Saturday, July 7, 2007

Critical Moss

Tom Ford's Web site describes Moss Breches (2007), the seventh fragrance in his Private Blend collection, as a "mystical chypre." Like Tuscan Leather, reviewed here recently, Moss Breches is an unabashedly non-floral (almost anti-floral) chypre, though greener, spicier and more introverted than its Sienese leather-queen cousin. Clary sage, tarragon and rosemary, all perceptible in the top notes, are somehow made hard-edged by the underlying presence of rockrose-labdanum (Cistus labdaniferus) and patchouli. Instead of weaving these strands with something musty or animalic, Ford's house nose uses the slightly sweet note of beeswax absolute and the dark resinous note of benzoin. After thirty minutes, Moss Breches dries down to an inviting, supremely velvety oak moss accord (vetiver, sandalwood). I am both surprised and impressed by this fragrance, as it is so very different from everything to which we have grown accustomed in mass-market perfumery; and while its price makes it definitively "niche," its designer cachet catapults it into a place of visibility populated by those who, say, dance to hip hop in Tory Burch tunic tops and imbibe Cristal as if it flowed from the Southampton water supply. And yet, it is quite far from the tacky, overpriced concoctions of Bond No. 9 New York. It can only be our hope that it will be discovered by people sadly and unknowingly inured to the run-of-the-mill "luxury" scents, and that it will teach them something of a lineup of past greats, the chypres of the ages, such as Coty's Chypre (1917), Guerlain's Mitsouko (1919) and his Sous le Vent (1933). Now, how seriously un-Ford could that be!


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