Scent of black orchids

tomford_caulf_klein.jpgIn case you wondered where former Gucci designer Tom Ford might turn up next, he’s just introduced a new fragrance, Tom Ford Black Orchid, and you’ll be able to sample it at “The Scent Event,” continuing through Sunday at Neiman Marcus.The scent is presented in a black-and-gold bottle by Lalique to match its mystique. The 10-ounce eau de parfum is $90; 0.5-ounce perfume is $600.

A sample of the fragrance in a gold wristlet is a gift with a purchase of $85 in cosmetics and fragrances. Included with the wristlet are samples of Juicy Couture Eau de Parfum, Badgley Mischka Glamorous Body Cream, Lancome Juicy Tube in Shimmer and Christian Dior Diorshow mascara in black.


The Flower Filcher

Never before had a perfume party been shrouded in such mystery and excitement as the one planned for the unveiling of designer Tom Ford’s new scent, Tom Ford Black Orchid.

The press release for the fête last Thursday at the Top of the Rock told of Mr. Ford’s “fascination with finding the elusive black orchid.” It further boasted that Mr. Ford had personally cultivated the “blackest orchid in nature.”

Upon receiving the notice, The Transom could only gaze upward and thank the heavens in anticipation of such a moment in the history of party reporting.

Would any of said rare orchids be at the party? Would they be locked in a glass box protected by two perfectly coifed armed guards, all in black Gucci?

The poor, unfortunate doorman stuck in the Rockefeller Center lobby—it had been converted into a Tom Ford Black Orchid gas chamber—knew nothing about any rare flowers on the premises.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” said a male model carrying a champagne tray. His black suit and crisp white shirt looked like a million bucks. He said Mr. Ford had had a hand in the dress code.

Yoo-hoo, Carmen Kass! Seen any black orchids? “Yes. Over there,” she nodded. “Oh, that’s only a purple one. No, I guess not.”

Ms. Kass said she hadn’t given much thought to whether or not the black orchid was elusive. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen one. “I don’t know,” she said. “I like orchids.”

And what of the perfume? “Oh, I haven’t tried it.”

What?! Had the string-bean cover girl been spared the brutal initiation misting on the way in? “I didn’t notice,” she oozed, lifting a flute of the bubbly to her fine, thin lips.

“Amazing view up here,” said Jamie Johnson, looking out on the city from the building’s glass-encased balcony. “I think I’m going to go soon.”

Paris Hilton’s former walker, Stavros Niarchos, had to know something about perfumes. “No. I don’t know. It smells O.K., I guess,” he said of Black Orchid. He was standing with several other tall, foreign dudes dressed in black. He seemed agitated.

Right. And what of that rare, highly elusive flower—any thoughts? “No. I don’t know,” he hissed.

“It smells O.K.,” said Rachel Roy of the fragrance. “I like flowers. But not orchids necessarily.”

“It’s cool,” said her husband Damon Dash.

Around 11 p.m., Mr. Ford arrived from a dinner that his friend Donatella Versace had thrown in his honor.

“I have always been passionate about orchids,” said Mr. Ford. He wore a double-breasted black blazer with flared lapels. His shirt was deeply unbuttoned, natch, and a silvery checked scarf graced his tanned chest. A chiseled Blue Steel expression never left his face. “Each one is unique. They’re so beautiful and so chic.”

“It’s so elusive and mysterious and sensual,” Mr. Ford said of the black orchid. Of late, the stylist’s quest for the so-called “unicorn” of the orchid family has brought him (or a few of his minions) into the greenhouse laboratory. “I’ve been developing the blackest possible orchid in Florida—the Tom Ford orchid. I’ve got the patent. It’s almost black. Maybe not completely black, but a deep, dark chocolate.”

He said his new fragrance “absolutely captures the essence of the black orchid.”

Orchids? Paging Susan Orlean!

“As far as I know, there is no such thing as a black orchid, and from what I was told, it’s botanically impossible,” Ms. Orlean said by phone on Nov. 7.

