The garden centers and grocery stores (the only places I go these days) are full of potted hyacinths, one of my favorite flowers and favorite scents. Yesterday, in anticipation of Easter next weekend, I bought two pots of forced hyacinth bulbs: one has flowers of a delicate, creamy pale yellow; the other’s flowers are a cheerful, slightly tacky, bright pink. So the scent of real hyacinths is wafting through my house — what better time to review a recently acquired decant of Tom Ford’s Ombre de Hyacinth?
I had wanted to try it for a while, but it is discontinued and not easy to find. Imagine my delight when I saw it listed on the website of a decant subscription service I was considering! Sign me up! And I did.
Tom Ford launched Ombre de Hyacinth in 2012; it was created by Calice Becker as part of the “Jardin Noir” collected that also included Cafe Rose, Lys Fume, and Jonquille de Nuit. The brand had this to say about Ombe de Hyacinth: “Sophisticated. Voluptuous. Passionate. Ombre de Hyacinth creates bewitching tension as hyacinth cloaks its voluptuous beauty behind cool, aristocratic finery.” Fragrantica lists its top notes as: Violet Leaf, Galbanum, Magnolia Petals and Olibanum; middle notes as Hyacinth, Pink Pepper and Jasmine; base notes as Galbanum, Musk and Benzoin.
When I first spray it, I smell the hyacinth faintly, not as strongly as I had expected, and it doesn’t dominate the middle stage either. I would say that the strongest top notes to my nose are the violet leaf and galbanum, with the violet leaf most dominant, and they both continue to be evident throughout the fragrance’s stages; I like both of those notes, so I quite enjoy that. I don’t smell magnolia at all, and very little pink pepper, but I do get an undertone of the resins listed.
Kafkaesque wrote a great review of Ombre de Hyacinth, which included some of the press release upon its launch:
“Jardin Noir explores the forbidden sides of four of perfumery’s most treasured blooms: narcissus, hyacinth, rose, and lily. Convention is abandoned and unexpected ingredients converge with bewitching and intoxicating results. Iconic flowers fall open, dropping their innocent facades to reveal the subversive beauty and fierce elegance they normally keep hidden.”
Sorry, but no. There is nothing “noir” or subversive about Ombre de Hyacinth, though it is very pretty and even elegant. Kafkaesque commented on its soapiness after a short time, and I agree. While I find the real scent of real hyacinths to be “voluptuous”, bordering on narcotic, that is not what I smell in Ombre de Hyacinth; rather, I smell a pleasant, understated green floral. Jo Malone’s Blue Hyacinth is a much more realistic hyacinth scent, to the point of being photorealistic. Five hours after I sprayed Ombre de Hyacinth, most of what I smell is a white musk with a remaining hint of green floralcy and a lightly spicy note under those that I assume is the benzoin.
While I like Ombre de Hyacinth, I would never have paid its original price and I won’t be seeking out a full bottle now that I have my decant. Whew! That’s a relief, given that it was discontinued some time ago and that would be hard to to as well as expensive. Have you tried any of the “Jardin Noir” collection? What did you think?
Featured image by Kevin Lee Jacobs.