Tom Ford Velvet Orchid : Fragrance Review

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Big, bold, sexy? Elisa is not convinced.

You can learn a lot from reading the comments on perfume blogs. Recently, I learned the term “freakum dress” from a woman who commented that she was searching for a “freakum perfume.” I had to look up the term on Urban Dictionary: “similar to a ‘lil Black dress’…A HOT ass dress that demands ones attention!”

tom ford

I think Tom Ford decided that his mid-range line needed a freakum perfume: something loud and sexy for 20-somethings to wear when they go out clubbing. Unfortunately, it got interpreted as “cheap floriental.” I’ve generally respected Tom Ford’s releases even when I didn’t want to wear them, but with Velvet Orchid, I’m having trouble making eye contact.

Velvet Orchid opens with a big, tacky candy note – an off-putting homage to all the fruity-floral-gourmand releases of the past 10 years. After a few minutes, that begins to subside, revealing a very sweet, buttery white floral accord, somewhat in the style of Fracas. But unlike Robert Piguet Fracas, which is Jessica Rabbit–voluptuous, it feels skeletal. In fact, the impression of actual flowers fades quickly. While it lasts, it approximates tuberose and orange blossom. Velvet Orchid quickly races onto a generic balsamic base with a lingering fruitiness.

From a distance, Velvet Orchid does at moments give a kind of “femme fatale” impression. But up close, all the weaknesses of the materials are exposed – there’s a harsh, plasticky note I detect in many recent mainstream fragrances, and it feels as though they tried to make up for the lack of naturals with extra sugar. The musky notes meant to give it body and projection just remind me of hair products.

If you’re in the market for a “freakum dress” perfume, I suggest Narciso Rodriguez for Her, Gucci Rush, or Dior Addict, which flirt with vulgarity but still smell good. (In addition, they’ll all cost you less.)

Tom Ford Velvet Orchid includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, rum, honey, orchid, rose, jasmine, orange blossom, narcissus, hyacinth, heliotrope, Peru balsam, myrrh, labdanum, sandalwood, suede, and vanilla. It’s available at Sephora for $112, 1.7 oz/50 ml or $159, 3.4 oz/100 ml.

Do you have other suggestions for big, dramatic and fun perfumes?

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121 Comments

  • The Blue Squid: Ha! I really enjoy the song “Freakum Dress” by Beyoncé, so I feel compelled to comment. You can’t go past Rush, I agree. I have also been enjoying the intense vulgarity of Deliria, from L’Artisan. Metallic alcoholic pineapple, with the smell of a sponge cake mixed in somehow! Loving it! Thanks for a fun review, Elisa, and enjoy the holiday break, if you get one. I will approach VO with caution this Christmas. December 22, 2014 at 7:26am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Blue Squid! I am indeed taking a little break and really looking forward to it! Starts tomorrow 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 9:02am Reply

  • Sofie: Freakum list of notes… December 22, 2014 at 7:42am Reply

    • Elisa: I actually wish I got the rum note more — I love the smell of rum. December 22, 2014 at 9:05am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Elisa! Try Idole (Lubin); Yohoho it’s a bottle of rum and a very beautiful leather drydown. December 23, 2014 at 3:02am Reply

        • Elisa: That’s been on my to-try list forever! December 23, 2014 at 9:27am Reply

  • zari: I don’t like Velvet Orchid, and don’t care for Black Orchid. But I am always surprised at the characterization of scent as “vulgar”. This is one of the words scent reviewers use from time to time that really at the end of the day is more subjective than anything else and don’t really describe the scent. Sorry to say this! Thanks for the review despite that. December 22, 2014 at 7:43am Reply

    • Victoria: When I see it in the context of a perfume review, I take it to mean “over the top,” “brash,” “ostentatious,” “flamboyant.” Sometimes people use it as a short-hand for “I didn’t like it,” but it is not the case in Elisa’s comment. It is subjective, of course, but so are the “positive” perfume review adjectives like “elegant” or “sophisticated.” December 22, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

      • Danaki: I guess it might be because ‘vulgar’ is a little more offensive than say ‘over the top’. Mind you, no one should take offense from a perfume review, precisely because it is all subjective and personal (that’s why I like reading honest online review of perfume rather than sanitized print).

        As a perfume lover, I would say that every collection should have at least one ‘vulgar’ scent, although I probably own three (Angel, Agent Provocateur edp, JHAG Calamity J), as well as NR for Her…oh yes.

