Friday, 9 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Rive D'Ambre, Shanghai Lily, Fleur De Chine and Plum Japonais from Tom Ford (perfumers unknown; 2013)


I confess I don't find the overarching concept of this year's Tom Ford Private Blend quartet as convincing as last year's. In 2012, the house released four scents under the umbrella title Jardin Noir; the idea was simple, but it worked. This latest set has been dubbed the Atelier D'Orient, a name to which you could justifiably react with a yawn. Still, the dubious label is easily ignored, because at least two of the perfumes are pretty impressive.

Shanghai Lily and Rive D'Ambre are unremarkable, if totally competent creations. The former is, as you might have predicted, a decent lily (Ford himself gave us a more dramatic one last year with Lys Fumé) and the latter is a vetivert-based cologne, apparently inspired by the Asian tradition of giving people citrus fruit as gifts. Solid, unexciting stuff.

The other two are more interesting. Plum Japonais follows a path very similar to that of Histoires De Parfums' 1740 (one of the most beautiful boozy leathers ever) in that it mixes davana wood, surypy, fermenting fruit and a sensual mix of cloves, nutmeg and pepper to convey an almost palpable sense of rakish danger. It isn't as dirty and skin-focussed as the Histoires - I suspect the cumin dose is lower here - but it's still pretty decadent.

Leather pops up in Fleur De Chine too, but in this case it's the 'well-worn handbag' variety, a la Aromatics Elixir, a scent to which this one clearly owes some allegiance. In fact, it owes allegiance to several others too, because it plays out very much like an homage to classic feminines of decades gone by. The aldehydic opening echoes White Linen, the mossy woodiness is reminiscent of Knowing and the richness of the floral elements could have come straight from Beautiful. In other words, it's a tribute to all things Lauder, which raises the question of precisely what makes it 'oriental'. One answer might stem from Ford's claim that the scent was inspired by In The Mood For Love, a movie which - amongst many other achievements - expertly challenges preconceived notions of western and eastern aesthetics. It is also very chic, as is Fleur De Chine. So whether you wish to approach the scent as an example of cross-cultural commentary or an object possessed of drop-dead gorgeousness, do make the time to check it out.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de parfum provided by Tom Ford in 2013.]

Persolaise

6 comments:

  1. My favourite by far is Plum Japonais. It produced a waxy note on my skin which was reminiscent of Feminite du bois. I find it beautiful and very wearable.

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    1. Antqueen, yes, Plum Japonais is probably my personal favourite. But I think Fleur De Chine is probably a more interesting fragrance.

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  2. I found Shanghai Lily the most compelling of the lot, and the most original, actually!

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    1. Vagabond, fair enough :-) Originality is always a tricky subject in perfumery, but I'm glad you found something novel in Mr Ford's latest lily.

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  3. In the perfume circles I frequent (on the Internet) it seemed that Shanghai Lily was the big hit. I wasn't taken with it, a bit too crude and too much of a clove bomb. I love your take of Fleur de Chine; I hadn't noticed the link with Lauder, but it does make sense. To me the plum note (which on me lasts throughout the development) makes it oriental, as well as the incense that laces the floral notes and provides a pleasant depth to the composition as well as a sense of dark corners (the way Tanizaki describes them as part of Japanese aesthetics in his essay In Praise of Shadows).I wish it had more meat on its bones, though: more longevity and more throw. Other than that, I adore it - and immediately picked up a bottle.

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    1. Anon, thanks for your comment. Yes, you're right, the lily does seem to have been quite a hit on the Net, but I didn't find anything especially remarkable about it. That said, it is a solid, wearable lily.

      I thought Fleur De Chine possessed more of the contrasts which I hope to see in a good perfume.

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