Category Archives: Tom Ford

Getting Into Tom Ford’s Underwear

I’ve been begging for this for years. 

With his celebrated history of putting sex into fashion, Tom Ford by all rights should have been putting out underwear collections a long time ago. I have a feeling I know why he hasn’t up until now: he has always claimed he doesn’t wear underwear. Ruins the line and adds unwanted bulk to an outfit. Fair enough. But I’m guessing he doesn’t wear all those gorgeous gowns either, and that’s never stopped him. Regardless, I’m happy he’s finally taken the undergarments plunge. Or am I?

He premiered the first collection of silk boxers and baggy boxer briefs on the runaway a few days ago, and that initial peek left me wanting more. Not because it was so good, but because it was rather underwhelming. Silk boxers? Are we really going back there? Fine, I’m game. But those baggy boxer briefs? And animal prints? Not so sure. I like the subtle shades of nude he’s working, and I’m sure the fabric is luxurious to the utterly-impractical point of ‘Dry-Clean-Only’ but I expected something sexier, maybe something a little sheer, perhaps a touch of lace or mesh if we’re going to animal-print cheesiness. 

No price points have been revealed yet either, which is always an ominous sign for my empty wallet, but everyone knows I’m going to end up in Tom Ford’s underwear. Some way, somehow, it’s going to happen. This was meant to be. And if it means my ass is going to be covered in leopard-print silk, so fucking be it. Mr. Ford can caress my privates any way he likes. 

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Tom Ford’s Fucking Fabulous

Everyone I know probably thinks that I would have purchased this solely for the name alone, and everyone would be right. When rumors started circulating that Tom Ford was naming his latest limited edition Private Blend something like ‘Fucking Fabulous’ I believed it instantly. It was just insane and cheeky enough to be true. I also wanted to have it just to answer ‘Fucking Fabulous’ when/if anyone asked what I smelled like. And having the matte black bottle in my collection with that iconic name shouting its contents was the third reason for ponying up the hefty price point.

That said, one doesn’t spend the kind of money required for a Tom Ford purchase based on name alone, I don’t care how fucking fabulous it may be. I still needed to try it. This past fall, I managed to get into his flagship store in New York and spritz a bit on my arms, and I was smitten enough to justify the Christmas gift request. It arrived a couple of weeks ago thanks to Santa Andy, and I absolutely adore it.

Billed rather deceptively as an Oriental leather, to me it’s much softer than that. The main and most-lasting note I get is a tonka accord, but there are spicy elements of bitter almond oil, orris root, and clary sage that open and develop throughout the scent’s trajectory. I get a bit of citrus at the outset too, not totally dissimilar from ‘Rive d’Ambre’ which I love. The leather is lacking a little, but that works here. Too much would ruin the delicacy of what’s happening. (Of course, it’s possible I’ve been spoiled by the head-knocking jolt of ‘Tuscan Leather’…)

The elevated price point of ‘Fucking Fabulous’ is earned mostly from the name alone; sillage and lasting power aren’t this fragrance’s strong points. A few hours later it’s still there, but it’s very soft, as if shy to leave the skin. That may seem the anti-thesis of its bold moniker, but sometimes being fabulous is more about seducing than demanding. The former is whispered elegance; the latter is crude. The line between them is finer than most care to realize, and no one walks that line with more swagger than Tom Ford.

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Leather & (Raspberry) Lace: Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather

One of the very first Tom Ford Private Blends produced, and the most touted scent to the whole line back then was Tuscan Leather. It remains a cornerstone of this line, but it took me a long time to come around to it. It’s not a subtle one, and the first few years of sniffing it had me unconvinced. It was potent. It was loud. It was almost obnoxious. One would think I’d have loved it. One would be wrong. 

Fortunately taste and perception shift over the years. A good cologne will do that in a day. I never bothered with trying Tuscan Leather on and seeing how it dried down, I only took that initial oomph and steered clear. I missed the real magic of this stalwart performer until I threw a ‘Naughty or Nice’ party with S&M leather undertones and finally got around to sampling this fragrance for a full night.

It begins in unapologetic fashion with the cracking of a leather whip.

Some leather is stiff. Worn by the years, faded by the sun and wind, it dries out, stiffens up, and stands on its own. It hits hard because that’s the only way to survive.

