Most of the time when I see a list of many perfumers who are responsible for a new release I worry that it will be a muddled mess of competing aesthetics. One of the exceptions to this rule was 2004’s Tom Ford Violet Orchid. A group of four Givaudan perfumers, whom I called the TF All-Stars, because they had all worked on individual perfumes for the brand previously created that fragrance. I imagined them in my review as like a rock and roll supergroup all contributing their strengths to form a worthy successor to the original Tom Ford fragrance launch Black Orchid. Like all musical supergroups even the perfume ones must go out on their own. For the new Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Lumiere perfumer Yann Vasnier steps on to the stage alone to create this follow-up.
While I liked Velvet Orchid for all the subtle moments in what was a traditional floriental. I enjoyed Velvet Orchid Lumiere more because M. Vasnier took the opportunity to add some upgrades to the framework. This time the result is a gourmand floriental that doesn’t feel as recognizable.
Bergamot and mandarin have been the traditional openers to most of the Tom Ford Orchid named fragrances. For Velvet Orchid Lumiere M. Vasnier breaks out a very special version of mandarin as he uses the Givaudan Orpur version. Orpur are the crown jewel raw ingredients in the Givaudan palette. When they get used they have always added a bit of class. As if M. Vasnier puts down the electric guitar for a Gibson 12-string acoustic. The Orpur mandarin used here has subtle sparkling facets with an accompanying richness to them. The Orpur mandarin also stands up to the same mixture of honey and rum that was present in Velvet Orchid. When I compared these side-by-side there was a noticeable difference in the way the mandarin exhibited itself. M. Vasnier adds in grace notes of saffron, pimento, and ginger. They provide some contrast and begin to set up the gourmand accord to come. Before we get there the connective tissue of all the Tom Ford Orchid fragrances. The “black orchid” accord holds the center as M. Vasnier wraps it with the same rose, hyacinth, and orange blossom that was in Violet Orchid. He then replaces the jasmine with tuberose. Trading one white flower for another shouldn’t seem to have much of an effect but the tuberose has a focusing effect on the “black orchid” accord making it more distinctive while also making it a little quieter; the unplugged version of the florals in Velvet Orchid perhaps. This leads to the heavy vanilla base accord. M. Vasnier forms a rich almost custard-like accord except he supports it with some things you should never find in your dessert. Mainly tobacco, myrrh, and a suede leather accord. This is the moment when M. Vasnier picks up the electric guitar for one final high-octave solo as the vanilla looms large but the tobacco and the leather complement with the sweetness inherent in those notes. A woody foundation of sandalwood and balsam finish Velvet Orchid Lumiere.
Velvet Orchid Lumiere has near 24-hour longevity and above average sillage especially the florals and the vanilla.
I like the solo work M. Vasnier has done here quite a bit. Velvet Orchid Lumiere feels like a perfume to be worn to a semi-formal it carries a lot of class to it because of the quieter moments M. Vasnier imparts to the same construct that existed in Velvet Orchid. By starting quiet with some intelligent raw material choices, it allows for an intense coda. I will be enjoying M. Vasnier’s gourmand floriental solo a lot over these upcoming colder months.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.