Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous: The Name, The Story, The Scent

Source: Pinterest.

There is an 800-pound scented gorilla in the room, and its name begins with an expletive. Fucking Fabulous is the latest release from Tom Ford, a limited-edition eau de parfum in the Private Collection that has people in a tizzy, half of them thinking it’s the coolest thing ever as they rush to buy the scent, half of them decrying the name as being too vulgar for their tastes. I’m not a prude and I don’t care enormously about the name, per se, but I am immensely annoyed by the blatant manipulation underlying it. I’m not keen on the insulting implication from Tom Ford himself (as well as from some fans) that you’ll only find the name to be offensive if you’re a prude, but what really sets me off is the sheer brazenness of their marketing manipulation and the underlying assumption that either you’re too stupid to see it or so “cool” that you don’t care. Amidst the dollar signs in Estee Lauder and Tom Ford’s eyes, layered between their own quoted words, there are loaded assumptions, cynical calculations, dismissals, glibness, generational differences and, worst of all, obnoxiously blatant disingenuousness.

Fucking Fabulous. Source: Fragrantica.

As you might have gathered, I’m rather peeved, to put it mildly. I’m also irritated at being forced into the trap that Tom Ford has clearly set for everyone, which is to talk about this damn fragrance name. But that’s what I’m going to have to do because “Fucking Fabulous” is more about the name and marketing than any olfactory magic. I’ll cover what it actually smells like in the second-half of this review, but spoiler alert: it’s NOT fucking fabulous. Or unique. Or worth the even further elevated price ($310 as a starting point), in my opinion.

Before that, though, we have to talk about the damn name, how it was chosen, and how both Estee Lauder and Tom Ford have talked about it. Because I have a few things to get off my chest about the undercurrents. Tom Ford wants the word “Fucking” tripping off everyone’s tongue as either they gush and coo over the coolness of it or they object, in what he can then gleefully label as “prudishness.” That was certainly the implication of one comment which Mr. Ford made in a The New York Times interview that I’ll discuss further below. There, he also said flat-out “it’s not even that big of a statement.” Even if that were true in today’s day and culture, it’s ridiculous to pretend that the choice of an expletive as nomenclature is completely innocuous in the fragrance world. If it were completely meaningless and not a big deal, if the f-bomb was as meaningless as words like “phooey” or “codswallop,” I highly doubt that it would have been chosen.

THE STORY BEHIND FUCKING FABULOUS:

John Demsey, Estee Lauder Group President. Source: theodoraandcallum.com

Coveteur and its journalist, Jane Larkworthy, have the backstory behind the fragrance which was initially launched as a special accompaniment to Tom Ford’s Spring Summer 2018 runway show at New York Fashion Week before being released in a larger limited-release fashion. The name choice apparently came about earlier, at a meeting between Tom Ford and Estee Lauder‘s fragrance super chief, John Demsey:

“We were sitting in a meeting smelling the fragrance and Tom said, ‘This is fucking fabulous,’” recalls John Demsey, executive group president of the Estee Lauder Companies, which owns Tom Ford Beauty. “I said, ‘Yeah, it is fucking fabulous.’ He said, ‘Well, why not [call it] Fucking Fabulous?’ So we did. It’s a descriptive. Some people talk about fragrance ingredients; we talk about how it smells.”

Demsey is the first to admit that in these especially polarizing times, there will be those who will object to such colorful nomenclature, which is why FF didn’t launch on a department store counter.

“We did it boldly and unapologetically, but we did it in a very Tom Ford way,” says Demsey. “It was a gesture for people in the know, but it was really because Tom can.”  

According to Coveteur (and Demsey):

Tom isn’t necessarily encouraging us to use the word more. He’s merely saying, if the fragrance fits…

“Tom Ford is the consummate gentleman. No one cares more about manners than he does,” adds Demsey. “I understand that this could be offensive to people, but it’s been done in a super elegant, high-end way with good taste. There is a very fine line between what’s salacious and what’s pornographic, what’s erotic and what has a sense of humor. Tom is one of those people who has the ability to do both.”

Uh-huh. Yeah, whatever. I don’t see how a supposedly punctilious concern over manners fits in this context. And what exactly is the “super-elegant, high-end” approach taken to this fragrance that will prevent the name from offending some people? Is it the way that the fragrance smells or the limited roll-out? Neither one of those particular matters have any logical connection or bearing on the completely separate issue of whether someone will find the name to be offensive. So just what is the “super elegant, high-end way with good taste” that we’re talking about? If you ask me, it’s a gibberish deflection and spin.

At least Coveteur is honest enough to acknowledge that the actual scent bouquet is the single most irrelevant part of “Fucking Fabulous.” As they put it:

With a label like this, it’s not really about the juice, but bottle-bragging rights.

