Tom Ford Vert Boheme: The Return of the ’70s

1977 Pierre Cardin Haute Couture in L'officiel magazine. Source: Pinterest.

1977 Pierre Cardin Haute Couture in L’officiel magazine. Source: Pinterest.

Vert Boheme is one of four new Tom Ford fragrances called Les Extraits Verts which were released in September as part of the Private Blend Collection. Vert Boheme is a clean, fresh, green and feminine (not unisex) floral eau de parfum that follows a classical 1970s style. It reminded me a lot of a mix of YSL‘s vintage Rive Gauche, Diorissimo, and Chanel‘s Cristalle, given a modern touch through a heavy dose of clean musk. Having said that, I have major issues with its development, structure, and quality, and I don’t find it to be particularly distinctive. Be that as it may, I think Vert Boheme will be a very popular fragrance with women who like extremely fresh, clean, crisp, green florals as well as the vintage style of perfumery.

On his website, Tom Ford describes Vert Boheme as follows:

Sparkling and infallible like a jewel gleaming in the Sun, Private Blend Vert Bohéme is TOM FORD’s interpretation of green at its most free-spirited. Sicilian, Mandarin and Magnolia exude Bohemian femininity, exquisitely enhanced with gustavia, also known as “The Tree of Heaven”, known for its spectacular single blossoms that last for just one day. The fresh vibrancy awakens a divine first bloom, crystal-clear and exposed.

Vert Boheme. Source: Luckyscent.

Vert Boheme. Source: Luckyscent.

According to Luckyscent, the note list for Vert Boheme is:

Galbanum, Sicilian mandarin, magnolia, honeysuckle, violet leaf, gustavia superba.

However, according to a GQ Magazine article on the four Extrait Verts, Vert Boheme also includes oakmoss and vetiver. I agree, but I would also include white musk as well. That would make the potential or complete list look something a bit more like this:

Galbanum, Sicilian mandarin, magnolia, honeysuckle, violet leaf, gustavia superba, oakmoss, vetiver, and white musk.

Honeysuckle. Source: permies.com

Honeysuckle. Source: permies.com

Vert Boheme opens on my skin with an inviting bouquet of white flowers and their green buds, nestled amongst green violet leaves and resting atop a base of oakmoss and galbanum that feel equally cool, crisp, and green. The flowers smell fresh, clean, cool, sweet, citrusy, lightly honeyed, slightly synthetic, and liquidy to the point of being slightly aquatic. Honeysuckle abounds, followed by light traces of lemony magnolia, violets, and what really smells like both freesia and muguet (lily of the valley) to me.

Muguet. Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

Muguet. Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

In fact, the scent of muguet with its porcelain purity and its floral freshness is actually much stronger on my skin than the magnolia, and it becomes so prominent that, roughly 15-20 minutes in, vintage Diorissimo and Oriza‘s Diorissmo-like Muguet Fleuri came to mind. On Fragrantica, someone else also thought of Diorissimo during Vert Boheme’s opening, so the muguet similarity isn’t just limited to me. One possible explanation might stem from the fact that, in perfumery, both freesia and muguet are actually synthetic notes by necessity because essential oils can’t be extracted from the delicate flowers. Magnolia is frequently a synthetic recreation as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the “magnolia” here were a mixed accord that included some of the shared molecules found in muguet and perhaps freesia as well. It’s either that, or the note list needs additions beyond even what GQ added.

The overall effect feels very fresh and Spring-like, evoking walks in the countryside after the rains. Vert Boheme is particularly lovely in its first 20 minutes and when smelt from afar. There, the synthetics are less obvious and one is struck by an almost ethereal refrain of honeysuckle, violets, some “muguet” facsimile laced with freesia, all bracketed by different sorts of greenness. The wonderfully liquidy feel to flowers combined with their sweetness, their almost Alpine purity, and their freshness was entrancing, and it made me smile as I eagerly sniffed my arm.

