Tom Ford Noir : Perfume Review

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Tom Ford must love Guerlain Habit Rouge with a passion, because we have already seen its incarnation in Private Blend Bois Rouge, and now in Tom Ford Noir. You can compare this fragrance to others perfumes in Ford’s collection or to a dozen other plush orientals, but you only need to smell Habit Rouge for everything to fall into place. From the fizzy citrus top notes to the leather, tonka bean and vanilla inlaid drydown, Tom Ford Noir wears its Guerlinade well.

But Tom Ford Noir isn’t a boring copycat; it’s polished and well-crafted–Tom Ford is known for putting plenty of money into his perfumes–with enough darkness to satisfy most fans of rich, oriental notes. Women who love Guerlain Shalimar and all things “noir” should disregard Ford’s male oriented marketing and try the new fragrance. As much as I want to say that one Habit Rouge is enough, kudos to Tom Ford for taking such a classical idea and launching it as a mainstream fragrance. In contrast to the classical but dull Tom Ford for Men, Tom Ford Noir has plenty of drama.

Describing an oriental perfume as crisp is just as odd as calling a molten chocolate cake refreshing, but Tom Ford Noir, just like its parent Habit Rouge, are the rare examples of this unique genre. Perfumer Olivier Gillotin gives lots of dazzling contrasts, which you will experience as Tom Ford Noir dries down.  First, the cool bergamot laced with herbs feels explosive, but the rich floral accord of rose, jasmine and iris is mellow and velvety.

The plush drydown is another surprise awaiting you a couple of hours later. Here Tom Ford Noir pulls all of the oriental plugs–earthy patchouli, smoky leather, dark amber, sweet benzoin, and animalic civet. Generous lashings of vanilla and musk give the composition a cozy, warm glow. In contrast to Habit Rouge, the animalic growl is subdued, but the incense and amber stand out. Tom Ford Noir has tremendous lasting power and sillage, and a tiny spray is enough to be wrapped in Noir for the whole day.

Tom Ford Noir is nothing new, but as I survey the masculine market today, few new launches stand out and there are even fewer that I would want to smell around me. By contrast, I plan to give Tom Ford Noir as a gift to my husband, with an ulterior motive of sneaking some from his bottle from time to time. And if for no reason but a selfish desire to smell something other than Bleu de Chanel or Paco Rabanne One Million in the subway, I wish Tom Ford Noir plenty of success on the market.

Tom Ford Noir includes notes of bergamot, verbena, violet, pink pepper, caraway, geranium, iris, rose, nutmeg, black pepper, clary sage, leather, patchouli, vetiver, amber, civet, benzoin, opopanax, and vanilla. Available at Tom Ford boutiques, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and other major retailers.

Sample: my own acquisition

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56 Comments

  • Ines: Well, even though it might be a masculine, your description makes me want it for myself. :)
    After all, I love Shalimar. October 16, 2012 at 8:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Ines, then you might enjoy Noir. This is the case when the masculine marketing may be safely disregarded! I wear Habit Rouge myself, and nobody has ever commented that it smelled masculine on me.
      And Habit Rouge is worth trying too, if you’re a Shalimar fan. October 16, 2012 at 9:06am Reply

  • Mikael: What a coincidence, I just happen to be test-driving Noir today! The recipe seems to be: 3 parts Habit Rouge, 1 part Shalimar and 2 parts Coromandel, add violet as garnish. Very nice :) October 16, 2012 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a great description, Mikael. I agree that it’s really nicely done. At first I expected something along the lines of Tom Ford for Men, but this is far more interesting. October 16, 2012 at 9:07am Reply

  • Barbara: I saw it at the store last week but it didn’t even ocurr to me to try it. Too bad, because it sounds like something I would like. October 16, 2012 at 8:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t blame you, the packaging looks so corporate, more suitable to Hugo Boss than Tom Ford. But the fragrance is very good, and I recommend sniffing it if you have a chance. October 16, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

      • Anne: The packaging isn’t very Tom Ford but I like the big black cube. October 16, 2012 at 10:00am Reply

        • Victoria: I didn’t get a chance to hold it, because the SA sprayed the blotter for me herself and then gave me a sample to test at home, but it looked heavy. I love the heft in perfume bottles, whatever the shape. October 16, 2012 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Bela: I thought it was a lovely incense fragrance. I wouldn’t mind wearing it. October 16, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I was also pleasantly surprised, J! I didn’t have any expectations in particular, but as I wore my sample more, I discovered that I would want to wear it myself. :) It’s such an elegant perfume. October 16, 2012 at 9:18am Reply

