When it comes to a high-end designer fragrance collection, we immediately think of Tom Ford’s iconic Private Blends in distinctive bottle shape or an exquisite “La Collection Privée Christian Dior.” Not to mention Armani’s Privé line, which is considered one of the most well-known limited and exclusive collections in the Luxury perfume world.
Tom Ford launched the Private Blend back in 2007 with 12 new fragrances. Some of them marked the pins to the map of the luxury perfume, which are still sold widely and their best sellings until today. These iconic fragrances are a westernized oud scent as Oud Wood, a seductive Tobacco Vanille, groundbreaking leathery Tuscan Leather, and carnal rosy Noir de Noir. After its launch, the collection got high demand and publicity for being bold, unapologetic, and boundary-breaking compositions.
The collection started to expand exponentially with new launches every year. The collection branched into several sub-collections: eastern culture-centred Atelier d’Orient, green essence expressing Les Extraits Vert, fresh Neroli Portofino Collection, clean and sensuous musky White Musk Collection, and the latest launch, Private Rose Garden, which is built around three different types of roses. Ironically, the collection that is supposed to be the most private and exclusive was the most extensive collection among their fragrance offerings, including more than 90 fragrances out of 112.
I used to own more than 40 Private Blends but got bored along the way while I explored the niche perfume world. Therefore these five fragrances I’m about to discuss are those I consider to be the essentials that give you some idea of what this colossal collection is all about.
Noir de Noir: A Fallen Rose
A mythic Rose with very carnal facets of Tryffel and dark creamy chocolaty Patchouli. Around this gothic rose core is some Mossy and dark woodsy notes that give an extra depth to the composition. The delicateness of the bouquet of flowers whispers in the background to compliment the majestic Rose that sits right in the middle of the composition. It’s dark. Mysterious and somehow very flirty sweet.
I have had a love-hate relationship with this fragrance since I discovered it. At first, I was put off by the filthy earthy facets and sold it out. Then I repurchased it just several months after that. Then I sold it again as it became too cloying and the old lady smelled, so I gave it to my mother. The third time I bought it was after I smelled it on my mother at my cousin’s wedding. I discovered it again, and this time it’s here to stay. I was lucky enough to get my hand on the older batch because the recent one was changed A LOT! The Truffle is muted, and its longevity is relatively poor considering its note and how potent my bottle is. Is it worth hunting down the older formula? Not really, it’s not like it’s now a completely different scent, but it’s not what it used to be.
I’m sure this was groundbreaking at its time, but now it smells somewhat like a very familiar carnal type of Rose fragrances out there.
Shanghai Lily: A Mistress from the Far East
This scent is all about warm and sensuous spices contrasted with a bouquet of herbaceous flowers. Beneath the thrilling contrast, smoky woods and incense-like resins such as frankincense merged with the warmth of cashmere wood and Amber to amplify the feel of the alluring danger. A sense as a shadow dances right on the edge of the light.
Shanghai Lily emanates sensuality negatively like a ray of the darkness. But you might wonder how darkness radiates. The answer is quite simple, really. When the night falls, we feel safe, but we should be more aware of the danger behind it. As we are very curious in our nature about the unknown, we become fascinated by it to the point we’re willing to take a risk to get to know it. Shanghai Lily is precisely that type of danger – you are aware of that danger, but you still want to take a little bit of it.
Beau de Jour: A Fresh Take on a Classic Fougère
When I smelled Beau de Jour for the first time, it was like something I’ve already smelled so many times in classical perfumery, yet there’s a whisper of contemporary facets. I scrubbed my head and figured it was the Tom Ford DNA in the base.
Beau de Jour kicks off with a classical Fougere opening with Lavender, sharp green, and herbal aromatics. The Lavender is rich in texture, not just a sharp and air conditioner-like, but more of a natural Lavender field type of a feel. Geranium’s distinctive Fougere floral core combines the daylight bright head, adding an airy and almost watery feel by its elevating and refreshing spicy floral feeling. On the base lay a forest floor like the sensation of Oakmoss and Patchouli. The warmth radiates from Amber sweetens up and rounds up the edges of the classical Fougere accord.
That addition of Amber, which is quite a specific type for Tom Ford, changes the game for me.
Tuscan Leather Intense: A Tamed Leathery Beast
Tuscan Leather Intense is a misleading title as it doesn’t project or feel more intense than the original. In fact, I find the original to be more cloying and beastly launching than the Intense version. However, this is intense in another sense.
