Is Champaca Absolute the big fruity floral in Tom Ford's Private Blend line? Yes and no, I guess. The floral heart notes take center stage and they are accentuated with sweet round plums and a plum liqueur. But, really, this is not something that belongs in a pink bottle on Sephora's shelves. The first blast is very alcoholic and boozy. Something between Armagnac and a plum brandy. It reminds me of the smell of the Slivovitz my father's Bulgarian cousin has brought when he visited many years ago. I couldn't decide back than if it smelled good or not, but it's much easier this time. Champaca Absolute smells really really good.
The flowers (jasmine, violet, orchid, champaca) are blended into a single accord of prettiness.It leans to the tropic side, a little loud and exuberant, but after wearing it enough times and learning to listen I've begun to smell the softness that lies underneath. It feels like a layer of silk, not quite powdery and not quite sweet- I guess that's the steamed rice quality of champaca. I have yet to find it when wearing Ormonde Jayne's Champaca which I like well enough, but Tom Ford's version works better on my skin for one reason or another.
Maybe it's the base. Champaca Absolute dries down rich and sweet. After four or five hours it becomes a full blown oriental, even though the floral accord is tenacious enough to still be hover and appear here and there, especially in the heat. I can't say I get the promised marron glace note, but there is quite a bit of sweet creaminess to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Champaca Absolute, like the rest of Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes ($180, 1.7oz), is available from Bergdorf Goodman, select Saks, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus locations and their online stores.
Art by the wonderfully talented Kirsty Mitchell