Tom Ford Private Blend Champaca Absolute

Has it been over a year now since the Tom Ford Private Blends first showed up?  Well, they keep adding scents, the newest is Champaca Absolute.  Now, right off the bat, I am predisposed to loving this as I love Champaca, but Tom Ford does annoy me beyond belief.

First let’s go to the marketing material to get our notes:  “Tom Ford has always been partial to the color white for the indelible impression it makes in everything from fashion and decor to flowers.  Now, with this new floral oriental composition, he has created his homage to the eternal, seductive power of white.  An ‘olfactive millefeulli.’  It reveals many layers of complexity starting with the opening notes of Tokajii wine and cognac to the sensuous heart of champaca absolute to the final warm notes of vanilla bean, amber and sandalwood.”  I’ll not pull any other “Tom Ford is a God” quotes from it.

It starts off a little sweet, I guess the booze notes, but my nose isn’t registering them as much as booze notes as odd-sweet’ish, but not a sweet I don’t like – a pretty floral sweetness that’s elegant with a wild undercurrent, playing in what I think of as a funkier Tom Ford base.   Compared to the other Tom Ford Private Blend’s, it’s a nice departure into a white floral rather than some of the weirder and heavier scents he’s done.   

But I’m still going to Ormonde Jayne’s Champaca as my favorite champaca of all time – it just has a timeless beauty and elegance and sillage to it that charms me completely –  but Tom Ford’s Champaca one has some interest beyond just a straight-up champaca to recommend it, and I think it will find more than a few fans.

My question today, now that we have lived with the Tom Fords for a while, including his White Patchouli (which I won’t even review, I detest it so much), what is our opinion, and do you have favorites, or do you just give Tom a complete miss?

75 Comments

  1. So enmeshed was I in the “white” metaphor, that I swore you wrote “Tom Ford is a COD” instead of ‘God.’ I nodded my head in agreement–he should be salted and put in a little wood box [you have to be my age to get that reference] along with all his misogynistic, over-hyped ads. In my opinion. Cod, indeed.

      • My Cod!! He IS a cod! I bet he wears a little codpiece. A really little one. Dude is obviously cod-pensating for something.

    • Cod-dangit, you made me snort my coffee! =))

      He looks more like anchovies in olive oil, he’s always slightly hairy and ……shiny

      To answer the original question, I had a difficult time separating Tom Ford the icon from the scents – I suspect I’m not perfumista enough yet. But I think it’s also because my first TF experience was Black Orchid – and it smelled like grape jelly on me.

      Btw – did they go through all of that hoopla just to misspell ‘millefeuille’ or is there another word for ‘many-layered’ that I don’t know?

      xo>-)

      • I had to check my quoting. Yup, they spelled it that way, but since I don’t know how it should be spelled, I just went along obliviously!

    • I always think “codpiece” when I think of Tom. So I think that’s about the same thing. I appreciate his marketing savvy, he has made a fortune on image, but… well, he’s sorta hot in that sleazy “i don’t want anyone to know” kind of way.

      • I think I know exactly what you mean – sort of like “yeah, I’d hit that one” – but you’d want a RHS (Really Hot Shower) afterwards – and definitely a shower with a detachable showerhead, if youknowmean? b-(

        xo>-)

        ps. it’s not up to YOU to edit, it’s up to THEM! If they are going to use the word, they ought to at least spell it correctly (I know how to spell it mostly because I spent way too many years learning to make millefueille (not always successfully) – I mostly hate that word now)

        • You TWO. Seriously, you’d need more than a detachable showerhead post-Tom. I’m thinking Lysol. And some Cipro. Also, maybe I’m wrong, but I thought he plays for the other team? Not that any of this should interfere with your fantasies. After all, I think Alan Cumming is hot.

          • Good grief! It gets racy over here, doesn’t it? C’mon, he’s not THAT sleazy-looking, is he? Cipro?!! Though I will admit that Alan Cumming seems absolutely innocent & angelic compared to Tom — two extremes, but nice fantasies, both (and maybe more realistic for me than for you three, HA!).

          • Alan Cumming IS hot! Being smart and funny and cute is always hot, no matter which team one bats for!

            xo >-)

            • Exactly agree on the Alan Cumming point. I’d need to scrub myself with a cheesegrater to feel clean after spending time with Tom Ford. Either in the bedroom or just anywhere. He oozes vacuous insincerity (as opposed to meaningful insincerity? Who knows?)and is meretricious in all the worst ways. There. I’ve said my piece.

              • And what, exactly, is wrong with a little smarm from time to time :> ?

  2. You know, I’ve been trying the Private Blends regularly in-store and none has convinced me enough to go the full bottle route, though I would like to think that his hyper-realistic, mushroom-smelling Velvet Gardenia might make it to my dresser some day when I’m flush. And I quite like Black Orchid and the Voile d’Eté though I haven’t gotten past the sample stage (more a case of my being over-sampled than their fault: if I had the bottles, and 48h days, I’d wear them).

