Tom Ford Noir (Tom Ford)

It is possible to call a man a "prettyboy" without insult, referring strictly to the grace of his manners or the delicacy of his features. But one must also acknowledge the danger inherent in both the epithet and the man. Haven't banks been robbed at gunpoint by handsome, apple-cheeked lads whose youth and charm were their greatest defining features? Nothing becomes a pair of blue eyes better than one word in 200-point typeface: WANTED.

Tom Ford Noir is a very pretty fragrance for our poster child. Other reviewers have astutely observed that it's essentially an homage to Guerlain; if you're looking, you can certainly find strong elements of Shalimar, Mouchoir de Monsieur, and Habit Rouge in this bottle. The latter in particular is evoked by a spicy, blushing rose-geranium that stretches across the heavens like a hazy pink sunrise. The celestial event ends in a Pixar-worthy panorama of vanilla cumulus clouds-- only these are made of barbershop lather, sweet and creamy-smooth.

The irony: between two equal-sized (3.4 fl.oz.) bottles of Tom Ford Noir and Guerlain Habit Rouge, one is priced a third over the cost of the other-- and it's not the one you think. No matter how sincere a tribute Noir might be, it seems strange to me that the facsimile should cost so much more ($125) than the stunning original ($96). Fame, history, exclusivity, quality, art-- has Ford eclipsed Guerlain in all of these?

Nahhhh. Don't get me wrong: Tom Ford Noir is a very nice perfume. But given the choice between a cocky upstart and a made man, I know where to lay my bets.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, verbena, caraway, pink and black pepper, violet, nutmeg, iris, geranium, rose, clary sage, opoponax, amber, patchouli, vetiver, civet, vanilla.