August 23, 2012

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We’re Having A Heat Wave
Raphaella and Mark David profile two Tom Ford fragrances that are 
perfect for a relentless summer: Champaca Absolute and Azure Lime.
With the white and golden heat of a long, hot, and sultry summer still upon us here in the United States, what perfect timing to cover a scent that carries us forward into a possible continued heat pattern for the fall season? I have always been a fan of Tom Ford’s fragrances - starting with the original azurée soleil by Tom Ford for Estee Lauder. That classic summer scent in the beautiful turquoise bottle has long been discontinued.

It wasn’t until I was in Milan for Esxence with my partner and Managing Editor, Mark David Boberick, that I finally tried Tom Ford Private Blend Champaca Absolute on an unseasonably hot Italian spring day. (I know, out of all of the Italian perfumes to try in Milan, I fell for this one from an American designer.)

We were in Profumeria Cantarelli, an Italian beauty store on Via Montenapoleone and I was looking for a brighter lipstick for a lavish cocktail party being held later that evening. I sprayed Champaca Absolute liberally as we were running out the door, new Dior Addict lipstick in hand. Something happened. Was it the Italian air? Was it because I was in magical Italy? I don’t know. All I know is that I fell in love instantly; the magnificence of the scent was stunning and I could not get it out of my mind. We have all experienced scents like that in our life; scents that call to us and beckon, “Love, me, love me.” For the next few hours, Mark kept commenting on how absurdly delicious I smelled and I was sad that I did not have any more to wear to the party.

The problem with being a perfume collector is that sometimes you become jaded after so many scents. I now view the perfumes that I own differently than I did ten years ago, and it takes a lot for a scent to excite me, now. I will never purchase certain perfumes again because I can clearly see that some fragrances are simply “fads.” Now I only collect perfumes that I know I will still love the next year and for many years after, and I am much more discerning in my decisions. Gone are the days with the shocking spending patterns that I once possessed, but I must admit: it was the greatest fun!

Champa is one of the flowering trees of the Magnoliaceae family and the word Champaca originally comes from the Sanskrit word campaka. Champaca has always been a “holistic flower” with hundreds of references in the legends and folklore of Hindu mythology. The fragrant yellow or white blossoms closely resemble ylang-ylang and shortly before sunset, the flowers produce a heady fragrance that is especially popular with many ashrams and holistic centers in India. Nag Champa incense, which contains a significant amount of the floral fragrance, is touted by many as the absolute best incense in the world. The tree is often called the “joy perfume” tree.

In his 2012 edition of Fragrances of the World, fragrance expert Michael Edwards classifies Champaca Absolute as a White Floral scent. The composition is said to be Tom Ford's homage to the eternal, seductive power of the Champaca flower. This is not a soft, pretty gardenia, nor a one-note indolic jasmine. It is not the outrageously feminine tuberose that drives you out of your mind with passion, nor is it like the Datura flower that whispers to you seductively in a drug-like stupor. This Champaca flower is a brilliant, holy white light that will force men to move closer, and will implore woman to inquire, “what are you wearing?”

Champaca Absolute is a classic example of perfume being presented as “high art.” It is one of the most passionate and seductive perfumes I own. This sultry scent is by no means a “seasonal” fragrance and can be just as bewitching for any time of the year, but it does rather blossom extraordinarily well in the summer heat. 
Champaca Absolute is every movie star; it is Ann Margret in Viva Las Vegas; it is Sophia Loren; it is all Italian male fashion models, it’s the Maserati of perfumes, it is Robin Thick in Tom Ford sunglasses. It is wildly glamorous, sexy, and ultra-fashionable, all at once. It is sleek and classy. It is Tom Ford Absolute.

Like the nocturnal flower, this fragrance blooms well into the night. It’s pure-white floral heart turns sensual and takes a momentary walk on the wild side with the warmth of Tokajii and cognac that rest on a base of Vanilla, Amber and Sandalwood. This perfume is a deep, rich and a wonderfully heady show-stopper. Champaca Absolute is as radiant as sunshine with a provocative, searing heat that embeds itself into the soul.

Unabashedly, this is my favorite Tom Ford perfume. Bar none. 


Azure Lime, Tom Ford Private Blend

by Mark David Boberick
Managing Editor
Launched in 2010, Azure Lime is the sophisticated citrus fragrance of the Tom Ford Private Blend Collection. At once robust and slightly reserved, Azure Lime is a study in irony.

The Private Blend Collection debuted in 2007 to great acclaim and was Tom Ford/Estee Lauder’s response to the exclusive (and expensive) niche fragrance lines that have now become de rigueur for any luxury house (think Chanel Les Exclusifs, Hermessences, and most recently – Dolce and Gabanna’s Velvet Collection.) If it was the intention of the Lauder group to eventually propel the Private Blends past the point of exclusivity in terms of distribution, then they have succeeded as the collection is anything but Private. Five years after its release the collection can be found in many different points of sale, from Neiman Marcus to Nordstroms, and includes significant worldwide distribution. And what could formerly be categorized as a niche line, the Private Blends have broken rank in favor of a higher profile.

OK, so they’re not as Private as they once were – but what they are still, undoubtedly, is divine. As fragrance expert Michael Edwards pointed out in our interview in the last issue, Tom Ford is very involved in the creative process of the Collection. “As I understand it, Tom Ford is not easy. He is very opinionated and has a great sense of taste and judgment – but he clicked with Lauder’s creative director Karen Khoury who has worked with Estee Lauder and then Evelyn Lauder since 1983. The two of them have been marvelous with bringing the perfumers on board and coming up with some incredibly innovative stuff – not commercial at all. There is no testing on Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances, no focus groups,” Edwards said.

Azure Lime is an elegant variation on a fairly un-elegant raw material: lime. It’s probably the least embraced citrus note, and yet it is due to its infrequent use that when we encounter it in a fragrance, it makes us pay closer attention. What may seem like just another ordinary citrus, lime possesses a surprising depth – it is cool and dry, and intensely refreshing. Azure Lime is all of those things, yet conveyed in a much more interesting way and feels like a natural choice for inclusion into the Private Blend range, which Ford himself considers something of a personal scent laboratory.

With Azure Lime, the wearer is transported to the French Riviera in Summer, which for several months out of the year is transformed into a sort of European Hamptons. The cooling embrace of the fragrance is a welcome relief to the searing heat, but what is most appreciated is the deliberate lack of marine or watery notes with the exception of a slight accord that implies salt air. In Azure Lime, you’re not so much a part of the regatta as you are, say, watching it from high above on your hotel terrace?

The fragrance is rounded out with a few choice ingredients, namely violet leaves and some light woody notes. After a while, the fragrance dries down to be mainly a skin scent with the inclusion of musks that are light, but actually quite persistent in their longevity. Unlike Neroli Portofino, which is the collection’s other citrus fragrance that leans more towards a floral bent, Azure Lime is the most effervescent of the Private Blends and is more than likely one of the easiest to wear. Effervescent, yes – but in typical Tom Ford fashion – just so damn elegant!


Tom Ford Fragrances can be purchased online through Neiman Marcus and other fine retailers.

​Special Thanks to:
Permele Doyle
Tom Ford Beauty
Champaca Absolute, Tom Ford Private Blend

by Raphaella Barkley