When I went into Nordstrom a few weeks back to try the new Tom Ford Jardin Noir perfumes, the sales person proclaimed: “People are coming in and buying all four (perfumes) at the same time.” I said: “I hope they sniff them first!” The response: “Oh, no! They say ‘we love Tom Ford.’” The perfect Tom Ford Private Blend customers! If it says Tom Ford on the bottle and costs $200 to $500 a pop…you are “in!” (And buying the Private Blend perfumes is WAY cheaper than buying almost anything from Tom Ford’s clothing lines.)
If you read Tom Ford Private Blend reviews on this site, you’ll notice I’m probably the biggest fan of the line here at Now Smell This; the early perfumes in this line were interesting and I enjoyed more than a few of them. As the years passed, the perfumes kept coming, but they didn’t grab me like they used to. Robin has always thought the lower-priced “signature” Tom Ford line smells better than the Private Blends, and I’m beginning to come around to her way of smelling.
The nadir of the Private Blends was the White Musk collection; it took balls to put that stuff in bottles and charge $180 (old pricing) for 50 ml. Now there’s a challenger to the White Musk collection’s dullness – Jardin Noir.
Today I’m reviewing only one of the four perfumes — Jonquille de Nuit — but I’ll say that Café Rose reminds me of any number of Montale “ouds”; Ombre de Hyacinth smells like, but not better than, Mrs. Meyer's honeysuckle-scented hand soap (but with a dreary “man cologne” base) and Lys Fume is thin, almost screechy, and does NOT conjure a lily of any type. Tom Ford said these perfumes would present the “darker and less innocent aspects” of flowers so they “become so thrilling and beautiful, they could almost ruin you.” Exciting idea; bad execution.
Jonquille de Nuit contains notes of narcissus (presumably), “wild Alpine cyclamen,” acacia and angelica seeds, violet leaf, bitter orange leaf, orris and amber. I’m a huge lover of narcissus…my garden is full of narcissus in spring. Of all floral fragrance notes, a true narcissus note would make me swoon, and perhaps even “ruin” me…because, no matter the price, I’d need to buy a perfume that brings alive that scent.
When first sprayed on skin, Jonquille de Nuit does deliver a lively, indolic/pungent, sweet (almost to the point of decay) shot of ‘narcissus.’ I actually became excited and almost turned around on the street to go back to Nordstrom and buy a bottle. Thankfully, I decided to get in my car and drive home instead, letting the fragrance develop fully.
As Jonquille de Nuit’s opening notes change character (quickly), narcissus loses its “nuit” aspect (and touch of filth) and becomes lighter and even sweeter in character. The floral/ “narcissus” phase gives way to a note that’s jasmine-y with hints of iris (both of these flower notes smell artificial). In fact, this floral accord, that has endurance to spare, seems more like an entity than a blending of fragrance notes (is it an aroma-chemical with some name like Jasir-1001?) This note turns unpleasant the longer it sits on skin, with hints of overripe fruit, plastic and cheap make-up. The dry-down of Jonquille de Nuit is simply the diminishment of this one major accord (or note) with a smidgen of lightweight amber added.
Jonquille de Nuit was a disappointment. What started out promising became obnoxious (the lasting power and sillage of this fragrance are amazing). The fragrance seems geared towards a younger consumer (so SWEET — the perfume, not the consumer) and that consumer is female (no unisex vibe here).
Is there a new trend in perfumes, especially “luxury” ones like Tom Ford and Ramon Monegal: to present a thrilling or unusual opening note or accord that grabs the attention…and then dissipates super-fast, leaving behind nothing but inexpensive, ordinary-smelling formulas? For impulse buyers, this could be ruinous indeed!
Tom Ford Jardin Noir Eaux de Parfum are available in 50/250 ml ($205/$495).
Note: top image is Une jonquille sauvage [altered], via Wikimedia Commons.