Source: itunes.apple.com

Bragging rights are just the tip of the iceberg; the massive body below the water is all about money, Instagram “influencers,” money, coolness, money, titillation, money, and schoolboy/girl giggles over the “naughty” name — “oooh, can you imagine!” they whisper behind their hands, how “fucking fabulous!” The effect of the “Fucking” name on sales was such that even Demsey’s well-oiled facade dropped amidst the sound of a jackpot gushing forth, revealing his utter glee at their success and implicitly underscoring the lie behind their ridiculous charade that the name is merely “a descriptive” of how the fragrance smells:

“I haven’t had these many requests since Tom first went into business with us ten years ago,” marvels Demsey. “Everyone’s asking me, ‘Aren’t I fucking fabulous?’”

Talk about word association.

Along with the 300 or so bottles created for guests of the runway show, another thousand were made, and that reserve has already sold out, too. However, it is back in stock on tomford.com (for now) and in Tom Ford boutiques.

That mad rush to buy all the initial 1000-reserve bottles (at a significantly higher price than even the recently augmented $230 Private Blend price point, I might add) is probably why Estee Lauder’s chairman emeritus, Leonard Lauder, shrugged off the “F*****g” and smiled:

Assuming we don’t negotiate with the chairman emeritus, either, I asked Demsey what Leonard Lauder’s response was.

“He shrugged,” laughed Demsey. “He shrugged and he smiled. Remember, this is the man whose mother famously said, ‘When sex goes out of business, so do we.’”

In a New York Times interview, Mr. Ford dismissed any potential outrage or distaste over the name as a sign of the person’s prudishness, with a jab thrown in there about political correctness as well. I find his comments to be insulting, not to mention highly disingenuous and manipulative given how the name choice is clearly and very cynically intended to provoke people, drive sales, and create chatter. But let’s let Mr. Ford speak in his own words:

Was the name a eureka moment?
I actually said in a meeting, “This is [expletive] fabulous.” I thought, “Why don’t we just call it that?” [Mr. Ford gasps, imitating his audience.] “We can’t say that, how would we do that, how will we advertise, we can’t put it on Instagram, what are we going to do?” It’s great.

In a recent interview, you said we were all getting very prudish. Was this a way of calling attention back to what really matters?
I think we have become quite prudish. Or maybe not “we,” but corporations are afraid of offending a certain segment of the market. It’s very interesting. We have more personal freedom, and people are so concerned with being politically correct, that sometimes it actually restricts them.

So is this an opportunity to put the expletive front and center, where you feel it belongs?
Oh, it’s not even that big of a statement. If you’re offended by that word … it’s not for sale any place a little kid is going to wander in and say, “Mom, what’s that word?” It’s only available in my stores. And, by the way, it’s almost sold out, and our waiting list is, like, crazy. I don’t know how many millions of impressions we’ve had.

I’m sorry to be the voice of prudery, but I can’t publish the name in The New York Times. Is there an alternate name we should use?
I think you can publish the name in The New York Times, I’ve seen it.

Source: GQ at gq.com

Personally, I think his comments prove my point about the disingenuous nature of his claim that an expletive-laced name is supposedly not a big deal or “that big of a statement.” He knows it is. He wants to push the barrier simply because there is a barrier in the first place. Without that barrier, his choice would not be so newsworthy and, consequently, not so profitable. And there is a second barrier, too, one within the fragrance industry that, by and large, follows very conventional, set, traditional rules and patterns. So, having the f-bomb plastered in solid, bold letters for someone to see in immutable form every day on their dresser is yet another “big statement.” Most of all, though, Tom Ford has the very specific goal of having as many people as possible talking about his scent, with the word “fucking” tripping off their tongue, because the more he can shock people, the more buzz there will be, and the more he can make sell. That’s why he practically dares the “august Grey Lady,” the nickname for the New York Times, to fall in line with his plans by using the expletive, too. And yes, I’m fully aware that I’ve yielded as well with the entire first half of this post, but what is one to do with a fragrance like this and everything that comes with it when it pisses one off so much? A better person than I would have probably ignored all of it or merely written a withering two-sentence dismissal and moved on but, clearly, I am not that person. Tom Ford has, to use words he would understand, rubbed me the wrong fucking way.

If he admitted candidly that the name was intended to titillate, that he liked to break convention, and that it was “fucking fabulous” to be talked about and to make lots of money, I’d have no problem and have a lot more respect for him. But to have the Estee Lauder fragrance chief assert that it’s nothing more than “a descriptive” of what the fragrance smells like is insulting to one’s intelligence. The worst part, though, is have Tom Ford pretend that he is not intentionally courting money and controversy and then imply to The New York Times that “if you’re offended,” it’s basically your fault; you’re over-reacting. After all, he claims, it’s not going to be sold where kids can see it. (What about them seeing it on their parent’s dressers?) And then he adds, “by the way, it’s almost sold out, and our waiting list is, like, crazy. I don’t know how many millions of impressions we’ve had.” In other words, everyone loves it and it’s just you. You’re over-reacting. You are the problem.

