Vert Boheme is one of four new Tom Ford fragrances called Les Extraits Verts which were released in September as part of the Private Blend Collection. Vert Boheme is a clean, fresh, green and feminine (not unisex) floral eau de parfum that follows a classical 1970s style. It reminded me a lot of a mix of YSL‘s vintage Rive Gauche, Diorissimo, and Chanel‘s Cristalle, given a modern touch through a heavy dose of clean musk. Having said that, I have major issues with its development, structure, and quality, and I don’t find it to be particularly distinctive. Be that as it may, I think Vert Boheme will be a very popular fragrance with women who like extremely fresh, clean, crisp, green florals as well as the vintage style of perfumery.
On his website, Tom Ford describes Vert Boheme as follows:
Sparkling and infallible like a jewel gleaming in the Sun, Private Blend Vert Bohéme is TOM FORD’s interpretation of green at its most free-spirited. Sicilian, Mandarin and Magnolia exude Bohemian femininity, exquisitely enhanced with gustavia, also known as “The Tree of Heaven”, known for its spectacular single blossoms that last for just one day. The fresh vibrancy awakens a divine first bloom, crystal-clear and exposed.
According to Luckyscent, the note list for Vert Boheme is:
Galbanum, Sicilian mandarin, magnolia, honeysuckle, violet leaf, gustavia superba.
However, according to a GQ Magazine article on the four Extrait Verts, Vert Boheme also includes oakmoss and vetiver. I agree, but I would also include white musk as well. That would make the potential or complete list look something a bit more like this:
Galbanum, Sicilian mandarin, magnolia, honeysuckle, violet leaf, gustavia superba, oakmoss, vetiver, and white musk.
Vert Boheme opens on my skin with an inviting bouquet of white flowers and their green buds, nestled amongst green violet leaves and resting atop a base of oakmoss and galbanum that feel equally cool, crisp, and green. The flowers smell fresh, clean, cool, sweet, citrusy, lightly honeyed, slightly synthetic, and liquidy to the point of being slightly aquatic. Honeysuckle abounds, followed by light traces of lemony magnolia, violets, and what really smells like both freesia and muguet (lily of the valley) to me.
In fact, the scent of muguet with its porcelain purity and its floral freshness is actually much stronger on my skin than the magnolia, and it becomes so prominent that, roughly 15-20 minutes in, vintage Diorissimo and Oriza‘s Diorissmo-like Muguet Fleuri came to mind. On Fragrantica, someone else also thought of Diorissimo during Vert Boheme’s opening, so the muguet similarity isn’t just limited to me. One possible explanation might stem from the fact that, in perfumery, both freesia and muguet are actually synthetic notes by necessity because essential oils can’t be extracted from the delicate flowers. Magnolia is frequently a synthetic recreation as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the “magnolia” here were a mixed accord that included some of the shared molecules found in muguet and perhaps freesia as well. It’s either that, or the note list needs additions beyond even what GQ added.
The overall effect feels very fresh and Spring-like, evoking walks in the countryside after the rains. Vert Boheme is particularly lovely in its first 20 minutes and when smelt from afar. There, the synthetics are less obvious and one is struck by an almost ethereal refrain of honeysuckle, violets, some “muguet” facsimile laced with freesia, all bracketed by different sorts of greenness. The wonderfully liquidy feel to flowers combined with their sweetness, their almost Alpine purity, and their freshness was entrancing, and it made me smile as I eagerly sniffed my arm.
Unfortunately, things don’t remain that way. Up close, Vert Boheme loses both its appeal and its shape. Roughly 25 minutes in, the floral and green accords each begin to blur. The fragrance is rapidly becoming a hazy, indeterminate mix that trumpets “fresh and clean” and “green-white florals” more than actual honeysuckle, magnolia, or violets. It’s the same for the galbanum, oakmoss, and violet leaf. Only the “muguet” is strong, solid, and distinct. Alas, like so many muguet notes, it begins to smell quite soapy. When combined with the growing waves of clean musk and the hazy floral cleanness, the end result is not only an aldehydic, slightly aquatic, slightly crisp, green floral freshness but also something that resembles expensive soap on occasion.
By the 45-minute mark, the once entrancing, ethereal opening has completely dissolved into an amorphous blur. It’s not terrible if one likes soapy, clean, feminine green florals, but I find it neither original nor distinctive. In fact, it feels extremely commercial, thanks to the increasingly overt synthetics and the generic nature of the composition. It’s the sort of thing that would fit well amongst Tom Ford’s regular line rather than the Private Blend Collection which — theoretically and originally at least — were meant to be more innovative, creative, and niche-like.
