As far as I'm concerned, Tom Ford is an apostle of modernity. For a number of years now, he (and his creative entourage) have managed to accurately predict and lead new movements in fashion, design, and beauty. His monosyllabic first and last name has become a phenomenal global brand, associated with self-indulgent style and contemporary elegance. Though the man himself is rumoured to be a fastidious workhorse, he has the rare capacity to make it all seem so effortless. He is also a man who possesses the uncanny ability to envisage upcoming shifts in trends and tastes; and the savvy to act upon it.
When Black Orchid, (his first commercial scent to emerge from beneath the Ford Beauty umbrella) hit the open market, I was wowed. Not only was it launched at a time when 'Hollywood glam' was making a comeback in fashion and beauty, it actually led the charge. Ford had foreseen the trend, and produced an opulent elixir full of drama and elegance to bring to the masses. Now, in 2008, Tom Ford has peered into his crystal ball once again and proclaimed an imminent return to retro-classic influences, and bohemian chic. And therein lies the justification for White Patchouli... Ford's new scent, launching this month.
Patchouli oil was worn to excess in the 70s, in an age where free love and psychedelic 'counterculturalism' was the norm. Now some 30 years later, Ford has borrowed from this revolutionary time, and reworked patchouli into something very different. Just as the hippies were known to explore different states of consciousness, White Patchouli can also be viewed with a sense of 'altered reality'... a modern-day patchouli done through a swirling smokescreen of white flowers and blonde woods.
When first applied, I am struck with a stab of clean bergamot which recedes almost instantly, making way for a very sharp collection of florals. My initial observation is that there is a likeness to the opening spritz of Narciso Rodriguez For Her... it is much like the sensation of drawing a thick silk ribbon across the back of one's neck... icy cool, yet 'humming' with warmth. Rose absolute and jasmine pirouette across the topnotes, but then a 'dirtiness' emerges from below as the famed patchouli ascends to the throne at the heart of this scent. And there it stays, drawing in the satellite accords around it like minions. Whilst patchouli is 'king' here, I find White Patchouli a rather linear fragrance... perhaps after an hour or so, I detect a small shift towards a puff of birchwood and incense, but both are rather lightweight and superficial. I am surprised to find that this perfume's persistence is rather poor - at least on my skin. Whilst I'd strongly advise that it be tried and worn by both men and women (despite it being marketed as a women's fragrance), I do wonder if other users will also have longevity issues that may prevent them from a making full-bottle purchase. If it weren't for this simple flaw, I feel I might have been won over completely.
There is no denying this is a beautiful perfume, executed well, with a tip of the hat to the 70s. At the same time it is strikingly contemporary. This can be said of much that emerges from the house of Tom Ford.
Will White Patchouli be a success? I think you can bank on it.