Well, speaking for myself, I’m not over-reacting to his toddler-like titillation over a swear word but I am most certainly reacting to the patronizing, condescending, dismissive psychological manipulation going on with every part of this sales campaign. THAT is what I really find offensive and THAT is the real 800-pound gorilla in the room. Dude, just admit it already: you love the attention, you love sticking your tongue out at society, and you’re making tons of money off of it. That’s why you chose the name. Admit it and don’t treat us like we’re idiots or, even worse, imply that any objections that someone may have are due simply to political correctness gone amok or to over-reactive prudery. 2017 has already been a repeated excursion into The Upside Down and we get enough gas-lighting from certain Twitter-pated narcissists without you trying to delude us about a mediocre scent that you’ve managed to sell out (despite its higher than normal $310 price tag) for the entire first batch solely by virtue of having a buzz-worthy, hipster-cool, Instagram-trendy name like this one. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to post-truth fragrance marketing.

FUCKING FABULOUS — THE SCENT:

Source: Paleoplan.com

Tom Ford doesn’t list the notes on his website but, according to Fragrantica, the fragrance includes:

bitter almond oil, tonka bean, orris root, leather, cashmerean and clary sage oil.

Fucking Fabulous opens with almonds that are bitter, sweet, fluffy, marzipan-ish, and powdery, smelling just like heliotrope, except with a bitter component. Tonka follows suit, reinforcing the fluffiness as well as adding a vanilla aroma that accentuates the similarity to heliotrope. Lavender ties the two together, taking on both their characteristics to turn into sweet, creamy, vanilla-laced lavender ice-cream. Rounding things off is fluffy, rooty, sweet orris and a trace of smoky leather. The latter quickly grows stronger, expanding with every passing minute. Less than 15 minutes in, the leather becomes the third main prong of the scent. The cumulative effect is a lightly aromatic but strongly powdery, sweet floral-leather bouquet where smoky, blackened leather is coated with lavender-tonka ice-cream, then cocooned within a cloud of “heliotrope”-style floral/almond powder.

Photo: fashion photographer, Kristian Schuller. (Direct link to his full website is embedded within.)

The opening reminds me of several other fragrances. If one puts aside and ignores the lavender, the end result is what I had expected Guerlain‘s Cuir Beluga to smell like, except that one was all fluffy heliotrope, tonka, and orris on my skin and lacked even a weak leather component. When one includes the lavender and the leather’s smokiness, the combination is close to a mash-up of Cuir Beluga, HermesCuir d’Ange, and something like Serge LutensFourreau Noir. Fucking Fabulous is sweeter, warmer, and significantly smokier and more vanillic than Cuir d’Ange was on me, but I think both fragrances initially share a common aroma of pristine, untouched, expensive leather goods.

Photo: Wanna Be A Country Cleaver, Megan Cleaver, via Tastykitchen.com

The closest scent comparison during the first 30-minutes, however, is to Serge Lutens’ Fourreau Noir before it was reformulated. Not only does Fucking Fabulous turn quite smoky and incense-y after 15 minutes, but there is also a strong note of spicy woods which comes through at that point and which resembles patchouli much more than cashmeran. The mix of creamy lavender ice-cream, tonka-vanilla, smoke, incense, and spicy woodiness bears a strong, strong similarity to the Lutens bouquet on my skin, only this is rougher and not as smooth or well-rounded in its notes.

Source: picsfair.com

Fucking Fabulous changes as it develops. The roughness becomes particularly noticeable after 40 minutes when the cashmeran kicks in and the leather turns up several notices, taking on that Tom Ford shoe-polish aroma of his prior leather fragrances like Tuscan Leather. I think there must be quite a dry, powerful woody-amber aromachemical as part of the “leather” accord. The synthetic smoke, leather, and dryness are not the only things to increase; Fucking Fabulous turns considerably more powdery as well. The almond’s bitterness is also beginning to take on a faintly acrid quality, perhaps as a side-effect of all the smoke. Roughly 75 minutes in, Fucking Fabulous turns into Tuscan Leather’s brother but with sweet heliotrope-almond power and lavender-tonka ice-cream in lieu of raspberries and saffron.

“Terre de contraste” by Davidian Gottis on Art Majeur. (Direct website link embedded within.)

The fragrance turns simpler, darker, smokier, drier, more powdery, and more synthetic as it develops. Roughly 1.75 hours in, the lavender begins to weaken, and the cashmeran arrives to add a clean musk aroma as well as a heightened degree of clean powderiness and dry woodiness. Roughly 2.5 hours in, the bouquet dissolves into a sweet-smoky leather powder bomb: intensely smoky, rough, blackened leather enveloped within a heavy cloud of powder that is simultaneously sweet, almondy, and clean. A little too clean at times, if you ask me; when the cashmeran interacts with the heliotrope-almond, the result occasionally resembles talcum powder layered with laundry musk.