“I’ve often wondered why people would want one,” she said, “except that it might heighten the dramatic effect of the orchid. As I say in my book, orchids are really more sexy than pretty. And a black orchid just has that sort of dramatic, mysterious, seductive dark quality.”

Ms. Orlean pointed out that most orchids had no scent at all. But the Orchid Thief author sent her best wishes to Mr. Ford.

“Sure, I would encourage him to continue in his quest, because there is no doubt that if someone could do it, it would be very cool and dramatic,” she said. “As a great believer in life being all about aspiration but not necessarily achievement, I say, ‘Go for it, Tom. Keep at it, buddy.’”

The party’s gift bags offered an elegant little black bottle of the stuff; they came with “23K gold-plated name plaque and engraved lettering.”

Vogue fashion giant André Leon Talley was getting in the elevator. He was draped in a snakeskin overcoat.

A quick squirt for the road was offered to him. “Oh darling, please stop it!” he said.

By S.M.


Have Bling, Will Travel

Tom Ford to launch luggage, jewelry

Tom Ford continues to suppress talk that he’s planning on re-entering into the world of women’s wear, but he’s happy to expand his collection of accessories. At Monday night’s Accessories Council Awards, where Ford was honored with the Accessory Brand Launch accolade for his line of sunglasses produced in conjunction with Marcolin, the designer revealed he’s developing a collection of luggage and high-end jewelry, set to debut following the opening of his eponymous Madison Avenue boutique next April. “It’s a natural progression of the brand,” Ford said.


A creature of the night: Tom Ford bares his soul

With a kiss for Jennifer Lopez and an arm round Naomi Watts, Tom Ford was back in his natural habitat: the limelight.

Two and a half years after leaving Gucci Group and his starring role, the designer has rekindled the fashion flame. Or, more precisely, he has donned sexy 1970s-inspired shades and splashed on his new Black Orchid fragrance, at least until his men’s store opens on Madison Avenue next spring.

Ford is the first designer to have actively planned brand-building from the neck down. Instead of celebrating his name in fashion and then adding on accessories and fragrance, he has turned that 20th-century tradition on its head, by first forging a license agreement with Estée Lauder for beauty and fragrances, then with Italy’s Marcolin for eyeglasses and a menswear line with Ermenegildo Zegna.

“It’s by design for two reasons,” says Ford. “I realized that I wanted to come back [to fashion] but I was a little shell- shocked – and I didn’t know how far back.”

On a personal level, he made a vow that he would not do women’s fashion until he had made his first movie, a project that he had hoped Hollywood would greet with open arms. But he received only dubious movie proposals from people who had seen his infamous ads he describes as “shaving a ‘G’ in a girl’s pubic hair.”

“I was a little naïve – coming from an industry where I could do anything I wanted,” says Ford, who is finally realizing his dream with a “tight, independent film” he starts shooting in July.

That will be after the launch of his self- funded New York menswear store, one of a trio with London and Milan that will carry everything from luggage and jewelry to tailoring and tuxedos. He is being helped and encouraged by Domenico De Sole, his teammate at Gucci.

Ford is wearing a pinstripe suit with sharp shoulders, a fitted waist and the slightly louche air of a British gentleman morphing into a European roué. He would surely have been wearing the sculpted sunglasses, but for the low lighting at the Carlyle Hotel – his home- away-from-home from his residences in London, Los Angeles and Santa Fe.

“I have always loved the night – I’m not sure why, but as a kid I was fascinated by vampires,” says Ford. “My natural biorhythm is to sleep until 5 p.m. and then have a cocktail.”

His penchant for the dark included last week’s late-night party at Rockefeller Center to launch “Black Orchid.”

He has a passion for orchids, even to the extent of “building greenhouses in New Mexico” with his partner, Richard Buckley. The fragrance was created by tracking down – via a Swiss orchid expert and a grower in Santa Barbara, California – one of four existing black orchids. Experts then caught the “head space” of the single flower that has so far bloomed and created the rich scent that he is himself wearing. The ribbed black Lalique glass bottle has been captured by the lens of the legendary photographer Irving Penn.

