R A P H A E L     B A R K L E Y
We’re Having A Heat Wave

Champaca Absolute Eau de Parfum
Tom Ford Private Blend
by Raphael Barkley

With the white and golden heat of a long, hot, and sultry summer still upon us here in the United States, what perfect timing to cover a scent that carries us forward into a possible continued heat pattern for the fall season? I have always been a fan of Tom Ford’s fragrances - starting with the original azurée soleil by Tom Ford for Estee Lauder. That classic summer scent in the beautiful turquoise bottle has long been discontinued.

It wasn’t until I was in Milan for Esxence (the largest perfume event in the world) that I finally tried Tom Ford Private Blend Champaca Absolute on an unseasonably hot Italian spring day. (I know, out of all of the Italian perfumes to try in Milan, I fell for this one from an American designer.)

The Scoop from Lucky Scent

Tom Ford's Champaca Absolute seems to glow from within with a mélange of warm fruit and floral notes that melt into a balsamic base. The Champaca flower has a soft, gentle, hard-to-place complexity, with notes of wood, spice, and mint. In Champaca Absolute, that note is combined with magnolia (with its delicate apricot facet), jasmine, and a marron glaçé accord (chestnuts candied and glazed in sugar syrup). Champaca combined with the fresh-yet-sensuous magnolia smells not only like flowers that have been kissed by the sun — their notes, as a result, warmed up and heightened — but it also has a natural, petals-just-stripped-from-the-flower ripeness, giving a momentary impression of crushed petals releasing a slightly tropical scent.

Available at Sephora, Saks, Nordstrom and Lucky Scent

Champa is one of the flowering trees of the Magnoliaceae family and the word Champaca originally comes from the Sanskrit word campaka. Champaca has always been a “holistic flower” with hundreds of references in the legends and folklore of Hindu mythology. The fragrant yellow or white blossoms closely resemble ylang-ylang and shortly before sunset, the flowers produce a heady fragrance that is especially popular with many ashrams and holistic centers in India. Nag Champa incense, which contains a significant amount of the floral fragrance, is touted by many as the absolute best incense in the world. The tree is often called the “joy perfume” tree.

In his edition of Fragrances of the World, fragrance expert Michael Edwards classifies Champaca Absolute as a White Floral scent. The composition is said to be Tom Ford's homage to the eternal, seductive power of the Champaca flower. This is not a soft, pretty gardenia, nor a one-note indolic jasmine. It is not the outrageously feminine tuberose that drives you out of your mind with passion, nor is it like the Datura flower that whispers to you seductively in a drug-like stupor. This Champaca flower is a brilliant, holy white light that will force men to move closer, and will implore woman to inquire, “what are you wearing?”
Champaca Absolute is a classic example of perfume being presented as “high art.” It is one of the most passionate and seductive perfumes I own. This sultry scent is by no means a “seasonal” fragrance and can be just as bewitching for any time of the year, but it does rather blossom extraordinarily well in the summer heat.

Like the nocturnal flower, this fragrance blooms well into the night. It’s pure-white floral heart turns sensual and takes a momentary walk on the wild side with the warmth of Tokajii and cognac that rest on a base of Vanilla, Amber and Sandalwood. This perfume is a deep, rich and a wonderfully heady show-stopper. Champaca Absolute is as radiant as sunshine with a provocative, searing heat that embeds itself into the soul.

Unabashedly, this is my favorite Tom Ford perfume. Bar none. 
(For now) 
I was in Profumeria Cantarelli, an Italian beauty store on Via Montenapoleone and I was looking for a bright hot pink lipstick for a lavish cocktail party being held later that evening. I sprayed Champaca Absolute liberally as we were running out the door, my new Dior Addict lipstick in hand. Something happened. Was it the Italian air? Was it because I was in magical Italy? I don’t know. 

All I know is that I fell in love instantly; the magnificence of the scent was stunning and I could not get it out of my mind. We have all experienced scents like that in our life; scents that call to us and beckon, “Love, me, love me.” For the next few hours, my friends kept commenting on how absurdly delicious I smelled and I was sad that I did not have any more to wear to the party.