Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tom Ford Atelier d'Orient Private Blend Collection

As Fragrantica noted, Tom Ford has been prolific in bring new fragrances to market. Before last year, he had introduced 38 fragrances. He had five new fragrance launches in 2012, including the Jardin Noir Collection (Summer 2012 - I purchased all except Café Rose). Recently in 2013, he released Sahara Noir. It's safe to say that Tom Ford's fragrance offers have been growing by leaps and bounds. I wish he'd put as much energy into his makeup, giving us more frequent launches.

His new Atelier d’Orient Collection - additions to his Private Blend, top-of-the-line scents - is the latest to launch. The four new fragrances are Shanghai Lily, Plum Japonais, Rive d'Ambre, and Fleur de Chine - all created to evoke an Asian connection. I had an opportunity to try them all at Neiman Marcus about two weeks ago and fell for Fleur de Chine, my "hands-down" favorite of the four.

The 1.7 ounce bottles are $210, and the large, 8.4 flacons are $520. For a month or so, they are supposed to be Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman exclusives, but I've read they've been sighted at Nordstrom.

Each new Private Blend fragrance aims to capture a different, distinctive mood: romance, colonial elegance, exoticism, and sensuality. For Fleur de Chine, Ford said, "I imagined the romantic and mysterious women from Asia’s cinematic past - from the 1930's femme fatale in a cheongsam and dark lipstick, to the 1960's Hong Kong heroine of In the Mood for Love. I wanted to capture that fascinating, exquisite, and slightly scandalous femininity.” With Tom Ford, it's often about scandalous and sensuous. His advertisements telegraph his vision.

The floral Fleur de Chine features notes of the HuaLan flower, star magnolia, hyacinth, and tea rose, complemented by jasmine tea, syringa (lilac), plum, white peach, woods, amber, styrax, and vetiver. It's a soft floral and divinely feminine. I must have a full bottle. Right now I'm wearing samples made for me by Jason Layden at Neiman Marcus.

“Rive d’Ambre was inspired by the tradition of presenting precious citrus fruits as gifts,” revealed Ford. “True to my nature, the sparkling fruits are wrapped in rich and warm sensuality.”  The fragrance is described as a golden-toned eau de cologne, an interesting portrait that attributes color to the scent of the fragrance. It features citrus fruits (a talisman of good fortune in Asia), offset with amber, tarragon, cardamom, spearmint, Cognac oil, and tolu balsam.

Plum Japonais, as its name suggests, was inspired by the ume plum. “I have always been fascinated by unusual ingredients from exotic cultures,” Ford revealed. “The ume plum…has great meaning in Oriental culture; in Japan and China, it is a sacred symbol of spring. I wanted to craft a fragrance around the ume because it has a texture and aroma that is so luscious.”  Described as a luxury fragrance for true scent connoisseurs (the rest of his fragrance aren't?), Plum Japonais juxtaposes the ume plum with a lush and unconventional mélange of exotic Asian ingredients: saffron, cinnamon bark, and sawara cypress. Other key notes include camellia, agarbois, amber, benzoin, and vanilla.

I was entirely prepared to love Plum Japonais, but I don't. It is a heady fragrance, and there is one note that's off-putting to my nose. The fragrance has been unofficially attributed to perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. You know Tom Ford himself isn't creating all these fragrances, right? The perfumer for his fragrances is always closely guarded information, but somehow it eventually leaks out.

Shanghai Lily completes the quartet. “This fragrance began with a dream of the Silk and Spice Roads - the ancient, Asian trading routes for luxurious and precious goods,” Ford explained. “I imagined caravans piled high with treasures and being surrounded by a multi-sensorial abundance of opulence.” Shanghai Lily is an exotic floral scent that transports the senses into a world of rare and opulent ingredients from the historic Silk Road. Warm spices, elegant florals, and addictive notes of vanilla and frankincense create a hazy reverie of glamour and temptation.

Shanghai Lily opens on notes of bitter orange, pink peppercorn, and black pepper, combined with vetiver and cashmeran. The base blends benzoin, castoreum, cistus labdanum, and guaiac wood, alongside vanilla and frankincense. If you envision the scent of lilies or a floral fragrance, based on the name, you'll be as disappointed as I was. I'm not a spice girl, and Shanghai Lily is a very spicy, woody oriental fragrance.

Tom Ford's Private Blend Atelier D’Orient fragrances are presented in the signature Private Blend bottles of Cognac-brown glass. The flacons are finished with a gold-colored name plaque and are packaged in brown boxes.

Tom Ford's vision for and execution of his Asian collection is very different from By Kilian's Asian Tales Collection. Kilian's perfumers created fragrances that stay close to the skin, offering subtly sophisticated fruits and florals - my kind of fragrances, and scents appreciated by Asian people, I'm told. On the other hand, Ford's Asian vision came to life with use of aromatic Asian ingredients - the more exotic, the better. His fragrances are bold where Kilian's spoke softly. See which collection you like best.

My recommendation for Atelier d'Orient? Try before you buy. Tom Ford counters will make samples for you, so make sure to ask. If you can't get to a counter and would like help, give Tom Ford representative Jason Layden a call at (202) 966-9700, extension 2385, at Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie. He will take good care of you.

Photos courtesy of Neiman Marcus, Moodie Report, and


Dovey said...

Hi Charlestongirl,

It was wonderful to hear all your thoughts on the Tom Ford Atelier d'Orient collection! I probably won't have a chance to go out and try these for myself for some time, so it was really nice to live vicariously through your post :) Fleur de Chine sounds delightful with notes like lilac, tea, and white peach!

melisand61 said...

I did a quick sniff on paper of all of them at Niemans. Then I tested Plum Japonais on skin. I wound up really liking it. It is pretty heady. I wonder what note bothered you? Agarwood?

The others were nice, but not bottle-worthy for me. Interestingly, after it dried down on the scent paper strip for a while, it became more floral, at least to my nose. It gave the impression of lilies.

Evelyn said...

This made me chuckle, I tend to like my fragrances to trail me out of the room or at least leave a memory of me behind. :) Maybe Tom Ford would work better for me than By Kilian although I do like Bamboo Harmony

Closet and Pantry said...

I might just be the only person who does not wear perfume, but I do really love Tom Ford's beauty line. Any news on the Fall/winter line?

Sherri Fithian said...

Beautifully written... I could smell these right through the computer screen! :)