Photo: “Controlled Burn 2” by Kevin Cooley. Source: Indulgd.com (Direct website link embedded within.)

At the end of the 3rd hour and start of the 4th, the leather becomes more impressionistic and amorphous, overshadowed by intensely synthetic smokiness. When I smell Fucking Fabulous on the scent trail and from a distance, there is a definite sense of “leather” but, when I smell my arm up close, the leather is a mere sliver within a cloud of powder. The latter consists of cashmeran’s laundry cleanness flecked with a woody aromachemical and sweet, slightly vanillic almond-tonka. The lavender has disappeared for all intents and purposes. Sometimes, when I smell my arm up close for too long, the aromachemicals’ large molecules sometimes trigger a temporary anosmia to the smoke, and all that is detectable is a cloud of sweet-clean powder laced with a quiet touch of dry woodiness. When I take a 10 or 15 minute break from sniffing, however, the smoke appears in full force, both from afar and up close.

Source: 123rf.cm stock photos.

Fucking Fabulous continues to dissolve and simplify as it develops. Roughly 4.25 hours in, it is nothing more than dry, harsh, abrasive, leatherish, woody-ish black smoke given a clean and sweet powder finish. At the end of the 5th hour, depending on how one looks at it, the fragrance is either clean, sweet, powdery smokiness or clean, smoky, sweet powder with a woody aromachemical undertone. By the middle of the 6th hour, the powder actually fades away, overtaken by the aromachemicals which waft a strong leather-woody smokiness infused with loads of cashmeran laundry-clean white musk. I had enough and scrubbed not long after. Or, rather, I tried to. It took me repeated uses of my “extreme measures” concoction (acetone, hydrogen peroxide, and Tide HE laundry concentrate) scrubbed over skin coated with olive oil or lotion, and then two hot showers to remove most of the synthetics from my skin. Even after all that, I could still smell powdery cashmeran musk on my arm for quite a few hours.

Quite a lot of people have tried Fucking Fabulous on Fragrantica, and the vast, vast majority of the opinions are negative. For many, the heliotrope seems to have taken over or dominated, resulting in comments that are either about “marzipan” (a tell-tale sign of heliotrope), “Play-Doh” (ditto), and the fragrance’s gourmand character, or about “baby wipes” (ditto, when heliotrope goes terribly wrong). One person detected the dry, rubbery smokiness amidst the deluge of sweet powder, noting similarities to fragrances like Bvlgari’s Black, while another clearly got enough of the aromachemicals to warrant a reference to Nasomatto’s Black Afgano, but they are just a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the numerous, repeated “baby wipes” references. More than anything, though, the comments have a field-day with the expletive part of the fragrance’s name, the mediocrity of the scent, and just how little it lives up to its moniker. One person, “Escoteric,” succinctly summed up the fragrance as: “Fucking Terrible is more apposite.”

One chap, “Michael.a.nords,” even went so far as to say that FF would be viewed in the future as the scent that began the brand’s decline. (I think that’s already happened.) He wrote, in part:

… I think FF might be looked at in the future as the fragrance that was more Estee Lauder than Tom Ford and began the decline of their ‘prestige brand’ acquisition.

Huge corporations eventually turn the great brands they acquire into mere shadows of their former selves, chasing trends and dollars instead of setting the standard for elegance and creativity.

This scent is described on the Tom Ford website as a decadent oriental leather. Sorry, charlie. This is a gourmand. It has a cloying marzipan note from almond and tonka, which is really the only story happening here. I agree with anyone who feels like this is the scent of pampers or baby wipes or other infant consumables. It’s so boring and flat and effusively powdery that despite the small hope that clary sage will linger on the blotter and perhaps have something interesting to impart is overcome when the ludicrous price tag is considered. 50 mL is $310? Fucking Ridiculous would be a more apt name. [snip]

“Fucking Ridiculous” would actually be a perfect name, not only for the fragrance but also for the entire circus surrounding it. It’s true that very few modern compositions (particularly aromachemical-heavy ones) are likely to live up to a name like “Fucking Fabulous,” but this one is particularly sub-par, in my opinion. In weeks from now, I’ll probably have no memory of it other than “heliotrope, lavender Tuscan Leather,” but I’ll never forget the company’s cynical, manipulative marketing or its obnoxious comments. I’ve always liked Tom Ford, the person, even when I didn’t like some of his fragrances, even when I rued the decline in quality and creativity over the last few years, but this release and his comments have left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’m unlikely to forget it.

Mr. Ford, consider this review and the tsunami of similar ones on Fragrantica as a sign that we’re not all lemmings rushing off a cliff of your choosing, not all prudes clutching our pearls in PC-horror over the name, and not all hoodwinked by your childish games. You may be laughing all the way to the bank, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a terrible fragrance and the Emperor has no clothes.

