Tom Ford Noir Extreme : Fragrance Review

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Elisa on Tom Ford Noir Extreme and olfactory desserts for men (and not only).

First there was Thierry Mugler Angel, widely credited with creating both the gourmand and “fruitchouli” categories; perfumer Olivier Cresp poured ethylmaltol – the smell of burnt sugar – into a patchouli-heavy oriental base, starting a craze for caramel in perfume that hasn’t much slowed in 20 years. Then came Angel’s counterpart A*Men, also released in 1996, making the world safe for gourmands for men. A*Men smelled shockingly like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but retained its masculinity thanks to lavender and plenty of that same earthy, mothball-like patchouli seen in Angel.

tom ford noir extreme

Since its release, it has spawned plenty of variations. In addition to all the A*Men flankers (including my favorite, A*Men Pure Malt), other gourmand-friendly lines like Hanae Mori and Viktor & Rolf have offered up sweet scents for men. Take HM (1997), a crazy but appealing mix of candy notes, lavender and lemon. Later, in 2000, came Lolita Lempicka au Masculin, a delicious licorice fougère. And the release of Spicebomb in 2012, with all its smoky, leathery tobacco goodness, felt like a masculine gourmand revival.

Tom Ford Noir Extreme is the latest dessert scent to hit the men’s shelves. It’s supposedly based on the idea of kulfi – an ice cream–like frozen dessert from India usually flavored with pistachio, rosewater, and spices like saffron and cardamom. Noir Extreme is not really as exotic as all that, but the overall impression is definitely gourmand. I don’t notice the particular character of pistachio so much as almond and tonka bean, with its hay or tobacco-like undertone. These combine with a little spice (I detect cinnamon) and a lot of balsams and end up smelling like a Coke float, or some kind of bastardized affogato – American coffee poured over Ben & Jerry’s. Fun!

But lurking behind this sweet, creamy, nutty mix – at first, you notice it most from a distance – is a surprising hit of menthol. Menthol as in Newport cigarettes, as in Vick’s VapoRub. This frosty, medicinal edge works like the patchouli in A*Men to say “Not so fast, you can’t eat me!” (It even made my arm feel cold.) With time, the foody effect wears off, and you’re left with an amber that is both lactonic and bracingly camphoraceous.

You can probably tell I was instantly fond of Noir Extreme, but it does have its drawbacks (I mean, aside from the name having nothing to do with anything; this perfume is not noir). The dissonance of the top notes doesn’t last very long, so you feel rushed along to the drydown. And while I like that drydown a lot, it’s not as rich and layered as my favorite gourmands pour homme – or the original Noir, for that matter. So this isn’t a rush-out-and-buy-now situation, but it did make me smile!

Tom Ford Noir Extreme includes notes of mandarin, saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, neroli, kulfi, mastic, rose, jasmine, orange blossom, amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. Available at major department stores.

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21 Comments

  • Sandra: “Not so fast, you can’t eat me”
    Love that line. Great review, I will give this a sniff.
    I am fond of Noir pour femme- sometimes when I spray it I think to myself this would also some delicious on a man as well. October 26, 2015 at 7:58am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks Sandra! I haven’t spent as much time with Noir pour Femme but my first impression was that it seemed quite likable. October 26, 2015 at 8:45am Reply

      • Sandra: Sometimes likable isn’t always a good thing in the perfume world 😉 October 26, 2015 at 9:05am Reply

        • Elisa: Haha, true!! But in this case, not a bad thing. 🙂 The amber drydown reminded me of Truth or Dare Naked, which I surprised myself by wearing a lot this past summer. October 26, 2015 at 9:07am Reply

  • spe: Great review! I actuality got queasy as I was reading. I dislike straight up gourmands, particularly for men. October 26, 2015 at 11:07am Reply

    • Elisa: Oh no, sorry for making you queasy! 🙂 I love gourmands for men but my man rarely wears them so they end up as gourmands for men for women around here… October 26, 2015 at 11:08am Reply

      • spe: Your writing is that good! It evokes a physiologic response! It sounds like your man and I have similar fragrance proclivities.

        Elisa, do you know which Tom Ford Noir for women has a white top? I spritzed that the other day and thought it might be worth another wear.

        Thank you! October 26, 2015 at 12:35pm Reply

        • Elisa: Hmm, I don’t think any of the Noirs have a white top. Tom Ford White Patchouli has a white bottle and top, could it be that one? October 26, 2015 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Aurora: I enjoyed very much the ‘pour homme’ gourmand context you give in your review. Victoria does this so well too.
    What I would find most appealing in this scent is the menthol counterpoint, but you qualify your praise by saying it rushes along to the drydown so that’s disappointing. I know only 2 Tom Ford,Fleur de Chine, thanks to Victoria’s review of it, and Violet Blonde and I loved these 2 well enough to acquire them. TF obviously likes the word noir but I feel he is using it too much, so that it loses any meaning. October 26, 2015 at 1:41pm Reply

    • Elisa: He really does love the word noir! He even has one called Noir de Noir (which is one of my favorites)

      I found that the menthol stood out more on some days than others. Worth trying and you might find that the good menthol-y part lasts longer on your skin. October 26, 2015 at 1:53pm Reply

  • katie1119: Thanks for a great review – when I first read about this I rushed and sent for a sample – and I was sort of disappointed….you are right – its not noir at all and to me it reminded me of Narciso – another tonka soft “amber” which I did buy but wont bother again. I so loved Black Orchid and I bought several bottles and I own Sahara Noir which really is noir! It deserves three stars but no more….sad really, October 26, 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hardly anything designated “noir” these days is actually dark and moody! October 26, 2015 at 1:53pm Reply

  • Debby: Sounds good. My husband wears A Men Pure Malt, it is just delicious! October 26, 2015 at 4:35pm Reply

    • Elisa: Isn’t it? I try to get my husband to wear it sometimes but it mostly ends up on me! October 26, 2015 at 4:52pm Reply

  • solanace: Nice review. I love wearing masculine gourmands myself, but this one lost me with the menthol. Wish someone could do a pistacchio note right… October 26, 2015 at 7:08pm Reply

    • Elisa: I had high hopes for that one Laura Mercier scent based on pistachio — but it turned into an Angel nightmare on my skin! And I mean, I like Angel, but it was scrub-worthy. October 26, 2015 at 7:37pm Reply

      • solanace: I tried the tinker bell petite robe noire, but could find no pistacchio there either… October 27, 2015 at 6:36pm Reply

  • sourav barik: hi, my name is sourav barik and i own perfumetrolley.in

    the content that is covered here is exceptional.

    i tried searching for a review for sahara noir by tom ford, but couldnt find it. would you review the perfume in the coming days? February 12, 2017 at 5:53pm Reply

  • sourav barik: also, would you please review some indian perfumes if possible? February 12, 2017 at 5:55pm Reply

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