Some leather is supple. Processed and delicately treated, it spills and folds like the softest silk. It kisses and caresses the skin, hiding its toughness in flowing elegance, cloaking its delicacy in shrouds of smoothness.

Tuscan Leather gives both of these aspects a delicious turn, beginning in tough, cowboy-boot stomping glory and finishing with a sweetly refined send-off.

This is not a scent for the faint of heart or weak of nose. That opening is no joke, and as one of the very first Private Blends, Tom Ford was announcing he didn’t come to play. Tuscan Leather is a complex, challenging, and ultimately exquisite experience that may have some shying away from its harsher points. Those who want a true fragrance journey should board this wild ride and prepare for glory.

Starting off with a heavy jolt of its namesake, leather plays a primal part in the proceedings. Though I usually think of leather as one of the lasting aspects that shows up rather late in the dry down, here it announces itself front and center, and stays there for the greater part of the show. A smokiness pervades as things progress, lending dark beauty and potent mysticism with just the slightest hint of incense, courtesy of the olibanum. The official literature for Tuscan Leather lists black suede as part of the formula, giving it a hedonistic edge. It verges on going musky, but is pulled back by night blooming jasmine, which claps back with its own sweetness, bravely defying all the harder elements at work. The juxtaposition is delicious, and results in one of the most beautiful dry-downs of all time: a luscious raspberry-like sweetness that somehow retains all the rustic leathery goodness of the beginning.

Sillage and projection is powerful – do not go heavy on this, especially in an office environment – and its duration is a good six to eight hours (with the dry down lingering into the next day if you let it).

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Tom Ford’s ‘Noir Anthracite’

With all the fucking hubbub over his ‘Fucking Fabulous’ fragrance, a new mainstream Tom Ford fragrance snuck in the back door in chic and sleek fashion. ‘Anthracite’ is the latest of his Noir line – one which has, up until this moment, failed to capture my adoration. I’m not even a fan of his ‘Noir de Noir’ from the boutique Private Blend collection, so another Noir sounded fatally bland. Still, something about ‘Anthracite’ and its relatively quiet entrance appealed to me, and since I’m in need of an office fragrance, I gave it a spritz.

Surprisingly, I liked what I smelled. There’s nothing edgy or extreme about this one, but it wisely veers clear of being too sporty and citrusy. There’s an opening of bergamot, but that quickly dissipates into pepper and woody ginger. The cedar is strong in this one, which works for the transitional fall-to-winter months. It’s got a deliciously dry midsection, which I like, befitting a martini or a vesper. It’s professional, with just the slightest hint of intrigue to set it apart from more standard fare. I also detected a pinch of patchouli that contributes a nice accent without screaming like some 60’s banshee. After a couple of hours, the spicy edge is subdued by the cedar, in the same way that the woods can be elegant in their coming austerity. The perfect set-up for the onslaught of winter.

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Fucking Fabulous

Don’t hate me for the profanity-laced title of this post, nor for any of the ‘fucking’s that are about to follow. Blame it on Tom Ford, whose latest limited-edition Private Blend just stomped all over his recent fashion show with its none-too-subtle name: Fucking Fabulous.

If ever there was a fragrance to buy without sniffing the contents first, it would be this one, but I’ve already tempted fate with his exquisite ‘Oud Minerale’. While that worked out well, one doesn’t risk it a second time – not for $310 a bottle. For that price point, I need to try it on and see how well it lasts, what the dry-down might be, and whether my Private Blend shelf can handle one more bottle (no matter how stunning the black matte flagon and brazen name might appear).

The reviews I’d seen early on were not for the fragrance itself, but for the name, and such hype is what has driven Tom Ford from the beginning. Ever since that groundbreaking first full-frontal male nudity ad for his stint at Yves St. Laurent through to his sweaty crotch-nestling work for his own cologne, Ford is a master of straddling the border between tasteless and tasteful. Some folks are crying vulgar foul, some are crying marketing gimmick, and some are crying for sheer joy over the tonka bean opening. I need to try it on to form my own opinion, and then I need to sell a newborn or something.

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Shore Scent: Oud Minérale by Tom Ford

A scramble and a gamble, this is Oud Minérale by Tom Ford. 

