Tom Ford’s Taste of the Orient.

by Katie on June 23, 2013

It appears that Mr Ford never stops. With 38 fragrances to his name since 2005, Ford has now just released another group of fragrances as part of the Private Blend range which already boasts deep heady scents such as Black Orchid, Oud Wood and Jasmin Rouge. It appears to be a changing group, with some dropping out such as Musk Pure and Urban Musk (part of the Private Blend White Musk Collection) and others taking their places. Like new season debutantes lining up to see who will collect the most admirers.

These Spring ’14 Debs wear a darkly Oriental mask, all the better to seduce you with. The Atelier d’Orient Collection comprises Shanghai Lily* (*yes, I’ve already made the jokes about it sounding like a Vauxhall Tavern drag act, but enough now, please), Plum Japonais, Fleur de Chine and Rive d’Ambre and, as we’d expect from Mr Ford, it’s a collection of superior fragrances of high quality and distinction. But exactly how distinct when the Private Blend Collection grows to such growing proportions?

I’m rather getting used to the fact that I now sample the fragrances (always a joy) and think, ‘if you like that, you’ll like this’. If anything, the growing collection adds comparisons for the avid connoisseur but may, in all honesty, confuse the ordinary punter who just wants to indulge in a bit of Mr Ford’s exemplary beatific taste.
Shanghai Lily, apart from sounding extremely Dietrich in her heyday is a compendium of spices (pink peppercorn, black pepper, clove, bitter orange) and warm florals (jasmine, rose, tuberose) tinged with vanilla, benzoin, gaiac wood and frankincense inspired by the historic silk road. It’s conjurs a warmth gained from too many nights in nightclubs. Lovers of Jasmin Rouge may be tempted by Ms Lily’s come-hither stare.

Plum Japanois is rich, complex and mysterious. Notes feature saffron, cinnamon bark from Laos, Sawar cypress and Japanese Ume and camellia blossoms. Then we have the heavier base of agar wood, benzoin, vanilla and fir balsam absolute. It has its admirers but this writer preferred others in the line-up. 
In the adage, ‘if you like that , you’ll like this’, Rive D’Ambre stoked the senses in the same manner as the Neoroli Portofino Collection. Lovers of the latter will love the freshness of the citrus fruits & oils used in Rive D’Ambre (bergamot, lemon, bitter orange, pear tree; cognac oil) set against a warmer backdrop of tolu balsam and golden amber. It’s the lightest of the collection by far but don’t pre-judge it’s lightness of being. Rive d’Ambre is the amber fist in the velvet fruit drenched glove.

The stand-out fragrance has to be Fleur de Chine, a beautifully complex, ultra feminine spritz of sparkling wonder that feels for all the world like a classic ’50s fragrance dressed up in 21st Century Dries Van Noten or rather, Tom Ford’s genius S/S’11 collection (as photographed below by Stephen Meisel). 
Ford was said to be inspired by the femmes fatales of Chinese B movies from the ’30s-’60s for this fragrance and, whilst I get the inspiration, the actuality is a whole lot more graceful, elegant and aloof. 

Fleur de Chine acts like a fragrant equivalent of a class-A drug. Once sprayed, it just has to be sprayed again. Not for the fact that it’s weak or dies down quickly but due to its addictive exquisiteness. Saying that, the dry-down is divine. A powdery veil is felt on the skin like the remnants of expensive white powder, urging you to sniff again. The lush floral composition includes star magnolia, tea blossom, clementine, bergamot, hyacinth, jasmine, plum, tea rose, wisteria, peony and hinoki, again set against amber, benzoin, Chinese cedar, styrax and vetiver. Fleur de Chine may be the hardest to grasp, but like women who are difficult to fathom, she’s a classy treat that gives a rush beyond your imagination.

The Tom Ford Atelier D’Orient Collection is now available at Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Harrods priced at £140 for 50ml and £320 for 250ml versions.
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