    I’m still perplexed at the other PB. They keep teasing my memory, like they’re bits of other fragrances I know, quotes from classics, loose accords (amber, tobacco, Opium-type carnation/spices) floating around. Most of them are pretty good, really, but they feel like afterthoughts from the launch of Black Orchid and For Men.

    Kudos to Mr. Ford for launching a line that evokes the classics, albeit in a slightly simplified grammar.

    • They still feel like sketches to me. Not bad ones, but more spare in an over-the-top way, if that makes sense? Like simple opulence taken to the extreme where it is almost vulgar, but not quite. I still like some of them, but find most of them difficult to wear, except this new one, which is sorta doing it for me.

  3. I seem to have dodged most of the ad copy, thankfully. I have, however, noticed the ads…rather confusing :”>

    I very much like Black Orchid, can’t abide White Patchouli (where’s the patch???), and enjoy several of his Private Blends, though I am with CC above that they are not exceptionally original. That said, I really like Tobacco Vanille on a chilly day, and a spritz of Japan Noir now and then. The rest…not so much 8-|

    • I did not get White Patchouli at all. I sniffed it once and was horrified. Like the black Orchids well enough, but WP is just… well, a complete miss on me.

  4. I actually do enjoy a few of the TFs, but find I don’t turn to them nearly as much as I thought I would when I initially got them. I’m curious about the Champaca and it’s high on my list of scents I want to try, but, despite my complete addiction to OJ’s Champaca, this is not a note that I usually find essential.

    • I wouldn’t bet you would love TF’s Champaca, but it does have a weird base that may appeal to you. tough to call.

  5. I think I have/had samples of all of them. Some of them were really, really sweet (like Tobacco Vanille) and others … I don’t know. And I got the sense a few of them smelled like drafts for the original Black Orchid, which was the rumor and might be true. I did kind of like the oud one, which doesn’t really smell that oud-ish if I like it. 🙂

    But his porny bottle-in-the-crotch ad — I guess I’m more uptight than I realized, but stuff like that bothers the crap out of me.

      • I don’t think disliking that ad makes either of you uptight or a prude – the ad was just plain in poor taste, nothing more. It’s unfortunate that Americans are apparently so twisted up about sex that the ad got as much attention as it did. I would be curious (assuming I cared enough to look into it) if they ran that ad in Europe or Asia, or if it was just for us. After all, in Europe they got that wonderful M7 ad, which was just too much for our tender sensibilities. Interesting comparison.

        • And there’s a good contrast between as close to real as ads can be (M7) and what TF represents ‘I play with porn – it’s cool’ ‘coy and not coy’ ‘oh I’m so achingly hip in a postmodern anything goes way’ and, perhaps most realistically, ‘I actually loathe real flesh’.

  6. The chap in the TF shop told me that the number of Private Blends is to always remain 13, so guess one of the old lot will have to go to make space for the new one, I wonder which.
    I also never moved away from the sampling stage, but my favs are probably Tobacco Vanille, Aoud Wood and Noir de Noir. Japan Noir is a good one too, but with zero lasting power on me.

    • [email protected]? I hadn’t heard that. They have the three new ones, this one, the one from Milan and one from their shop in the UAE, I think? So if that’s tru, then that takes it to 15, so two will have to go. Is my math correct?

      • I think he may have meant 13 in the regularly available collection, but who knows may be he was just trying to instigate the fear that some would disappear soon. Guess we’ll wait and see 😉

  7. I avoid perfume ad copy, period. All it ever does is confuse me. Most of it is like being trapped at a bad poetry ready anyway: overblown, pretentious & rather useless at conveying anything meaningful. Anyway. Tom Ford. I have been back & over all the testers at Bergdorf’s, swapped for samples, toyed with them & invariably they’re duds on me. I could be swayed in the future if he did something amazing with oh I dunno, some freakazoid jasmine wood funk thing but for now I’m kinda done.

  8. Thanks for the impressions on this one. Mike had reviewed it on Perfume Shrine a few days ago (http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2008/10/champaca-absolute-by-tom-ford-fragrance.html) and he ignited an intense curiosity in me despite my better efforts (more of which below), especially since he saw this from a masculine perspective which is daring for such a composition!
    A friend on the other hand said she got too much banana (which is not an error in itself, as it’s a natural facet of some white flowers) which she however found off-putting and this got me thinking as well since I share similar tastes with her.
    I admit that I don’t get enough champaca from OJ’s frag though.