I broke the cardinal rule of fragrance-purchasing: never buy an item that you haven’t tried on. But this is Tom Ford, and his Private Blends are made for breaking the rules. Unlike the Vert and Portofino lines, which each feature a magnificent specimen (Vert d’Encens and Mandarino di Amalfi) for each clunker (Vert de Fleur and Fleur de Portofino), the Oud line has, thus far, had winners across the board. I’m especially enamored of the classic Oud Wood and it’s smoky floral sister Oud Fleur, so if there was ever a safe bet to make on a Ford fragrance untested and untrue, it would be the latest, Oud Minérale. Thankfully, it’s a gamble that paid off.

The scramble part is that I wanted a fragrance for our trip to Maine, where we would be reunited with the sea, but there were only a few days in which to make that happen, so as an advance anniversary gift, Andy (with a little preparatory aid from me) managed to have the Tom Ford rep at Bergdorf Goodman overnight us this release. There’s nothing more magical than making a memory with the power of a new scent. I wasn’t particularly looking for a new one, but when the new Oud claimed to be a woody marine sort, something rather new to Ford’s lexicon, I thought it might be perfect for the coast, something that embodied the salty grandeur of the sea, and the rocky rugged landscape of the Marginal Way. I’m happy to report that I found both in this thrilling addition to the Private Blends collection. The literature for it is filled with typical over-the-top Tom Ford superlatives, but it all comes remarkably close to the truth:

Original. Oceanic. Elemental.

Private Blend Oud Minérale merges rare and precious Oud with the fresh exuberance of the ocean, capturing the refreshing play of surf and sea against the burning flame of smoked wood.

Tom Ford’s reinvention of Oud marks an olfactive watershed that pairs two of the world’s most intriguing elements to reveal tonalities both exhilarating and powerfully transcendent.

The first thing that hits me is the smoky wood. Once it drifts away, the salty pungent sea swirls mysteriously in its wake. it churns like this for a while – about an hour or two – and this oceanic heart carries its precious cargo of Ford’s Oud as a worthy companion. They jockey for prominence, and for a moment I think this water might be a tad too choppy, but then it recedes and calms. As the dry down begins, there are exquisite echoes of Venetian Bergamot. It’s an intriguing coupling of wood and water that feels right for a summer seaside night.


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Love Trio

This post neatly merges three of my loves in one simple and refined package: fragrance, leopard, and Tom Ford. It’s a collection of Ford’s mainstream frags (and quite honestly, this is a lazy-ass repost of photos already featured here). But hey, it’s the holiday season, and if people want shit wrapped this is the cost. My Christmas tree thanks you for understanding.

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REVIEW: Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’

Have you ever left a movie feeling like you want to cry and smile at the same time, and maybe die a little too? It’s not necessarily because you recognize yourself in any of the characters, but perhaps for the first time in your life you can admit to some regrets, and you no longer pretend you don’t have any. That’s how I felt when the stunning final scene of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ faded to black.

Directed by Tom Ford, this is not a film for everyone, even as I wish that everyone could experience it. Such beauty seems not long for this world, and though every frame is a work of art unto itself, the masses will never have the sense to embrace the multi-layered nuances and subtle styling of this mind-fuck of a film. That’s ok. Much like his Private Blends, Ford’s latest film is a potent dose of bittersweet beauty. It’s also a striking companion to his equally-riveting directorial debut, ‘A Single Man’.

‘Nocturnal Animals’ finds a successful art doyenne, Susan, looking back on her first marriage to Edward, as she receives a book written by him. The book plays out within the movie, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as both Edward and Tony, the protagonist of the book. Amy Adams give deceptively soul-less life to the current-day Susan, instilling her tight-rope-tense character with just enough vulnerability to tease out a life of regret, while Gyllenhaal gives a raw, naked gut-wrenching performance in both of his roles.

The macabre tale-within-a-tale narrative is a brutal mirror of how Edward now views his relationship with Susan, and the violent acts within are barely tempered by the fact that this is a work of art and supposed fiction.

There is a bitter element of realizing that what we give up to get what we think we want is often something we may never get back. The relative notions of success are also imbued with ambivalence.

