Tom Ford Champaca Absolute, 2009

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Perfumer not cited.

Opens with a moist white floral note that suggests humid doldrums. The volume hints that the perfume will be a big, mixed white floral, and it is. It’s just not the expectable jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose trip. It’s not ‘dirty’ in the sense of sweat and body odor that the above flowers tend to have, but does have an umami quality that keeps it from reading as too spic and span. This savory tone serves the same purpose as BO in tuberose and the others. It’s a basic compositional strategy in both the kitchen and the perfume lab. Use the contrasting note that highlights the sultriness of the floral, the lemon juice that brings out the sweetness of melon, the MSG that brightens your processed foods.

Champaca flower has a creamy sweetness that’s cut with a whiff of tea. The overall olfactory shape reminds me of camellia. Champaca Absolute underlines the creamy floral with ambery lushness and gives it the feel of party-girl floriental. There’s a big push-pull to the top notes, as the floral tone is very expansive, but the creaminess pulls it back a bit.

The top notes are actually fairly simple, but they transition into a more complex set of heart notes that add a spiciness and give dimension to the flower. It feels a little more woody than oriental at this point. It moves from an apparent simplicity to a more nuanced complexity and is very satisfying to wear. The heart notes are fairly long-lasting, and gorgeous. Floral, spicy, woody, creamy. Very luxurious overall.

The basenotes take a bit of a turn and spiced creaminess grows more vanillic, making me think there was an attempt to end  on a sandalwood note. Unfortunately earthiness and the milkiness don’t mix well and the ending, for all the world, smells to me like cupcakes made with a mushroom butter cream icing. The slow transition is off-putting, giving me the feeling of smelling milk curdle.

Interesting ride, but not the ending I’d hoped for.

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