This aspirational pricing is driving me nuts! The only private blend scent that I tried and liked was Tobacco Vanille and there are several cheaper smell alikes.Have you tried Patricia de Nicholai’s Le Temps d’une Fete for your narcissus fix? It has a beautiful green narcissus heart and is very reasonably priced
RVB. Thanks. I’ll give that one a try.
Kevin ! Great honest review here today ! I have always been interested in the private collection line but just can not love for the high price! Love spent and poor , I just don’t do well. Why is it that this collection falls short ? Will all the money, resources, talent they should be getting your praises! Not a dressing down! I have read your reviews on the musk line and it seems the same theme has followed through, overpriced averageness ! Hmmmm, come on Tom , I really hope Noir is great! I was gifted a bottle of Azuree Lime and it has a special place in my collection , I doubt I will own any of these, no matter how exciting they sound !
Sinner: I guess the last PB scent I liked was Santal Blush but still didn’t buy it. Haven’t sniffed the Noir yet or Lavender Palm
I feel that I can now safely miss this one now, thanks—but your review makes me wonder, what are some good narcissus scents out there? I like L’Artisan’s Fleur de Narcisse. I think Le Temps d’une Fete, which RVB mentioned above, is nice but I just don’t wear it. The Carons (Blanc and Noir) didn’t do much for me, but I think I’ve only smelled the reformulated versions.
Btw, I loved “…smells like, but not better than, Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle-scented hand soap.” Ouch!
Janice: the old Robert Piguet Bandit Light Pour Homme had a nice narcissus note (created by other notes, but still)…even Bandit gives me some ‘narcissus’, but overall…I’m hoping some readers will have a recommendation or two for me. Should have written that above.
Kevin, great review.
Yes, Tom Ford Private Collection IS expensive…. I like a few of the fragrances, but only bought miniature bottles.
Some salespeople are funny and irritating at the same time. I was always curious tho are the people “who just love Tom Ford” and buy four bottles of such expensive stuff .. Were they are millionaires?Maybe they were nuts?
behemot: nutty millionaires! Or, as many of the Nordstrom folk brag: “Well, the sports teams really give us lots of business!”
Thanks for the review. Sounds like a waste of a really good concept.
Not that I would ever see these anywhere near me anyway!
breathes: you’re welcome…all these group scents seem “rushed” or pinned together…nothing really “complete.”
I have a sample of it that I’ve been afraid to try for fear of falling in love. This review may have emboldened me and made my wallet climb out of the freezer
ffoodie: try it!
I tried this new Jonquille yesterday, Kevin, and had much the same reaction to it as you, but with one exception – it didn’t last very long on me, thankfully.
RW: you’re lucky…but I did put several sprays on myself and it got on my shirt too…I still smell it…seeping from the laundry basket.
Ever thought of wearing PdN Odalisque?
Donnie: I’ll have to look at my “notes” and see if I’ve tried that one.
For the narcissus effect from PdN, I’m thinking more along the line of Temps d’Une Fete.
OperaFan; that’s on my to-try list
Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle-scented hand soap! LT said it: as the functional fragrances get better and better, and the perfumes get cheaper and lazier, the lines on the graph will cross and we’ll have to get our fumie thrills from detergent rather than a perfume bottle. Toss your shirt in the dryer with a softener sheet in the morning and rather than spritzing on cologne.
Noz: becoming truer by the year!
Totally. I’ve sung the praises of caldrea sea salt neroli and basil blue sage in previous comments. These dish and laundry soaps are as good as any perfume carried by macy’s or sephora.
bluegardenia: Macy’s selection is pretty dismal
Seriously. I was lucky enough to be introduced to aedes and barneys at a young age, so any time I smell a mainstream or mass market perfume I gag a little bit.
Kevin, I think I would prefer the Mrs. Meyers to the Ombre de Hyacinth. I was blown away (and not in a good way) it–insanely lackluster and cheap-smelling. Functional fragrance is right. I think this is why I’ve stopped trying many new things, and have been shopping my own collection instead for the past year.
Miss K V: I find myself doing the same thing: restocking old favorites…never finding much new to buy.