        It can’t always be iris and magnolia! December 22, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

        • Elisa: Angel is perhaps the ultimate vulgar perfume! December 22, 2014 at 9:05am Reply

        • Victoria: Can’t agree more! Otherwise, things get too predictable. 🙂 Mine would be Chopard Casmir, Angel, Insolence and Tresor (although in the reformulated version, it’s much tamer and softer.) December 22, 2014 at 9:19am Reply

          • Danaki: Ooh..must try Chopard Casmir next time. The naughty girl inside me (who is loud and brash, with far too long nails and teased hair) is crying out for Insolence. December 22, 2014 at 9:36am Reply

            • Victoria: Mine also wears leopard print shoes with 6 inch platform heels. 🙂

              Actually, “flirting with vulgarity” could be a fun topic for a post. All of this talk made me reach for Shocking tonight. Which is for me another over the top, vulgar in a good way perfume. December 22, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

              • Elisa: Yes, I’ve been wanting to write a post on “freakum dress” perfumes! December 22, 2014 at 12:39pm Reply

                • Victoria: Perfect! Something to consider for the next year, then. 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 1:07pm Reply

                • Michaela: Nice idea! 🙂
                  This reminds me of ‘That Slut Tocade’ https://museinwoodenshoes.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/perfume-review-rochas-tocade/ December 23, 2014 at 4:07am Reply

                • Gentiana: Good Idea, dear Elisa !!! My first perfume “on the edge” was Hypnotic Poison… My Mom, when I gave her my wrist to smell it, said: “very carnal, near to vulgar… I hope you won’t use this perfume.. it is a vamp’s fragrance !!!”
                  My ultimate “freakum” is Nasomatto’s Narcotic Venus – I think I told the story somewhere in BdJ’s thread of tuberose perfumes (?)
                  Velvet Orchid didn’t impress me… It shares similarities with Black Orchid, but somehow “tamer” (let’s say the word : Bland). Black Orchid is a scrubber on me. February 2, 2015 at 9:48am Reply

                  • Elisa: A vamp’s fragrance! I love it. February 2, 2015 at 9:51am Reply

          • Nora Szekely: Casmir and Insolence Edp are mine go-to scents when I want to feel I bring them all to their knees. Audacious things. Love them. December 22, 2014 at 2:26pm Reply

            • Elisa: So many votes for Casmir today! I need to revisit it! December 22, 2014 at 2:40pm Reply

              • Patricia: If you need any, let me know. I just bought a back-up bottle! December 22, 2014 at 7:48pm Reply

        • zari: I didn’t realize my comment conveyed offense taken. Let me remedy that by saying no offense was taken!

          I see what you’re saying Victoria, and Danaki. My comment simply meant to say exactly that – words like “sophisticated” and “over the top” do mean something despite also being constructs like “vulgar”. We generally have a baseline of sophisticated means for example – refined, of taste, maybe with some old money, etc.

          What does vulgar mean? In English usage vulgar connotates things related to bad behavior/words/acts – does scent convey that?

          Again let me disclaim – I am trying to engage in a real discussion about the usage of this word in the context of our senses, especially in the 21st century, and not offended by or criticizing Elisa as a reviewer (or a person). December 23, 2014 at 12:46am Reply

          • Victoria: Zari, I see what you’re saying, but in English, vulgar also means “ostentatious, flamboyant, overdone, showy, gaudy, garish, brassy, kitsch, kitschy, tinselly, loud, flashy, tacky.” Which is a perfect way to describe many perfumes (and many of my personal favorites.)

            P.S. Vulgar can also mean something lewd or obscene, as in “he made a vulgar gesture,” but I doubt this meaning ever comes up in perfume reviews. Although in case of Tom Ford’s ads it would be perfectly applicable. December 23, 2014 at 4:13am Reply

        • Judith: I think the vulgarity is in the wrong notes being OTT, the ones with the least complexity and quickest grab rate perhaps. I just made that up, grab rate. Another way of looking at it is as a perfume to wear on the pull, which Elisa hinted at. Maybe the vulgarity of perfumes is really code for ‘indicates sexual availability without strings’. December 24, 2014 at 5:30pm Reply

      • Elisa: I’ll echo Victoria and note that in this review, I used “flirt with vulgarity” in a positive way! December 22, 2014 at 9:04am Reply

        • zari: Hi Elisa,
          No worries, it doesn’t matter if you used in a positive or negative way! I am just interested in the use of the term, thus my comment.

