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Tom Ford’s Noir was launched in 2012, but honestly, there was nothing dark about it. Images of swirling black smoke, flinty sparks of spice and frankincense and sticky amber were rendered redundant as Noir was an excellent masculine scent, a fresh vanilla citrus-blend that owed more than just a nod to Guerlain’s truly iconic Habit Rouge.
So Noir Extreme, then, is indeed the noir version of Noir (keep up at the back!) and this time Ford’s reference point is the classic French perfumer Serge Lutens’ 1992 scent Bois et Fruits.
There are initial, tiny flashes of the original Noir when Extreme is sprayed on paper or fabric – it’s the vanilla – but these are gone within moments as this flanker is not a variation on the original but a new perfume entirely. Like a spiced punch bowl, not boozy exactly but pungent and fruity, with woods and amber dominating, Noir Extreme is marketed as a men’s scent but is completely androgynous.
There is nutmeg here and a dark rose too but it’s a hard task picking out individual notes – the scent has a typically Ford-like monster sillage trail and lasts well into the late afternoon following an early morning application. Extreme finally fades down to a smooth vanilla and softly spicy cedar, warm and comforting, and you could swear that oud has made the mix but it isn’t listed as a note.
There are already some modern classics in Ford’s main perfume line – the Private Blends collection less so, which is somewhat of a relief given the price points – but Noir Extreme remains more of a muddle than a masterpiece. As with all of his creations Ford is bringing more experimental and interesting perfumes to the mainstream so although this isn’t one of his best, it is never boring.
Tom Ford Noir Extreme, 100ml £90