    I recognise there is quality behind some of the scents in the TF private line (at least those I tried), but I am not sure if I’d skip for a whole bottle.
    “Black Orchid” had a promising beginning that degenerated into a generic base, which was a let down of sorts 🙁

    And mr.Ford is a bit full of himself without deserving all the credit as far as the designing and art-directing sectors go (I’d have no problem if he were); whereas his marketing ability is non pareil!! (and I do say this straight-faced and with sincere admiration)

    Did they actually say olfactory “millefeuilli”? It should read “millefeuille”. Ah well, you might mail them with the correction. 🙂

    • Oops, did I put an I at the end intead of an e? then that’s my typo, sorry! My glasses just aren’t strong enough!

  9. Tried them all, liked one well enough (Oud Wood), but none have moved me to pull out my wallet. I want more for my money. :d

  10. Tobacco Vanille is a perfect scent for a cool fall day, or for that matter, any day when the temperature drops below um, 68? in the DC area. It’s the only one that I have tested extensively enough to endorse, however, Japon Noir caught my attention recently. The others seem fine but either they are not my taste or I haven’t spent enough time with them to notice. Though I doubt that Purple Patchouli would ever do it for me. I did try CA at Sniffa and this could turn into a summer winner for me, given the right frame of mind and a few more wears.

    So, two out of thirteen suit me fine. Perhaps three. Not too bad. Very few niche or modern lines serve me better. Like others, I do react poorly to the ad copy and to the general hype surrounding TF. I just checked out the gallery on his website and found myself rolling my eyes at the semi-pornographic pictures. I wonder what this really does to properly highlight his clothes, eyewear, fragrances etc.
    😕

  11. I just think Japon Noir is heavenly. Amazing. Makes my eyes roll back into my head and go “Unnnnngh”

  12. I did a two day visit to the Tom Ford fragrances at Bergdorf when I was in New York and while I enjoyed all of them, some more than others, Amber Absolute really impressed me the most so I got a sample of it to get to know it more. It’s a toughy because it really is quite syrupy and sweet in spots but for some reason this just really works with my skin and makes me feel like the richest guy in the world when I’m wearing it. I find it really exemplifies the philosophy behind the line in that the website is dark, the bottles are dark, there’s an element of gothic sensibility here and for some reason, my mind registers Amber Absolute to have those qualities. Perhaps it’s the incense.

    • I think AA works pretty darn well in wintertime, as does the Tobacco Vanille, but they are just lethal in any warm weather on me. 🙂

  13. I love the Amber Absolute but am with March on the ads – I really don’t like them and so don’t want to buy the perfume as a result. So for some people, the marketing backfires! I’ll stick with the Chanel Exclusifs, of which there are a number that are full bottle worthy for me.

    • I think I wound up with the same success rate on the chanels as I did the TFs. Really love/like three, and the rest vary from okay to meh to outright hate.

  14. No one have mentioned Moss Breches yet? Despite its silly namne I love it in its moist, mossy, dark and moody spicy-ness. It’s not something I would wear everyday but when I’m craving a mossy scent Moss Breches is the safest way to get my fix.

    • I’m with you on the Moss Breeches, but that’s the only TF that I liked. The rest are a little, I don’t know, flat on me? Maybe two-dimensional is better? I usually get ‘SWEET’ and maybe another note, and that’s about it. The buzz defniitely left me cold.

  15. I may be one of many that really wanted to like his perfume line but I’m just not impressed. I tried Black Orchid & has a sick headache all day until I took a shower. And just to show how unimpressed I am. I was in the Saks in Cleveland (hey I live in a city where Dillards is the “fancy” store) and I just walked on by the Tom Ford testers. I went for a spray of Jicky instead.
    Here’s my other problem with Tom Ford. Isn’t he gay? No my problem isn’t with him being gay, it’s that all of his ads have him half naked or more, rolling around with women. It just makes me very confused. As a heterosexual female, I think he’s giving us false hope. 🙂 :d:((

    • Pretty sure he bats for the other team, yeah, but he teases us with a hint at some hetero activity, enought for some seamy thoughts of sweaty Tom Ford hotness… and then I’m disillusioned again.

          • So Lee, as a gay man, why don’t you think he adds men to the pot in his advertising. Do you think he thinks we can’t handle it? I think it might be sexy too! You know, mix it up a little.

            • He targets the ad and/or photos to the press he’s in. He is a clever marketeer. Plenty of pics of Tom gaying it up are out there for those who wish to look, poor things.

              • I would personally find photos of guy-on-guy TF action way hotter than TF and his oily waxed chest pretending to be into women. Maybe that’s what bothers me so much about him and his ads — the falseness of it. Tom Ford with some pretty boy on his lap? Whole different story. 8-|

  16. I tried them and even liked a couple, but none so much that I wanted to jump through hoops to buy them. Then they showed up at Neimans at just about the moment that I had truly ceased to care..

    I just can’t get over the Tom Fordness of it all. He seems to SouthBeach90’s to me..