          It is unfortunate the automatic assumption here has been that I was criticizing you, was offended by your review, or upset, or etc. December 23, 2014 at 12:59am Reply

          • Sofie: You know, I think this discussion is wonderful. Didn’t we just have that interesting post about scent in language, and here we are, having a civilized discussion about words and meaning and context. Isn’t this exactlywhat we need? December 23, 2014 at 9:12am Reply

            • zari: Sofie, thank you for understanding where I am coming/what I was trying to say. Happy holidays! December 23, 2014 at 9:13am Reply

              • Sofie: 🙂 well, to be fair, I misunderstood too, at first. I’m glad you came back and calmly explained though. I really do think discussions like these are healthy.
                Happy holidays for you too! December 23, 2014 at 9:41am Reply

          • Elisa: No offense taken at all, Zari. I think we just disagree — to me “vulgar” and “sophisticated” are equally meaningful as long as they are supported by more specific descriptions in context. December 23, 2014 at 9:29am Reply

    • Erin T: I don’t mean to be rude, Z, but I don’t agree with your comment at all. As Victoria indicated, Elisa was quite explicit about what she found vulgar and/or tacky about how the notes of the TF scent were handled, and it’s clear from her comment about NR for Her, Rush, etc. that she was *praising* these scents for their over-the-top qualities. I find it humorous that perfumistas are sometimes offended by “subjective” remarks only if the adjective has any possibly negative connotation – you very rarely ever see people complaining about descriptions that include words like “chic” or “elegant” or “sublime”, which don’t describe notes either. December 22, 2014 at 9:39am Reply

      • Elisa: Thank you, Erin — also important to note that many notes can smell completely different depending on what facets are played up. So you could have an elegant rose or a vulgar rose (there’s room in my collection for both). December 22, 2014 at 9:42am Reply

      • zari: No worries, you are not being rude by disagreeing! December 23, 2014 at 12:49am Reply

    • Rebecca: I will admit here that I like the Luca Turin Guide for the cruel and witty reviews. I sometimes reread it at bed time and still chuckle out loud. Although some perfumes I love were panned in the harshest of terms, it has not changed my preferences. His opinion, after all, is only that and these are fragrances, not people. In particular, I get a huge kick out of spritzing Chanel Gardenia and remembering that it is described in the guide as (approximately) “loud airport toilet floral.” Ouch and a smile. December 22, 2014 at 10:03am Reply

      • Elisa: I too love Turin’s really cruel reviews, even when I don’t agree. December 22, 2014 at 10:05am Reply

  • Michaela: Thank you, Elisa, a lot, for this review! I highly appreciate the total lack of snobbery of all the contributors on this blog. I need 5 stars reviews as much as 1 star reviews; a good review is a very good guide. A scent is a scent, good or bad, under any name. I love your description of this perfume, and I loved to find out why you don’t like it. I won’t like it, either, for sure (yes, probably I’m a bit of a snob, and I won’t like it, reading your review before trying it), but now I got curious and I will try it when I meet it, just to make sure about its character. December 22, 2014 at 8:03am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you so much Michaela! I do think this scent has its fans, and I had to try it several times to be sure I was smelling the same thing as everyone else. But the sweetness and the butteriness ooked me out every time… December 22, 2014 at 9:07am Reply

      • limegreen: I agree whole-heartedly with Michaela about the honesty and wit of the BdJ reviews!
        I found Velvet Orchid more palpable on my skin than Black Orchid but I guess that’s damning it with faint praise. I confess I tried VO because of the shiny gleaming purple bottle. 🙂 It wasn’t a scrubber but did not live up to the bottle’s lure.
        I tried the new Patchouli Absolu — it’s worth trying just so one can experience what a $200 patchouli smells like. December 22, 2014 at 11:08am Reply

        • Elisa: Ah, the bottle is gorgeous, wish I liked the juice inside as much!

          And yes– the new patchouli one is really good. December 22, 2014 at 11:14am Reply

  • Patricia: Great review, Elisa. I got a chuckle and learned a new word!

    My favorite OTT fragrances are Agent Provocateur, JHAG Vengeance Extreme, and Chopard Casmir. Sounds like I don’t need Velvet Orchid…money saved! December 22, 2014 at 9:06am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks Pat! I love Agent Provocateur too — but I think it’s sophisticated enough to wear to work, even if it’s quite dirty in the drydown. (My coworkers may disagree!) December 22, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

  • Sun Mi: It’s so nice and refreshing to see an honest review. I’m glad I’m not the only one that didn’t care for this one, I was beginning to think I was crazy 🙂 (though to be fair I couldn’t bring myself to try it on skin). happy holidays to all! December 22, 2014 at 9:10am Reply

    • Elisa: I felt the same way Sun Mi — I was surprised that it got a generally positive reception because I thought it was awful. C’est la vie! December 22, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

      • Tara C: I thought it was awful too… horribly sweet fruity mess. More money saved! I bought Sahara Noir instead. 🙂 December 23, 2014 at 11:17pm Reply

        • Elisa: Good move, Tara! December 24, 2014 at 2:33pm Reply

  • Bastet: I didn’t care for Black Orchid or Velvet Orchid, to me they both have a note I can only describe as rotten or putrid. I do love some other Tom Ford fragrances, especially (of the ones I’ve tried so far) Violet Blond, Sahara Noir, Fleur de Chine, and Shanghai Lily.

