Reviews of Fleur de Chine by Tom Ford

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Now this is a Tom Ford I can get behind. It feels like all of Coco Chanel's wildest orientalist fetishes amped up to the nth with caution thrown to the wind. Take up your coromandel screens and let's party in the nude, Coco! Red lipstick only. Meow. (I know! Even I can't tell whether I'm serious sometimes).
6th April 2021
Imagine of a brisk and quiet winter day, where every deep breath of cold air burns your sinuses but feels good and refreshing regardless. A fresh coat of fluffy snow is falling and it dampens the noise and the bustle of the world around you. A modern unisex scent but of sweet dark spicy femininity in a classic way. Sharp and noticeable, but comforting at the same time. It performs like no other scent today are capable of doing. An extravagant elegance that comes across smoothly with strength and assertiveness, that's why it's so elegant and classy.

The spice dominates, with just enough sweetness from the juicy peach and depth from the amber. The florals are far from overwhelming, and the rose notes fit nicely in the mix. The benzin base keeps it modern but avoids dragging it into an overly sweet mess that makes a very alluring and seductive scent without touch of vulgarity. The background of amber with that sweet and deep point is installed almost from the begining putting it's seal to give this oriental a dense and majestic air, even luxurious. It has a balsamic sweetness to it, but it's a far cry from it's sickly sweet. It must be the spicy accord that's so alluring. Very changing and adaptive, especially in colder days. It's extremely long lasting.
15th January 2021

Vintage in structure, opens with a blast of aldehydes and I can't help but think of Arpege and No5 in the first minutes; vintage in feel but not dated. But then the white flowers are blooming and they're creamy and intoxicating. A nice addition are the fruits which are not intrusive, but just an extra flavor and the woods provide a solid structure in the background. In the end, it's an aldehydic/musky/floral/fruity oriental, a sort of a contemporary interpretation of a vintage perfume.
15th October 2018
Floral woody potion from the skilled, adventurous nose of Tom Ford, part of the Private Blend Atelier d'Orient collection.

Fleur de Chine smells a LOT like the vintage formulation of Lanvin's Arpege for women: Fruity, musky, flowery, aldehydic (i.e. soapy-waxy-lemony-floral) and powdery (in different proportions, though). So from the outset, FdC has a retro ladies' scent vibe to it, but it is deeper than that in the end.

FdC takes the vintage aldehydic perfume vibe and brings a more contemporary, fresher approach that feels polished and clear in comparison. Yet, I don't know how many women (much less men!) would want to smell like THIS fragrance necessarily, semi-classic as it may feel.

It comes down to how much you enjoy the innovative elements within FdC - particularly, the hyacinth, wisteria, jasmine, peony, magnolia, etc. - in comparison to the whole formulation. I personally would enjoy smelling this on a mature lady and wouldn't venture to wear it myself.
24th September 2018
Tom Ford knows Asia better than I do, but I can't help but see his new ‘Atelier‘ collection as reflecting a white guy asian fascination. I can't imagine a Tom Ford product release without a fairytale marketing strategy, and Fleur de Chine and the others in this collection (Plum Japonais, Rive d'Ambre, and Shangai Lily) don't disappoint.  The fairy tale is an unexamined take on the ‘mysterious orient / dragon lady / inscrutable east'. It relies on well-know imagery. It is based on irrational fear and defensiveness. It is rich with generations of bigotry. Effectively, it's precision-built for the fashion industry. The trigger is in the name of the perfume. Say Shanghai Lily 3 times in a row while looking into a mirror and it just comes to life.

A wonderful thing about stereotypes is that they are timeless.  Ford's oriental bit is straight out of 1920s European Orientalism.  Not updating a stereotype to contemporary standards is a way of distancing one's self from the prejudice originally associated with the stereotypes and innoculating one's self against accusations of xenophobia and racial predjudice. That is, referring to old stereotypes is unlike actively engaging in stereotyping. It is historical. Literary. Post-modern. Post-colonial.

If only wishing could make it so. 

Take-away # 1 is never look to fashion for a history lesson. Take-away # 2 should be apparent even to the fashion-minded. Smugly using anachronistic Asian references from the late-colonial sensibilility (the Ford line is called the "Atelier d'Orient" collection) doesn't do a thing toward defusing the racism of such language. It simply relies on exotic side of racism. The mystery, the exoticism.  Oooohh... The fetish. It would be more offensive if it weren't so tired. 

The perfume:

Interesting for the fact that it starts like insecticide, and then grows creamy. A fascinating technical trick, I'm sure, but ‘creamy' in this case is synonymous with ‘vague'. This olfactory pairing is much more clearly expressed in Calvin Klein Truth, a discontinued perfume available cheap online.

18th June 2014
Even though I am a guy, I really like this floral scent. I tend to spray a little on my shirt when wearing it. It'll last way longer.
25th December 2013
Magnolia and TeaThe top note is nice, with magnolia, jasmine and bergamot opening up with a lovely hyacinth added, and merging with a nice Chinese tea note. Wood is present in the base but overall it is a bit dull towards the end. Two hours longevity on me.
14th June 2013