“It has a slightly old-fashioned glamour,” says Ford. “My woman is a hybrid – she is a hothouse plant – not a gardenia, a daisy or a rose.” Next spring he will bring out for “fragrance connoisseurs” 12 unisex fragrances with heady scents and headier price tags.

The essence of Ford’s Gucci was a raw sexuality with a decadent aura that invaded the grungy early 1990s and re- launched the brand.

Ford says he now prefers to talk about “sensuality,” although he himself exudes a stagy glamour. (“Well I did go to acting school.” he says, “Even if I did ads and TV sitcoms.”)

He calls the Marcolin eyeglasses, for which he carried off an ACE award from the Accessories Council of New York last week, a product “that can convey everything about a particular era, like the tail fins on a car.” The sophisticated collection has a hint of the 1970s pimp that was always Ford’s signature.

How easy has it been to get over Gucci and start afresh?

Ford describes it as “like a death or a divorce.” And the wounds may not yet have healed. When he spotted the Texan socialite Lynn Wyatt last week in a golden Gucci pantsuit, Ford lost his cool, refusing to be photographed with his former friend in front of dinner guests, who included the former president Bill Clinton on his 60th birthday tour.

“Can you imagine that man – what he must have suffered – the depression, the despair,” Ford said later, imagining Clinton’s post-presidential experience after leaving the world stage at a young age. The designer might have been describing himself.

“I was probably speaking anecdotally in my small way,” said Ford. “I was depressed. I wallowed in self-pity. I drank way too much, although that happened while I was still at Gucci, living in London where everyone consumes quantities of liquor.

“I had therapy for the first time in my life and that helped me to realize that the greatest pleasure in my life comes from making, building and creating things. It is the process that I love.”

Ford is now concentrating on his flagship store in a building with the formal elegance of his favored decade, the 1930s. It can be no coincidence that he has picked a site at East 70th Street almost opposite Gucci, with Yves Saint Laurent (his other former day job) in part of the building and with Ralph Lauren on the next block.

Ford’s strategy in creating luxury menswear, rich in quality, fabric, cut and details, is based on the fact that “Giorgio Armani and Ralph [Lauren] have both dominated but they are both 74 years old – and who is behind them?” Ford, at 45, believes that he has “something new to say.”

Yet his problem is that he gave his powerful and particular persona to Gucci. That brand may be changing, but, significantly, two almost identical invitations arrived on fashionistas’ desks last week: both square, black and shiny with insets of gold. One was celebrating a new Gucci book being released on Wednesday; the other was inviting guests to the Black Orchid launch on Thursday. What was the difference? One was for the 85th birthday of a two- billion-dollar brand; the other was, even accounting for Ford’s proven talent and name recognition, a start-up.

“I feel confident, but I feel fear – and I think that anyone who isn’t afraid is a fool,” says Ford of his new venture. “Nothing is ever certain – until the doors open to the store and the cash registers keep ringing. And I have never worked so hard in my life.”

By Suzy Menkes

Source: International Herald Tribune

Knickers? Not!

TOM Ford lets it all hang out – and wants everybody to know it. “I always go commando; I never wear underwear. Want to see? I’ll prove it to you,” the cheeky designer said at Donatella Versace‘s gala for Linda Wells‘ book, “Allure: Confessions of a Beauty Editor,” at the Gramercy Park Hotel. “I’m famous for not wearing underwear. My mother keeps saying, ‘Please stop telling people you don’t wear underwear.’


Tom Ford Launches Black Orchid

black_orchid_tom.jpgNEW YORK — Tom Ford arrived at Saks Fifth Avenue Thursday evening to launch Black Orchid, the first installment of a complete beauty brand to be introduced over the next year — and he took the highly unusual step of meeting with the store’s sales associates to give them pointers on how to sell the fragrance.

