Silences (Jacomo, original Parfum de Toilette)

Ever wonder what Van Goh's Wheatfield with a Cypress Tree would smell like if it could be distilled down to a scent? Yeah, neither have I. Silences eliminated that obscure little unknown for me, though. It was one of those odd instances where the answer came before the question - I smelled the original parfum de toilette, and was immediately transported to a secluded field in Arles, with its raw grasses fluttering in a cool April breeze. It was the closest I have ever come to pure spiritual rapture.

I won't pontificate much on Silences because it's the nearest to perfection that a fragrance can get, and my descriptions and accolades cannot add to it. Yes, it's green, and a little floral, perhaps the High Priestess of verdant chypres. And yes, it's unisex, although Jacomo insists it's for women. Funnily enough, the bottle I purchased was in a narrow space between the men's and women's sections of the store, as if the shopkeeper wisely knew it belonged to neither demographic exclusively. 

Funny too, that I happened to try the reformulated version before the original parfum de toilette. I'm not sure what happened with Silences - the new one (in the black glossy box) smells like something straight out of the '70s, very dusty and heavy, while the older one (in the grey matte box) is smooth, airy, and timeless. What's up with that? In the unlikely event that I ever meet a Jacomo insider, I shall ask him or her that very question. Meanwhile I'll float over lush fields as verdant wisps of crisp morning florals fill my lungs. Silences. 


White Shoulders Eau de Parfum (Evyan)

One of the many things that bothers me in this world is how difficult it is to find a nicely-done floral perfume on the cheap. I'm not really sure how or when it happened, but somewhere along the line people decided that flowers weren't cool anymore. I suppose it started during the '80s, when women were exposed to Andron, and all that weird pheromone psychology began applying to personal fragrance. Eventually a boatload of sweet synthetic musks and even sweeter synthetic floral ionones flooded the market (see Poison), and wearing quelques fleurs was no longer de rigueur. 

Evyan's White Shoulders was released in 1945, and somehow seems to signify, through scent, the end of the second World War. Its opening volley of floral notes is so fresh and serene that I'm immediately transported to an outcrop overlooking a dewy meadow in France. It is one of the most direct floral arrangements I have ever smelled in a perfume. Gardenia, tuberose, muguet, orange blossom, lilac, and jasmine (my god, the jasmine!) flood my senses in a manner devoid of the usual synthetic screech found in other $20 fragrances. The white blossoms possess a crisply gentle realism, and are gathered in an uncomplicated bouquet. I keep waiting for the scratchy peach and musk notes to arrive, but they never do. Things remain congruent and naturalistic throughout the lifespan of this fragrance, which is refreshing, and a tribute to its makers.

The basic accords here are artfully composed to produce a very proud, straightforward scent. There is no postmodern flourish, no antisocial contrast, no synthetic bombast. In this way, White Shoulders is elegant and dignified, an update of something one might smell in 18th century Versailles. Analogs of nature's finest buds bring with them a hint of antiquity, and at no stage of its development does White Shoulders feel modern. Instead it smells classical, sexual, refined. It is feminine, yes, but its honesty compels me to wear it myself. Could this be a blatantly feminine fragrance that I unabashedly adopt? Very possibly. It's something to wear while listening to the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and munching on a Spam sandwich.

Portfolio Green (Perry Ellis)

It looks like I found another critically neglected fragrance, and it comes in a slick bottle designed by Marc Rosen. Super duper last minute Christmas shopping is to blame here - I reached that point where I was sick of dropping greenbacks on everyone else, and had to grab something (preferably green in color) for me. I gave the men's section at Marshalls a quick perusal, and saw only Portfolio Green by Perry Ellis. 

As it turns out, Portfolio Green isn't bad at all. The opening is a restrained (and sweet) lime note, which casually slides into a saccharine green apple and neroli accord. The whole thing deepens in tone until the neon greens of the top become deeply floral greenish-purples, sort of an intense, coumarin-fueled olfactory illusion of violet leaf. It's at this stage that Portfolio Green becomes a fresh fougère, although it doesn't really play fair in a category full of staid aromatics. The heart is so dense and fruity that I can't help but wonder whose idea of "green" was indulged. 

A few hours later the scent dries down in linear fashion to become a clean greenish musk. Green Irish Tweed and Aspen have done this sort of thing better, and without all the fruity gestures. Yet Portfolio Green is simple, wearable, and as bad an idea as dragging a dead guy with you to the beach. Cheers to Perry Ellis, and boo to everyone else for ignoring this entry - and all entries - in the Portfolio lineup.


