Perfume Directory

Sahara Noir (2013)
by Tom Ford

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Sahara Noir information

Year of Launch2013
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 134 votes)

People and companies

HouseTom Ford
PerfumerRodrigo Flores-Roux
Creative DirectorTom Ford
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Sahara Noir

Sahara Noir is a feminine perfume by Tom Ford. The scent was launched in 2013 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux

Sahara Noir fragrance notes

Reviews of Sahara Noir

This smells exactly like one of the Montale and Loewe incense based fragrances. Nothing original or special here and easy to see why it was discontinued. It also lasts for hours and kept annoying me throughout the day. Nothing Sahara or Noir about it.
27th January, 2021
Oof. The ginger, basil, and citruses killed the incense for me. This came across like the salad one of my friends makes, an old school NYC Greek who puts ‘Just F-k Me Up’ amounts of ginger and basil. The sour dry down does not improve the experience for wearers not favorably disposed to the initial cooking savories. I was here for the incense, something SN delivers in excess, and parts of SN are recognizable to TF fans. However, I feel there was actually more in common with Jubilation 25’s tarragon + incense.

Bottom line, since this has been discontinued for quite some time and was marketed as a feminine fragrance, Sahara Noir is not remotely safe blind buy territory despite holy grail reputation. Thumbs down on me individually. I might appreciate this more on a male who could wear it well and may very well sample pass to a male BNer willing to review de novo and publish for some balance.

Review from a carded spray vial.
01st January, 2021
I have a theory about Tom Ford’s creative vision, especially for the early perfumes, and the mainstream/pillar fragrances, that he signed off on at Gucci, and later under his eponymous fashion label—they’re either modernized versions of vintage classics, or rescue missions for vintage classics, that lost their oomph and impact when IFRA and/or corporate accountants clipped their claws and sawed off their fangs, or had disappeared completely—the great perfumes of the late sixties and the Studio disco era, perfumes that were in the air when Ford was a young club scenester, an era of hyper-sexy excess that he has continued to celebrate in his clothing designs (those clingy, sculptural, one-armed jersey dresses remind me of Halston’s work that the likes of Jerry Hall and Bianca Jagger wore to Studio 54).

Gucci Envy? The queen of the mean greens, an icicle-dripping interpretation of vintage Fidji and Piguet’s Futur. L’Arte di Gucci—Rive Gauche and Coriandre. Youth Dew Amber Nude—the name says it all. Brown Gucci’s sleazy orange blossom is like a disco remix of Bal à Versailles. Gucci Rush is harder to peg, but its xenon-gassed peach smells like an updated Diorama. Black Orchid is its own beast, and while it doesn’t smell like one perfume of the end of the Perfume Golden Age, its bold, take-no-prisoners attitude and Deco packaging is a post-modern throwback, the kind perfume that the 70s designers and their muses loved. And White Patchouli, like L’Arte di Gucci, is another update of the Rose chypre, on the same train as disco divas Rive Gauche and Calandre.

Sahara Noir fits right into this program. As a lifelong wearer and lover of vintage Opium, I appreciate what I consider Ford’s rescue operation of the queen mother of spice fragrances. With Opium’s clove materials outlawed by IFRA, Ford’s team pivoted to incense, and added something that must be near and dear to the heart of a man who makes his second home at a ranch in New Mexico—piñon wood, the scent of New Mexican tribal native incense, and the smoke from hundreds of thousands of adobe chiminias, the domed wood-burning outdoor fire pits that amplify the resiny native pine wood of the New Mexico forests. Like Opium, it is fueled with a massive aldehyde boost so powerful that it transcends the stereotypical twinkle these materials usually supply, into a turbocharged powerhouse afterburn. A single spritz fills a room. A spoonful of this stuff weighs a ton.

I suppose that “Rocky Mountain Noir” does not have the same poetic impact and exoticism as Sahara Noir, but its name tips Ford’s hand. Its name evokes the same kind of Orientalist exoticism, and its scent profile does the same. It still has Opium’s spice cabinet melange, but its style evokes the wide open desert spaces of both the Middle East and the American West. I know its pine accord is made of frankincense, possibly the most evocative of ancient, Biblical, scent ingredients, but it still smells like America, as much as it smells like Eastern Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals across Europe—and Central and South America, and Middle Eastern spiritual spaces as well.

It also has another accord that I think is quintessentially Ford. Spray enough of it on your skin, and a dark, musty, very masculine animalic quality appears in tandem with the scent of sacred spaces. Ford famously said that he wanted Black Orchid to smell like a man’s crotch, but that’s even more true of Sahara Noir. Perfume lovers all over the world are still scratching their heads about why Ford’s house chose to market Sahara Noir to women, but I think the Opium connection explains what the team’s thought process must have been, and it also shows that nobody could have anticipated how perfumes like Amouage’s great Jubilation XXV could have been, with men in the West, as well as its target audience of wealthy male customers in the East.

I don’t know why Sahara Noir was discontinued—if it was because, as has often been surmised in user reviews, that it was just not feminine enough, or too edgy for the mainstream customer. I suspect, however, that its powerful accord might contain something that ever-evolving IFRA regulations must prohibit, because, as beloved and influential as Sahara Noir has become, no contemporary niche house has even tried to replicate it—and doing that, would be a savvy move, as a new and continuous supply of something like Sahara Noir, would surely be a reliable seller in today’s perfume market. And if it failed as a broad spectrum mainstream hit, why wouldn’t Team Ford have reinvented it, for their Private Label lone? Perhaps, it ultimately, and ironically, met the same fate as the grand perfumes that I believe Ford wanted to revive for our modern world, and this modern classic was cruelly taken away by some of the same demands that destroyed those same fragrances that Ford wanted to bring back in the first place. There’s no way to know for sure. I’m just glad that the aftermarket seems to be well supplied.

Whatever the reason, this perfume is an essential smelling experience for anyone interested in serious perfume, and a necessary addition to any fragrance wardrobe. It is the ne plus ultra of incense perfumes, and a modern classic. Five shining stars—a masterpiece.
27th December, 2020
Marketed as a fragrance for women, but I really dig wearing this one in cooler weather. Exceptionally rich, well blended and very long lasting without any trace of noxious chemical sweetness.

4 stars.
17th September, 2020
Stardate 20191118:

Starts great with incense and resins. Not unctuous like other famous incenses.
But within an hour a sour lactonic accord shows up spoiling the party for me.
All in all a good incense fragrance but Avignon remains the gold standard of incense for me.
18th November, 2019
Knew I had to have this when I tried it, extremely heavy, spicy. There's no sweetness, very strongly woody/incense . No need to spray more than once, the longevity is excellent.
30th March, 2019

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Tom Ford Sahara Noir 1.7oz Open Box Pre-owned

US • Buy it now: USD 180.00.



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