Details/Links: Limited Edition. $310 for 50 ml EDP or $804 for 250 ml. Available at Tom Ford, his boutiques, and Neiman Marcus. Samples at Surrender to Chance start at $4.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

60 thoughts on “Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous: The Name, The Story, The Scent

    • You’re very welcome, Julie. You’ll be amused to hear that, on Fragrantica, 70 people have voted for this fragrance smelling like “Squidward,” the fragrance for SpongeBob Squarepants. That should bring a smile to your face today.

  1. so… if my immediate reaction to your review is “stop taking it all so seriously”…

    does that make me complicit in Tom Ford’s ruining of American culture? or does that just mean i’m a doting rube?

    because clearly it can’t be a valid point. :-/

    • It just means that you have a perspective and an opinion. As I do. Your opinion is no more or no less valid than mine or Tom, Dick, and Harry’s. The only difference perhaps is that I would not judge your opinion.

    • By the way, for what it’s worth, I don’t think Tom Ford has ruined America. And, while I know nothing about you, I doubt that you’re a rube.

  2. Hah!! I want to yell “You Go Girl”, but I probably need to preserve the mystery and the question mark. Only The Shadow Knows and all that. Thank you for being brutally honest while classy, and for suffering through olfactory hardship on our behalf. Condescending manipulation as blatant as that deserves to be baby-wiped right off the marketing map.

    • Only the ferocious Hairy German knows for certain. 🙂 LOL @ “baby-wiped” right off the marketing map. The multitude of Fragrantica users writing about baby wipes would probably clap approvingly at your use of the word as a verb.

  3. WOW, I was inclined to say “tell me how you really feel” but you already had done so.
    I have not tried FF so cannot comment on the actual fragrance. I am not adverse to expletives as I have used many (perhaps more descriptively than FF) but if anything has a nomenclature such as FF, it should live up to its description. At least he didn’t name it “Fragrantly Fabulous”.

  4. “Welcome to post-truth fragrance marketing” – this may be the review of the year, my dear.

    Sad, but so true. The zeitgeist has completely overtaken knowledge, reasoning or common sense, and we’re viewed as animals scrambling in the dirt to buy this overpriced, puerile attempt at provocation. The fact that the end result is little more than generic heliotrope and laundry musk completes the dystopia.

    I confess I had the same reaction as you on hearing of this one. It would have had to be fabulous indeed to have captured my affection after such a rocky start. if you’re going to pick a name that audacious, the scent itself has to live up to the hype.

    We’re living in crazy times, my dear K. Thanks again for the reminder that the emperor really does have no clothes.

    • You know, there are one or two fragrances this year that I would actually, really, and truly call “F*g fabulous” and that live up to that sort of moniker. This is not one of them. Ultimately, though, I doubt Tom Ford cares about us peons. He succeeded in what he sought to do, created talk, and is laughing all the way to the bank.

    • It’s not the most widely accessible fragrance unless one buys a sample (as I did), goes to a Tom Ford store, or is a blogger from one of the fashion glossies who gets a free bottle. The latter is unlikely to be an experienced or hardcore fume-head, so their perspective is likely to be driven by other factors.

  5. Hello Kafkaesque, thank you for this very well-written review. I was wondering just a couple of days ago if you were going to review this one. When I first ran across the Fragrantica entry for Fucking Fabulous, my first thought was that it was nowhere near April 1. I find the marketing offensive as well, and it goes without saying I won’t be sampling this one either. I think I’ll wear Fourreau Noir tomorrow!

  6. This whole charade rubbed me the wrong way too. And having not so long ago spent way too much on sub-par Tom Ford product, I’m pretty much done. Marketing only gets you so far, especially at this price point. I love some of my older TF products. Avoiding the brand now.
    Thanks for just saying it as it is.

    • You’re very welcome. Some of TF’s older/earlier fragrances were lovely. It’s a shame that things have devolved to the point where as many as 70 people think his latest fragrance smells like SpongeBob Squarepants’ fragrance, Squidward. It’s actually pretty astonishing.

      • I have stopped buying the brand. And I was a big fan. Their quality lately has been spotty (at such a high price point) and their customer service is awful. I’m so disappointed, but in another way glad to save the money. This release is insulting – I’m with you on that. Maybe I should check out Squidward.

        • Is it just the fragrances or do you think his beauty products have also slipped? I hear women raving about TF make-up stuff all the time, so I had the impression that it was top-notch, but perhaps that was before?