Above all else, though, Vert Boheme feels like a very ’70s style of perfumery. The GQ article that I’d referenced earlier actually called all four of the new Tom Ford releases a return to the ’70s. When I initially read it, I hadn’t understood what they meant because I’d only tested Vert d’Encens and that felt very modern and current to my nose. Now, though, I see their point because, yes, Vert Boheme does resemble the fragrances of the past. It’s not “the musk-y, moody, undeniably masculine fragrances” that the writer had postulated, but the aldehydic, crisp, green and white florals of the ’70s. When the soapy, muguet-like aroma explodes 30 minutes into Vert Boheme’s development and the rest of the notes dissolve 15 minutes later, the resemblance is uncanny to me. The honeysuckle fades away, leaving only a slightly honeyed floral sweetness; the violets die, while the oakmoss, vetiver, galbanum, and violet leaves are swallowed up in an overriding haze of fresh greenness.
The result is a fragrance that feels like a fusion of Diorissimo, YSL‘s vintage Rive Gauche, and one of the classic Chanel green florals, namely Cristalle, all fused together with very modern (and mainstream) levels of white musk. For the first 90 minutes, the Diorissimo touch is the strongest out of the three; then Rive Gauche takes the lead for the next four or five hours, before the Cristalle kicks in from the 6th hour onwards.
None of it is really my cup of tea, but those fragrances and their style of perfumery are extremely popular with women who love the old-school classics. Depending on how you look at it (and your spirit of generosity), Vert Boheme is either their modern descendant or a minimally tweaked rendition of the most popular olfactory chords of those iconic classics put together in one bottle. I think some women will find it chic and familiar at the same time, while others may think it’s too familiar and not distinctive enough for the price, especially since the vintage classics are still available on eBay for less than Vert Boheme’s price of $225 for 50 ml.
One of my issues with Vert Boheme is not its classical composition or style, but how quickly it dissolves, turns synthetic, and loses structure. As a result of those changes, the scent becomes overly simplistic and far less interesting, while the lack of delineation within the notes makes everything feel generic. It’s the sort of thing that you can spray on and go without thinking or noticing the notes because, quite frankly, there are no notes! There is simply a powerful haze around you that, I hate to say it, skews towards the loud and trashy side rather than to the elegant, polished, and sleek minimalism of the past.
To be fair, there is a different way of looking at all that if one were to play the Devil’s Advocate. First, not all the ’70s aldehydic green florals were discreet. In addition, some were quite minimalistic or abstract as well. Second, there is absolutely nothing wrong with fragrances that one can just throw on and go, and I would agree. I appreciate that sort of ease and simplicity as well at times. The rebuttal to this, however, is that one expects a little more at $225, €195, or £148 for the smallest bottle and from the Private Blend line than the sort of thing that is widely available for much less in mainstream perfumery or on eBay for the vintages.
Still, I would shrug all that off if Vert Boheme smelt great in its indeterminate morass, but there are other and arguably bigger problems that I have with the scent. First and foremost, it begins to smell like floral shampoo and, later on, like floral hairspray as well. The problem is the white musk which just balloons and balloons, and its effect on the already blurry floral-green notes and the “muguet”-like soapiness. From the 90-minute mark until the start of the 3rd hour, it felt as though I were wearing Diorissimo and Rive Gauche mixed with floral shampoo. Later, when the “muguet” faded away, I was left with Rive Gauche, some Cristalle, floral shampoo, and increasingly sharp, shrill white musk floral hairspray.
Things got worse after that. At the start of the 5th hour, I was stuck with: faux Cristalle; shrill floral hairspray; and some citrusy, vaguely magnolia-ish floral abstraction laced with an extremely scratchy synthetic woodiness. By the end of the 7th hour and the start of the 8th, it was basically sharp citrusy floral hairspray and rasping synthetic woodiness. The finish was simple laundry clean white musk. All of it irritated my throat, but the worst part was just how boring and unpleasant it was.
Which brings me to another problem I have with Vert Boheme: it’s a very linear scent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with simple, linear fragrances if you love the main notes in question but, obviously, I do not. Hours upon hours of abstract, soapy, clean, fresh, faceless florals imbued with greenness and loud white musk is several hours too many for me. The separation between the stages I’ve described above was minimal — a matter of degrees or micro-stages more than anything else — so, after the 40-minute mark, there were merely fluctuations in Vert Boheme’s nuances, the degree or nature of its “bathtastic” beauty products, its synthetic shrillness, and which particular 1970s fragrance it resembled more closely. For $225 a bottle, starting price, I don’t want to smell like floral shampoo or floral hairspray mixed with some overly synthetic, overly abstract remake of a 1970s fragrance.