Source: wallcoo.net

Source: wallcoo.net

Unfortunately, things don’t remain that way. Up close, Vert Boheme loses both its appeal and its shape. Roughly 25 minutes in, the floral and green accords each begin to blur. The fragrance is rapidly becoming a hazy, indeterminate mix that trumpets “fresh and clean” and “green-white florals” more than actual honeysuckle, magnolia, or violets. It’s the same for the galbanum, oakmoss, and violet leaf. Only the “muguet” is strong, solid, and distinct. Alas, like so many muguet notes, it begins to smell quite soapy. When combined with the growing waves of clean musk and the hazy floral cleanness, the end result is not only an aldehydic, slightly aquatic, slightly crisp, green floral freshness but also something that resembles expensive soap on occasion.

Source: suggestkeyword.com

Source: suggestkeyword.com

By the 45-minute mark, the once entrancing, ethereal opening has completely dissolved into an amorphous blur. It’s not terrible if one likes soapy, clean, feminine green florals, but I find it neither original nor distinctive. In fact, it feels extremely commercial, thanks to the increasingly overt synthetics and the generic nature of the composition. It’s the sort of thing that would fit well amongst Tom Ford’s regular line rather than the Private Blend Collection which — theoretically and originally at least — were meant to be more innovative, creative, and niche-like.

Above all else, though, Vert Boheme feels like a very ’70s style of perfumery. The GQ article that I’d referenced earlier actually called all four of the new Tom Ford releases a return to the ’70s. When I initially read it, I hadn’t understood what they meant because I’d only tested Vert d’Encens and that felt very modern and current to my nose. Now, though, I see their point because, yes, Vert Boheme does resemble the fragrances of the past. It’s not “the musk-y, moody, undeniably masculine fragrances” that the writer had postulated, but the aldehydic, crisp, green and white florals of the ’70s. When the soapy, muguet-like aroma explodes 30 minutes into Vert Boheme’s development and the rest of the notes dissolve 15 minutes later, the resemblance is uncanny to me. The honeysuckle fades away, leaving only a slightly honeyed floral sweetness; the violets die, while the oakmoss, vetiver, galbanum, and violet leaves are swallowed up in an overriding haze of fresh greenness.

YSL Rive Gauche, vintage 1970s ad. Source: fragrantica.es

YSL Rive Gauche, vintage 1970s ad. Source: fragrantica.es

The result is a fragrance that feels like a fusion of Diorissimo, YSL‘s vintage Rive Gauche, and one of the classic Chanel green florals, namely Cristalle, all fused together with very modern (and mainstream) levels of white musk. For the first 90 minutes, the Diorissimo touch is the strongest out of the three; then Rive Gauche takes the lead for the next four or five hours, before the Cristalle kicks in from the 6th hour onwards.

None of it is really my cup of tea, but those fragrances and their style of perfumery are extremely popular with women who love the old-school classics. Depending on how you look at it (and your spirit of generosity), Vert Boheme is either their modern descendant or a minimally tweaked rendition of the most popular olfactory chords of those iconic classics put together in one bottle. I think some women will find it chic and familiar at the same time, while others may think it’s too familiar and not distinctive enough for the price, especially since the vintage classics are still available on eBay for less than Vert Boheme’s price of $225 for 50 ml.

One of my issues with Vert Boheme is not its classical composition or style, but how quickly it dissolves, turns synthetic, and loses structure. As a result of those changes, the scent becomes overly simplistic and far less interesting, while the lack of delineation within the notes makes everything feel generic. It’s the sort of thing that you can spray on and go without thinking or noticing the notes because, quite frankly, there are no notes! There is simply a powerful haze around you that, I hate to say it, skews towards the loud and trashy side rather than to the elegant, polished, and sleek minimalism of the past.

To be fair, there is a different way of looking at all that if one were to play the Devil’s Advocate. First, not all the ’70s aldehydic green florals were discreet. In addition, some were quite minimalistic or abstract as well. Second, there is absolutely nothing wrong with fragrances that one can just throw on and go, and I would agree. I appreciate that sort of ease and simplicity as well at times. The rebuttal to this, however, is that one expects a little more at $225, €195, or £148 for the smallest bottle and from the Private Blend line than the sort of thing that is widely available for much less in mainstream perfumery or on eBay for the vintages.