    Insolence EDP is my favorite “flirt with vulgarity” perfume. December 22, 2014 at 9:20am Reply

    • Elisa: I love several other TF’s too — in particular Noir de Noir, and I’ve recently been enjoying Plum Japonais. Sahara Noir is delicious as well, and I want to spend more time with the new Patchouli one.

      I love Insolence! December 22, 2014 at 9:25am Reply

    • spe: Both Insolence and Gucci Rush could read as vulgar, but I feel that my only true vulgar fragrance is Hanae Mori parfum! I rather enjoy the concept of vulgar in perfumery. Ubar borders on vulgar to me as well and I’ve gone through many samples of it – to the point where I’m considering a purchase! VO was disappointing to me – I gave it multiple attempts, but it just doesn’t hold up with my chemistry. Thank you for the excellent and direct review! December 22, 2014 at 9:35am Reply

      • Elisa: I truly love Hanae Mori (reviewed it a while back: http://boisdejasmin.com/2014/08/hanae-mori-butterfly-perfume-review.html). That’s lactonic done right! December 22, 2014 at 9:41am Reply

      • Ann: Ha! I love Ubar…I prefer to refer to it as “big boned!” 😉 As in I am not fat, just big boned… Or even “fluffy” as in I’m not fat, just fluffy… December 22, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Ann: “tried to make up for lack of naturals with extra sugar…” Gosh, that describes a whole decade of esthetics. Great review and lots of fun! December 22, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

        • Ann: Oops. Meant that as a separate comment entirely… December 22, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

        • Elisa: Thanks Ann! December 22, 2014 at 12:32pm Reply

      • spe: Another possible vulgar that I like, but don’t own right now: Sun, Moon, and Stars! December 23, 2014 at 11:45am Reply

  • deborah: WOW, you are an excellent writer and evoke precise senses. Thank you! And, I will be avoiding this one 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 10:18am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you so much! December 22, 2014 at 10:21am Reply

  • DK: Love your review Elisa! I’ve only tried this once, but when I did it reminded me of fruit gums/sweets. December 22, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

    • Elisa: Yes — I often like fruity notes but I didn’t like the way they were handled here, too vague/fake. December 22, 2014 at 10:34am Reply

  • solanace: This sounds lame, thank you for the laugh.
    I love a good vulgar, like Angel. Perfume for me is all about going beyond my ordinary, hard working-home cooking busy routine, and I want my perfumes to be great, entertaining and yes, sexy. Life is too short for Jo Malone. Been wearing a lot of (the current bargain) Rochas Femme, which I discovered here. Love it to bits! Its chic and vulgar at the same time. Perfect, and so Lutensian. Also have to mention Putain des Palaces. This name! And I love the musky take on the familiar lipsticky rose-violet theme. Very vulgar, in the most lovely way. December 22, 2014 at 10:46am Reply

    • Elisa: Completely agree about Putain des Palaces — such a good name. And the musky leather accord is just SO SMUTTY! December 22, 2014 at 10:49am Reply

    • Danaki: YESS!! “Life is too short for Jo Malone”. Must be my favourite quote of the day! Love it! December 22, 2014 at 11:25am Reply

      • solanace: Isn’t it?? Give me a classic Guerlain, a Lutens or an Amouage any day! December 22, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

      • Michaela: Me, too! 🙂 December 23, 2014 at 4:12am Reply

    • Nora Szekely: I also discovered Femme recently and agree with your description. Anybody looking for a controversial yet wearable scent should give a try to the recent formula. I wish I could try the original though. December 22, 2014 at 2:56pm Reply

    • annemarie: I thought of Femme too. On me it wears fairly quietly but persistently, and makes me think of the sexy lingerie you might wear under your sensible or demure outer clothes. Your own little secret. 🙂 That’s quite different to the overt sexual message that Velvet Orchid apparently sense (I have not tried it). December 22, 2014 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Lynley: Well, im just going to put my 2cents worth in and seeing there’s a disagreeing vibe going on 😉 – im just going to disagree! I havent given VO a lot of skin time as the weather warmed up, but when i did wear it i found it quite lovely and smooth, and not at all chemical and vulgar! Interesting. Ill take more notice next time i try it, but as a rule, i find Tom Ford’s signature line rather well done and not cheap-smelling, and this one wasnt an exception.

