As creative director of Gucci, multitalented miracle-worker Tom Ford saved the fashion house from bankruptcy during his decade-long tenure.
Gucci snapped up competing designer brand Yves Saint Laurent, of which Ford was also named creative director. In what perhaps was a foreshadowing of his later success in the field of perfumery, Ford spearheaded campaigns for YSL fragrances Opium and M7, which were both well-received.
By the time Ford parted ways with the Gucci Group, the company had amassed double its value from the time Ford had started.
After settling back in the U.S. to head his own namesake brand, Ford worked on its numerous facets, from eyewear to beauty and menswear. His foray into fragrances started in 2006, when he launched the glamorous and now iconic Black Orchid.
Six months later, much to the delight of fragrance connoisseurs, Ford introduced the Private Blend collection. The line of unisex fragrances owes much of its success to Ford’s deviation from the ordinary. “Private Blend is my own scent laboratory; it’s where I have the ability to create very special, original fragrances that are unconstrained by the conventions of mainstream scent-making,” Ford said of the collection.
Let's experience some of Tom Ford’s rarest scents in the Private Blend line and what makes them extraordinary.
At the heart of this star fragrance is the musky and spicy oud, a highly sought after essence from the Southeast Asian agar tree. Since fewer than two percent of these wild trees produce oud, its rarity has earned it the moniker "liquid gold." With a price tag of $5,000 a pound or more, depending on its purity, oud is one of the most expensive perfume ingredients in the world. Known for its extravagance, the Private Blend Oud collection converts this precious commodity into two fragrances, Oud Wood and Tobacco Oud, and an oud-inspired bath soap.
The sweet vanilla is tempered by a blend of rich spices, such as saffron and coriander, in this transfixing perfume. But the main ingredient that lends its name to this fragrance is of Madagascan origin, where 80 percent of all the vanilla in the world is farmed. While prices per kilo fluctuate, the market still names vanilla the second most expensive spice in the world, selling for $200 to $400 a kilo. The Vanille Fatale ups the ante by layering this rare fragrance with a suede finish.
Those aroused by the scent of leather handbags will get a kick out of this classic leather scent enriched with Tunisian orange flower, amber wood, and black suede. A whiff of this fragrance is so indulgent and addicting that New York Magazine once questioned whether or not it contained a drug. Inspired by Ford’s love for fine leather, the perfume also uses hand-harvested Moroccan grapefruit flowers in its men’s variant to preserve this scent.
The perfumers at Tom Ford were able to replicate the musky scent associated with suede through artificial means. The warm scent of suede is one that other perfumers wouldn’t conventionally think to reproduce, but somehow, this fragrance works. The outcome is a sensual aroma that’s enhanced with notes of rose and amber.
The titular ingredient in this Private Blend formula also happens to be one of the rarest of flower absolutes. The scent is made from bitter orange blossom extracts using steam distillation. With the Neroli Portofino Forte, the scent is intensified and is even more concentrated.