Ever the overachiever I can imagine how Tom Ford must have been after his retirement from Gucci in 2004. After the second month of unemployment he must surely have be driving himself crazy with boredom and ready to take on the world again. It was no surprise when he re-emerged into the fashion spotlight two years later with a menswear label baring his own name. The line is produced by the manufacturing arm of Ermenegildo Zegna who also manufactures men’s suiting for other luxury brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. I visited the first flagship store on Madison Avenue the year after it opened and thought I had stumbled onto the set of Gossip Girl. Crocodile loafers, double-breasted tweed cashmere suits and velvet slippers made to appeal to the New York elite, dizzied by the effect of having too much money. At the time Tom Ford’s eyewear already had the world gasping for more and Black Orchid had been launched with much praise. I discovered Tom Ford Extreme after leaving my name and number with my local Tom Ford counter in 2007. I received a call before lunch one spring afternoon to say a limited number of bottles had become available. Ever the sucker for limited products it’s no secret what I ate for lunch that afternoon…. Nothing, I bought perfume in my lunch hour. Who needs food right? For whatever reason this limited edition is still available four years later. I do prefer it to the original Tom Ford for men. French perfumer Pierre Negrin worked under Tom Ford’s direction to create this fragrance and I think of it in the same way I think of Jean Claude Ellena’s Terre and how it is complimented by the Hermessence range. Although Tom Ford’s Private Blends are each created by different perfumers I think there is a sense that each one of them is a singular facet of Tom Ford or Black Orchid in the same way Ellena’s Hermessences are reverential poems to the greater novel that is Terre. And like Ellena’s creations for Hermes, the perfumers who created Tom Ford’s range have successfully captured the essence of the designer as well as his brand.
From what I have read, Tom Ford seems to have a nostalgic reverence for 1970s middle to upper class America. Tom Ford Extreme confirms my theory with its thick, almost suffocating net that it throws over you upon contact. Much like other fragrances of the 1970s era. There is no transparency, no water and no air. This smells like dirt. Beautiful dirt. Fragrant clay to be precise (as a side note, I don’t get the terre in Terre. Am I the only one?). Tom Ford Extreme takes some concentration to take in. It is complex as well as dense. A violet plum note is how this fragrance communicates flowers. Birch tar is almost immediately present. Together, purple leather. For a moment the fragrance sees clarity, Iso E Super woody notes, before caramel patchouli, amber and (Japanese hand blended) incense take hold. Tom Ford Extreme is extreme in the sense I often get a passing wiff of it as I am taking my shirt out of the washing machine. Seeing my shirt and smelling the scented molecules that have resisted the laundry detergent reminds me of what I did the day I wore the shirt with this fragrance. The original Tom Ford For Men is very similar in construction to Tom Ford Extreme but with more emphasis on the citrus notes. Extreme is much more to the point. On paper (not on my skin) the floral-sandalwood combination gives me a fleeting glimpse back to Yves Saint Laurent’s Kouros. A note I can no longer smell if I was to spray Kouros at my local department store today.
For me Tom Ford Extreme is an evening scent. Too loud for my daytime lifestyle I prefer to wear it to dinner and bars. Its earthy nature suits humid summer nights and performs equally well in winter peering out from my winter coat. Dior Homme admirers may like this scent to make a stronger statement. A perfect scent for men in their 30s. Extreme will allow them to live out their fragrance fantasies born in the 1980s when only their fathers wore cologne. Tom Ford Extreme communicates strength, sophistication and culture.
Tom Ford For Men, Chanel Antaeus, Yves Saint Laurent Kouros, Etro Ambra, L’Artisan Patch, Maitre Parfumeur Et Gantier Santal Noble, Floris Eau De Santal, Christian Dior Dior Homme Extreme, Christian Dior Eau Noire.
Perfumer: Pierre Negrin, Claude Dir (Givaudan – Quest)
Bottle designer: Tom Ford
Release date: 2007
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Dry Woods