As much as some may covet Susan’s spectacular home and flawless wardrobe, it is clear there is little happiness in her life. While we never see the modern-day Edward, his presence is felt through Susan’s eyes. He is made thrillingly palpable, and all the more insidious, by the diabolically subtle way in which Ford reveals the almost sinister act of revenge by the betrayed.

It is the province and privilege of youth to display an absolutely-no-regrets mentality, a sense of owning everything you’ve done, and all the choices you’ve made. For most of my life, I’ve fallen into that trap. Ford’s film seems to give warning to that notion while also celebrating it, warping one woman’s regret into an emptiness that threatens to devour her.

Despite its somber tone and deliberate pace, and in the face of all of Ford’s gorgeous cinematic flair, this is a brutal film, one that examines our regrets, and the ways in which we deal with heartache and loss. By the time the devastating final scene plays out, the bleak totality of these characters, and the very modern carelessness we’ve come to embrace when it comes to love, washes over the cinematic landscape like a chilly desert morning. There is a stunning, barren, stark beauty here – the gorgeous and tragic realization that no matter how carefully we guard ourselves against the world, its pain is something no one escapes.

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Tom Ford for Men

A true classic never goes out of style, and Tom Ford’s first mainstream cologne (named, simply, ‘Tom Ford for Men’) remains one of the few fragrances I’ve ever brought more than once. I returned to it again recently, after running low on ‘Tom Ford Extreme’ – and even though I do prefer the latter for its richer and deeper resonance, the original is perfect for everyday office wear, or a casual Sunday brunch in the fall.

As sacrilegious as it may be to say, there’s something in it that reminds me of my Dad’s Old Spice. In its porcelain white bottle and old-school stopper, Old Spice was the first cologne I ever smelled. It barely influenced me one way or another as far as colognes went, so harmless and generally inoffensive was its tried and true formula. My mother’s perfumes were more interesting to my budding olfactory senses.

Ford employs a similarly spicy theme, then elevates it as one would expect from such a master of style. It’s got a slightly brighter opening, with elements of citrus that lead the charge, then settles into a spicy but light musk. Elements of Black Orchid emerge and carry it through the day, yet it’s not quite as loud as that infamous stomper. Never overbearing, but never completely silent, it makes its presence known without having to shout. Many of us, myself included, could learn from such quiet command.

While his exquisite Private Blend Collection is something I save for special days, sometimes you just want a simple, low-key fragrance for those in-between moments that comprise the bulk of daily life. Tom Ford consistently proves that the daily doesn’t need to be the mundane.

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Tom Ford & the Elusive Japon Noir

Whispers had it that upon the launch of his Private Blend series, Tom Ford favored the dark and decadent thrill known as Japon Noir, and that he regularly wore it himself. It’s very much a head-turner, and as one of the most hyper-masculine entries in that original PB series, it stood on its own at that end of the fragrance spectrum.

Japon Noir opens with a bang – an oriental with deeper elements of leather and pine resin – but calms down after an hour or so into something slightly sweeter. An edge of incense runs through its trajectory, lending warmth and a slight smokiness to the proceedings. It holds onto this to the end, which comes a little sooner than I’d like, but for such a powerhouse opening it would be all but impossible to sustain.

This one has been discontinued for a while now, but I was lucky enough to grab a bottle before it disappeared completely. It’s the perfect fragrance for the month of November, when things suddenly go dark and gray, and the only thing that gets us through the doldrums is an inspired spritz of something sophisticated and somewhat smoky.

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He Gets Me, He Really Gets Me

Leave it to Tom Ford to distill my little life into a few choice sound bites. It’s as if he’s taken the wisdom gleaned from four decades on this earth and bottled it in one Private Blend bottle. Complex, challenging, yet sublimely simple. This is why I find him such an inspiration. When you achieve what Mr. Ford has, there is more than beauty and design at work – there is a thoughtful intelligence, and a scrupulously studied understanding of the world.

