While I was there I asked the sales associate if she had samples of Tom Ford White Patchouli. She said she only had one tester bottle and there weren’t any samples yet. She allowed me to spritz from the tester; I did so with her watching me, I felt greedy as I spritzed my left arm three, maybe four times. I walked around the store, checked out the new Feerie bottle, and went back to the sales associate with the Tom Ford White Patchouli tester. I always carry some empty vials in my purse just in case so I figured I had nothing to lose and asked her if I could take a sample from the one single tester bottle in the entire store. She looked at me as if I’d asked for her first born child. I gave her a pathetic begging look, told her about Sublime Balkiss and how Neiman’s was an hour from my house, and she finally agreed. She took the vial from me and decanted the sample behind the counter in a guarded fashion as if she were performing a criminal act. I actually felt like I ought to be a look out for her or give her a warning if someone else were walking over. She gave me the vial back (2.5 ml, yay!) and I thanked her profusely and walked around the store a bit more. Since I was there, I decided I was getting low on one of my favorite TDC fragrances, Sel de Vetiver, so I picked up a box and brought it to my partner-in-crime sales associate. That seemed to make her happy; that I was actually buying something now. Then I wandered over to the fresh counter and sniffed Cannabis Rose and Violette. Both are innocuous and pretty, like most fresh scents. I also realized that I’m running low on Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir, so I picked up a bottle of that, too, and brought it over to my now very happy sales associate. This was enough damage for one day so paid and exited the store before I thought of anything more I might need….
First, I’ll confess, I’m not a fan of Tom Ford’s last few fragrances. Black Orchid, while definitely interesting, smelled like crotch to me, so I never purchased it. Then I boycotted him after seeing the Tom Ford for Men ads, which to my mind were like someone just took a Marketing 101 class called “how to gain attention for your product by using nudity and sex to cause a stir.” That said, I’m actually a fan of patchouli, the note itself, I love L’Artisan’s Voleur de Rose and Keiko Mecheri’s Patchoulissimo and I decided that I was really quite curious about TF White Patchouli. I couldn’t imagine what a white citrusy floral with patchouli would smell like and I decided to let the juice speak for itself and give it a go. I admit I was really looking forward to trying it.
Well, I’ve had a disappointing day. First, no TDC Sublime Balkiss and now the smell of TF White Patchouli made me nauseous. I’m not exaggerating. For me, for the first hour it smells like astringent, something like Seabreeze facial toner mixed with bug spray. I can’t identify anything even close to patchouli in the first hour or so nor do I smell anything close to a white floral or citrus. I thought about how I adore Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle and how I’ve come to like the menthol/rubber beginning, so I decided to give TF White Patchouli it’s due and wait a full 5 hours before making any sort of decision.
After forcing myself not to scrub it off as much as I really wanted to, it finally dries down to something much less nauseating. I eventually smell a whiff of patchouli, but a very astringent and light patchouli at that. Yes, I can see why it’s called White Patchouli because this patchouli isn’t dirty or dusky or deep at all. After a few hours a faint woody note emerges and an even fainter incense-y note, too. I can’t detect any of the floral notes that are supposed to be here; no white peony, no jasmine, no rose, for me. To my nose everything blends into an astringent aroma laid over a very soft uninteresting patchouli.
In the end, after the full five hours, it’s not horrible, but it just isn’t good, it isn’t what I hoped it would be and I won’t be among those placing their pre-orders. Again, I think of Tubereuse Criminelle, and while I have come to enjoy those initial menthol/rubber moments, I think I do so because I know what’s coming, I know that it develops into a masterpiece. At least Serge Lutens rewards me for wading through those initial awkward moments, where Tom Ford’s White Patchouli, just doesn’t come anywhere close to a masterpiece.
The bottle itself is rather boring and ugly, too. I can’t help thinking that if someone were to stick a cheap drugstore label on it and ask a group of unknowing people to try it they’d all exclaim how dreadfully horrid and cheap it is.
Tom Ford White Patchouli’s press release describes the perfume in the following manner:
"Opens energetically sparkling notes of bergamot blended with delicate white peony
and spicy coriander accents make an instant play for attention.
The alluring and modern heart unfolds in sequence: rich rose absolute,
carnal night blooming jasmine, and the stimulating ambrette seed.
Precious patchouli orpur infuses the finish with exotic depth. Its stimulating
sensual pull is enriched by a medley of blonde woods and the soft eastern
aroma of incense."