Tom Ford Neroli Portofino, 2007

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(image source popsugar)

Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux

The price discussion.

It comes up with all the Tom Ford line as well as many other brands. Will you pay, for example, $250 for a quality perfume when there are other comparable perfumes at a fraction of the cost? There is a market for costly perfumes, and if people are willing to spend big bucks, more power to them. So I don’t forget the cost of the Ford line, but I try also to consider the perfumes independent of price. I’ll admit, it’s an odd little dance in my head.

Neroli Portofino is a pretty neroli cologne. “Pretty” is really tossing it a bone. It’s certainly not ravishing, it’s nothing new, and it doesn’t seem like a particularly fine iteration of what it purports to be: a lasting, concentrated Eau de Cologne (EDC) made with the finest materials to be found.

For a cologne to be successful, it must offer one of two things: faultless quality or an interesting variation. Cologne is certainly nothing new, and because of the simplicity of its componentry (search for the recipe and you’ll find it easily) it’s not hard to find excellent and inexpensive versions. Interesting alternative colognes are not hard to find either. Examples:  Comme des Garçons Vettiveru, Atelier Cologne’s Rose Anonyme and Trefle Pur, Thierry Mugler’sCologne, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Cologne pour le Soir.

A neroli cologne isn’t new, so Ford isn’t attempting the inventive variation. As for quality, Neroli Portofino falls a bit flat. The emphasis on bright florals, with a grounding in a sweet musk, gives a fairly two-dimensional impression of neroli. EDC is meant to be a brief, invigorating experience. Neroli Portofino abides by the former principle, but neglects the latter. Neroli Portofino misses the point that cologne’s success comes from simplicity, not refinement. Refinement looks like overbreeding when the mark is missed, and Neroli reads like the shivering, overgroomed teacup poodle of the EDC set. (For a different take on a durable cologne at 1/5 the price, try Comme des Garcon Anbar.)

The ad photos for Neroli Portofino capture what  find least appealing about Ford-world. It purports to be racy and shocking. To me it reads as contrived and tired. Over-styled, sexless nudity might capture the Ford esthetic for his fans, but it just looks like those ridiculous laughy-smily Bijan ads from the 80s-90s to me.


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