Photo: girlscosmo.com

Photo: girlscosmo.com

Still, I would shrug all that off if Vert Boheme smelt great in its indeterminate morass, but there are other and arguably bigger problems that I have with the scent. First and foremost, it begins to smell like floral shampoo and, later on, like floral hairspray as well. The problem is the white musk which just balloons and balloons, and its effect on the already blurry floral-green notes and the “muguet”-like soapiness. From the 90-minute mark until the start of the 3rd hour, it felt as though I were wearing Diorissimo and Rive Gauche mixed with floral shampoo. Later, when the “muguet” faded away, I was left with Rive Gauche, some Cristalle, floral shampoo, and increasingly sharp, shrill white musk floral hairspray.

Source: vk.com

Source: vk.com

Things got worse after that. At the start of the 5th hour, I was stuck with: faux Cristalle; shrill floral hairspray; and some citrusy, vaguely magnolia-ish floral abstraction laced with an extremely scratchy synthetic woodiness. By the end of the 7th hour and the start of the 8th, it was basically sharp citrusy floral hairspray and rasping synthetic woodiness. The finish was simple laundry clean white musk. All of it irritated my throat, but the worst part was just how boring and unpleasant it was.

Which brings me to another problem I have with Vert Boheme: it’s a very linear scent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with simple, linear fragrances if you love the main notes in question but, obviously, I do not. Hours upon hours of abstract, soapy, clean, fresh, faceless florals imbued with greenness and loud white musk is several hours too many for me. The separation between the stages I’ve described above was minimal — a matter of degrees or micro-stages more than anything else — so, after the 40-minute mark, there were merely fluctuations in Vert Boheme’s nuances, the degree or nature of its “bathtastic” beauty products, its synthetic shrillness, and which particular 1970s fragrance it resembled more closely. For $225 a bottle, starting price, I don’t want to smell like floral shampoo or floral hairspray mixed with some overly synthetic, overly abstract remake of a 1970s fragrance.

Vero Profumo Mito. Source: Fragrantica

Vero Profumo Mito. Source: Fragrantica

If fresh, crisp, green florals or green floral chypres are your thing, I think there are far better modern recreations with better note delineation and infinitely better quality as well. Vero Profumo‘s Mito is beloved for its magnolia, florals, and galbanum, mossy greenness. It’s often viewed as a richer version of Cristalle. Sultan Pasha Attars‘s Thebes 2 has a very old-school Chanel No. 19 and Cristalle vibe, but mixes that with vintage Guerlain Djedi’s vetiver focus instead of magnolia. Oriza L. Legrand‘s Muguet Fleuri predated Diorissimo but really resembles it, while Sammarco’s Ariel  combines the sense of Chanel’s No. 19 and Misia with several Guerlain fragrances, all mixed into one. No, they’re not identical to Vert Boheme, merely alternatives in the general genre, but I don’t cover the sorts of designer fragrances that Vert Boheme is mostly likely to resemble, and these niche ones at least have character, complexity, nuances, style, and quality — things I find quite lacking in the Tom Ford fragrance.

I tested Vert Boheme twice. The first time, I used several wide smears that amounted to slightly more than one large generous spray from a bottle. With that quantity, the lovely opening phase took less time to dissolve than it did with a larger fragrance application, 40-45 minutes instead of 20 minutes. There was even less note delineation and change to the actual scent bouquet after the dissolution phase than what I’ve described above. Vert Boheme simply veered between floral shampoo, floral hairspray, and a shapeless, clean, fresh, soapy green-white mass before finishing off as sharp laundry musk in its final hours. The sillage became moderate to soft after 1.75 hours, the fragrance turned into a skin scent after 3 hours, and it lasted just over 8 hours in total.

Vert Boheme followed the same path when I used a greater amount, but it was a much louder scent with more synthetics, sharpness, and bluster. I accidentally applied slightly more than my usual baseline quantity of  2 sprays or their smeared equivalent because I didn’t have a good grasp on the vial and it poured out more than I had intended, so let’s say somewhere between 2.5 and 3 sprays. With that amount, the synthetics came out sooner and more strongly, and the fragrance dissolved more rapidly. The sillage was roughly 9-10 inches after 10 minutes, and the projection was about 5. Vert Boheme turned softer about 4 hours into its development, and took 7.75 hours to turn into a skin scent. It was still going easily detectable during the 11th hour when I had enough and finally scrubbed it off. However, please keep in mind that my skin amplifies the reach and longevity of any fragrance with a high degree of white musk and synthetics, and I also used between 2.5 and 3 sprays, so you may have lower numbers or something close to what I experienced with the 1-spray equivalent.

