Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ford Fragrances

With the release of Black Orchid, I thought it time to do a tribute to Tom Ford, the man with one of the longest hitting streaks in fragrance history. In addition to a brief review of the new scent - unfavorable I'm afraid - I thought I'd share some thoughts on my favourite Fords.

Envy for Women: (1997) Hyacinth, magnolia, green notes, jasmine, lily of the valley, violet, iris, woods, musk. Another classic created by Maurice Roucel, this Queen of the Greens is a demonstration of Ford's genius for top-down design. The name, the bottle and the juice were perfectly positioned to resurrect the ailing Gucci. (The print ad campaign, however, was, in my opinion, ill-handled. The photos of models snacking on each other do not match the scent and the black-and-white shots look confusingly and yet boringly like Calvin Klein images.) The scent is both uncompromisingly sharp and accessibly sheer, conveying the chill of a floral fridge: water, steel, greenery and white petals. The watery freshness is masterful, somewhat Roudnitska-like, with none of the awkward, tack-on quality of the aquatic/marine or ozonic notes in so many other compositions of that decade.

Rush for Women: (1999) Gardenia, freesia, coriander seeds, jasmine, rose, vanilla, patchouli, vetiver. Created by Michel Almairac and famously chosen by Ford in seconds, Rush is the abstract masterpiece of the last two decades of perfumery and an easy addition to my own top ten list. You can just ignore the released notes. Rush is a seamless piece of work, so weirdly and evocatively solid that it never bores. As usual, it is impossible to top Luca Turin's description: "This thing smells like a person. To be exact, thanks to the milky lactone note, it smells like an infant's breath mixed with his mother's hair spray... What Rush can do, as all great art does, is create a yearning, then fill it with false memories of an invented past." (Emperor of Scent, 42). This reminds me of something a friend of mine once said about Linklater's Dazed and Confused: "It gets better every time you watch it. After a while, it's just there, a party happening in your rec room. I wasn't a teen in the seventies, but I somehow got invited." I feel a similar sense of gratitude and pseudo-nostalgia for Rush.

Gucci Pour Homme: (2003) White pepper, ginger, bay, papyrus wood, orris, amber, vetiver, olibanum/frankincense, leather. Ford's (and Almairac's) tribute to the men's classics of the seventies, this one is so heavy on the chin stubble that I think it is ridiculous worn by anyone but a woman. It is absurdly virile, of a piece with Ford's own personal style, which seems to consist entirely of chesthair. A few have complained that Pour Homme is too sweet, but I think the dryness of the pepper and incense notes had to be balanced somehow. The whole thing has a cheesy/sexy vibe, like Indiana Jones and his legion of successors (James Spader in Stargate, that nerd from Relic Hunter, etc.)

Azurée Body Oil: (2006) Tiare, gardenia, orange blossom, coconut, sandalwood, myrrh, vetiver. The Youth Dew Amber Nude revamp left me a little cold - it seemed well-executed but safe - so I was glad to love this update. It is the beachiest scent I know, retro and cheeky. There was no need for Bond no. 9 Fire Island - this *is* the smell of "premium Euro-sunscreen" (whatever that might be).

Black Orchid: (2006) Black truffle, ylang-ylang, gardenia, bergamot, mandarin, black currant, jasmine, lotus wood, floral (orchid?) notes, patchouli, incense, vanilla tears, vetiver, balsam, sandalwood. I suppose the fun had to end sometime. This is very, very pretty but there is little va-voom to it, no matter how many times the advertising copy mentions dramatic, decadent sensuality. It is sad how hard everyone seems to have tried, though. The truffle almost lends some earthiness, the fruit is almost overripe, the patchouli almost threatens to misbehave, there is almost a daringly weird marine moment late in the drydown. It's going to sell like hotcakes - but I have never liked hotcakes (aren't they just flat soggy bread?)

7 Comments:

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous AngelaS said...

I'd like to add YSL's Nu to the list of Tom Ford fragrances. I love its almost pure, soft incense. I can't believe I haven't tried Rush yet! Must remedy soon. Thanks for the post.

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger Erin said...

I forgot Ford was involved with Nu - also great. I think I read somewhere it was a sales flop?! Terrible, if true.

 
At 5:30 PM, Blogger marchlion said...

Erin -- wow, another fan of Rush! How I wish the packaging were different -- I remember reading LT's description and thinking, yes, that's IT!! It is a phenomenal fragrance. Also seconding Angela's vote for Nu, which I think is just wonderful. It probably was a flop -- it's got one of the ugliest fragrance containers I've ever seen (which, um, if it's Ford's would be an argument against his genius ;-) ) or you could just say it was ahead of its time... I forgot how you felt about Black Orchid?

 
At 5:16 AM, Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Thank you, thank you, for the marine note mention [of infamy] in BO !
I keep screaming into the void about how marine skanks its way into almost every new release, thusly spoiling whatever pleasure I might derive...

Either I am a dweeb of the first degree, or my nose is a spoiled brat...
I can't decide !

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger Erin said...

March - Ah yes, the red block... the film canister or whatever it was supposed to be. Not that elegant, I admit. Nu, yes, also bad packaging, but also great juice. The first time I smelled it I didn't really "get" it, which is probably a good sign; it was ahead of incense curve, and didn't really smell like a lot of other mainstream releases out there. The (non-LE) bottle of Black Orchid was not all that appealing to me actually. The cap in particular seems kind of cheapy.

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Erin said...

chaya: Great to see you here! And no, we are not crazy! There is something marine somewhere in there. It is particularly evident on a day-old smelling strip. Why, oh why?

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger Thom said...

Erin, your posts get more bewitching (& more wordy!) by the minute. You better WORK, sister o' mine. I love Tom Ford: have you seen the clothes that man produced? He's a pure talent...some people just inherently design, and I'll say that he is surely a virtuoso.

Do you keep "day-old" smelling strips? That seems unhygenic, and a little OCD or something. Just a thought.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home