          • The beauty products have slipped more than the fragrances, in my opinion. There were a few truly awful releases – the 2016 Orchid highlighters. One was almost impossible to swatch, let alone use (the light purplish one). The patent finish lip products bleed and can be patchy – they are gorgeous though. Recent eye shadow releases have been very inconsistent, as are the boys/girls lipsticks. Some products are still really lovely, which means you just never know… The brand has been pre-releasing new and limited releases on their own site – selling out – and they don’t take returns on used makeup. So, you can spend $80 for eyeshadow and get one that is patchy (the quad with the dark blue, I forget the name). My NM rep has stopped urging me to buy – and warns me what not to buy. I’m annoyed that the brand is pre-releasing, thus hurting the in store sales, since it hurts the SAs (and mine claims that they are selling a lot less in store). Very disappointing. But, I’m saving a lot of money!

          • Egads! I had no idea. I knew that there were like a gazillion “Boys/Girls”-named lipsticks but not of these quality dives.

            You probably know of Temptalia; she’s a good friend of mine. We don’t talk about work stuff, but I’ll ask her about Tom Ford as soon as she comes up for air. This time of year, she’s usually buried under a pile of holiday palettes or gift items.

            The TF pre-release/no returns situation sounds frustrating. But least you have a good, honest SA to warn you and guide you the rest of the time.

          • Temptalia has been one of the honest reviewers. When the quality started to drop, a number of online bloggers and commenters still said great things about the them. Temptalia will be honest and note the drop in quality. It’s disappointing that she has to do so. Some products are still stunning, and I love them. But I’m done with pre-releases and buying direct. You have to wonder what they’re thinking. Fragrance is more subjective, but patchy makeup is pretty easy to spot.

  7. “How do you do! I’m TomFord.MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEI’MFUCKINGFABULOUSANDYOU’RENOTANDNEITHERISTHISPERFUMEBUTYOUWANTITDON’TBECAUSETHENAMEISSOSOSOSOOUTRÉTHATIT’SASFUCKINGFABULOUSASITHINKIAM!!!” And that’ll be $299.95, debit or credit? Yeah. Boring marzipan. No thanks.

  8. Agree with you absolutely – cynical, manipulative, greedy and just plain wrong! Oh dear, it’s a sad old world ….. I think I’m yearning for cosiness, unicorns, fluffy kittens and peace and goodwill to all men …. not that this is likely to happen!

    I suppose most perfumes have never really lived up to their imaginative names, and those names were really pandering to aspirations and dreams rather than reflecting the properties of the juice, but this is just daft. I would far rather say I was wearing “So Pretty” or “Sublime” – and they would probably smell much better too.

  9. This post touches me the way your Chanel-Misia one does. Like I can breathe a little easier because there are still enough of us out there decrying (and my most recent go-to phrase): “bananas! Hectic bananas!” I don’t know why, even if the terms dystopia and post-truth go through my discourse it’s bananas I resort to. (With all due respect to the fruit).
    But I digress. Goodmorning K! And well put.
    Im back in Lebanon for 6 weeks For work and family. Finally settled into living across two continents. An image to suit this post: as Middle East Airlines lands and everyone of all genders and ages frantically spritzes their (synthetic) perfumes – competing ferociously with each other and giving me a pounding headache after an overnight flight ….. well ….. that’s the kind of situation I use the term FF in. Between me and me. In my head it comes out with Patsy’s British accent (from Absolutely Fabulous). So. If we decorate FF with dripping sarcasm….? The Pomo wheel will have done its thing.

  10. Ugggghhhh. WHY? Why so desperate, Tom Ford? This makes me so sad. It also makes me want to run out and buy backups of Black Orchid, which I adore. I don’t trust these people.

    Squidward. This is the end. RIP Tom Ford.

      • I seem to remember reading somewhere, it may have been your blog, that Black Orchid has been reformulated, and not well. I couldn’t find where I read it, but has this really happened? Black Orchid is one of my favorites too.

        • I don’t know if it was on another site or in the comments to this one, but that’s what I’ve heard and been told. I personally haven’t tried Black Orchid recently in the shops (because I have a bottle) to know if it’s true or not, but I’ve been told by two people that it’s been changed or is different now, and I think I also read something to that effect on Fragrantica (??). My advice is to stop by Sephora when you can and see what you think. If it has, then look up batch numbers to perhaps buy a back-up bottle with an older code on eBay.

          • Honestly, this is my biggest reformulation fear! I’m not sure why I didn’t start buying backups earlier. I can’t really find much on reformulations online so I guess I need to go out and sniff it. Sadly I have been bogged down with sinusitis for the past two weeks and no sense of smell so today is not the day to smell Black Orchid. I guess today would be ideal to test Fucking Fabulous instead!

            I’m not normally hesitant with buying perfumes off eBay but I think there are a lot of fakes of Tom Ford flying around…

          • Two weeks of sinusitis… Ouch! I hope you feel better soon.

            You’re right that Tom Ford is one more popular brands to fake. Perhaps if you find a really reputable, high-volume seller, you can take the risk as they will refund your money if it’s a fake or you’ll get it via the PayPal protection. It’s worth a thought.