  • Anne: This talk of Shalimar and Guerlain is timely. I recently fell in love with Shalimar EDT and now I am going to order a decant of vintage Shalimar EDT. V, how do they compare to you? Or do you recommend getting it in parfum? October 16, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: The vintage Shalimar in any concentration is more animalic and smoother. If I had a choice between the parfum and the EDT, I would go for the parfum. It’s so luxurious that it will be worth the money. The EDT is also very good, but the parfum is heavenly. October 16, 2012 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Carla: I would love to smell more Habit Rouge on men out there. Their perfume is generally so bad and so strong. Yay for Tom Ford. October 16, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I hear you, Carla! Whatever I encounter tends to be a shrill cologne of some sort. But the other day I was in line next to a man wearing Dior’s Eau Sauvage, and it was such a treat. October 16, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

  • Marc: I tried it recently and I agree, it’s very nice. Good projection too. This and Tom Ford Extreme are in the same ballpark for me. October 16, 2012 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t remember Tom Ford Extreme that well, but I liked it better than Tom Ford for Men. Sounds like something I should revisit. October 16, 2012 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Eric: I loved Tom Ford Extreme but it had no longevity on my skin. If Tom Ford Noir is any similar, I need to give it a test drive. October 16, 2012 at 6:33pm Reply

  • iodine: I was given a sample a few days ago, spritzed it casually on a wrist and, for the first few hours I thought I was smelling L’Eau Lente! Maybe it’s just because I’ve got a sharp detector for opoponax, lately! October 16, 2012 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: The incense notes in the drydown are beautiful, and they linger and linger. Your Eau Lente mention is spot on, because that is another fragrance in the style of Shalimar and Habit Rouge. October 16, 2012 at 3:09pm Reply

  • Elisa: Wow, it sounds awesome. I feel like masculine fragrances are making a comeback, after being nothing but dreck for years. October 16, 2012 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, it’s great to discover more interesting things at the masculine counter. I’m so tired of fruitchoulis. The SA was very surprised that I wanted to smell it and told me several time that it was a masculine fragrance. Not to have to explain further, I simply told her that I was looking for a new fragrance for my husband. Otherwise, I doubt that she would even spray it on me. :) October 16, 2012 at 3:13pm Reply

      • Elisa: These SA’s are so unimaginative! I’m going to wear a tie next time I go perfume shopping just to throw them off. October 17, 2012 at 1:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: LOL! Please let me know what reaction you get. October 17, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Lauren: Thank you for yet another lovely review! As a woman wearing Habit Rouge today, I definitely need to check this one out. My taste seems to be very similar to yours, so when you give something 4 stars and compare it to one of my absolute favorites, I know it’s worth tracking down a sample! October 16, 2012 at 4:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love meeting fragrance twins. :) If you have Habit Rouge, you probably don’t need Tom Ford Noir as well, but what an excellent fragrance. Definitely worth smelling at least once. October 16, 2012 at 6:19pm Reply

  • Tatiana: Thanks for this great review. I was at Neiman’s swatching one of the new TF nail polishes and chatting with the SA when I just blurted out, “What smells so darn good?” The SA then sprayed Noir on a card for me and for the next 20 minutes I just stood there sniffing and chatting with her. Instead of pressuring me to buy it on the spot, she gave me a sample and said, “Ignore all the marketing, this is really a unisex scent. Here’s a sample for you to try at your leisure before you decide to buy.”
    I really love all it’s oriental goodness and when I save up enough pennies, I plan to go back and buy this one. October 16, 2012 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a great SA! I agree with her that it’s definitely a unisex perfume. If it were launched in a niche line, nobody would question its gender. I love the velvety drydown. Incense is prominent on my skin, but it’s warm and soft. October 16, 2012 at 6:21pm Reply

      • Tatiana: There are still a few good SAs out there. When I stumble across them, I try to be as loyal as I can be to purchasing from them. I have my two guys at the SF Barney’s and my gal at the SF Saks. Looks like I found someone I like at Neiman’s, even if it’s just for the TF line. October 16, 2012 at 6:44pm Reply

        • Annikky: How I envy you for that! Tallinn has one department store with a really good selection (Lutens, Goutal, L’Artisan, Etro, Biehl, Amouage, Bond nr 9, even Xerjoff, plus of course the big houses) for such a province town. However, the SAs almost panic when you are browsing or buying something not entirely mainstream. They are not unfriendly or even pushy, simply totally bewildered. October 17, 2012 at 1:51am Reply

          • Gosia: Same here in Warsaw! They stare at you without comprehending what you ask. But I finally met one SA lady who is as passionate about perfume as me. October 17, 2012 at 5:51am Reply

        • Victoria: Sounds like you’re set with great SA help. :) I do the same thing. The SA job is so tough, and they are not getting the proper training from their managers, hence their inability to help us. But when I meet someone passionate and motivated, I stay loyal to them. October 17, 2012 at 11:11am Reply

