Friday, February 26, 2016

Persolaise Review: Neroli Portofino Forte & Neroli Portofino Acqua from Tom Ford (2016)


Until now, I've been ambivalent towards Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino (2011). On the one hand, I've always felt suspicious about and appalled by its price (£145 for 50 ml as I type these words). But on the other, I've had to concede that, at a time when well-composed, citrus-focussed compositions are hard to come by, it is one of the most endearing 'pure joy' scents currently on the market. Years ago, even the humble 4711 was able to deliver that peculiar blend of the serene and the energetic - the tension-sapping sensation that a holiday is just a lemon squeeze away - which we expect from its genre. But of course, it isn't anywhere near as vivid as it used to be and the rising cost of citrus oils - as well as restrictions placed on their usage - have changed the competent cologne from a fixture in everyone's bathroom cabinet to that most dubious of beasts, the aspirational luxury scent. That said, I think my feelings towards NP are about to remove themselves from the fence, because Mr Ford has just given us two effervescent flankers to his bestseller: Neroli Portofino Acqua and Neroli Portofino Forte.

Their names are all you need to know about their intentions. Surprise surprise, Acqua aims to be a more ephemeral version of the original, whereas Forte's objective is to give the freshness some depth and gravitas. What the names don't tell you is the accuracy with which these targets have been hit. By placing greater emphasis on the neroli and injecting a well-measured dose of floral sweetness, Acqua does indeed cajole the familiar accord onto a lighter breeze and raise it high across the stillness of the Med. What's more, unlike many compositions with similar ambitions, it isn't afraid to make a hasty exit: it explodes with vitality, then does the right thing and fades away. Forte's trick is to latch onto the slightly smoky, indolic facets of neroli and link them to a discreet leather note. By no means does this sacrifice the impact of the citrus, but it does endow the whole with a touch more danger, a reminder that orchards aren't always the innocent locales postcards would have us believe.

Since the original NP emerged, Tom Ford has attempted to replicate its impact with several blue-bottled additions to the Private Blend collection. They've all been interesting to varying degrees - for instance, the lavender-based Costa Azzurra attracted some praise - but it's probably fair to say that none of them have grabbed the attention of the public in quite the same way as their optimistic forerunner. Maybe the appearance of Acqua and Forte is a sign that Ford has decided to stop messing around and just exploit the success of one of his most lucrative creations. That may well be true, but I hope a sense of cynicism won't detract from the skill and care with which these flankers have been put together (even if the 50 ml bottle of Forte comes in at a gut-walloping £195!). They both possess distinctive personalities in their own right and, without trying too hard, they force crotchety souls like yours truly to view the original Neroli Portofino in a more favourable light. I have little doubt that, if my travels take me to sunny climes this summer, at least one of them will find its way into my suitcase.

[Review based on samples provided by Tom Ford in 2016.]

Persolaise

10 comments:

  1. Speaking of " well-composed, citrus-focussed compositions"-have you sniffed any of Thirdman's offerings? if so, what were your impressions?

    /sparris

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    Replies
    1. Sparris, thanks for your comment. I confess I haven't tried anything from that brand. I know it's available at Luckyscent. Perhaps it's time I ordered some samples.

      Do you recommend their creations?

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  2. I once disappointed a friend who'd just purchased Neroli Portofino, by letting her sniff 4711. She couldn't tell the difference on her wrists and looked so unbelievably gutted that she'd just spent so much on a reproduction of an old, inexpensive classic. I still feel terrible and that was 4yrs ago.

    I've never been a fan of Tom Ford's range. I feel it has no substance and just consists of clever marketing, nice bottles, old ideas and not very good ingredients. Loved what he did for Gucci and YSL though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, that's the kind of thing I would've done to my friend! But I think 4711 has got progressively worse over the years. NP reminds me of how enjoyable 4711 used to be. And yes, some of the work Ford did for Gucci and YSL was genius :-)

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  3. I thought NPA smelt like Mugler Cologne which is vastly cheaper :)

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    Replies
    1. Greek Mike, oh really? I can't say I agree with you there. I get much weirder, steamier, muskier notes from the Mugler, which I absolutely love, by the way.

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  4. I remember picking up one of the Portofinos, either the Aqua or the Forte, I'm sorry I forget which one and I just remembered Mugler Cologne, which I used to wear to death and loved for years.

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm... interesting. I feel a side-by-side comparison coming on.

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  5. Can't seem to find samples of Neroli Portofino Forte anywhere. Tried Lucky Scent, Perfumed Court, Decant Shop, etc. Just not out in samples yet?

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    Replies
    1. Anon, really sorry, but I don't think I can help you there. TF samples tend to be very hard to come by.

      Delete

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