CK One Shock for Him (Calvin Klein)

The house of Calvin Klein has, in my estimation, one of the worst all-time track records in fragrance history. here's an abbreviated rundown (to spare myself from actually reviewing the scents) of its timeline:

1978 - CK releases their eponymous rosy chypre for women. It's a hit, but sales eventually stall and it's discontinued. I have yet to encounter a bottle.

1981 - Calvin is released as the masculine follow-up. Considered a conservative and spicy fougère in the tradition of Azzaro Pour Homme, with lower-grade materials. I have yet to encounter a bottle.

1985 - The company makes up for lost time and releases a notable fragrance called Obsession. This classical oriental has plenty of bombast and anachronistic qualities, and it sells quite nicely. Now reformulated into a bit of a blah.

1986 - Obsession for Men is the appropriate sequel, and the only "masterpiece" ever released by this company. It isn't all that different from the original, except it's better. Much better. If you can find vintage bottles, buy them immediately.

1988 - Now officially on the perfumista's radar, CK throws its newly-minted heft and taps the talented Belarusian nose Sophia Grojsman for its first foray into the world of modern fruity-floraldom. The result: Eternity. It's a major hit with the ladies, especially college girls. But its crude fruit and screechy rose haven't stood the test of time. Several flankers are spawned.

1989 - The brand's second most-famous scent, Eternity for Men, is released. It was then what it is today: a sweet chemical spill that no mop can sop, although the novel blend of mandarin, lavender, and sandalwood wins points for oft-copied originality. Several flankers are spawned.

1991 - The nineties are entered with genre-defining shrillness in the form of Escape. Its blaring sweet 'n fresh composition fits nicely into a league of like-minded oddball aquatics from this period. Many on Fragrantica seem to find Escape similar to Sunflowers by Elizabeth Arden. I feel Escape was aptly named, as it suggests exactly what I should do whenever it's around. This scent is currently relegated to discounters like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.

1993 - Escape for Men is introduced. One could consider that it's a Calone-fueled essay on coriander, woods, and musk, but it really reads as an extremely rough draft of CK One, which is a far better fragrance. The pencil shavings drydown is so crude and annoying that I'd rather roll in a tub of graphite than smell Escape.

1994 - Reacting to the lackluster press for Escape, Klein buckles down and releases CK One, a unisex citrus floral musk scent that is as pleasant as it is innocuous. At least it still smells good, and to its credit CK One is indeed suitable for both men and women. Several flankers are spawned.

1996 - CK Be is released, and its existential name gets my hopes up. The scent, a pallid fresh fougere, is utterly forgettable. Something about white musk, with some green spices thrown in for good measure. The company refuses to discontinue CK Be, so I guess its fans are keeping it alive. I have no use for it. 

1998 - Contradiction follows up the Big CKs. Basically a stale fruity floral with an overdose of eucalyptus. Sells just well enough to stay in the market, which means it must be doing pretty well. Does it inspire anything beyond a footnote? As the Czechs would say, "ne." But it does exhibit Klein's deftness in package design.

1999 - Contradiction for Men predictably makes an appearance. Its humongous fake lemon/lime top does little to soothe my already-jangled nerves. I hate those who wear it - namely my peers in high school - with a seething passion.

2000 - The brand finally eschews its formulaic fruity florals in favor of a green scent called Truth. It's evidently a pleasant scent that rubs critics the right way for a change. I have yet to knowingly sniff it, and cannot comment, except to say that I believe what I read. Still, after 20 years of crap, who cares anymore?

2002 - Truth for Men is introduced. It's a pleasantly humid tropical green scent with a beautiful central accord of bamboo and honeydew melon. Unfortunately its longevity clocks in at under fifteen minutes. A pity. Sales fall short, and Truth for Men, despite being one of my favorite Klein frags, is now no more.

2005 - Euphoria is released, and fails to elicit any. Some find it similar to Angel, others to Obsession, and still others to both. Currently lost in the latest multitudinous crop of rich fruity orientals for women. I can't be bothered with the non-entity masculine version, other than to say it does a ginger note pretty well.

2007 - The brand does something uncharacteristic and releases a lone masculine, unimaginatively naming it Calvin Klein Man. It's a fresh fougère that channels Dior Fahrenheit, yet somehow manages to bungle violet leaf. Rarely seen anywhere but at Marshalls, for what it's worth, and as of now it's discontinued.

