Tom Ford's latest release, however, Ombré Leather 16, doesn't get me quite as thrilled. I get it, it's hard to deliver classics every time. Ombré Leather 16 appears to be the break in the streak of Tom Ford's otherwise spectacular track record.
Ombré Leather 16 is not a terrible fragrance. Just an unremarkable one. The Tom Ford quality and blend are unmistakable and if Ombré Leather 16 were released by someone else, I probably would have been much more impressed with it. In the context of Tom Ford's previous releases, however, it pales.
I know, it's unfair to judge a fragrance this way. I should let it stand on its own legs without the benefit or the curse of its predecessors. This is Tom Ford, however. Its price is a Tom Ford price and my expectations are of a Tom Ford originality and quality.
What Does Ombre Leather 16 Smells Like?
It smells like Tom Ford's Autumn-Winter 2016 collection. The official copy for the fragrance says:
"Textured. Sleek. Enveloping. For the first time Tom Ford unveils a private blend eau de parfum directly inspired by the runway. Ombre Leather 16 invites you into his complete vision of the AW16 season with a definitive olfactive statement. A textural take on the most precious of fine leathers, Ombre Leather 16 imprints with a tactile sensuality, revealing a refined combination of contrasts the sleek enigma of black leather wrapped in voluptuous glamour."
Put simply, Ombre Leather 16 is meant to be a soft leather fragrance. It is an alternative of the hairy masculine and very seductive Tuscan Leather. If Tuscan Leather is a leather for the macho, Ombre Leather 16 is a leather for the elegant, refined fashion connoisseur.
Despite their differences in character, Ombre Leather 16 and Tuscan Leather have one thing in common: the identical leather note. My first sniff of Ombre Leather 16 delivered a solid punch of the leather present in Tuscan Leather. I didn't find the leather note softer. It was dry and very present. It lacked machismo and yet it stayed masculine. The raw, animalic, and bitter notes that usually accompany leather-centered fragrances were absent. I don't find them in Tuscan Leather either, so, to me, this is not a differentiator between the two fragrances. In fact, I find the leather note to be exactly the same.
The similarities between the two fragrances end here. Ombre Leather 16 softens and slowly turns into a soft, creamy blend. I detected a soft violet note, which lends to the softness of the composition. The violet never became too prominent. It played a supporting role, just like the cardamom and jasmine.
Twenty minutes in, Ombre Leather 16 turned into a skin scent. I had to bury my nose in the back of my hand to smell what was left of the two solid sprays that landed there. In the later stages I picked up a soft gourmand character. Yet, the fragrance stayed somewhat earthy. I suspect this was due to the patchouli.
Overall, Ombre Leather 16 is a luxurious, well blended fragrance that falls short in originality and performance. I don't see much point for it, especially in the presence of Tuscan Leather.
Where to Rock It
Ombre Leather 16 will work well under most weather conditions. If you are dead set on wearing Tuscan Leather in the summer heat, Ombre Leather 16 would be a good alternative.
Despite its versatility, I find that Ombre Leather 16 would work best in cooler temperatures. My personal preference would be for the fall but there is nothing stopping you from making it your signature scent year-round.
Considering the cost ($225), you may want to be judicious where you wear Ombre Leather 16. If you don't concern yourself with such trivial matters, then any event that doesn't involve you sweating would work great.
Ombre Leather 16 would work great as an office scent. Any time and occasion when you need to restrain your wild side in perfumery but still want to demonstrate some taste, Ombre Leather 16 will work.
With the exception of the Neroli Portofino line, most Tom Ford fragrances work best on mature audience. Just like the rest, Ombre Leather 16 would work best on anyone over age 25. I'd advise teenagers and people in their early 20s to stay away from it. If not for the stupidly high price, then for the multitude of other great options.
What The Other Frag Heads Say About Ombre Leather 16
Fragrance reviewers are somewhat positive about Ombre Leather 16. I haven't come across rave accolades but neither have I read any harsh criticism.
Mark Behnke (Colognoisseur) says that Ombre Leather 16 is by far high favourite leather release from Tom Ford. Mark likes everything about the perfume but the opening accord stand out for him:
"That leather accord is front and center as you spray on Ombre Leather 16. This is a supple leather but early on it has a dry quality to it. The first note which interacts with it does little to that quality as violet leaves cut across the leather like silvery green razor blades. To go with this is a breeze of green cardamom adding a bit of brightness to the overall effect. "
You can read Mark's full review here.
Sebastian Jara from Looking Feeling Smelling Great is a fan on Ombre Leather 16. In his video (below) he says that he sees himself wearing Ombre Leather 16 more than Tuscan Leather. To Sebastian, Tuscan Leather has some harshness that stops him from wearing any time and any place.
Indeed, Ombre Leather 16 is a softer and more versatile scent than Tuscan Leather. Yet, Sebastian warns that the fragrance may get "a little cloying" in the summer. His recommendation is to wear Ombre Leather 16 is the fall and winter.
Overall, for Sebastian, Ombre Leather 16 is a win.
Carlos from Brooklyn Fragrance Lover also likes Ombre Leather 16 but is not crazy about it. His major issue with it is its longevity.
Carlos explains that he put four solid sprays on his hand when testing it in store. The scent was all but gone by the time he made it home two hours later.
To Carlos, Ombre Leather 16 smells like a dried-down Tuscan Leather. It is softer, luxurious but a lot less punching. He found the fragrance to be "pretty linear". Carlos has noticed a trend of "lightening" of the recent Tom Ford releases. For him, Ombre Leather 16, along with Soleil Blanc and Tom Ford Noir Extreme for Men, is too light.
Carlos is not the only one noticing this "lightening" of the Tom Ford perfumes. Other reviewers also comment in forums that the latest releases from the house pale in strength and potency compared to the classics.
Unhappy with the performance of Ombre Leather 16, Carlos is forced to return the bottle he purchased.
The Bottom Line
Ombre Leather 16 is a good quality fragrance with lost potential. It could have been much more but instead Tom Ford settled for making a paler version of its wildly successful Tuscan Leather. I'd like to remind Mr. Ford that the reason why his best sellers are masterpieces is because they are bold, uncompromising and interesting. Ombre Leather 16 is none of these things.
Would you Buy Ombre Leather 16?
Since I already own Tuscan Leather, I don't see the need to get it.
Would I get Compliments Wearing Ombre Leather 16?
The leather accord is a good one, so anyone who manages to smell it on you would probably like it. Your sunny disposition would also help with getting a compliment.
What Rating Would You Give Ombre Leather 16?
I think it's 3 out of 5. It's a good fragrance but there is nothing in it that makes me want to sniff it again and again.
Leather, Violet Leaf, Cardamom