          • Yes, true. And there’s information out there on how to spot the fakes so I guess I need to stop being so lazy and get clued up. Sigh.

            Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, Kafka!

            P.S. Here’s another one looking forward to your yearly round-up!

          • Thanks for the good advice. I stopped by Sephora yesterday to compare their Black Orchid EDP tester to the EDP bottle I bought in 2013, batch code B53. For me there was definitely a difference between them that became more noticeable with time. The first thing I noted was that the 2013 version had the “earthy funk” in the opening, but I couldn’t smell this at all in the tester. Other than that, the tester still smelled like Black Orchid to me, but weaker, with less of what makes my 2013 version special. The tester faded considerably quicker on my skin as well. I’m glad that I bought the 100 ml bottle back in 2013. I hope others that want to find older bottles are able to do so.

  11. Thankyou so much for this detailed and honest review of not only the fragrance, but the name too, i agree 100% with every word, i do actualy love some Tom Ford fragrances, but i found this to be bland, synthetic and cheap. Its ironic that he went all out for shock value with the name for an actualy lame and lousy perfume more suited to a “prude” than anyone with a daring nature, actualy in my opinion its more “Miss Marple” than “Meghan Markle”

    Also, regarding the name, as a 25 year old guy who spends hours boxing in a gym, i dont regard myself as prudish and i hear much worse on a daily basis, but i DO take offence at the name, i have no desire to use the F word like a badge of honour, and i certainly do not wish to pay extortionate prices to do so either.

    What next for TF perfume name attention seeking? “GOD IS DEAD”? or maybe a festive “KILL SANTA”? I guess the most appt name and logo for F’ing Fabulous would have been………..$$$$ FUCK YOU ALL $$$$

    • I admire and like that you “have no desire to use the F word like a badge of honour[.]” The trend these days seems to be in the opposite direction.

      Are you a kick boxer or regular boxer? Either way, I admire the training and work that is involved. My concept of strenuous activity and a “work out” is house cleaning. Lol 😉

      • Hi K, thankyou for the kind words,

        we are living in sad times where any element of class or polite ettiquete is being extinguished, in the name of modern culture or for $$$/£££ 🙁 Oh, and im a regular boxer, but not professionaly, and iv been raised in an “old fashioned” family where my mother and sisters ran the household, i can say hand on heart that house work can be exhausting and harder work than any gym session!

        Lol. My advice, good music, and regular coffee breaks!

        P.S. Realy looking forward to any end of year round up/review of fragrances you DID think were fabulous, No pressure! Lol

  12. The. Best. Review. Ever. We certainly are enduring an emperor without clothes; the new post-truth/fact era is like a house of mirrors. TF FF sounds as if it attempted a smokier SL’s Foureau Noir which is in my top ten of all time. I love lavender and incense, but I’ll stick with the better and original masterpiece of SL’s.
    Thank you for so critically deconstructing TF’s marketing and the “linguistics” of the lie. Your research and intellect are in short supply elsewhere and it’s also refreshing to see how many people responded to your post. Someone I think brought up Fragrantica derisively, but it is one spot I check in addition to other sources, bloggers, etc. They recently voted for “the best,” “the worst,” “the most,” etc.–and I vaguely recall that TF FF got a lot of votes for “the worst.” I’ll have to check again. But it proves the mainstream “hoi pelloi” will rise up when they grow aware of how they’ve been manipulated. This gives me faint hope in a year that dashes mine every morning, with every newspaper, twitter feed, NPR broadcast.

    • Just to be clear, so that there is no confusion for anyone reading your comment, there is only a brief, passing resemblance to Fourreau Noir, if Fourreau Noir also came with heaps of almond powder/heliotrope. The heliotrope is a major, persistent part of the scent and, at different times, each of its many attendant facets comes out — for good or for ill, in small ways and large. So, if one takes FF from start to finish, a heliotrope-lavender or almond-lavender version of Tuscan Leather would be a more fitting comparison as the intended goal. It simply didn’t work out that way on most people’s skins, it seems.

  13. Happiest of Holiday’s Beloved Kafka! Waving across the Gulf from one hurricane survivor to another. My sister works for FEMA in Austin, and is still as busy as ever. I hope you and the hairy German are safe and sound! We have added an American Bulldog to our family, he’s 14 months old and already 65lbs! Holidays always make me sentimental as it was always custom to sit down and write a list of “who wore what” because, yes, fragrance was that important in my extended family. I would like to thank you for this review, as I was neither offended or interested about this. I merely equated it to just another Tom Ford print ad. He’s running out of ideas to offend in print, (his ads have honestly become boring to me) and he merely took the tactic and used words this time rather than a photograph. Even my beloved Lauder’s I refuse to be interested in any more because of Kendal Jenner. It’s beyond insulting. Thankfully, my life has changed so much that I have very little time to be interested in fragrances, and I’m actually happy about that because these days everyone’s suddenly a Creative Director, capable of producing the next great niche line. It’s all become quite tiresome. I enjoy your writing like never before, and I’m certain that if there is another Alahine out there somewhere, you will find it and I will find it through you! In the meantime I’ll stick to my NON-customized decant of Peety…I have bigger fish to fry than to be affected by a desperate attempt to carry on the shock value that sucks in the almighty millennial dollar like a Dyson. Peace and Love to you and the Hairy one, Dear Kafka! 🙂

    • Anastasia,
      Thank you for the reminder of what is truly important.