2009 - Continuing its weird new trend, the company releases another lone masculine, CK Free. Widely considered a dull woody-fresh scent with nothing saving it. More complaints about poor longevity abound.

2010 - "Ladies, we haven't forgotten you." That's the message conveyed by the isolated release of the feminine Beauty. With a name like that, a masculine follow-up isn't likely. Beauty is little more than a competent clone of Hilfiger's Tommy Girl. A little cedar in lieu of green tea, a few extra drops of Iso E Super, and voilà! We have a throwback scent. It's better than most of the above, but only marginally.

Also 2010 - Klein's flanker mill churns out Eternity Aqua. It's no barn burner, but the attempt to blend aquatic fresh notes with hints of oriental spice ends up smelling surprisingly decent. I'd buy it if Marshalls slapped a $5 sticker on a full 3.4 oz bottle. 

Which brings us to 2011, and CK One Shock for Him. I'm unsure as to why it took them thirty years to come up with a good fragrance, but worthy things come to those who wait. Not that I've been holding my breath. It's also a mystery as to why the brand decided to make this unusual woody-spicy oriental part of the world's lamest flanker mill, and not give it an original name. Perhaps it reveals how out of touch with quality the suits at CK are - they didn't even recognize they had something worthy of distinction. Curiously complex in scope, Shock opens with a bright pepper and patchouli, spiked with sweetly-herbal lavender. The composition is softened by the arrival of warm cardamom and pipe tobacco in the heart, which takes its time in developing. 

Eventually these well-defined herbs and spices are conjoined, and a little blurred, by a delectable vanilla note. An odd minty citrus note (possibly the usage of osmanthus with clementine or tangerine) keeps everything from becoming overly steeped. Quite possibly their finest fragrance to date, although nowhere near as groundbreaking as the original CK One. A Klein scent that smells good? Shocking!


Hammam Bouquet (Penhaligon's)

England is a beautiful country, and London is currently the capitol of the universe. When I was there in the early nineties, I strolled through the city's impeccably flowered and pruned parks, endlessly in awe of Britain's green thumb pride. And how about those Royals?

Sniffing Hammam Bouquet today, I can appreciate its nostalgia factor. It has a Victorian feel to it, a musty sensuality stifled beneath the artless frills of an opaque bodice dress. The first few seconds of lavender and rose are chilly, but alluring. Britain's imperialism and considerable reach into Asia are evident in the fragrance's opening. Eventually a sweet orris note appears and guides me into an amber drydown. Hammam Bouquet smells tortuously restrained, as if sin could overcome virtue by way of sexual apoplexy.

The poetic reviews on Fragrantica and Basenotes are enjoyable essays borne of unbridled enthusiasm, and while admirable, cannot be duplicated here on my blog. I will acquiesce to the fragrance's rich history, however, and note that while Hammam's current formula is lacking a bit, its form is not. This type of British barbershop dandy scent is truly classical in scope, and I await the day that it is added to my rapidly growing collection.


Allure Eau de Parfum (Chanel)

I'm not really sure why, but when it comes to Chanel fragrances, I'm curiously tongue-tied. It's hard for me to generate topical interest in them. Generally speaking they all smell very good, although some enjoy greater artistic success than others. I've been wearing Allure Homme a bit more often than usual lately, and when I get around to reviewing it I'll have a few sincere anecdotes to pass along - it's the only Chanel that is truly storied for me. Still, it seemed appropriate to give the original feminine perfume a nod beforehand, if only to defend it from a legion of critics.

The overarching criticism of Allure is that it's boring, uninspired, a drag. Apparently it is unworthy of the Chanel name, because somehow in the course of its colorful history the brand found the secret to olfactory Nirvana, parted the seven seas, became one with God. You'd think from reading about them that N°5, N°19, Cristalle, and Égoïste were unbelievable masterpieces that no one could top, least of all their own creators. They're all excellent of course, but put on a pedestal. Times changed, and so did perfumery. Inevitably the '90s came along, brought Allure and its flankers, and suddenly everyone gave up on Chanel. A collective groan filled the stadium; the game was over.

My beef with everyone else's beef is that people have forgotten context. The 1990s were culturally decrepit years. Music, movies, art, fashion, philosophy, all started sucking in a big way. Music, specifically rock music, suddenly lost its spine, its bravado, and went the way of the Goo Goo Dolls, or as I like to call it, Limp Dick City. Listening to the radio in the '90s was torture. Everything made me want to puke, from Cheryl Crow, to Mariah Carey, to Kid Rock, to Eminem. Especially Eminem, who found an unfortunate fan base in my high school clique. Then there was the whole fashion devolution of 1992 - 1999. Saggy, over-sized jeans, polo shirts three sizes too large, the return of bell bottoms for girls (aptly called "flare" pants, as my temper would flare every time a punk chick trudged past me in them), the "Caesar" haircut for boys . . . the agony was endless. 

