It must be hard being Tom Ford. Despite the obvious glamour and celebrity associated with being one of the world's largest contemporary style icons, I can not begin to imagine how much pressure comes with that role. I have trawled the internet looking at photos of Ford, and in every one of them he looks immaculate. Can Ford have a bad hair day? Unlikely, I'd say. So, how difficult would it be to maintain that face both publicly and privately, 24/7? In business, everything the man touches turns to gold and he is often revered as the yardstick against which other designers are measured. His refined, chic, editing eye and fastidious work ethic has seen him reach dizzying heights. People aspire to be like him, taste his fame, and dream to achieve just a fraction of the success he has enjoyed. Ford must be under enormous scrutiny, whilst competitors and adversaries wait for him to stumble. Expectations are stratospheric every time this man opens a boutique, launches a line, or bestows the world with a new perfume creation. I do not envy this man.
Perhaps I too, have unrealistic expectations of Tom Ford - after all, in my opinion, the man has never failed to amaze and inspire me - his superb tailoring, à la mode accessories and stunning private blend perfumes have me pressing my nose at boutique glass windows the world over. Therefore, when I hear of an impending Ford fragrance release, I anticipate perfection and nothing less! Am I being unrealistic in doing so? Hell no... the man has a crack-team of professionals working around the clock under the Tom Ford Beauty umbrella, and cash and resources coming out the wazoo!
Imagine my crushing disappointment then, dear reader, when I sampled the upcoming Tom Ford men's release Grey Vetiver, set to hit shelves this September. Whilst I appreciate the continuity and cohesiveness of the colour-coded Tom Ford fragrance names (Black Orchid, White Patchouli, and now Grey Vetiver), what I find I don't love is the actual scent itself. The name Tom Ford is a brand synonymous with innovation, but here all I see is simulation... reproduction, replication, emulation. As much as it hurts me to say so, I can already identify a handful of scents that Grey Vetiver is a perfumed parody of.
The opening starts out with some promise... a rush of citrus (maybe bergamot and mandarin?) and winter green, veiled by a palpable smokiness; Bvlgari Pour Homme Extrême immediately springs to mind. I think of someone throwing wet leaves onto a fire in the corner of their garden under a solemn grey sky. (Not wishing to overly romanticise the idea, I'll leave the metaphors at that... think: grubby old gardener in overalls, as opposed to a muscle-flexing pool boy). Without any perfume pyramid available for this release, there is an earthiness present that one normally associates with vetiver scents, and I am picking up what I believe may be traces of black pepper and guaiacwood at its heart. For those familiar with Andy Tauer's Vetiver Dance, there are parallels one can draw between the two, though the Ford release is less rambunctious than Tauer's. I also recognise hues of Narciso Rodriguez for Him... the thick, damp fougere vibe is common to them both, as is a sense of austerity and coldness. Grey Vetiver I feel will appeal to a more mature set - I can't imagine many twenty-year olds reaching for this before heading out for a night on the town... it is a little more corporate in style; more reserved and unapproachable.
Several hours later, and I am left with Versace Jeans Couture Man on my skin... quite possibly one of my least favourite scents - an odour I've always associated with washing dirty cat bowls under hot running water; with something fatty and jellied at its heart. Thankfully (for those who will like this), the scent's persistence is well above average. Not so great if you feel you smell like cat's breath.
After this experience, I have come to understand that, (at least in my eyes), Ford is fallible. Grey Vetiver is the first of his scents that I cannot and will not wear. Perhaps not the outcome I might have liked, but there are always his four new White Musk Private Blends to look forward to. The Sorcery of Scent will be reviewing White Suede in the week to come.