Notes: Japanese plum, saffron, cinnamon, immortelle, plum blossom, camellia, agarwood, amber, benzoin, fir, and vanilla.
There has been a flurry of activity concerning Plum Japonais recently. The rumor was that Plum Japonais would be discontinued to make way for the newest Private Blend release, Lost Cherry. I’ve been a fan of Plum Japonais for several years, and I finally took the plunge to buy it when I heard that it might be discontinued. Plum Japonais was originally released in 2013 as part of the Atelier d’Orient collection. The other Atelier d’Orient scents included: Fleur de Chine, Rive d’Ambre, and Shanghai Lily, all three of which have sadly been discontinued. If Plum Japonais were to follow suit, that would mean the entire Atelier d’Orient collection would be out of circulation. The current rumor at Fragrantica is that Plum Japonais will now *not* be discontinued. Who can keep up?
But enough about the drama! What does Plum Japonais smell like? It’s a classic Tom Ford Private Blend in that it opens in a rich, decadent manner. It’s all jammy plum and cinnamon on my skin for the first 30 minutes. It’s very Fall/Winter and the cinnamon makes it a little bit Christmas-y. It reminds me of mulled wine. This is one that becomes more opulent the longer I wear it. The saffron creeps in, adding to the spice of this fragrance. Then the plum fades slightly, only to be replaced by a floral note. The floral smells like jasmine to my nose. There’s also some oud here (the agarwood) but it’s very dry and comes across like patchouli to me.
The vanilla note comes in during the heart notes for me. After an hour and a half of wear, Plum Japonais takes on a creamy texture. It’s not heavy, but the texture is tangible. I would not wear this in hot or humid weather, where it would definitely become too heavy and overbearing. But in cool weather, these heart notes are delicious. The vanilla mingles with the spice for a warm spiced latte kind of vibe. At this point, the fragrance is yummy, and it’s really walking the line of being a gourmand. The dry down solidifies that this is not a gourmand. That dry oud returns, and it really is bone dry on my skin. There’s a light resinous note that smells like frankincense, but it’s in the background until the base completely fades away.
The similarities between Plum Japonais and Fille en Aiguilles from Serge Lutens have been covered in the fragrance community. I do indeed smell the similarities between the two. In fact, I also own Fille en Aiguilles and I wear it on Christmas Eve every year. Plum Japonais also reminds me of the festive cherry cola/leather smell of Mon Numéro 10 from L’Artisan Parfumeur, which I also wear around Christmas time. Clearly, this spiced, festive and opulent genre is a favorite of mine! The difference between the compositions for me is an emotional one. Plum Japonais is the type of scent that demands an occasion to be worn. It’s for holiday parties, even a New Year’s Eve party. Fille en Aiguilles, like many Serge Lutens compositions, gives me a more contemplative vibe. My family doesn’t attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve but, if we did, Fille en Aiguilles is the one (which is why I wear it on Christmas Eve anyway). And Mon Numéro 10 is to keep cozy on cold December nights.
There are so many perfumes out there these days. Let’s face it, many of them are going to share similar notes and accords. It all depends on what works with your skin chemistry and what you want to prioritize within your personal collection. Plum Japonais has a place in my collection, and I know I’ll get plenty of wear out of it this Fall/Winter. As for whether or not it will be discontinued, only Tom Ford himself could tell us. It will likely be discontinued at some point because that’s the reality of the market these days. I’m glad to have snapped up a bottle — even if the discontinuation rumors were all just a clever sales tactic!
The photo was taken by me. The info on the notes is from Fragrantica.