This isn't to say that the whole thing went ramshackle - it didn't. Some movies held up particularly well. I'm thankful for Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, Grosse Pointe Blank, The Three Colors Trilogy, Home Alone, Goodfellas, Casino, and a few dozen other superb pics. But the talented animators that brought the world every Disney movie since Snow White were suddenly buried under the crippling influence of Pixar and Toy Story, which heralded the dawning age of the Great FX Cop-Out: Computer Generated Imagery. This particular topic brings me so little joy to discuss that I'll just leave it here.

So it strikes me as particularly nervy for anyone to reckon that somehow, out of the accelerating decay, the House of Chanel would rise above it all and continue to give us the same 1920s, '70s and '80s-styled masterpieces. Do people like Luca Turin really think the brand had another Cuir de Russie in it? Was it really expected that something better than the insipid Platinum Égoïste would follow its bold predecessor in a year when a solo Sting, who should have still been fronting The Police, was crooning the unlistenable lyrics, if I ever loooose my faith in you / there'd be nothing leeeeft for me to do? Further to the point, do Chanel's critics ever stop as they continue to harangue the house for its recent Bleu de Chanel and Jersey releases, and wonder why it is the company continues to disappoint? Could it be that world culture has continued to decline, and so perfume remains in a stagnant, generally uninspired place? This is postmodern hell, and perfumery is no exception to it.

Sniffing Allure EDP today, I feel it's a marvel that the company managed to release anything like it. Somehow they fought past the Clockwork Oranges and gave us a serious, well-composed jasmine scent for women in their late twenties and early thirties. It's very crisp for a Chanel fragrance, and it smells wonderful. The bergamot and peach in its top are clean, sheer, and well within its class. Eventually a vanillic cedar and papery jasmine accord comes through, accented by orange blossom and vetiver. True to Chanel fashion, this scent is highly blended, and nothing really vies for a leading role (although to my nose the jasmine has the edge). Is Allure exciting? Definitely not. But it is a functional perfume, something a career-oriented woman can wear to the office without risking credibility in a male-dominated workplace. It's quite pleasant and friendly, but also prim and understated. Considering how disastrous other '90s feminines were, Allure isn't bad at all.

I'm sorry, but that's all I have to say about it.


Azzaro Pour Homme (Azzaro)

If Green Irish Tweed is the best fougère of the last quarter century, then Azzaro Pour Homme is the best of 35 years, and counting. I used to dislike Azzaro PH because of its overwhelming intensity, but the recent reformulation has solved that problem, no doubt to the chagrin of its fans. I prefer the new version because it doesn't give me headaches the way the original did. In fact, the top notes resemble a high quality sport fragrance, with bracing lemon and sweet lavender dominant. It does lack the depth of its predecessor, but the core components are still very much a part of the scent. This is still a woody, anise-laden fern, full of freshness and life.

Luca Turin wrote that a man's scent should never be more traveled than he is, but I disagree. The world is a tough field in which to play, and one needs every possible advantage at his disposal. A few years ago I was hobnobbing with an elderly gentleman who ran an excellent vintage perfume shop. He told me, "perfume is an illusion. You apply it, you go out and about among people, and they get a sense of something special around you, but it should never be in their face." This perfectly describes the reformulated Azzaro Pour Homme. It is ephemeral, natural, green, masculine, and alluring. 

Like GIT, this fougère is useful at any time, in any place. I find the use of anise to be a tad challenging, but that's okay - I like it. For the times I want something different, I have plenty of other options. My only complaint about Azzaro PH is that it isn't something I can wear every day, or even two days in a row. Something about the intensity of the anise and lavender accord makes it a once-in-a-while wear for me, but I know many guys who love this as their signature scent, so it's possible you might try it and decide you can't get enough of it. It's a fragrance for free thinkers and unique characters. For the times I want to attract unconventional people, I have Azzaro, and I'm thankful.