If fresh, crisp, green florals or green floral chypres are your thing, I think there are far better modern recreations with better note delineation and infinitely better quality as well. Vero Profumo‘s Mito is beloved for its magnolia, florals, and galbanum, mossy greenness. It’s often viewed as a richer version of Cristalle. Sultan Pasha Attars‘s Thebes 2 has a very old-school Chanel No. 19 and Cristalle vibe, but mixes that with vintage Guerlain Djedi’s vetiver focus instead of magnolia. Oriza L. Legrand‘s Muguet Fleuri predated Diorissimo but really resembles it, while Sammarco’s Ariel combines the sense of Chanel’s No. 19 and Misia with several Guerlain fragrances, all mixed into one. No, they’re not identical to Vert Boheme, merely alternatives in the general genre, but I don’t cover the sorts of designer fragrances that Vert Boheme is mostly likely to resemble, and these niche ones at least have character, complexity, nuances, style, and quality — things I find quite lacking in the Tom Ford fragrance.
I tested Vert Boheme twice. The first time, I used several wide smears that amounted to slightly more than one large generous spray from a bottle. With that quantity, the lovely opening phase took less time to dissolve than it did with a larger fragrance application, 40-45 minutes instead of 20 minutes. There was even less note delineation and change to the actual scent bouquet after the dissolution phase than what I’ve described above. Vert Boheme simply veered between floral shampoo, floral hairspray, and a shapeless, clean, fresh, soapy green-white mass before finishing off as sharp laundry musk in its final hours. The sillage became moderate to soft after 1.75 hours, the fragrance turned into a skin scent after 3 hours, and it lasted just over 8 hours in total.
Vert Boheme followed the same path when I used a greater amount, but it was a much louder scent with more synthetics, sharpness, and bluster. I accidentally applied slightly more than my usual baseline quantity of 2 sprays or their smeared equivalent because I didn’t have a good grasp on the vial and it poured out more than I had intended, so let’s say somewhere between 2.5 and 3 sprays. With that amount, the synthetics came out sooner and more strongly, and the fragrance dissolved more rapidly. The sillage was roughly 9-10 inches after 10 minutes, and the projection was about 5. Vert Boheme turned softer about 4 hours into its development, and took 7.75 hours to turn into a skin scent. It was still going easily detectable during the 11th hour when I had enough and finally scrubbed it off. However, please keep in mind that my skin amplifies the reach and longevity of any fragrance with a high degree of white musk and synthetics, and I also used between 2.5 and 3 sprays, so you may have lower numbers or something close to what I experienced with the 1-spray equivalent.
On Fragrantica, there are four reviews for Vert Boheme at the time of this post, and all four are extremely positive. One woman is “in love” with it, another calls it “awesome” and “this is the most floral of the” Tom Fords Verts that she tried, adding that “[a]ll three […] were amazing and well-worth the money.” For “FeelingRisky,” Vert Boheme rated a 9 out of 10, even though he did not find it original:
It’s Great. [¶] But it is NOT original. [¶] While there is not a single moment I doubt the creativity and quality here, I know I have smelled this before.
Now – It’s white. Almost Chanel White. It opens like Balenciaga and it’s very VERY feminine. This is not one (and trust me I wear a lot of unisex) that I would consider Unisex. It’s beautiful, long lasting and somewhat green. I smell a lot of magnolia, violet and honeysuckle (gorgeous, realistic). I hardly smell any wood notes at all which is a shame. [¶] 9/10 [Emphasis to perfume names added by me.]
For “Sparklydocs,” Vert Boheme felt very familiar as well:
Tried a spray of it on my wrist and it does smell green/floral and spring like, but it reminded me of something I already have but I couldn’t put my finger on it. After about 15-20 minutes it hit me, it was a combination of Diorissimo parfum and Chanel Cristalle EDT all rolled into one!!
I have to agree with FeelingRisky, in that it’s very feminine and not unisex to me at all. [Emphasis to perfume names added by me.]
No, it’s definitely not a unisex fragrance but, as I said earlier, I think Vert Boheme will be popular with women and floral-loving men who love this genre of perfumery. I think they’ll find the fragrance to be chic and familiar at the same time, enjoying that aspect greatly. Others, however, may think it’s too familiar, not distinctive enough, and possibly too synthetic for the price. If you love either fresh, crisp, and clean feminine florals, green/white florals, or any of the fragrances mentioned here, then you should try it for yourself to see which camp you fall into. Or, you could give some of the alternatives that I’ve mentioned a try.