Tom Ford Velvet Orchid Is Aspiration In A Bottle

A sophisticated fragrance for the woman I am, and the woman I hope to be.
Publish date:
November 4, 2014
chanel, perfumes, tom ford, signature scents, memories, fall 2014, fall fragrances, Allure, Velvet Orchid

I don’t know what it is about the last few months, but the winds of change have been blowing FEROCIOUSLY through my life.

I’ve been abandoning my makeup uniform. I'm making a hair change that I'll fill you in on tomorrow. And now I'm taking the most shocking step of all: ending one of the longest relationships in my life.

And by that I mean, breaking up with my long-term cold weather perfume.

I’ve been wearing Chanel Allure since it was released in 1996. My mother bought me a bottle to combat the scourge that was Exclamation, and I fell completely in love.

Since then, I’ve never given it a second thought, other than to say “OK, it’s fall. Time to bust out the cozy sweaters and the Allure.”

Because to me, Allure IS cooler weather. On my skin, the magnolia and jasmine fades quickly into the deeper notes of vanilla and sandalwood. It smells like liquid warmth, something golden and honeyed and perfect for November.

As a kid I wore it year-round, although now I’d definitely consider it too deep and rich for an Australian summer. I’d also consider it a surprisingly mature fragrance for a teenage girl to wear, but at the time that was one of the things I liked best about it--it made me feel grown-up, like anything was possible.

Being a beauty editor, I’m lucky enough to test out a lot of perfumes--and sometimes I really, really love the ones I try. But even though I switch up my warm weather fragrances fairly regularly, Allure was a habit I never considered breaking.

When I wore it, my friends would hug me, breathe deeply, and say “You smell so good. You smell like YOU.” Most of my clothes, even after dry-cleaning, still retain a breath of Chanel. Allure is tied to me. It’s literally embedded in the fabric of my life. Considering changing “my” smell seemed deeply weird, like thinking about changing my fingerprints.

But there are so many amazing perfumes out there, and I am missing out on how incredible they are by feeling like I’m married to this ONE.

I mean, I've been wearing this fragrance for 60% of my life. It might be time for a change.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be the woman with a huge fragrance wardrobe, but I’m making an effort to branch out. And this fall, I’ve branched straight into Velvet Orchid by Tom Ford.

Up until now, I’ve never found a Tom Ford fragrance that screamed “ALLE.” And that’s been a bummer, because I really respect the complexity and sophistication of his scents--even the ones that aren’t for me.

Velvet Orchid is PERFECT: rich enough for fall without being too spicy, complex so that it evolves throughout the day and I won’t get bored, but not SO complex that it gives me a headache. This isn’t just a perfume for who I am, it’s also a perfume that evokes who I want to be.

On first spray, Velvet Orchid seems quite straightforward--I got lots of vanilla, honey and rum on my skin.

But as it opens up, the softer florals start to assert themselves and you have deep, humid notes of orchid and jasmine, with some rose at the heart.

The citrus notes hang around the edges without intruding, and on my skin they barely register at all except to prevent all these florals from getting too sickly sweet. It’s a beautiful fragrance: seductive yet playful, rich and luxurious yet not overbearing. It’s delicious; I want to walk around in an absolute haze of it. To me, it smells exactly the way the deep purple bottle looks--dark at the outset, but full of hidden brightness.

Because one can’t talk about Velvet Orchid without discussing Black Orchid, I’ll quickly say that the latter is not my bag. It’s far too strong and forward, with something cold at the heart--like something a doomed 20s starlet might have worn, but in a sad way. Velvet Orchid is a little softer and more restrained, while still remaining totally opulent. If Black Orchid is the leather jacket-wearing, most impossibly cool girl you know, Velvet Orchid is it’s younger sister with amazing glasses and perfect purple lipgloss who spends a lot of time in the library reading biographies of Theda Bara and The Supremes.

But don’t get me wrong: Velvet Orchid isn’t childish. It’s definitely a grown-up and sophisticated fragrance, and that’s why I love it.

I waved goodbye to my twenties this year, I’m establishing myself in a career that I love, I’m kicking ass and taking names. I don’t want to smell the same way that I did as a teenager--I want to smell like the grown woman that I’ve become, and the sophisticated lady I yet aspire to be.

It’s a big change for me, breaking up with my long-term perfume like this, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little sad. But there will always be room for Allure on my shelf, even as it becomes the scent-soundtrack to my past. Velvet Orchid is my perfume future, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

  • So tell me, everyone: what's your longest running perfume relationship?Have you ever broken up with a fragrance?
  • What do you think about Velvet Orchid, if you've tried it?
  • Can you imagine me swanning about in a fancy hat enveloped in a cloud of it?