    But thanks for the review Elisa, i always enjoy reading fun, intelligent reviews even if i dont agree 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 11:20am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks for chiming in! I knew someone would have to disagree with me before long. 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 11:25am Reply

    • Betsy: I have to agree, I like this one too! I purchased VO before Christmas as a gift to myself, a fragrance style I have never gone for previously. I have to say I love it. I wore heavily to a holiday party and kept getting wafts of myself not knowing it was the VO and it smelled heavenly. And!…the host of the party would not let go of me saying goodbye and said I smelled great! December 26, 2014 at 11:22am Reply

  • Catherine: My mom bought a bottle of Velvet Orchid for me recently and I enjoy it. For the record, I’m a 36-year-old stay-at-home-mom, with what I consider to be a more refined taste in perfume. I don’t agree with the description that this scent is vulgar or tacky, but it definitely doesn’t last. I put it on in the morning after my shower, and by lunch, I can’t smell it at all. That was disappointing. I have worn Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde in the past, and to me, that is a much sexier scent. December 22, 2014 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Elisa: I personally wouldn’t want this one to last very long on me, but I appreciate the dissenting view points! I like lots of perfumes that other people hate (such as Angel for example), and vulgarity has its place 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 12:34pm Reply

      • Catherine: Ha ha! 🙂 Insolence has always been one of my very favorites, though I didn’t like Miss Insolence as much. Maybe I’m just drawn to vulgar scents. I kind of like that idea, especially when I look like all the other moms in my neighborhood. It’s a quiet little way to rebel. December 22, 2014 at 12:50pm Reply

        • Catherine: *My Insolence, oops. December 22, 2014 at 12:56pm Reply

        • Elisa: That’s another great idea for an article — rebellion scents! December 22, 2014 at 1:10pm Reply

  • Courant: Cuir Amethyste satisfies my freakum perfume desires, love the stuff. There hasn’t been a bombshell perfume for a while. What will the next freakum/bombshell/gamechanger perfume contain? Is there anything new between heaven and earth? December 22, 2014 at 1:57pm Reply

    • Elisa: I guess they’re still inventing new scent molecules, so maybe some brand-new, incredibly “freakum” material will emerge! December 22, 2014 at 2:06pm Reply

  • Alicia: I really have no idea of what is a freakum dress, but if it is an over the top sexy attire, I don’t perceive the analogy with VO. I happen to like Black Orchid, which in my opinion is much more over the top and glamorously dark than her new orchid sister. VO is softer, milder, and not dark at all. It seems to me a more casual, daytime fragrance, a sort of sweet jsmine infused vanilla. I don’t dislike it, but neither I like it enough to add it to my collection. I don’t find it particulaely vulgar; it simply is not unique enough to pay it much attention. December 22, 2014 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Elisa: I definitely prefer Black Orchid to Velvet Orchid, though I’ve never been moved to buy a bottle. I generally tend to think florientals read as sexy nighttime perfumes though. December 22, 2014 at 2:11pm Reply

  • Sarah: So funny! I got a full-size sample bottle of this through work, and can’t bear the thought of the scent. But neither can anyone else; it seems such a waste to toss it, but no one I have offered it to have wanted it either. Finally managed to pass it off to my stepbrother as an unwrapped “not really a present, but if your girlfriend likes it, keep it”- kind of extra gift. I don’t think he knows what he accepted. But at least it’s off my hands. December 22, 2014 at 2:23pm Reply

    • Elisa: Too funny. I saw a lot of beauty bloggers/vloggers were naming this as one of their beauty favorites this year, but they’re all at least a decade younger than me … maybe I’m just too old for this one! December 22, 2014 at 2:25pm Reply

      • Sarah: I don’t know, Elisa, even my 19-year old stepdaughters took a pass on this one. I don’t think its an age thing — shouldn’t a child of the 80s like myself like it then? I thought of offering it to my office mate who was looking for a last-minute gift for his wife, but was too afraid of ruining my reputation as the woman who makes his relationship better by handing off surplus men’s fragrance, restaurant tips and ideas for gifts to wifey. December 23, 2014 at 10:36am Reply

    • Julie: So, call me crazy, but I like this one. I’ve really actually want a bottle!!! My darling loves it on me.
      If his girlfriend doesn’t like it I will be more than happy to take it off your hands! December 23, 2014 at 9:32am Reply

  • angeldiva: Talk about vulgar. Tom Fords perfume print ads are sexist and extremely pornographic. (Google them) Many were banned in some European countries.
    I don’t test his perfume, I don’t buy his perfume.
    P. December 22, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

    • Elisa: Perfume ads in general tend to be outrageously sexist. Kind of bizarre, selling perfume to women with images of naked women? December 22, 2014 at 2:59pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Hi Elisa,
        I think I can tolerate many images used to sell perfume. Over the years some of these ads were just breathtaking.
        There are two Tom Ford ads that I can’t get past; The spread eagle shaved labia shot
        & the perfume cards protruding from the naked models’ anus while Tom Ford hovers over her sniffing them
        I’ll spend my very hard earned money elsewhere.
        Peace December 22, 2014 at 4:48pm Reply

