Tom Ford Private Blend Champaca Absolute : Perfume Review

Champaca absolute

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

One of the most gorgeous raw materials I have come across is magnolia absolute by Laboratoire Monique Rémy. It is a beautifully contrasted note: its herbal top reminiscent of lavender and spicy green leaves gives way to a surprisingly luscious core of jasmine and apricot. Magnolia absolute is such a striking, dramatic note that it works well as part of a rich oriental blend a la Guerlain L’Instant, as well as in light florals and even colognes like Eau d’Italie Magnolia Romana. While I still have not found a well-crafted magnolia soliflore, there are a few fragrances that use it to a memorable effect. One such example is Champaca Absolute from Tom Ford Private Blend collection.

Despite its name, Champaca Absolute is not a soliflore—the magnolia note is part of a bouquet. Overall, it is a quite a striking blend, full of character and dramatic presence. Like many Private Blends, Champaca Absolute has a certain vintage glamour, yet without a self-conscious retro aesthetic. The richness of the composition is evident throughout: from the top accord, with its dried fruit and candied citrus nuances, to the sugared amber and vanilla base. Set against this gourmand cornucopia is a heady, luxurious floral composition. It suggests the indolic heft of jasmine, the spicy warmth of carnation and the petally radiance of magnolia. While magnolia is only an accent, it fits so beautifully that I forget about wanting a magnolia soliflore experience.

There is a point to the development of Champaca Absolute that reminds me strongly of Tom Ford Black Orchid, or rather what I wanted Black Orchid to be—an unapologetically rich, opulent floral. The late drydown of Champaca Absolute is my favorite part. The dramatic sensuality of the composition mellows down, leaving one with an intimate, warm veil of woods, incense and violets. It is certainly worth waiting for!

Private Blend Champaca Absolute by Tom Ford includes notes of Tokaji wine, cognac, bergamot, magnolia champaca, orchid, violet, jasmine, vanilla, amber, sandalwood and marron glacé. Private Blend fragrances are available from Tom Ford boutiques, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.



  • Marissa: I also like it very much, but at times I find it very heavy, almost overwhelming. I feel the same way about Black Orchid. September 20, 2010 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Sveta: I missed that one! Sounds very interesting and very good for fall, no? xoxo September 20, 2010 at 4:37pm Reply

  • violetnoir: V, isn’t this available at NM, too?

    It sounds beautiful, but I do dream of that perfect magnolia soliflore.
    Any suggestions?

    Hugs! I am so happy that you are posting on a regular basis. I missed you! September 20, 2010 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Karl: V, it’s funny, today I sprayed on what I thought was Arabian Wood. I just grabbed a Tom Ford sample vial from my sample box. Well, I should have looked closer. It turned out to be Champaca Absolute! Not something I would have chosen on purpose, but once it got to drydown, it worked surprisingly well on me. I even got a few compliments on it. :)) Not sure I would wear it on regular basis, but hey, accidents can lead to interesting discoveries.

    Ditto what Violetnoir said! It’s great to see your posts on regular basis. September 20, 2010 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Tom Ford reigns and rules! Now if only he would stop discontinuing private collection scents that make me swoon like Velvet Gardenia!

    If you are looking for a magnolia scent, check out Acqua di Parma’s “Magnolia Nobile”. It is a very soft, sweet, subtle fragrance; possibly too light for autumn, but charming, feminine and delightful nevertheless. I have loved it all summer long! September 20, 2010 at 7:31pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Marissa, you are right, it is quite a rich, heavy scent. I find it so myself. September 21, 2010 at 10:45am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Sveta, I think that it would work really well for fall. September 21, 2010 at 10:48am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, you are right, I forgot about Neimans. I will add it to my list.
    I agree with Lynn on Magnolia Nobile. It is one of the better magnolias. Too often it ends up smelling too lemony and too lily of the valley to be truly convincing. Magnolia Nobile is layered, radiant, complex. September 21, 2010 at 10:53am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Karl, wow, what a mistake! However, as long as the end result was not bad, it is ok. 🙂
    Thank you, I am working through my notes and putting them together. It is very enjoyable. September 21, 2010 at 10:56am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Lynn, I am still mourning my beloved velvet Gardenia, the only true gardenia out there. Of course, my bottle will last me for ages, but it is still sad that it is gone.
    Thank you for reminding me of Magnolia Nobile, a wonderful fragrance! I just put it on, and I am enjoying it very much. September 21, 2010 at 10:57am Reply

  • Mary: Nice post ! September 22, 2010 at 7:08am Reply

  • chayaruchama: We share the love of Velvet Gardenia- so nuanced !

    I succumbed to Champaca’s charms; it’s truly a warming thing, opulent and rich.

    So good to see you more frequently ! September 22, 2010 at 11:11am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Bereft gardenia lovers: try Kai. Especially the roll-on oil. It might be a touch heavy, but for those of us who adore gardenia- too much is barely a good start! Lol. Also, the Anje white flowers blend is gorgeous, and they do custom-blends at the Langham hotel in Pasadena so if it is not gardenia enough for you, it can be tweaked! Mwah! Mwah! Lynn September 22, 2010 at 7:58pm Reply

  • Joyti: I haven’t tried this one YET…but it sounds incredible. September 23, 2010 at 9:41pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Mary, thank you. September 27, 2010 at 9:50am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Chaya, I treasure my bottle of Velvet Gardenia. It is such a rich, complex blend. Very special.
    Glad to see more of you too! 🙂 September 27, 2010 at 9:51am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Lynn, I have to resample it. I did not care for it when I first tried, but it was some time ago. I will revisit for sure. Thank you! September 27, 2010 at 9:52am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Joyti, it is very unusual and worth sampling! September 27, 2010 at 9:52am Reply

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