Imagine suddenly getting your hands on a fortune (legally, of course). After paying all your debts, putting enough aside for the kids’ education, and upgrading to the house of your dreams, what would you spend the rest on? If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your answer is perfumes.

     Now, over the past year and a half we’ve established time and time again that perfume doesn’t have to cost a lot in order to smell good. But, every once in a while I come across a luxury fragrance that I can’t resist, just couldn’t live without, and actually mentally justify the price. This is one of those rare finds, and you can trust that when I come across said fortune, I’ll be heading to the store in my Jaguar to pick up a bottle.

     This week’s review is for Tom Ford’s Champaca Absolute, which retails for almost $250 for a 50 mL bottle. I have a sample, which I acquired from the TF counter at the Holt Renfrew on Bloor St.

     Before we get to discussing the scent, there’s a story behind how little old me got this vial. As you may know, last winter I was a Co-op student at a television studio, and through that experience I got to meet lots of interesting people. One of those was a Torontonian makeup artist, who invited me to shadow him at a top-notch boutique downtown for an event he was hosting. This alone was amazing, and the products and staff left me speechless, but before the event began I got to walk around the area, ending up at the Tom Ford counter in Holt Renfrew. I was very excited to get to try their more luxurious line, because up until then I only had the chance to try what they sold at Sephora.

     The counter was unattended, so I was free to try to my heart’s content. I sprayed the entire collection, and you can read some of my thoughts about it here, in that month’s Sniffing Adventures. From the collection Champaca Absolute stood out to me, so when an employee finally joined me – a beautiful Asian woman with a dark uniform – I asked for a sample. I watched as she took a small glass jar from a velvet box – the last one – and uncapped one of the giant 250 mL bottles. Using an eyedropper, she took out the right amount, deposited it into the jar, and handed it to me. I was vastly impressed by the experience, luxury oozing from every aspect of it.

     So, about the jar. It’s unlabeled, which could be a real problem for anyone with more than one. There’s no volume numbers on it, but from what I gather these clear glass jars hold about 4 mL’s, which is easily twice the size of a normal industry sample. The liquid is very pale yellow in colour.

     Now, I understand that this fragrance is composed to be a floral, but despite having a heavy yellow flowers accord, the effect is of a cozy, outdoorsy afternoon in fall. It’s slightly sweet, but naturally so from the flowers. It’s heavy in terms of materials, but seems to float briskly from the skin. It has a slightly earthy, mushroom-y element that works beautifully. A bit urinous, but not repulsively so. Fills you with warmth and comfort, smooth like fur but fresh like orange leaves on a tree. A beautiful, old-time thing that hangs uneasily on the margins of unisex for the mature crowd. To die for.

     To recap: yellow florals in the opening, rose and earth in the middle, and a high-quality soap base that lasts subtly for hours, giving the illusion of a bathed, put-together individual. Per-fec-tion.

     Verdict: Love to love this despite the price. Try this, your nose will thank you.

~ ~ ~

You can check out Tom Ford at or follow them on Twitter at


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