“It’s really important — these are the people who are on the floor selling the product. It’s important that they know what it’s about,” said Ford. “It’s important that they understand what you mean, why you did something, because they’re communicating directly with the customer.”

But his extra pains hardly seemed necessary, considering the reports that were circulating from industry sources — who indicated that Black Orchid is on track to set a Saks Fifth Avenue sales record for a fragrance launch. While the Estée Lauder Cos., which holds the Tom Ford Beauty license, and Saks executives declined comment, some sources estimated that Black Orchid could conceivably do $100,000 at retail for its launch week, which began Sunday. Also according to sources, Saks’ previous record holder was Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb, which is said to have generated $65,000 its first week.

Steve Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue, would only say that the business is on “a record-breaking pace.” The scent, in addition to the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship here, is in the Neiman Marcus and Holt Renfrew chains, for a total of only 50 doors at present. It is expected to roll out to other specialty doors for Valentine’s Day.

Deborah Walters, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics and fragrances at Saks Fifth Avenue, said, “When a designer talks to our associates, that’s the magic — and Tom is so warm.”

Andrea Robinson, president of Tom Ford Beauty and Prescriptives Worldwide, added, “Women and men both love it. I think that we’ll have a great Christmas.”

But John Demsey, a group president at the Estée Lauder Cos., has loftier goals. “Our aim is to make the Tom Ford brand the first truly full-fledged beauty brand of the 21st century.” Next up for Ford’s beauty line: Private Blend, a collection of 12 unisex scents that are expected this spring.

“It’s so wonderful to see this come to fruition,” said Ford, surveying the 200-plus people jamming around a main floor podium. “I’ve been working so hard for the last year and a half, and people haven’t seen all the things I’m working on. It’s the beginning of it, and it’s nice to start to see it.”

By Pete Born and Julie Naughton, photo by Steve Eichner


Tom Ford & A New Line of Unisex Fragrances

black_orchid.jpgThe much awaited Black Orchid by Tom Ford that will come out this fall has been unveiled for WWD. It is an opportunity for Ford to express some of his ideas about the contemporary fragrance scene. As he states,”For the last decade, I think we’ve launched fragrances which, like everything, have become so stripped-down, so transparent in terms of color and often in terms of scent. They often become quite watered-down…everything is tested and retested, and while you might end up with a lot of fragrances which smell good, it’s not fragrance development in the old-fashioned sense. I really wanted to create old-fashioned, but in a new sense.”…

“The fragrance, by Givaudan, has top notes of French jasmine, black gardenia, ylang ylang, bergamot, mandarin and effervescent citrus; a heart of Tom Ford black orchid, spicy floral orchid accords and lotus wood, and a drydown of patchouli, incense, amber, sandalwood and vanilla.”

The ad wants to reconnect with the glamour of the 1950s Hollywood. Personally, both the name of the perfume and the style of the ad make me think of the movie the Blue Dahlia with Veronica Lake.

The 50-ml. eau de parfum is priced at $90, while the 100-ml. eau de parfum will retail for $135.

Tom Ford will also launch a new line of 12 unisex fragrances next spring simultaneously on March 12 2007. They will be distributed through a chain of store-in-stores and are targeting a clientele of connoisseurs. There will be the option of having them custom-blended for oneself.

Finally, to summarize his approach to fashion and fragrances in a nutshell, he concludes, “I don’t believe in the customer telling you what they want. I think you tell the customer what they need.”

Source: Women’s Wear Daily

Tom Ford won an award for Accessory Brand Launch

Tom Ford won an award for Accessory Brand Launch. “I’ve always wanted an excuse to carry a Judith Leiber bag,” said Tom Ford, as he accepted the accessory-brand-launch trophy—a custom-made crystal-encrusted Leiber minaudière—at the Accessories Council Excellence Awards at Cipriani on Monday night.

Ford and his new clutch were perfectly in tune with the bling-tastic crowd, which included Naomi Watts and honorees Jennifer Lopez, Rachel Zoe, Michael Kors, and Silvia Venturini Fendi. ……..