    • come on, of course he’s South Beachy, but in a perversely hot sort of way. Yes, my teeny TF obsession continues, though much weakened

  17. Love Moss Breeches, one of the best I’ve tried in several years. But the ad copy TF uses for several of his frags just grosses me out. So I’ve never bought a bottle of Tom Ford anything. OJ’s Champaca was heavenly, but not on me, there is a note in every OJ except Orris Noir that amplifies and goes completely nuclear on me, I do not know which ingredient it is, but it is synthetic, and Guerlain’s Nahema shares it. So very sad. :((

  18. Another vote for Moss Breeches. It’s a unique scent, and just a few drops lasts all day. However, it is one of those scents that I like bettter than the people around me like. Tobacco Vanilla (and what’s with the e on the end? It’s vanillA Tom, plain and simple) is nice, but gets too smokey…and the scent of smoke, covered up with vanilla perfume reminds me of sneaking a cig in high school. Gah, that was a nasty habit, but thankfully short lived.

    • MB is a little like Djedi for me in that same way you express – something I enjoy a lot more for a little while than almost everyone else around me does. Djedi definitely is in the same family — fierce and takes no olfactory prisoners.

  19. I did like several of them, but the price points were ach! And he is a cod, b/c if they were 1/2 the price (or even 2/3) I would probably buy SEVERAL (contenders: Tuscan Leather, Japan Noir, Moss Breeches) but since they are SO EXPENSIVE I feel guilty that I bought one and rarely wear it (Black Violet)

    [-(

    • He’s got a LE thing right now that’s a little over $200 that has I think 20 mls of each of the original scents. That’s a GREAT price if anyone was looking to pick them all up and then swap away the ones they don’t want.

      • Hey Patty-I got my Christmas Saks catalogue in the mail today…And according to it, the set comes with 2ml each- not nearly as a good a deal (as the great deal it would be if it were 20mls)

        🙂

  20. hi patty,

    well, i´ve to admit i think i never saw any pic of tom ford himself, nor did i pay alot of attention to his marketing campaign, so i consider myself not to be very biased 😉

    i like a few of his private blends, for example tabacco vanilla & noir de noir & his black orchid, but i absolutely DETEST white patchouli, plain awful *yikes*

    now i´m a little curious about the new one, even so ÓJ´s champaca is hard if not impossible to beat.

    • If nothing else, his take on Champaca is unique. it’s just got that smutty undertone that seems to belong to him. Some people will hate it, some will love it, and I’m in the middle on it.

  21. Ads really annoy me, which means I put little effort into trying to test the line. The four or five I’ve tried, didn’t engage me at all.

    It showed some savvy to provide samples to Sniffapalooza this year at Fall Ball (at least of White Patchouli, I didn’t see any samples of the Champaca), and his Bergdorf SA’s were very friendly and outgoing. Still it would show more savvy for him to understand that he his marketing has turned off many of the perfumistas on the blogs, no?

    • I’m not sure he cares. He sells, no matter what. It’s almost like the worse the press gets, the happier he is.

  22. Oh my…

    While first I must confess to be a very new perfumista, I have to say that I LOVE White Patchouli. Maybe I’m missing something, but it reminds me very much of Hanae Mori’s Magical Moon, which I wore when I was younger.

    As for the rest of Tom Ford’s perfumes, I can’t say that I care for them at all. I really want to like Black Orchid so I don’t think I’m quite finished drawing an opinion on that one. I could certainly live without the rest of them.

    I too tend to avoid ad copy… I wonder if maybe this is altering my opinion? 😕

    • I don’t love White Patchouli, but I find it oddly compelling. So, you are not completely alone on this one!:)

    • Well, I figure White Patchouli works for some people. It seems to be the same as Black Orchid in that you either love it or hate it. I liked Black Orchid in concept, but it turned out to be too strong for me to wear.

  23. Honestly haven’t tried any of the Private Blends yet, though I’ve had my eye on Oud Wood for the longest time. Also have had a lemming for Purple Patchouli lately.

    Curious, Patty: How would you rank CdG’s Luxe Champaca next to Ford & OJ?

    • Hmmmm, good question. I’ve only smelled the CdG Champaca briefly, but I do remember liking it. Right now, I’d say the OJ, then Ford, then CdG, but I could change my mind on sniffing the CdG again.

  24. i”m pretty unwowed, actually digusted, w/ the ad campaingns, and haven’t really gone out of my way to do much Tford sniffing. 15 year old dear daughter likes Black Orchid (thanks, Sephora!) and it’s actually nice on her but not so nice I’d buy it given the price and sleaze issues.

  25. Oh, goodness. I just squirted White Patchouli on my hand last night at work to see how I felt about it – what a horrid little drug store scent. It reminds me of something that would come in a plastic bottle to spray on my 1983 Crystal Princess Barbie. FAIL.

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