        • Elisa: That’s rather shocking. Yuck December 22, 2014 at 4:56pm Reply

          • angeldiva: Well,
            It’s not your fault! They can be easily viewed by googling: images tom ford perfume ads…

            ’nuff said… December 22, 2014 at 4:59pm Reply

        • Lynn Morgan: I had to jump on Google and check out the ads you refer to, and I must admit, I found them rather childish in their attempt to shock me since that is apparently damn near impossible. My reactions were as follows: bottle nestled between bare “breasts”- nice implants; bottle nestled in shaved crotch- looks uncomfortable; excessive body waxing is sooooo not sexy. As for the scent strips in the model’s butt crack, my immediate thought was “As if Tom Ford would ever get that close to a naked woman!” (Some disbelief cannot be suspended.) I was more offended by the ugly chick in the Violet Blonde ad with the gap between her buck teeth…. is that inbred hillbilly supposed to be prettier than most of the women seeing the ad? Not hardly. I think the point of the scantily clad, even naked women in these ads is that we are supposed to relate to them, to imagine ourselves as just as slinky, seductive, uninhibited, irresistible as they are. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. The ad I found the most erotic was the most subtle: the beautifully manicured hand caressing Tom Ford’s chest hair. Yum. I am only offended by nudity when it is ugly, grotesque or demeaning (none of those models looked battered, abused, bruised or ill-treated), but I respect that you feel otherwise. I think the Ford ads over-stepped good taste by trying too hard, but there is nothing inherently wrong with bare skin; I just wish more of it was male!

          To all the friends and fans of Bois de Jasmin- Happy Holidays, and a delightfully fragrant New Year!

          P.S. I also think Coco Noir and Annick Goutal’s Grand Amour are femme fatale scents. December 22, 2014 at 10:06pm Reply

          • Karen: It is fascinating to think of an ad company going – hmmm, what will make women go out and buy this perfume?, then coming up with those ads. My guess is they were thinking of men purchasing the perfumes for women.

            If I was thinking of buying any TF fragrances (was going through a Sahara Noir sample pretty quickly this past summer – and felt a bit rebellious for loving it during the hot weather), I actually would not purchase now after seeing the dopey ads.

            We vote with our money and there are too many glorious perfumes and perfumers worth supporting to support those using outdated and stupidly sexist ads.(At least if you are bothered by the ads.)

            Perhaps a good discussion? What ads have made you want to try a fragrance? Remember those peculiar Egoiste ones with doors slamming! December 23, 2014 at 5:53am Reply

            • Sofie: Overly sexualised ads annoy me. And I agree, why adverise a women’s perfume with male gaze viewpoint visuals? What strikes me most is that quite a few of those pictures conjure up a scentless idea to me. So, no smell and staged ‘dirtyness’ = not sexy at all… The Dolce and Gabbana ads can be annoying as well, but at least I don’t perceive them as scentless.
              It’s all uninspiring though.
              I agree with your suggestion of a discussion. And also, wich ads have made people avoid perfumes. December 23, 2014 at 7:07am Reply

              • Sofie: Sorry, I’m tired, I’m not really making much sence of myself… About this scentless idea: that’s how I perceive ads that are plasticky, overly airbrushed, harsh light. Like mannequin dolls under a spotlight. And I find ads that go for the sex(uality)-in-your-face thing really, really uninspired and uninspiring. And that’s why they annoy me the most. Yes, sex sells, but do we have to sell everything under the sun with it? December 23, 2014 at 8:53am Reply

            • Elisa: My favorite perfume ads of all time are the old Dior print ads with the Rene Gruau illustrations. I’ve always wanted to find one as a poster. December 23, 2014 at 9:31am Reply

              • Sofie: Yes, those are great! December 23, 2014 at 9:54am Reply

                • Karen: I went looking at vintage L’heure Bleu ads trying to see if I could find some from the 70’s that inspired me as a teenager to buy it. Could not pinpoint any from that timeframe, but found the old ones so beautiful.

                  While I understand that what companies are selling in their ads are idealized versions of what we perhaps aspire to or fantasize about being, it seems that frequently the obvious idea of beauty and grace are overlooked for provocative/overly sexual.

                  And provocative and loud are fine and good sometimes, but seem more prevalent in the past couple of years.