Hmm … just when I thought you actually liked a fragrance …
I tested the entire Private Blend range in Vienna last week but alas! I only really bonded with Tuscan Leather and the surprisingly lovely White Suede. But at 185 EUR (close to 250 USD) for 50 ml there was no sale. As the lovely Viennese sales assistant said – waving a disdainful hand – “no fragrance is worth so much money”. That’s European sales assistants for you. LOL
NG: refreshing attitude!
Another fragrance collection that won’t be available around here…
L: the brand is slowly spreading…so you never know
Maybe those buyers who bought all four at once were a creation of the sales associate’s imagination.
P.S. I love Mrs. Meyers products.
Dilana: me too!
I’ve been left curiously un-moved by Tom Ford fragrances overall. I love Black Orchid which I have worn for years, but after that, I struggle to find things within the PB range which I love enough to buy, of which Italian Cypress is probably my favourite. Neroli Portofino was a real meah effort and I was unimpressed by Santal Blush too.
Is Tom Ford more about “being Tom Ford” these days and less about the craft that got him started in the first place I wonder…
HDS: who knows? He puts out so many fragrances these days I can’t imagine it’s easy to’monitor’ them all that closely
If I am honest, I am really starting to wonder how close he is to the actual development of the fragrances being churned out at a rate that would impress Boss, or Calvin Klein – and with similarly unimpressive results.
If you look back at things like M7 or Gucci Pour Homme (now inexplicably discontinued yet the average Gucci Pour Homme II persists), he had a flair for the provoking. The aforementioned Black Orchid was also a radically arresting fragrance. But when you get to a stage when you get more misses than hits, you should, if you care about your craft, truly start to examine your motives.
HDS: m7 is out again…in new packaging
I’m pretty disappointed to hear your take on this one, because it was the one of this series that I was most interested in. I signed up for small splits of Jonquille and Hyacinth, but the Hyacinth was the only one that came through, and I didn’t have high hopes for it anyway. My 5ml split showed up last week, and wound up being sort of a cross between Bas de Soie (which I did not like) and Infusion d’Iris (which I do). Overall, Ombre de Hyacinth – which should have been called something like Silver Shadow, IMO – is decent and pleasant and inoffensive and completely unworthy of the price point, which I SHOULD HAVE REMEMBERED about the Tom Fords.
Liked Tobacco Vanille, but Havana Vanille and Tabac Aurea are just… well, they’re more interesting, we’ll put it that way. And Black Orchid Voile de Fleur is, in any case, the only one I really love. And it wasn’t even a Private Blend. Even worse, it’s discontinued. Grr.
Mals. They had the nerve to discontinue my favorite of the bunch too: Purple Patchouli
Kevin – Very glad you mentioned Ramon Monegal. I ordered a handful of samples after reading the ad copy and series of notes. Only a couple managed to hit close to home, and those I can find comparable fragrances for much better prices.
The Tom Fords – After trying Neroli Portofino, which smells like excellent laundry detergent, I had come to the conclusion that I have no need to even sample the private blends.
Really too bad….
Opera: the Monegals were a disappointment…and it took so long to try them all!
Very disappointing. And I got a similar thing from Joy EdP of all things. Front-loaded and then fades to NOTHING within 20 minutes. I’m wondering if such a phenomenon is even making its way into the old reliable houses that used to offer serious quality. I’m nervous for perfume future.
Jared: I haven’t tried a new bottle of JOY EdP…I found a vintage bottle of the parfum and that will last me my lifetime thank goodness.
I’m not really familiar with narcissus at all – although Chamade has some, no?
Merlin: I think Chamade has hyacinth
There’s a young lady at my office who seems to be pretty rich (lots of well made new clothes, etc) and one day I asked her what perfume she was wearing because it seemed familiar. She said it was Tom Ford Lavender Palm, so I made a favorable comment about some of his other fragrances. She looked a bit blank but said after a moment’s pause, “Oh, I just love Tom Ford!” and it was clear she was talking about his oeuvre, not his perfume. Bet she bought all four of these