On Fragrantica, there are four reviews for Vert Boheme at the time of this post, and all four are extremely positive. One woman is “in love” with it, another calls it “awesome” and “this is the most floral of the” Tom Fords Verts that she tried, adding that “[a]ll three […] were amazing and well-worth the money.” For “FeelingRisky,” Vert Boheme rated a 9 out of 10, even though he did not find it original:

It’s Great. [¶] But it is NOT original. [¶] While there is not a single moment I doubt the creativity and quality here, I know I have smelled this before.

Now – It’s white. Almost Chanel White. It opens like Balenciaga and it’s very VERY feminine. This is not one (and trust me I wear a lot of unisex) that I would consider Unisex. It’s beautiful, long lasting and somewhat green. I smell a lot of magnolia, violet and honeysuckle (gorgeous, realistic). I hardly smell any wood notes at all which is a shame.  [¶] 9/10 [Emphasis to perfume names added by me.]

Vintage Diorissimo ad. Source: thenonblonde.com

Vintage Diorissimo ad. Source: thenonblonde.com

For “Sparklydocs,” Vert Boheme felt very familiar as well:

Tried a spray of it on my wrist and it does smell green/floral and spring like, but it reminded me of something I already have but I couldn’t put my finger on it. After about 15-20 minutes it hit me, it was a combination of Diorissimo parfum and Chanel Cristalle EDT all rolled into one!!

I have to agree with FeelingRisky, in that it’s very feminine and not unisex to me at all. [Emphasis to perfume names added by me.]

No, it’s definitely not a unisex fragrance but, as I said earlier, I think Vert Boheme will be popular with women and floral-loving men who love this genre of perfumery. I think they’ll find the fragrance to be chic and familiar at the same time, enjoying that aspect greatly. Others, however, may think it’s too familiar, not distinctive enough, and possibly too synthetic for the price. If you love either fresh, crisp, and clean feminine florals, green/white florals, or any of the fragrances mentioned here, then you should try it for yourself to see which camp you fall into. Or, you could give some of the alternatives that I’ve mentioned a try.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Vert Boheme is an eau de parfum which comes in 2 sizes. There is a 50 ml/1.7oz bottle that costs: $225, €195, or £148; and a giant 250 ml/8.4 oz bottle that costs $595, €450, or £345. In the U.S.: Vert Boheme is available directly from Tom Ford. You can also find it at: Luckyscent, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom, and Bergdorf Goodman. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, The Bay sells TF but doesn’t list Vert Boheme at the time of this post. In the U.K., Vert Boheme is sold at: Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and other department stores. In France, Premiere Avenue and Le Bon Marche have it. French Sephora carries the Private Blend line, but does not list Vert Boheme at the time of this post. Elsewhere, Vert Boheme is available at: First in Fragrance, Germany’s Douglas, the NL’s Douglas, Italy’s Alla Violetta, and Belgium’s Parfuma. Australia’s David Jones and Russia’s Lenoma carry Tom Ford, but don’t have this one yet. They should get it soon. In the Middle East, Tom Ford is sold at many stores, especially Harvey Nichols. For all other countries, you can use the Tom Ford Store Locator GuideSamples: Surrender to Chance sells Vert Boheme starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. Luckyscent normally sells samples as well.

8 thoughts on “Tom Ford Vert Boheme: The Return of the ’70s

  1. I think you are being extremely generous with this one. It opened beautifully for me and if it had kept going I probably would have considered a bottle, but I only got the lovely sparkling green haze for about 15 minutes before it turned to complete dreck. I can ignore the presence of white musk if used with restraint, creativity, or if I’m in a particular mood, and I don’t object to a good linear perfume, but Vert Bohemé was too disappointing. It wasn’t just that the musk and squeaky clean florals were annoying, they were annoying and dull and wouldn’t die and they followed that promising opening.

    Huh, that turned into a bit of a rant. Apparently I’m bitter about being let down 😉 I was also trying to test Vert d’Encens on the other arm and it was like trying to talk to someone who seemed interesting while being constantly interrupted by a chattering airhead.

