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.