                  Wonder what would happen if a company started using gorgeous art work like the old Dior prints again? December 23, 2014 at 11:10am Reply

                  • Elisa: Yeah, I definitely don’t aspire to be an 18-year-old sexpot anymore. It definitely reveals who the target market for most fragrances is. December 23, 2014 at 11:18am Reply

                    • Karen: Right, but are the ones with the $$ to afford them? December 23, 2014 at 2:36pm

                  • Sofie: Another problem with going for that shock effect is desensitisation. People get used to harsh, provocative, ‘vulgar’ images. Look, I’m no prude, but I just can’t relate to this. And isn’t the point of ads to lure you in? A good ad should ‘catch’, seduce, spike an interest. That’s what those Dior prints do to me. But not yet another pretty teenager. Absolutely fine if you’re aiming for that market, but surely most of them can’t afford Tom Ford? It’s just as ridiculous as a teenager trying to sell a houndstooth Chanel jacket.
                    Also, about your comment Elisa, I wonder why teenagers are the main market target? Are they really the ones that spend the most amount of money on perfumes? Or maybe because older people tend to be more brand loyal? I’ve no idea, but would really like to find out. December 24, 2014 at 7:06am Reply

  • Hannah: Since the first paragraph is referring to me, in the song Freakum Dress by Beyonce, she says that when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, every once in a while you need to go to the back of your closet to get that freakum dress. So for me, it’s more like when I’m getting into a rut with the perfumes that I’ve had a long time, I can pull out this showstopper perfume. Right now I’m leaning towards Interlude Woman but I’m not sure I want to buy 50ml of it.
    I guess most people would associate it with a clubbing perfume.

    Whenever I try this, its during a big sniffing spree so I can’t remember it.
    My favorite from the Tom Ford line is Sahara Noir. December 22, 2014 at 4:32pm Reply

    • Elisa: Oh!! Thank you for clarifying! I see what you mean now, I hadn’t heard the song so I was just going off Urban Dictionary. Both meanings are useful categories for perfume!

      Sahara Noir is great; it reminds me of L’Air du Desert Morocain. December 22, 2014 at 4:43pm Reply

      • Karen: After posting my comment above about the ads and enjoying Sahara Noir, your comment about L’Air du Desert was perfect timing! Especially as I have a sample and just love it’s depth and beauty. December 23, 2014 at 5:57am Reply

  • Merlin: Something in Black Orchid just grates on me, and Velvet Orchid had that same effect! I have some of the older Addict by Dior and I would call that OTT. The same with Alien Essence Absolue, though I don’t yet own it… Perhaps CdGs Daphne has a larger than life feel? I think all of these feel like extrovert perfumes 🙂 December 22, 2014 at 7:59pm Reply

    • Elisa: That’s a good way to put it! I have one of the summer edition Aliens and it’s very va-va-voom. December 22, 2014 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: “Freakum perfume”???!!! I absolutely love it! My votes for the nastiest, smuttiest, most wreck-their-faces scents are the original Agent Provocateur (too filthy to wear to work, and definitely not a scent for hot weather), the original Opium (not the watered-down, re-formulated version), Lutens’ A la Nuit (although Luca Turin called it “Death by Jasmine” as if that was a bad thing), Carnal Flower (You really can’t
    beat a full-blown, full-bodied tuberose for femme fatale impact), Musc Ravageur, Hermes 24 Faubourg (I have had more men bury their noses in my neck to get another whiff of that than any other fragrance I have ever tried), Strange Invisible Perfumes’ Black Rosette (which smells exactly like Grace Jones singing “Warm Leatherette”), but I am not sure they still make it, Le Labo’s Musc 23, which smells like defiled innocence, and includes the single raunchiest note I have ever smelled in a perfume, and if you visit the boutique and ask to smell “Agent X” all on its own it will rock you back and you will continue to smell that nasty funk for the rest of the day), Black Orchid, which TF himself says he wanted to smell “like a man’s crotch” (memo to self: add “sniff Tom Ford” to your social climbing bucket list), Valentina (the truffle note grounds it in a deliciously earthy, expensive funkiness), BVULGARI’s Jasmin Noir (sexy, sexy, sexy; lots of warm vanilla), and the Diana Vreeland-inspired scent, Simply Divine is a heady, narcotic bouquet of white flowers that is on the edge of being too much. I recently smelled a scent called “Diaghelev” after the Russian ballet impresario, by Roja. It is an emphatically animalic, unapologetically nasty combination of body funk and incense (patchouli, myrrh and sandalwood, perhaps) and spices like turmeric… it smells like you just had sex in a church pew. I thought it was amazing: provocative, fun and filthy, but the $1100 price tag was more than my poor little Neiman-Marcus card could bear, but I can’t imagine a better fragrance to wear when you aren’t wearing anything else except a great pair of earrings and an inviting smile. December 22, 2014 at 9:34pm Reply

    • Elisa: LM, your comment entertained me so much! Have you tried Absolue pour le Soir? I think it’s right up your alley, gets very raunchy in the drydown. In general I think big white flowers are man magnets. December 23, 2014 at 9:20am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I have a bad cold now, but as soon as it is gone, I am off to try that Velvet Orchid. I love Black Orchid, maybe this one too. Vulgar? Never mind, I am a lady. December 23, 2014 at 3:09am Reply

    • Elisa: Please report back when you do! December 23, 2014 at 9:20am Reply

  • Aurora: A one star review what fun!