    • “Complete dreck” – LOL! I enjoy bitter rants of frustration, so I’m glad you let loose. “Chattering airhead” made me snort a second time out loud. 😀

      That lovely, enticing opening… what the hell happened???! And you’re right, the blasted fragrance simply wouldn’t die. Do you know, it took me forever to get it off my skin after the 2nd test when I finally gave up (way later than I should have. I should have scrubbed much sooner for my own sake.). None of my usual removal methods worked, a hot shower didn’t work, and all that was left was the hideous smell of Bounce laundry/drier sheets on my skin. It took a third go-around with Acetone, Tide laundry, dishwashing liquid, olive oil, and vaseline to kill the blasted thing. So, yeah, I’m feeling rather bitter about it, too, even if it’s for different reasons. lol

      By the way, Vert d’Encens will be the next review and, to my surprise, I quite liked that one. Well, parts of it at least. After the last 7 or 8 Tom Ford fragrances that I’ve covered, this year and the last, I had started to lose hope, but the Encens one was unexpected.

  2. It has been my observation that the amazing opening followed by the disappointing, synthetic drydown… is a characteristic of the Tom Ford fragrances. In my mind, I associate the TFs with another house that repeatedly did that same unfoldment on the skin– fascinating opening, disappointing drydown– Avon.

  3. I came late to the TF private blends, but mostly find them better than most stuff in the same category. Unfortunately this great start/generic finish seems to be deliberate in our perfume phobic times. We cannot have anymore the statements of things like Poison and Paris and the old Guerlains or any of the vintages from the last century. Or any of those blockbusters that lasted for twelve hours with a subtle yet defined trajectory through the notes. I do think Ford is quite a master, though….perhaps not like Lutens, perhaps more commercially driven, but when I explore his oeuvre, I do think there is the heart of a perfumiste in there….

  4. I commend your dexterity in dedicating such a finely detailed review to “complete dreck” !
    Having known the Tom Ford line of perfumes for both their audacious marketing ands reliably under par quality I sincerely hope the “Extraits Verts” concept will be followed up by a quartet of fragrances refreshingly named “le gâchis complet”.

  5. Pingback: Tom Ford Vert d'Encens - Kafkaesque

  6. I am looking for a new, very “limey”, clean, ocean, Private Collection type of sent. Any suggestions?

    • Hi there. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything right now which fits all your criteria, simultaneously. I’m sure such fragrances exist amidst the new or even relatively new crop, but I haven’t tried them. There are now about 2,000+ new releases every year and I’m afraid I don’t like limey, clean, fresh, or ocean/calone notes in fragrances, so I don’t seek them out unless they’re a really major new release. All the “limey” fragrances that I can think of are not in the fresh, clean or oceanic field, but dark, heavy orientals. One fragrance with a majorly lime-heavy aroma has a nice Gin-and-Tonic note over dark, sexy leather, but is leather too dark and not on the “clean” side for you? Can you take some dark musks in the base? If you can give up some of the clean vibe you’re looking for, then perhaps you can look into Christopher Street by Charenton Macerations and see if it sounds appealing:
      http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2014/08/01/charenton-macerations-christopher-street/

      The Ocean fragrances I can think of are not new or don’t have lime. Having said that, have you tried Profumum’s Acqua di Sale? One of the best and most enjoyable salty sea, fresh, clean fragrances that I’ve tried, although I must note it was an earlier version than what is out now. Still, Acqua di Sale has a great North Atlantic, salty aroma and it’s quite brisk and fresh. Extremely popular with the Italians, both men and women alike:
      http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2013/07/30/perfume-review-profumum-acqua-di-sale-the-bottled-sea/

      One thing that I keep thinking of that *doesn’t* fit your parameters exactly but which may be interesting to you is Dior’s Privee line scent called Granville (if you can find it because I can’t remember now if it’s been discontinued or not):
      http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2013/07/03/perfume-review-dior-leather-oud-granville-la-collection-privee/

      It’s aromatic, fresh, citrusy, woody, and with a definite eucalyptus note, but it’s not salty or oceanic.

      And, none of these suggestions are new releases, I’m afraid, so if you’re looking for something that’s totally brand new and just out, then they won’t fit your criteria.

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

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