I am really a loner after all; I am really not a social person. Because of my job, people think I am out every night, but I really hate all that. I am somebody who likes to be alone and see some close friends. I am a shy and introspective person. ~ Tom Ford

But as an adult working in the fashion industry, I struggle with materialism. And I’m one of the least materialistic people that exist, because material possessions don’t mean much to me. They’re beautiful, I enjoy them, they can enhance your life to a certain degree, but they’re ultimately not important. ~ Tom Ford

We live in a material world. I’m not saying that beautiful things don’t enhance our lives. But, in our culture, we’re never happy. ~ Tom Ford

What is important is that we stop and realize, ‘Okay. This is fine. I can enjoy that.’ But what is really important, what I’m really going to take away with me from this life, is my connection with other people. ~ Tom Ford

Bonus: he’s a fellow Virgo. We have the worst sign, but it sometimes serves us well. Not sure others would agree…

The world might be a very scary place if it were only run by Virgos. ~ Tom Ford

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Tom Ford: My Private Blend Collection

If I have an obsession, it’s with fragrance, but compared to other obsessions (crack, heroin, luxury cars, gambling, Louis Vuitton) my cologne fixation has yet to ruin any lives. If anything, it improves things – our bathroom smells sweetly at all times. Still, seeing the long list of fragrances which I have amassed over the years does give me pause, and for now I’m doing just that: taking a pause in the cologne collection, and a look at what currently resides on the Tom Ford shelf of my cologne cabinet.

  • Amber AbsoluteA favorite that was mysteriously discontinued before being brought back when someone realized the mistake. I’m told the second version is slightly weaker than the first, so I’m glad I got part of the first batch because it’s a whopping stomper of incense and warmth and all the best parts of fall.
  • Arabian Wood – An Oriental wood that smolders with old-world elegance.
  • Bois MarocainDry and decadent, with the faintest wisp of the woods.
  • Costa AzzurraOffspring of the Neroli collection, this slightly smoky citrus is ideal for summer nights.
  • Japon Noir – Sadly discontinued, this is a dark and slightly spicy oriental that burns with masculine elegance. Ideal for late fall nights.
  • Lavender PalmThe dryness of this lavender-based floral is what keeps things interesting, with just enough edge to lift it out of the musty verge.
  • Mandarino di AmalfiAnother off-shoot of the Neroli collection, Mandarino is a bright citrus that sparkles with memories of the sun and the sea. (I purchased it while en route to a Cape Cod summer vacation, and it remains heartwarmingly wed to that sunny beach memory.)
  • Neroli PortofinoThe original summer scent for the Private Blend collection, this remains a bright classic, spawning several cousins (as seen above). It’s all about the Neroli here, but that’s one single-note scent that I don’t mind.
  • Oud FleurAs he did with the Neroli line, Ford saw fit to take the seminal ‘Oud Wood’ (seen below) and craft a couple of variations, including this gorgeous rose-tinted floral, whose smokiness lends it the gravitas to put over an otherwise-traditional rose.
  • Oud WoodA classic oud fragrance – woody and intoxicating with more than a little wordly sophistication – it’s a rare cologne that works at all times of the year, perfect for the office but equally adept at strutting itself in fancy form for evening events at the turn of a shoe.
  • Plum JaponaisFord’s Orient line was hit or miss with me, with two of the four being big winners, and two not so much. My favorite, perhaps of all Private Blends thus far, is the Plum Japonais, which gives a sultry glow to the tempered sweetness of the plum.
  • Rive d’AmbreA golden orange orb of spicy, fruity lusciousness, it’s a deep summer bit of enchantment.
  • Santal BlushAnother fragrance bound to a happy memory – the holidays at home. It was a Christmas present from Andy, and I only wear it around the holidays, so it retains that special sheen. Ford’s glittering voyage of sandalwood is a soapy treat of smooth sweetness.
  • Soleil BlancAn impulse buy for a summer beach jaunt, Soleil Blanc turned out to be one of my least favorite Private Blends, perhaps because of such limited wearing options. It’s a floral coconut that basically turns into the (very expensive) remnants of a standard suntan lotion.
  • Venetian BergamotI love bergamot in any way, shape or form, but this gives it a subtle twist that makes for a perfect late summer/early fall bridge fragrance. The freshness is subdued here, even with a floral tweaking that almost sends it into perfume mode.
  • Vert D’EncensMy latest acquisition, I simply couldn’t resist this delicious green take on incense from his Vert line. It begins in bold fashion, but calms down like a pile of burning embers. A second pulse of grassy green breathes life into the trajectory, and then it all dries down to heliotrope and honey, which is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

That’s enough for now, and it really should be enough forever, but just when I think I’m done he comes out with something spectacular. Lately, my love is burning for the leathers – Tuscan Leather and Ombre Leather 16. I’m hoping the samples I have will give me the fix I need. If not, that’s what holiday wish lists are for.

