Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
If only Tom Ford White Patchouli upheld the promise of its opening accord, I would have been ready to give it 5 stars. It opens up on such a sultry accord of spices and amber with patchouli’s chocolate bitterness perceptible underneath; it is difficult not to fall under its spell. Yet, after an opulent prelude, the composition veers into the barren territory of sharp woods and pale musks. Perhaps this suggests that I prefer my patchouli in the darker registers, full of its earthy, pungent facets.
Although White Patchouli is a modern bright woods composition with a few of hints of oriental resins and spices, it is related to classical patchouli rich fragrances like Jean Couturier Coriandre and its more recent incarnation, Agent Provocateur. It only takes a delicate touch of patchouli to transform a pretty floral into a seductive blossom, and if the quantity is increased even more, the result is heady and striking. In the opening accords of White Patchouli, this aspect is presented beautifully. The patchouli begins to shimmer right under the sweet orange and coriander. As the rose notes begin to reveal their soft, honeyed warmth, the woody darkness of patchouli lends them a rich, velvety character. Smoky incense plays up the exotic aura of White Patchouli, leading one to expect a smoldering drydown.
Just as one expects to receive more opulence and seduction, things grind to a halt. Patchouli begins to pale and wither away, leaving behind a strong and brash woody note laced with musks and sharp amber. Even more disconcertingly, something in the drydown makes me think of the musky sweetness associated with fabric softeners. The switch is so jarring and disappointing that it took me several trials to finally come to terms with the fact that White Patchouli and I are not meant to be together. As is the case with fragrances one does not like, White Patchouli lasts forever on my skin. At any rate, to experience a fantasy that it promises but did not deliver, I reach for Agent Provocateur or Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady.
Tom Ford White Patchouli contains notes of peony, mandarin, bergamot, jasmine, rose absolute, coriander, ambrette seed, sandalwood, incense and golden amber. Available at the Tom Ford boutiques, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, Nordstrom and other retailers. The Eau de Parfum–$62 (30ml), $95 (50ml) $138 (100ml.)
Sample: my own acquisition