Neroli Portofino ( Tom Ford )

The nose behind Ford's 2011 summer release is the accomplished Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who also created the new Fougère Royale, and most of Arquiste's range. NP is part of Ford's Private Blend range, and was released but a shoulder's breadth from the much-maligned Lavender Palm. You would think, given its lineage, that NP would smell like a brand new take on citrus aurantium, the woody-fresh blossom oil of the bitter orange tree, but alas, it is simply a conventional perfumer's rendition. The very first thing I thought of when it hit my skin was 4711. That's surprising, given how cheap 4711 is, and how expensive NP is. Yeah, it's oddly the only fragrance I can think of when I smell NP, and that's not terrible, because 4711 smells really, really good. This Private Blend has imbued me with a whole new appreciation for the National Granny Cologne of Germany.

What becomes problematic is that NP doesn't really develop much, and remains a linear, semi-sweet, and utterly woody neroli, with hints of mandarin orange and cool amber in the base. That's fine, except that NP's price-point suggests it should be something more. Comparatively speaking, 4711 has complex development, with a rosy herbal structure underlying its layered citrus top accord. The basil and rosemary in that little $20 cologne really add dimensionality and zest to it, but NP is thoroughly non-herbal, possessing neither the humor, nor the panache of its predecessor. 

Speaking of humor and panache, the advertisements for this one really do a disservice to the buyer. I'm not normally influenced by visual advertising (I've been jaded by my graphic design studies), but with NP I really expected something fizzy and sexy. What I get instead is something flat and rather formal.

All well, at least the 4711 connotation is interesting. It's just a shame that little else about Neroli Portofino grabs me.