    I for one am always delighted when Victoria or you Elisa, or other writers on this blog, go all out on a five star or one star limb.

    It obviously triggers strong reactions from readers and that’s fun too.

    BdJ is my filter for the ever more bewildering array of scents that are released every year. Reviews are always well supported by arguments and well-rounded descriptions, as in this excellent eg., and for me the ‘harsh plasticky note’ and ‘generic balsamic base’ are the damning words for Velvet Orchid.

    I was so pleased to see the comment by Lynn referrring to Valentina which I like very much, weird notes and all, and I also enjoy the tamer Valentina Aqua Floreale which hadn’t impressed Victoria, and I own it and find it a good orange flower perfume – I reach for it when my mind goes blank and I wish for comfort and something simply pretty. Victoria always builds my confidence by saying that if we like something we should go for it and that’s another reason why I adore this blog. December 23, 2014 at 6:36am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks so much Aurora! I also am always thrilled by 1- or 5-star reviews, and I love the community here so much. December 23, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

  • Andy: I had the same experience of this perfume–I smelled it on my friend the other night, and from a distance, I thought it seemed kind of interesting. Then I requested the wrist, to get a better sniff, and I was utterly disappointed. I’m smelling Velvet Orchid from a sample on my skin right now, and I’m already bored! 🙂 December 23, 2014 at 8:35am Reply

    • Elisa: Oh, glad to see we agree Andy! It seems like it was designed to smell from 4 feet away, doesn’t it? December 23, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

  • Figuier: Thanks for the review, Elisa! I have to admit I’m disappointed to hear it didn’t live up to the original Black Orchid, which is definitely OTT and vulgar-ish but also quite wonderful, with its weird cucumber/chocolate vibe. I was hoping this latest flanker would be more of the same…& Tom Ford usually does ‘big’ perfumes so well – Sahara Noir was fantastic I thought (though I probably won’t buy it). December 23, 2014 at 9:01am Reply

    • Elisa: Black Orchid has almost become a classic on the sly, but I don’t see that happening with this one. December 23, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

  • Carla: I remember seeing this in a Garance Dore Pinterest/shopping cart post and once again I threw up my hands in disbelief at the disconnect between fashion – Garance dresses so chic – and perfume. Almost every perfume Garance has mentioned I hate and yet I love her dressing style December 23, 2014 at 9:16am Reply

    • Elisa: I love her dressing style too! It seems like she should be wearing something very chic on the perfume side, possibly unisex, like Eau Sauvage. December 23, 2014 at 9:24am Reply

  • Sofie: Say Elisa, I assume the price isn’t meant for ml? Otherwise Tom Ford is really raising the bar 😛 December 23, 2014 at 9:47am Reply

    • Elisa: Ha! You are correct, that should read oz! It’s 1.7 oz/50 ml, of course. I’ll ask Victoria to correct. 🙂 December 23, 2014 at 9:51am Reply

  • Mileta: Back to the ads discussion – whoever was in charge of naming this perfume clearly did not communicate with whoever was in charge of the ads. Where’s the velvet? All I see is a naked girl sprawled on some cheap fluorescent purple-lit shiny saran wrap. Hello Tom? Are you there? Since when did velvet become plastic? December 27, 2014 at 12:48am Reply

    • Elisa: I wish it was a closeup of a flower — you know how flower petals can look velvety? December 27, 2014 at 3:14pm Reply

      • Mileta: Yes! and then maybe it would look less clubby. I wonder what would happen if a girl wore Shalimar to a club – big, dramatic and fun, or on the verge of blasphemy? December 28, 2014 at 12:02am Reply

        • Elisa: It would probably just get drowned out by all the clubby scents and smoke machines 🙂 December 28, 2014 at 10:49am Reply

  • Tijana: Thanks for the review Elisa, I am finally getting around to commenting On the last batch of articles. I hope you are having a lovely holiday season!

    Anyhow, I kind of jumped on the bandwagon of this one and bought it without properly testing as soon as it came out, as I gave my Black Orchid to my hubby and thought this would be more appropriate for me. It’s been sitting on my shelf semi-unloved. I feel I need to spritz it because I bought it, and I don’t hate it, but I am just not loving it either… I think I learned my lesson with this one! No more splurge buys! December 29, 2014 at 7:53pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’ve made that mistake too….maybe you can swap it for something you love more! December 29, 2014 at 8:21pm Reply

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