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The Real Great Debate: Battle of Tom Ford Leathers

Inspired by his recent runway show, Tom Ford has a new leather fragrance out – ‘Ombre Leather 16’ – and it’s a doozy. One of the first Private Blends he ever released was ‘Tuscan Leather’ – a potent beast that I despised for a few years before coming around to its smoldering, dark beauty and delicious dry-down. Which brings me to the dilemma of the day as I seek out a leather fragrance: do I go with the ‘Tuscan’ or branch out to the lesser-known ‘Ombre’? This past weekend I had the opportunity to try both, but rather than sort things out, it only intensified the debate.

‘Tuscan Leather’ was the flagship of the Private Blends when they made their debut. The ultra-luxe line offered a niche for those looking for something exceptional – in quality, sillage, longevity, and, of course, price. Each was a decadent treat, and while a few soon fell by the wayside (‘Purple Pachouli’ and ‘Moss Breches’) about half remain in circulation (and some such as ‘Tuscan Leather’ and ‘Oud Wood’ are gloriously timeless).

The new ‘Ombre Leather 16’ actually opens with a bigger leather burst, and it’s a bit drier than its ‘Tuscan’ predecessor (which appeals to me as we head into fall/winter). However, the ‘Ombre’ dry down becomes something more delicate and soft, while ‘Tuscan’ powers on with its leather kick for a bit longer before softening into a well-renowned raspberry musk sweetness. The bad news for my wallet is that each is beautiful in its own right, and distinct enough to stand alone. Which leaves me in a pickle. A deliciously-scented pickle.

Thanks to the kindness of my Tom Ford experts, however, I have a couple of samples to see me through the decision-making process. These things take time. These things must be done delicately…

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Tom Ford & A Naked Jake Gyllenhaal

Our weekend of Tom Ford continues with this promising post. In what has got to be the most eagerly anticipated film for me this year, ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ directed by the one and only Tom Ford, finally gets its first official trailer. His virgin directorial effort ‘A Single Man’ remains a stellar showcase of beauty and ache, but this new one already has critics buzzing beyond that stunning start. Starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal (who seems to be shirtless and possibly nude half a dozen times in the trailer below) it is billed as a thriller that captures you at the start and doesn’t let you go until you’ve been ravaged as wildly as the faster rollercoaster, tossed around in a deliriously emotional hurricane, and brought to cantankerous climax.

Did I mention a naked Jake Gyllenhaal?

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Tom Ford Goes Green, and It’s Gorgeous

With his new Vert line, Tom Ford is dipping his fine feet into the pool of green with a quartet of Private Blends that highlights all things herbal and verdant. (Yes, it’s a quartet, much to the puzzlement of the Saks Fifth Avenue sales associates, though only three are currently available stateside.) Out of those three, one spoke to me in the language of beauty and refinement that only a Tom Ford Private Blend can speak: Vert D’Encens. A green incense at a most opportune moment: as a bed of copper-colored pine needles grows beneath the trees, the dry days of summer burn into fall. This scent captures the moment and adds just enough sparkle to see it through to the magic of the holiday season.

Opening with a bright and brash splash of pine, and a smoky edge of incense, this is seriously deep into the forest, where a rising plume of smoke from a stained-glass church lends warmth and comfort to the herbaceous elements. It is a lovely and rich crux of where humanity and nature meet. Once the pine recedes a bit, the incense smolders like it’s some high holy week.

Bits of freshly-cut grass suddenly, pleasantly, and unexpectedly poke through the smoke, reminding of the green that marks its first name. After this magical moment the heliotrope begins to bloom. The sweetness of that, which sometimes veers too dangerously close to vanilla for my liking, is here an integral part of softening that pine resin and smoke. The beautiful battle among them wages deliciously for a good hour or two, before a sweet reconciliation that carries a few hours longer.

By the end of the day, a sweetly delicate musk ensues, as if one has been witness to a glorious autumnal bonfire, and a gentle, glowing bed of embers is all that remains. This is the antidote to any apprehensiveness regarding the arrival of fall. Let it embrace and warm you.

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