Saturday, 12 March 2011

Review - Tom Ford Champaca Absolute (Private Blend Collection)

Gold accents, embossing, smoked glass, heavy, bevel-edged bottle... everything about the packaging of this fragrance (and every other one in the Private Blend line) oozes expensiveness. This 50ml EDP (and to be fair it IS an EDP, and a very long-lasting one at that) costs £118. Which is, indeed, very expensive.

We already told you about Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, also from the Private Blend collection. That was a bit of a gourmand adventure. With Champaca Absolute, the experience is blatantly, defiantly floral.

My first thought when I saw the name "Champaca" was of Ormonde Jayne, who pioneered the little Indian bloom onto the niche fragrance market nearly ten years ago. OJ's Champaca is a warm, ricey-starchy and quite friendly scent, and I was expecting something similar from Tom Ford's rendition. However, the TF champaca is cooler and much more aloof - to begin with at least.

It starts out with a hectic and quite exciting jumble of flower petals, starchy smells and alcoholic, white-wine type  notes, with a sticky, red, resinous smell kind of humming away in the background.

As it begins to settle, there's quite a surprising (and on me, almost abrupt) shift into white flowers - cool, composed and entirely in control. As if the perfume had burst into the room all excited, then realised that it was in the middle of a formal gathering and very quickly pulled its socks up and put on a demure front.

I'm not a big white-flower person, and actually find jasmine, lily-of-the-valley type smells rather sickly and nauseating on the whole. This middle phase isn't my favourite part of the fragrance as a result, but it's by no means unpleasant to me - the flowers are balanced finely with the red resin smell I mentioned earlier, and they don't tip over into sickliness. Instead there's a grown-up kind of classic feel to it. It's a "proper" perfume smell - quite timeless and elegant.

The dry-down is where I really got into Champaca Absolute. The cool flowers back off and the resin-warmth plays on, mellowing out into a glowy, dry version of itself. Still floral, but no longer in that fresh, tidy way. Think late afternoon sun shining through a bead of amber, or illuminating a big jug full of a daffodils. It's lazy, luxurious, generous, effortlessly sensual. I love it.

You can buy Champaca Absolute online from Harrods (they also carry the entire Private Blend collection)


  1. you made me want to try it. do you think it could work as a summer fragrance?

    1. I'm not a big believer in summer vs winter fragrances - I kinda feel you should wear whatever makes you feel good. I'd recommend going and trying it on and seeing how it makes you feel!


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