A bottle of Banana Republic Neroli Woods lying in the grass.

Banana Republic Neroli Woods fragrance review

Banana Republic's dupe of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino hits almost all the marks of the original, and adds some woodsy flavour of its own.

A bottle of Banana Republic Neroli Woods lying in the grass.

Banana Republic Neroli Woods is a deeply satisfying fragrance. It is — and let’s get this right out of the way at the beginning — a clone of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino. Same woody, ambery base atop bright neroli, same utterly sunny disposition… and, happily, the same longevity and projection as the original! Not to say that the original’s performance was stellar, because it wasn’t. But Banana Republic Neroli Woods is so similar, in almost every way, that I’m hard-pressed to recommend buying the more expensive original Tom Ford when this is available. I found a bottle for $30, and there are similarly-priced bottle available on eBay and FragranceNet at the time of this writing.

Neroli Woods opens with, you guessed it, neroli. It’s bright and cheerful and accompanied by some slightly bitter mandarin leaf. The latter imparts a greenness to Banana Republic Neroli Woods that is really pleasant. Not too strong, not too green, but it adds a freshness that the neroli note alone doesn’t provide. Also hovering somewhere in the opening is coconut, albeit in a very subdued way that underlies things without at all stealing the show. It imparts a mild sunscreen-esque vibe to the fragrance that makes for perfect beach wearing in the hot summer sun.

But Neroli Woods isn’t all about summer! The greenness that I mentioned earlier continues on past the top notes and lends a springtime vibe to the scent as well. By the time the sandalwood and cedar come out in the heart notes, the slightly-bitter greenness has firmly established itself in the background, bringing the blossoms and woods to life.

There’s something called “solar notes” in the notes breakdown of Banana Republic Neroli Woods, and I’m sure most new to the fragrance game will snicker at the term. Whatever could it mean? Here, solar notes smell, well, like the sun hitting the sand on a beach. There’s a warmth to this fragrance that isn’t the same sort of warmth you’d expect from, say, a winter or fall scent. It’s warm but it invites itself to be worn in warm weather. Whether it’s the springtime as things begin to thaw and plants emerge from the ground, or the beating sun of the summer as you lounge on the deck or on the beach, the warmth here suits the spring and summer heat really well.

Supporting that warmth is amber and ebony, two stars of the drydown of this fragrance that, while never stealing the show on their own, play an essential supporting role. Like Alberto Morillas’ updated of CK One, aptly named CK All, amber works paradoxically well here for a warm fragrance. In CK One, for example, the musky notes of that 90’s classic feel a bit dated now. But in the updated CK All, amber replaces the musk and “warms” everything up, letting the other notes soar amidst the creamy sweetness of those amber notes.

Just like with Tom Ford Neroli Portofino, Banana Republic Neroli Woods affords moderate projection and longevity. It’ll last for 4-5 hours on your skin before becoming a very close skin scent, and about 7-8 hours on clothing (sun hats, anyone?). That’s not amazing for a summery scent, but hardly a disqualified amongst a range of scents that tend towards low sillage and paltry longevity. And I can’t stress enough, longevity and projection here are basically the same as the Tom Ford original! I think this one is a no-brainer. Banana Republic is to be enthusiastically praised for creating a clone of such similarity and quality.

I’ve read that Banana Republic plans to retire this scent in favour of bringing in a new season of Icon collection fragrances, so pick up a bottle of this as soon as you can! If you’re at all a neroli fan, or even just a fan of Neroli Portofino to the rejection of other neroli scents, this easy-on-the-wallet and easy-on-the-nose scent is for you.

A bottle of Banana Republic Neroli Woods lying in the grass.
Banana Republic Neroli Woods fragrance review
A pleasant, modern woodsy neroli scent
Banana Republic's hyped dupe of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino hits almost all the marks of the original, adds some woodsy flavour of its own, and does it all on a very reasonable budget. Modern, beachy, and perfect for summer.