High-low perfume review: Tom Ford vs Rihanna

High-low perfume review: Tom Ford vs Rihanna

It’s a fragrance competition of citrus scents and we pit Rihanna Rogue against Tom Ford Venetian Bergamot. Guess who wins?

Citrus scents have long been the backbone of men’s perfumery, with oranges and grapefruit particularly prevalent in the cologne days of yore. (Hai Karate, anyone?) Medicinal citrus tonics have long been a comfortable, familiar choice for men, maybe because they remind them of their dads.

While I normally lean toward grapefruit-based concoctions, I took a sniff at two new bergamot orange-centred scents, reaching into the upper echelons of the fashion world for a Tom Ford creation, and connecting with the populist-celebrity arena for a new offering from the House of Rihanna.

Two peppery, bergamot-heavy heavy-hitters: Here’s how they stack up.

 TF_VENETIAN_BERGAMOTHIGH: Tom Ford Venetian Bergamot

First Impression: This unisex fragrance is so extremely fresh-smelling, I can’t wait to try it. And I’m not a huge Tom Ford fan. (Did you know he gets up pre-dawn but doesn’t get to work until 10:30?) This smells both expensive and like success. And sex.

Top: Bergamot, pepper, ginger
Middle: Gardenia, ylang-ylang, magnolia
Base: Sandalwood, tonka bean, amber

Best For: Rubbing shoulders with gala-goers, climbing out of limos, ordering Manhattans

Biggest Fan: Every style-obsessed homosexual on earth, plus that man in the red Ferrari I saw this morning, plus men who won’t bat an eyelash at dropping $300 on a fragrance.
$300 (50 ml), www.tomford.com, www.holtrenfrew.com

Rihanna_RogueMan_2015LOW: Rihanna Rogue Man

First Impression: The singer’s first men’s fragrance is powdery and rather safe, almost familiar. It has an uptown nightclub kind of vibe. The orange is really powerful.

Top: Bergamot, pepper, orange
Middle: Vanilla orchid, labdanum, jasmine
Base: Sandalwood, tonka bean, amber

Best For: Saturday night

Biggest Fan: Nice-smelling men who realize nice-smelling men get the girls, plus Rihanna fans. Maybe more importantly, guys who know their dates are Rihanna fans.
$90 (100 ml), www.shoppersdrugmart.ca

For more citrus scents, check out our trend report on the note.

PHOTO: FlickrCC/Adrià Ariste Santacreu
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Doug Wallace is a Toronto-based writer who began his fragrance wardrobe with a bottle of the now-iconic Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel and hasn’t looked back. A big fan of scents by houses Lalique and Boucheron, he is currently having a fling with all-things-British, including Clive Christian, Floris and Penhaligon’s. He treasures the dusty shoulders of some of his more aged bottles just as much as he does the shiny young ones.