Tom Ford Noir is the fourth signature fragrance launched by the American designer for his male clientele. If his first men’s fragrance Tom Ford for Men reintroduced the fashion codes of the late 1970s male through a balanced layering of sporty citrus and masculine woody lichens, Tom Ford Noir skips a generation and reminds me of the masculine fragrances of the early 1990s. This era of masculine scent was signed with oriental notes of spices, woods and exotic resins. Sadly by the end of the decade the style was put to rest by a tidal wave of fresh watery colognes such as L’Eau D’Issey in 1994 and Acqua di Gio in 1996. As a child of the 90’s the first time I smelt Tom Ford Noir my teenage life literally flashed before me. Noir brought back memories of Chanel’s Egoiste, Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium and all those fashion magazines my older sister used to buy with their peel and sniff perfume advertisements. Tom Ford describes Noir as his most personal fragrance yet. He describes a man that is an “urbane sophisticate who the world gets to see and the intriguingly sensuous, private man they don’t”. I can’t help but think of Noir as having a deeper personal meaning for Tom Ford, a man who began his career as a designer and then became a public figure when he reinvigorated the houses of Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci over a decade ago. For me there are many stories you could read from Noir, the violet rose accord has an antique soft-feminine quality and the spicy notes give the fragrance both a masculine and a sensual aspect. Tom Ford Noir is certainly a men’s fragrance that is multidimensional. And like all things Ford, the packaging is super-sexy in its presentation. The dark brown and gold colours; signatures of the house, have been modernized with smoky black glass and silver lettering. Classic yet modern, above all sophisticated, the packaging reflects the scent inside.
Tom Ford Noir is offered as an eau de parfum although I find there is still a lot of space between the notes. It is much less compact in comparison to other Tom Ford eau de parfums such as Tobacco Vanille. A rush of spices and flowers quickly overcome Noir’s top notes of verbena and bergamot. The spices include premium Madagascan black pepper oil from Givaudan (Orpur®) and a generous amount of nutmeg; Cacharel Pour Homme was the first men’s fragrance to use an overdose of nutmeg in the early 1980s. Noir’s floral notes are unexpected and add a twist to this oriental composition. A violet-laced Bulgarian rose accord brings femininity to the fragrance whilst clary sage, caraway and Egyptian geranium return the mid notes to a more masculine stance. Ford’s violet accord cleverly connects Noir to other Tom Ford fragrances, which often have a violet theme. The base is made from a beautifully constructed amber accord. It begins to show quite soon after applying the fragrance and grows stronger as the floral notes subside. Noir’s amber is made sweeter with sugary benzoin resin and oppoponax, Indonesian patchouli and vetiver bring masculinity to the heart and base of the perfume. In terms of longevity, Tom Ford Noir stays in tact on skin for around 3 to 4 hours, after which, skin is left with a powdery vanilla veil.
Whether he is reinvigorating the chypre accord, making leather perfumes wearable or presenting classic vetiver cologne to men as though no one had thought of it before, Tom Ford has a way of making old things cool again. He knows how to make niche ideas accessible to a wider audience. For me, Tom Ford Noir is the easiest gift idea for this coming Christmas. I doubt you will find too many men complaining if a bottle was to turn up in their Christmas stocking. I might even need another bottle before Christmas at the rate I have been using mine.
Perfumer: Oliver Gillotin (Givaudan)
Bottle designer: Tom Ford
Release date: 2012
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Crisp oriental