Tuscan Leather Intense kept the distinctive feel of the aromatic Leather of the original but has its horn removed. It starts off quite a green aromatic with the notes of Tuscan Leather signature; tart Raspberry, Saffron, and Thyme with a robust green message of Davana. This is actually the game-changing factor here as it reminds me more of the older formulation of Tuscan Leather, where that “c*co smell” is more apparent. Also, the raspberry feels tamer in this. Soon enough, there’s a wind of smoky, resinous woods creeping in with a wild and quite animalic Leather. At this point, I get the same vibes as Suede et Safran by Nishane – a rough, animalic, and dusty Leather with a warmth of body temperature.
The golden hue reminiscing feel comes from the golden Amber that I find familiar with the other Intense version of Tom Ford’s Classic, Tobacco Oud Intense, but its sweetness is a bit tamed here. The dry down is the best for me! It’s warm, smoky, slightly animalic, musky, leathery with a pinch of woods and Saffron. It’s reminiscent of brown Leather covered with gold dust!
As I mentioned, “animalic,” don’t get afraid of it. It’s instead a tamed wild animal type of smell that is totally tolerable. It’s like a lion living in a zoo who loves bathing daily and keeps its fur clean. In fact, in the sense of how the composition makes me feel, it’s like a naughty talk in a whisper and soft bonding foreplay. It’s smooth and alluring, but it doesn’t mean it’s not gonna make you feel “intense” from the inside.
I don’t have Tuscan Leather in my collection anymore, even though I love the DNA, but I’m sure I will keep this for a long time. I hated the Intense and never returned to it because of the animalic tone I wasn’t used to backing then. Now I want all of it as it makes me feel… fierce!
Tobacco Oud Intense: Smooth Ashy Tobacco
This ambered and smoothen version of Tobacco Oud is a perfect balance between ashy and leafy Tobacco. With dark woods nuances, this competition umps the confidence and careless attitude. Be aware, carry with confidence; otherwise, it will wear you!
Tobacco Oud Intense unleashes a remarkable amount of matured booze and oud, burning Tobacco. It’s not too edgy. To me, it’s pretty rounded and refined. It’s like entering a gentleman’s club when it’s closed. It has that mysterious depth with a sensuous and warm amber and a slight animalistic facet underneath it.
The Intense version starts more calm and refined. The boozy note is still there, but it’s not whiskey. It’s more like an XO calvados – more subtle, rounded, and sweeter. Tobacco and oud are there. Oud seems to be a bit more refined and soft. Also, Tobacco is not ashy – more pipe tobacco. This one is a bit muskier, animalic even. The base is heavy, sweet Amber gives warmth, and sensuality is boosted with tonka bean and sandalwood.
This is one of those Tom Ford’s creations that deserve to be brought back into production. If this was made by a niche brand, I’m sure this would be their bestseller! The Intense just fixes what the original lacks. There’s the right amount of everything, and all-rounded and balanced. It’s simply perfect!
Are these five the best Tom Ford private Blends ever? Not necessarily. Oud Wood is a masterpiece that shook the interpretation of how to utilize the raw material that is ancient and challenging to be palatable to the Western market. Tobacco Vanille took the profound gentlemen’s club oriental-styled DNA and sweetened it up with sensual vanilla, another creation that broke the ground in its time. I could keep talking about other innovations that are a trademark to this collection, but that would take ages to finish the article.
I want to say that these five are the five that I wear regularly; therefore, I don’t see reasons to have them all as I can find the same type of DNA somewhere else. It’s not that I don’t no longer consider the collection pioneering, but lately, the new releases have been so disappointing. They really need to figure out something new soon, really sit down and put a thought before releasing anything. Nowadays, it seems like money catching with the only provocative names that scents don’t even live up to. For instance, F*cking Fabulous, I think it’s a rather poorly composed fragrance that is all over the place like desperate attention-seeking individuals.
I had a chance to try out the new sub-collection called Private Rose garden. I was only wowed by Rose de Russie, which is literally a rose core with a Russian leather on the base. I feel it was kind of in the middle of development and launched too soon. This is a severe problem they’re having. There are some potential formulas, but it’s been rushed, and instead, play safe to grab the money rather than create something groundbreaking and breathtaking fragrances like in the old days.