From March: I´ve read all sorts of things about Tom Ford Black Orchid in the months leading up to the release. I remember something about his magicians capturing the smell of the rare black orchid (maybe bred just for Tom?) using headspace technology. Looking at the advertising, the fragrance is presented as sultry, seductive, and a little retro. The ad campaign (featuring the daughter of French Vogue´s editor) gives off its own sensual, Black-Dahlia-esque vibe.
I´m not sure what I was expecting – something a little edgy, maybe a balance between the sharpness of orchid and something creamy, like musk? Or darker, incense perhaps, and/or aldehydes for that retro buzz. Whatever I was expecting, what I smelled on Friday wasn´t it. It´s early yet, and part of the fun of being among the first reviews of a new fragrance is the chance to look like an idiot when everyone else weighs in, but here´s mine. Black Orchid is not a bad fragrance, by any stretch. The SAs at the Neiman Marcus I´ve been stalking relentlessly were still unpacking the bottles. They´d gone through their new-scent training, and they described the scent confidently, in unison, as: vanilla; chocolate; pineapple, patchouli; sandalwood. And that´s more or less exactly what it smells like. I get a fair amount of chocolate throughout, more the mildly bitter cocoa-hull smell. The pineapple is juicy and not overly sweet. The patch arrives 15 minutes in, and it´s very civilized; if there´s sandalwood I can´t smell it. In fact, I can´t smell any woods at all – I´d describe the overall feel as fruity, rich and slightly gourmand. It´s a very pretty fragrance; the friend I was shopping with really liked it. It´s not a “casual” fragrance, but there´s nothing particularly smouldering about it, either, and to me it smells quite modern.
Here are the notes for Tom Ford Black Orchid listed on the NM website:
Sensuous top notes of Black Truffle and Ylang mingled with fresh Bergamot and delectable Black Currant.
Dramatic middle notes of dark, tempting Florals and rich Fruit Accords. The heart is deepened with the intoxicating Lotus Wood.
Decadent base notes of Patchouli, Incense and Vetiver. Vanilla Tears add a fluid creaminess to warm Balsam and smooth Sandalwood.
Here are the (somewhat different) set of notes cribbed from Robin´s brief for Tom Ford Black Orchid, excellent writeup on Now Smell This regarding the launch: “The fragrance, by Givaudan, has top notes of French jasmine, black gardenia, ylang ylang, bergamot, mandarin and effervescent citrus; a heart of Tom Ford black orchid, spicy floral orchid accords and lotus wood, and a drydown of patchouli, incense, amber, sandalwood and vanilla.”
Well … you tell me. I have no idea what juju is in there, but I´m smelling … chocovanillapineapple, just like the nice ladies said. I also get an unfortunate whiff of what I can only describe as a faint, metallic “marine accord,” that fresh, breezy smell that´s in everything these days, although I do wonder whether it´s a skin chemistry issue. My verdict: if you gave it to me, I´d wear it.
From Patty: Um, March wrote a damn book, so I’ll be much briefer. I quite like the opening notes of Tom Ford Black Orchid, whatever may actually be in there, whether it is the capturement of the rare black orchid or whatever — it’s really dark and different and just a little haunting. What I don’t like as much is where it goes after that very dark, different opening. Can everyone just give Black Currant a rest for a while? I like the scent well enough, but I’m just weary of it. It’s the New Black this season, but it’s not very black and doesn’t go in every perfume like flour goes in every cake, so stop it already, it’s boring. I wish this had stayed darker and left out a lot of the fruit accords that show up after the open, but they don’t stay that long before they get modified, so I’m not unhappy with the juice, just don’t like that part of it.
So the middle is a little too fruity for me, but not in a way that makes me hate it, just in a way that makes me want to go back to the beginning of it or let it dry down so I can get to something I like more. I don’t get any woods in this either, but the bottom notes are very well behaved, and even though I’m not a Patch person, I’m quite relieved to see it show up fairly early on and knock down some of the fruit, which then makes this a nice perfume overall, leaning a little to the dark side. It’s just not as dark and haunting all the way through like I hoped it would be.
Now, can I talk about the bottle? I LOVE that damn bottle, it really is just gorgeous in its simplicity and shows where Tom’s strength is… in design. I’d buy Tom Ford Black Orchid for the bottle alone — simple, elegant.
From us both:
Since Tom’s fragrance, while nice enough, seems too lightweight to live up to this wonderful ad, what modern fragrance do you readers think of when you look at that image?
March’s vote: Carnal Flower
Patty’s vote: Musc Ravageur
Also, respond with a comment and be entered in the drawing for a sample of this fragrance!