Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather: fragrance review

Created in 2007 by perfumers Harry Frémont and Jacques Cavallier for the Tom Ford Private Blend line, Tuscan Leather is an atypical leather fragrance not quite for everyone; leather enthusiasts might find enough quirks and crannies to elaborate on, but still be puzzled by its antithetical, polarising nature.


On one hand, the introductory blast of petrol fumes plus red fruits (mainly the tart scent of raspberries) is not exactly conductive to what people have come to expect from luxury leather blends. The expected pipe tobacco-leather upholstery richness with its fruity, bittersweet and whiskey nuances contrasts intellectually with the effect witnessed here. We have also been familiarised with the fuzzy apricot and amaretto-apricot-pits ambience of Lutens's Daim Blond, for a suede-like scent, but the tartness of berries offsets the leathery pungency here rather than mollify it. The leather perfume note in the Tom Ford is rubbery, smoky, like shoe polish and cool tires. If your elegant leather ideal has always been Chanel's Cuir de Russie, Tom Ford proposes a modern take on leather, but with much less vanilla and musks than in Bvlgari's rubbery Black.

On the other hand, pungent but restrained and under specific circumstances even velvety, with a true leathery note like a nubuck handbag fresh off the mending shop, Tuscan Leather is a cross between luxury items, new bucket seats in your new Bentley and furniture polish smeared generously on wooden planks. The leathery nuance by saffron, bittersweet,  fits perfectly. There is even a hemp like note, and I was under the impression I was delusional until I saw The Non Blonde claim the same. The terpenic, pine-like facets, revealing themselves through resinous citrusy elements (frankincense being one), are jarring, instead of airy or citric like in Etro's Gomma. Perhaps even more jarring by the addition of an oud base, a direction in which Montale followed with his Aoud Leather two years later. Perversely, the more the fragrance stays on, the more the raspberry comes through. Trippy!

Essentially linear, Tuscan Leather projects well and lasts average. In a pinch, if you sprayed Givenchy's Hot Couture over a gritty leather armchair, preferably in a newly polished library, you might start getting what this is all about. Butcher on women's skin than on men's but also sweeter in the final whisper, it's a unisex fragrance like all the Tom Ford Private Blends, which demands trying on first. It's not for shy, girly-girl women or men lacking self confidence.

Notes for Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather:
Raspberry, thyme, saffron, jasmine, olibanum, leather, oud/aoudh/agarwood.

Tom Ford Tuscan Leather is available in 50ml and 100ml bottles (from what I have seen, other Private Blends come in 250ml) of Eau de Parfum in select doors where the Tom Ford Private Blend is sold.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Leather Fragrances reviews series, Tom Ford news & reviews


  1. Anonymous03:47

    nice opinion.. thanks for sharing...

  2. Anonymous07:12

    Raspberry must be the new flavor du jour for men ... I saw on the tv news that some jeans company is now selling men's bluejeans that are impregnated with a raspberry scent that won't wash out no matter how often they are laundered. I think the fashion industry has gotten entirely too gimmicky, and it seems Tom Ford is no exception. I'm sure that we will all be getting a raspberry rash of EVERYTHING, soon, and Tom Ford will claim to have done it FIRST, and issue endless press releases claiming that he invented raspberries and other such nonsense. I may be over-reacting, and I truly hope that all this does not come to pass, because I will not be jumping on the raspberry bandwagon. ~danoji~

  3. Anon,

    you're welcome.

  4. D,

    ha! You have a good memory. Indeed there was reportage on those jeans here:
    What a gimmick! (blow a raspberry gains new meaning!)

    I don't mind TF claiming he did something first. He did have many ideas which he put to good use and many followed him. What I don't like is seeing framboise materials seeping into everything as you predict and alas red fruits is a very potent trend, especially in functional products (even my dishwashing liquid is smelling of raspberries!). There can be too much of a good thing.
    Still in Tuscan Leather the raspberry comes across as both nice and unexpected.

  5. red fruits in fine fragrances is a crossover from functional products which was a crossover from flavours (which was an attempts to imitate and "improve" nature). Each crossover has produced both successful and disastrous results. The context and the technic involved is what defines the outcome. My problem with red berries in fine fragrances is that usually they don't hold reference to the natural appeal of red berries (which is almost lost for the modern individual since even the ones we buy from the super-market are almost odorless) but refer to dishwashing liquids and 100%artificial jams. One of the most horrid examples I can recall is the male fuel for life by Diesel where I can almost feel the stickiness of being smeared with a melting popsicle (I also irrationaly resist spraying it on clothes in anticipation of stains).

    In the case of Tuscan Leather I am glad to say I didn't have this kind of issues. The note is incorporated in the leather theme and to me, it was hardly noticeable. I remember trying it a few years ago and immediately I felt submerged in a leathery soft armchair. A very literal perfume that doesn't even go through the "mask" phase like most leather fragrances do. Leather from top to bottom. I kept a sample in my wallet and it suddenly felt a lot more expensive than it actually was. My only qualm with the product is that I can get the same effect for MUCH less if I actually wear leather. I have inexpensive leather bangles with the same scent but even a leather jacket would be cheaper and last longer.

    I have had similar issues with all of the private blend line. I can appreciate them for what they are and given the chance I would be able to sport several of them, but I can't see the novelty that would justify the price.

  6. Kostas,

    I couldn't have put it better. Your point is well taken.

    Yes, this is no artificial raspberry, still the high price is a bit offputting for something that can be had for less. Leather goods have such a glorious scent of their own, don't they.

  7. I agree with Kostas's remark on berry. It can be the note from hell in modern mainstream releases. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier are the masters of berry I think.

    Elena, where can I get information on the perfumers behind the Private Blend releases. They seem to be quite cryptic about this. I am interested in Urban Musk in particular, although I wouldn't be surprised if it was Yan Vasnier.

  8. C,

    yeah, berry can be scary (the way it has been done to death already!). MPG is class all the way anyway, so it's a natural that berry would follow suit and behave itself there.

    I think you will find this comprehensive list most useful:
    Hope it helps!

  9. Thank you so much for this!


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