      For me, Fleur de Chine was TF’s great perfume achievement, and I really like Indian Rose lipstick. However, after reading this blog, I’m through with anything TF AND anything Estee Lauder and all of the brands and names they have purchased. It’s a large swath of the market, but I think I can cope.

      Thank you for an excellent piece of writing.

      • Thank You, Sweetheart. How very kind of you to say. Yes, last year in June my husband was rushed into emergency surgery for an Ascending Aortic Aneurysm DISSECTION, (a dangerous 11 hour surgery with a 10% survival rate). He survived, but our lives have been hugely changed. He is doing very well, and I spend every cherished minute I have with him. I take nothing for granted, as we have only just celebrated 6 years last month. Lol, if Tom Ford or the Lauder’s want to go down the downward spiral, they can definitely do it without my participation. I wish you Peace and Joy this Holiday Season and throughout the coming year! And I apologize, on my Kindle I am not able to see your name correctly, all I can see is “se” and “on”. No matter, I still thank you and wish all the best for you & yours! And yes, I have always alternated back and forth between Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, but now EA gets all my business…Reese Witherspoon is so much easier to stomach, as a spokesperson! 😉

  14. As always, lovely review. After sampling this one I started referring to it as FF, because I think childish posing over the name completely substituted for any thought and care about what went inside the bottle. There are a number of Tom Ford perfumes that I like a lot, but mostly older ones. I haven’t smelled a new release in the last couple of years that I thought was even tolerable. And this one, in my view, is the worst so far. I got a snootful of baby wipes with some synthetic patchouli, and not much else. And my nose is nowhere near as good as yours, so I can only imagine what it smelled like to you over hours.
    I am concerned to hear that there is a fair amount of fakery in the Tom Ford market. I haven’t encountered that yet. I was thinking of getting a couple of bottles this Christmas season, but now I am more concerned about it.
    By the way, my birthday present was a full bottle of Fiore d’Ambra, which I first tried at your urging. Thanks!

  15. Maybe it’s time to consider doing the Luca Turin thing and only reviewing the ones you love. Save a lot of time and ink on not reviewing the bad ones. I’ve been doing that more myself lately. For the most part on Basenotes – if I’m silent it most likely means I don’t like it.

    • There is great value in negative reviews, particularly when a brand or fragrance is very hot.

      I started blogging to provide a counter-perspective to all the blogs that only wrote positive reviews because I’d fallen for one too many of them, wasting money on scents that were not good but got endless hype and positive ink anyway. Some bloggers prefer to stay silent rather than write negative reviews, but the result is a misleading picture about a fragrance when all that’s left are positive reviews. I wanted to save people money by being honest and providing a different perspective to all the praise out there.

      When one is silent, people don’t take the silence as a sign of a negative. They take it as a sign that you haven’t tried the fragrance. The silence is meaningless. And it’s a negative thing, imo, when a brand or scent is so hyped that people rush to spend money trying it. Even for small brands, if the picture is lopsided, silence can be taken the wrong way.

      Negative reviews have value in warning others, saving them from wasting their hard earned cash. Silence does nothing, imo. Just my perspective.

      • Yes. The value of an honest review is great, and there are very few of them to be found. I have become pretty cynical about the endless puff pieces floating around out there, and rarely read other blogs these days.

  16. I entirely agree with your opinions on this but perhaps do not hold them as energetically.
    Codswallop. FFFFing Codswallop. Thank you for enlivening the discussion of TF’s cynical dreck by providing such a delightful and useful word.

  17. This review was everything I dreamed it would be.
    I wasn’t sure if I hated this because Marzipan evokes shuddering childhood food trauma, or if it really was that boring/gross.
    Regardless, I’ve been watching peeps on Fragrantica flip out about this all year, and I kept thinking it was playing out as intended.
    I curse like a sailor, so the F I really had issues with was Fabulous. More like Fabulous BS. Maybe SS19 will be Faeces.

  18. I am one of those who is offended by the name and the attitude and the greed and everything else.

    I promised to myself that not only I would not test it, but I would not be contributing to the buzz about it. But since you’ve done such a fabulous job expressing everything I agree with, I just couldn’t pass by without saying: Bravo! And Thank you.

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