Tsar (Van Cleef & Arpels)

Tsar had a terrific nose behind it: Philippe Bousseton. The puzzling thing about Bousseton is his apparently flimsy output - basenotes lists a meager four fragrances, and fragrantica only seven. The brilliant opening of Tsar's bergamot and lavender accord is pure sensory pleasure. The citrus is neither synthetic nor bland, and smells so bright, clean, and realistic that I'm transported to a verdant garden somewhere east of whenever I am. Well-blended notes of oakmoss (in a subdued amount), pine, coriander, juniper, cedar, coumarin, sandalwood, and tarragon create a green, soapy aura that stays fairly close to its source, projecting politely and for several hours. 

What lends Tsar distinction is its drydown. Where other fougères smell a bit clunky and overtly soapy (see Sung Homme), Tsar is just smooth. The soapiness is predicated on freshness, not a simulated lye effect. It's the very definition of "gentleman's scent," in a traditional manner closely wedded to the British style of ferns. Anyone curious enough to try it will find something forgotten since the early nineties - a green aromatic fern made of high quality materials. Sadly it has been discontinued, but if you keep an eye out for it in brick and mortar stores, it can still be found for reasonable prices. 


Halston Alcohol-Free Cologne (Halston)

It's hard to argue that Halston's brand is anything but the definition of "cool." The fashion, the fragrances, the man, all contoured the hazy, drug-addled blur of Studio 54's 1970s. Much of the designer's clout has faded with time, but current trends in fragrance are the clearest sign that Halston's fragrances are still cool - no one really wears them anymore, yet they endure. Elizabeth Arden holds the licenses for them, and I'm glad. EA Fragrances has generally done a conscientious job resurrecting yesterday's classics and keeping them as true as possible to their original formulations. Grey Flannel and Red for Men are wonderful, and Halston Classic meets the same high standards. My only gripe is its alcohol-free formulation . . . its oily solvent has a somewhat dirty feel and transports me to a patchouli-laden netherworld full of dead disco dancers. Weird.

A perusal of store shelves is a challenge to stay calm, to not get angry. Bottle after bottle of endless chemical musks crowd the field, olfactory equivalencies of plastic feathers, brilliant pinks, reds, blues, neon lettering everywhere, overwrought and aimless decors, and total dependency on calone, sugar cubes, and fruity esters. Apparently today's mature woman is still a 16 year-old girl. The sight of anything with organic elements like oakmoss (gasp! what's that?) and treemoss (eeew, I think it's fungus?) renders a 37 year-old fragrance completely alien, utterly out of touch with the current aesthetic, colorless, vague, and a little scary. To this point: the Marshalls that I frequent is run entirely by women in their 20s who are constantly re-stocking the fragrance shelves, and they have yet to figure out which gender Halston Classic is meant for. I got my bottle from the men's section, but I've seen bottles in the women's section. I expect to see it in the men's section again in the future.

I guess I can understand. Halston's box is a refreshingly blank beige, and its lettering offers no hints. The usage of "cologne," a term generally applied to men's scents, seems to suggest that it's a men's fragrance, but if you're an employee who likes to peek, the bottle inside certainly leans feminine with its narrowly curved neck and softly rounded glass. If you're an employee who likes to sample, you'll end up just as confused as before you ever opened the box; Halston's peachy top notes and dry mossy base are smooth and amiable, but altogether unisex. It's too floral for men, and too earthy for girls. Yikes, just put it in both sections then. Guys will buy it and give it to their girlfriends, girls will buy it and give it to their grandmothers. Their grandmothers will wear it for a while, decide it's too sexy, and resume wearing their dusty old bottles of Charlie Blue instead.

My take is much less flummoxed. I like that the scent has survived the decades, but understand that the alcohol-free cologne is a pale shadow of the original perfume. Still, it's a clear shadow, well defined in the glare of all that white musk surrounding it in the store. Perky bergamot and soft peach mark the opening. It's feminine, a little girlish even, but concise. Eventually the flowers and mosses push through the semi-sweet intro and sweep Halston firmly into a bitter chypre territory. Everything is blended and the green notes are abstract impressions of grass, leaves, muguet, and oakmoss. Treemoss is used to tinge the drydown's fuzzy edges with a gentle sweetness. It's comforting, and easy to wear.

Androgyny was thematic to fashion and pop culture in the '70s, and the best chypres of that time are very androgynous. Halston is no exception - it's probably a little too floral for most men, but it's no more feminine than Calice Becker's tea floral, Tommy Girl. Any guy who is comfortable in his own skin can wear Halston and get away with it. I can wear Halston without qualms because I often wear green fragrances, and this is one incredibly green chypre. The rose, marigold, and mint notes are offset by a leafy mossiness that fits me perfectly. Thank you Mr. Halston, for making this fragrance and building it to last. And thank you Cindy Crawford, for all your nakedness. I'm much obliged to you both.