  • Phyllis Ann Iervello: Well, perhaps I won’t even try it for fear of wanting it. I already have two of the older Tom Fords–Japan Noir and Bois Rouge. I have had them since they came out and didn’t even know they were categorized as “masculine”. I just think they are interesting and sexy. October 16, 2012 at 6:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, you’re set with Tom Ford’s Habit Rouge fantasies then. At least for now. :) I also like those two Private Blends very much, especially Japon Noir. I don’t think that they are categorized as masculine, because the Private Blend collection tends to be fairly lax on that. The more mainstream line is a bit clearer on the division for marketing reasons. But for practical ones, it doesn’t really matter. Anyone can wear Grey Vetiver, White Patchouli and Tom Ford Noir. October 16, 2012 at 6:26pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: Looks like a trip to Nordstrom is in the very near future. This Noir sounds wonderful and I’m really looking forward to trying Volutes. Thanks! October 16, 2012 at 7:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Both would make great fragrances for fall/winter. I like Volutes ok, but if a bottle fell into my lap, I would wear it happily. With Tom Ford Noir, I’m already making a room in our budget for it. :) October 17, 2012 at 11:13am Reply

  • Amer: Your review got me drooling again. Are you part of the global conspiracy to drive me bankrupt? Gillotin you say? What a name! October 16, 2012 at 8:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: :) I could post a bunch of negative reviews (and I do time to time), but lately the time for writing has been so limited that I’m selecting to focus on things that I like. Writing about boring perfumes isn’t fun. October 17, 2012 at 11:15am Reply

      • Amer: I feel you but I laugh more often with the negative ones. In a way they are good for me October 17, 2012 at 5:50pm Reply

  • Henrique Brito: There must be something really Guerlain on this one, because you are the second to make this link. Kevin from Nstperfume also did, but he noticed similarties with Jicky. Now i’m intrigued October 17, 2012 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Well, Jicky is a father of Shalimar, and Shalimar is a father of Habit Rouge. They are all in the same family. :) October 17, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

      • Henrique Brito: A beautiful family, btw :) October 17, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Daisy: That does sound nice. Perfect for the season! October 17, 2012 at 8:50pm Reply

  • eminere: Interesting how this is polarising all the reviewers. October 18, 2012 at 5:46pm Reply

  • Katie Puckrik: Heard that, sister: if the heartless wielders of Bleu and One Million would lay down their arms (so to speak) in exchange for Tom Ford Noir, I would cry tears of gratitude. I prefer it when men smell snuggly instead of sneezy or cheesey. November 11, 2012 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Juraj: I really like your comments abotu Tom Ford Noir. Despite some accusations that’s too similar to some other fragrances, I find it very beautiful, opulent, smoky. Perfect balance for a elegant seducer.

    Juraj November 14, 2012 at 8:31am Reply

  • Icetea: haha i am a shalimar fan too…i smelled this few weeks ago in our company’s fine fragrance smelling session…i mistook this as shalimar initially…i really hope guys will love this one rather than the boring sports, clean perfumes!yucks! March 14, 2013 at 1:37am Reply

  • Maureen: Are you kidding me?! For men!? I have a sample of this Tom Ford Noir. I sprayed it all over myself and I am in love. I am keeping this for moi. May 30, 2013 at 11:23am Reply

    • Victoria: :) It’s too good to be left for boys only! May 30, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

  • Rose: Thanks Vitoria for this review. I bought this just like you mentioned as a gift to my husband, but he seems to be enamored with Theirry Mugler’s Cologne right now, so more for me! I loved the top notes and then about a couple of hours into it I was peeved that it did not last that long as I could barely smell it on me. Half an hour later. it surprised me when I moved my wrist close to my face unintentionally with this gorgeous dry down. I loooove this surprising dry down. I had to come and search your blog to read your opinion. I have to try Habit Rouge now!
    FYI thanks for your email about the courses in Cinquième Sens. Their semester already started and I felt I should do some self learning before I join a course, just so I am more familiar with the vocabulary, being an utter novice. So I am reading Luca Turin and Jean Claude Ellena and everything else I can get a hold of at my library. June 5, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Yay! I’m glad to hear it, Rose, and I know that once you start the course, you will be a star student. :) June 5, 2013 at 12:35pm Reply

  • marios: Hi Victoria, i fully agree with the comment of bleu de chanel and 1 million…my god, sometimes i feel there are no any other perfumes. about noir, i love habit rouge, jucky and mouchouir and would like to know if noir worths the purchase. i never smelled it because we dont have it, i will order it on line. what do you say? shall i do it or not? it worths the purchase? is it manly perfume or unisex-feminine? July 24, 2013 at 4:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Why not get a sample from one of the decanting sites like Surrender to Chance first? I don’t recommend blind purchases, especially when we talk about such an expensive perfume. July 24, 2013 at 6:04am Reply

      • marios: I didnt know about that side…thanks its great…i order some samples…will see!! July 24, 2013 at 8:05am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I got a sample of Tom Ford Noir and love it—I love drama in my perfume. But I would not buy it if the civet is natural. Do you know wheter it is? September 20, 2013 at 6:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Unlikely. Natural animal materials are highly restricted. September 20, 2013 at 6:06am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you for answering! That perfume is no. 2 on my list now, after Iris Silver Mist/ September 20, 2013 at 7:06am Reply

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