Jasmin de Nuit perfumed wrist under his nose.

Jasmine is of course a part of the perfume’s composition but the impression the fragrance gives is not of a sweet, bright white floral. Clearly. The dry down is in fact more akin to carrot cake than it is to a flower. But something about this spicy, amber-y jasmine tinged with humanity and sadness breaks my heart.  Just like a chord of music that can somehow embody the feeling of heartbreak, Jasmin de Nuit takes me to a melancholy place almost immediately. Guerlain’s L’heure Bleu, while a different scent altogether, has a similar effect on me.

Unknown-1images-2The fragrance opens with cardamom, cinnamon, anise and an undercurrent of low-register indolic jasmine. Musky humanity is present, either as a part of the indoles or as a note unto itself. Within ten minutes, the cardamom and other spices become even more dominant while sandalwood and amber begin to seep in. Still present though is the low-pitched, melancholy indole of the jasmine. The bright, sweet, high register portion of the note that we expect when we hear ‘jasmine’ is missing, and with it, its cheer.

everything's going to be alrightPerhaps if perfumer Celine Ellena and The Different Company had named this scent Sunday Evening (in French of course), fewer people would be frustrated by their expectations of a heady, uplifting jasmine scent. Perhaps instead, they would enjoy the spice, sandalwood, amber and indole of this gorgeous fragrance and succumb to the exquisite sadness its beauty brings.

That, or just have a spouse that keeps the perfume’s name a secret.

Is ‘fresh oriental’ an oxymoron? Penhaligon’s Malabah

Dear Scent Diary,

I received a scented package from the lovely Mag at MakeupStash.com the other day – an RAOK (random act of kindness) that affirms my belief in bloggerkind. One of the samples she sent was of Penhaligon’s Malabah, a fragrance I’ve heard mentioned a lot as a favourite feminine of the line, so I made a beeline for it.

Unknown-3Malabah opens as a sparkling ginger, lemon tea concoction that intrigued me right away. Chic smelling ginger ale? Hmmm, tell me more.  The spicy yet fresh and sparkling juxtaposition had me hooked. Soon, the aldehydes die down and a rose note adds dimension to create a fresh ginger, cardamom tea with smooth rose backup singers. Some sweet amber joins in at the end to add some harmonies and make things even more appealing. It doesn’t project very much but continues to hum for a good eight hours close to the skin.

I’m generally a fan of dense, lush orientals but sometimes they can be too thick for my mood, especially in the coming spring and summer months. Malabah may just be my answer. The contrast of oriental spiciness and lightweight freshness seems to be exactly what I’m craving this time of year.

I can see how those looking for, or expecting a powerhouse oriental would be disappointed by Malabah. But for me, a scent that’s not too intense, but not too light and squeaky clean can be ‘just right’. Perhaps that’s why I consider Penhaligon’s Malabah to be the perfect fresh, oriental oxymoron for spring.

Love in two acts: Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche

Dear Scent Diary,

Unknown-2The way I’ve come to love Olfactive Studio’s Lumiere Blanche is somewhat similar to the way I’ve come to love my husband.

When we met for the first time, sparks undeniably flew. I was mesmerized.  He seemed to understand me and somehow knew how to make me feel both comfortable and special. We felt ‘at home’ together, like two puzzle pieces slipping into place. Then, out of nowhere, he decided he didn’t want to be with me anymore and disappeared.

I was, as my girlfriends assured me, unnecessarily crushed. “Good riddance. You don’t need him,” they said. “There are plenty of others to take his place.”

And so you attempt to move on by dating a few others right away. There are some you like, and some you think you might even love, though when you’re honest with yourself, they’re a bit out of your comfort zone, or they’re great off the top but once you get to know them, they’re boring or difficult, or you’re not sure you want to go out in public with them.

Then, a few months later, you bump into HIM again. You’re not keen to go through the pain of him disappearing on you once more, so you almost turn him down when he suggests you try again. But you can’t resist. You tentatively give it a try, all the while waiting for the other shoe to drop. But this time, he doesn’t disappear. You’re not quite sure what’s changed about your chemistry, but now, not only does he make you feel beautiful, confident, sexy and at ease, he has staying power.

So you marry him.

My new full bottle of Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche should arrive next week.

(Oh yeah, it smells of cardamom pods steeped in warm milk, creamy sandalwood and hints of musk and almonds. Woody, milky, subtly spicy and unisex. It’s not heavy and does not project much but does (now) stay on my skin for most of a day.)

Ava Luxe Cafe Noir

Dear Scent Diary,

Oh. My. God. Can’t get my nose off my wrist. This is dark and deep and delicious and aromatic and genuine and well, just plain gorgeous. This is the type of fragrance that tickles the bottoms of my lungs I’m compelled to inhale so deeply. imagesIt’s true I’m a sucker for coffee scents but this one is more than just java. It’s strong black coffee on steroids with a hint of cardamom and lavender giving things an aromatic edge, while sandalwood and vanilla almost imperceptibly round it out. No kidding around though, it’s all about the coffee. I bet there are some who’ll complain that they smell like they spilled a pot of coffee on their shirt or that someone stuffed their pockets full of beans when they weren’t looking. Yuk, yuk, yuk. I guess I’ll just be over here rolling my eyes at them with both nostrils glued to my wrist. Most would probably call this masculine, but as you can probably tell, I call it unisex.