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The Hemispheres Design Special

From branded street artists to 14th-century cobblers, style takes a turn for both the new and old



Five questions for Tom Ford, on designing his new Private Blend fragrance collection, Atelier d’Orient, which, according to the Texas-born fashion powerhouse, was “inspired by the sublime beauty and the exquisite luxury of Asia.”
by Chris wright / Photograph by Jonathan Becker

So, Mr. Ford, why the Orient?
The convergence of old and new in Asia really spoke to me. I wanted to make a collection using some of the most cherished ingredients from Asian culture, including hualan and star magnolia flowers, ume plums, citrus fruits and oriental spices.

What do you do to get the balance of the ingredients right?
I wear the formulas for weeks. Each note needs time to be understood. I wear every single scent in every stage of its development, because you cannot evaluate a scent until you know it intimately on your own skin. I love every part of the process: adjusting, testing and smelling.

Do you have a particular woman, or type of woman, in mind when creating a new fragrance?
The “Tom Ford” woman is definitely not a wallflower. That said, I never constrain the creative process with preconceptions of who will wear the finished fragrance. Men wear my women’s fragrances, women wear my men’s fragrances, and the Private Blend fragrances are deliberately unisex. For me, there are no rules in perfume.

How important is packaging to a perfume? Is the right bottle half the battle in producing a successful fragrance?  
The first thing that makes you reach for a fragrance is the bottle. You should get pleasure from looking at it every day on your dressing room table or makeup counter. That said, a fantastic bottle can never make up for a mediocre fragrance.

Visually daring advertising is something else you’re famous for. How will you go about marketing this new collection?
The images for the Private Blend collection always focus on the bottle, which I designed seven years ago, and has the slightest feel of an apothecary. These fragrances are not about a persona, rather, they are very much about the artisanal and sometimes unusual ingredients, and they may be worn in many ways—alone, layered, or however you like.


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