Sport Field (Adidas)

Sport Field reminds me of one fragrance: Green Valley by Creed. I have yet to review Green Valley here because I'm saving that one for the spring. I consider it a wonderfully bittersweet grassy chypre, with top notes to die for. Adidas developed a green scent several years before Creed's creation, one that similarly conveys the bitter aroma of cut grass in an open field. It's as though someone took a scalpel to Green Valley, removed its top notes and two minutes'-worth of its heart, shifted some ingredients around, and then repackaged it as the "new" Sport Field (I know nothing of the original green-boxed Sport Field). It's Green Valley on a budget.

I'll get this out of the way first - Sport Field's ingredients are clearly pedestrian in quality, and there's nothing in the scent profile that raises eyebrows. However, the composition is a departure from the expected sweet waterfruit/violet leaf/white musk "sport" formula. It's a sport fragrance in the '70s tradition of Aliage, not Polo. The elements may be budgeted, but they're well chosen and composed. It opens with a bright burst of lemon and ginger, which rapidly transitions into a delightful wedding of coumarin (hay), and a nondescript pastel-pink sweetness that weaves between the greens. Light touches of pine, anise, and tomato leaf lend it depth and lengthen its lifespan, and its base is a simple hay and pine affair. 

Having found love for Sport Field, I'll be exploring other Adidas scents with more enthusiasm. I'm realistic though, and doubt that Fair Play, Ice Dive, or Pure Game will yield anything for me. Still, I'm happy to have Sport Field, and find no shame in wearing it. Chypres are hard to come by, and to find one that nobly embraces the bitter verdancy of meadow grass is something special indeed. Highly recommended!


Tom Ford for Men (Tom Ford)

Today is my birthday, and I'm somewhat chagrined to report that it's a milestone - the Big 30. The only good thing about it is that it's the furthest point in time from turning 31. Otherwise, it's just plain scary. The roaring twenties are over, never to return again, and all for a staid decade of becoming a serious adult. Or . . . not. Depending on how you look at it, the future can be bright or bleak, but whatever the case, I trust it will smell good.

Last week I had a chance to wear a fragrance that I've been dying to try for a while now - Tom Ford for Men. In fact, I got to sample a good portion of the Ford lineup over the course of a few days, and other reviews will soon follow this one. Mr. Ford's signature masculine is somewhat controversial because many feel that it fails to live up to its marketing hype. Maybe it's my 30-dom chiming in here, but I refrained from posting the ad with this fragrance's bottle positioned suggestively between a naked woman's widespread legs, favoring Mr. Ford's self-portraiture instead. I have a feeling that the pornographic imagery is largely to blame for the collective disappointment here; thousands of guys were drawn to it like moths around a neon beer sign, all expecting liquid nirvana. Instead they got a conventional woody-fresh fougère in the accustomed post-Cool Water style. Quite a letdown if you let the visuals manipulate your imagination before the perfume's molecules can speak for themselves.

I wasn't really baited by the ads, however, so my nose was not struck down with melancholia upon smelling this scent. It was a bit surprising though, as I thought the fragrance would be darker and denser in nature, more of a "cologney" type of oldschool frag in the manner of Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur, or Aramis. Tom Ford's opening notes of lemon leaf and ginger are tart and refreshing, and the perfect intro to the sweet aromatics of pipe tobacco, cedar, patchouli, and pepper in the heart. This is as woodsy as it gets - about twenty minutes into its development, the scent's manly curtain is drawn to reveal a sweet violet leaf and orange blossom base. All is punctuated by crisp vetiver and warm amber notes, making Tom Ford for Men a likable and thoroughly unremarkable workhorse fern. It has good longevity, modest sillage, and not a single drop of confrontational innuendo anywhere in it. It's the perfect gift for the guy who has it all.

I prefer Chanel's Allure Homme and Coty's Aspen to Tom Ford for Men, but only because I have a history with those scents that I don't share with this newer offering. I can see this being a disappointment in the face of more exciting Ford scents, but I don't think it warrants so much negativity - it's well made and competent for its class. I would have made it woodier, perhaps with a touch of birch and a little fennel or anise to correlate with true fougère classics like Azzaro Pour Homme. But as it stands, there's nothing wrong with Tom Ford for Men, and wearing it is as comfortable as sitting by the fire in a leather armchair with a glass of cognac. It's not as sexy as a bottle blocking a vagina, but then again nothing ever is.