Tom Ford Black Orchid

March and I tried the new Tom Ford Black Orchid on the exact same day, isn’t that fun? So we’ll review jointly.

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!

  • Teresa says:

    I would just like to say that I loved your write up on Tom Ford’s Black Orchid parfume. I would also like to say that I own this beautiful bottle and contents.
    I was on vacation in Florida, when I was offered by a NM SA, a sprayed sample card. I wasn’t completly sold on the fragance and carried the card to dinner with me. I literally could not get through dinner fast enough to go and get myself a bottle.
    I live in a very small town(closest NM is 4 1/2 hours away) and since I bought the fragrance, I don’t know how many times I have been complimented on its alluring scent.
    I am sure that this fragrance has alot to do with body chemistry, for I have been told that it smells very dark and shadowy with many layers…but fruit was not one of them. Many of your readers were turned off by the mention of “chocolate/vanilla/pineapple” but I believe that this fragrance supports so much more. Readers…give it a try….you won’t be disappointed. Please enter me into your drawing, I can’t get enough of this charismatic scent!!!

  • Catherine says:

    The Tampa Neiman Marcus people (3 of them) seemed desperate to sell something (anything). When I inquired about the Black Orchid, they sprayed a whiff in the air – very nice – and then moved me to Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile? I liked the Black Orchid and would have liked to have tried it on for awhile rather than just get a sniff.

  • Tigs says:

    Are these people SAs/Marketing types or are they just rabid B.O. fans, a la “I will plug Creed exclusively” Basenoters? You are entitled to love anything you want, sweetheart, but you are not setting the record straight around here: the fragrance marketers wouldn’t release a complete or accurate note list if a gun was held to their various heads and so not many of us appreciate being told what we are allowed to “detect”. We’re glad you like it and if we don’t, then they’ll just be more for you to get “quick”.

    • pitbull friend says:

      Hey, Tigs (Erin?),

      Very good point. It’s difficult, as so many have mentioned on here before, to disagree while conceding that people do and have a right to differ. My perception of a perfume — even as to the notes I can smell — might be so different from yours, even though we are both experienced sniffers. We’ve got to keep striving to disagree in an interesting and polite way…

  • Lola says:

    I’m absolutely astonished by some of the reviews and comments here. The only foody/fruity scents you can detect in Black Orchid are blackcurrent and black truffle – a wonderful rich, dark combination, neither of which are particularly sweet. The drydown is vanilla with a little lotus wood and patchouli- again not too sweet and the wood is barely detectable. So, to set the record straight there’s trace of no pineapple, banana or coconunt in this fragrance. Dark and exotic. Love it!

  • alexa says:

    :x:xAhhhh people i can’t believe some of the crazy reviews of Black Orchid by Tom Ford. It is absolutely gorgeous, sensual and really hypnotic. My boyfriend absolutely loves it too and said that it is just soooooo intoxicating and sexy. I can’t stop smelling my wrist, it is as addictive as chocolate, but damm sexier….and i totally adore the luxurious, mysterious and sultry design of the packaging
    Get some quick, u wont regret it

  • Andrea says:

    I just loved it !!!^:)^.

  • stony_curtis says:

    I love your blog~! I did a review of this scent, and I think I may have linked to you:
    take care…

  • stacey says:

    I think that ad campaign is brilliant and the black crystal bottle is to die for, but I am reluctant to buy without a try. I am a big fan of love ’em or hate ’em gourmand/ oriental type scents for years, (i.e. Angel, Shalimar, LB Venezia as mentioned above). Please advise of any more frag. notes…the pineapple sounds a tad bit offputting, as do strong floral notes. Fruity & Floral tends to give me a headache. The vanilla/ patchouli/ sandalwood/ chocolate/truffle notes make me want to buy…..just like when I bought Angel 10yrs ago. If there is still a drawing for a sample, sign me up!

  • Juli says:

    I just don’t understand why every perfume model looks like they are “thisclose” to hacking a lungfull of blood into a delicate lace hanky…
    the consumptive “i’m dying, but damn i’m pretty” Satine type look does NOT make me want to rush out and buy.
    But…your description made me want to try – hence the comment:>

  • Patty says:

    Kunal, it’s not at discounters yet, and I think only Neiman Marcus is carrying it right now. Not sure when it will be in wider distribution.

  • Kunal says:

    Where can i get the best price for the perfume “Black Orchid” by Tom Ford…??

  • whataworld says:

    I love her nailpolish. Please include me in the drawing.

  • Ayala says:

    I am mislead by the bottle and can’t stop thinking about all these three: Fracas, Nuit de Noel and Habanita!
    Please add me to the draw 🙂

  • Strange Accord says:

    The parfum bottle is gorgeous; one of the best in years. For me the name of the fragrance, the presentation and the advertising succeed at complementing each other. It is a very alluring and evocative name, bottle and marketing package.

  • Donna says:

    If Caron Pour Une Femme and L’or de Torrente had a child this Black Orchid would be it. The “pineapple cake” scent in the top notes put me off but it’s an ok fragrance. It’s fruity like LB Venezia but not as good.

  • Natalie says:

    That should be an ad for Black Cashmere. The minx has all of those subversive yet delicious expressions that Black Cashmere evokes in me as well—though not to such a lovely effect.

    Please enter me in your drawing!

    Thank you,

  • Cait says:

    I am so bummed this seems underwhelming. The bottle to me looks a lot like Caron Nuit de Noel.
    I wanna sample! Please enter me in the drawing. And once again, your reviews rock. I love the banter and the back and forth.

  • chayaruchama says:

    I’m late, but may I join in ?
    For science…
    Yout descriptions have me very, very frightened.

  • hausvonstone says:

    Please enter me in the drawing. I love the bottle! And that woman, in that ad, is not thinking about a pineapple. Unless that’s a euphemism for something naughty. I also say the ad smells like Fracas – tried it this weekend in Geneva and was not strong enough to fight back. That doesn’t mean I bought it, though! Escaped unscathed with a sample of Baghari. Long live the Swiss!

  • Emily says:

    Please enter me in the drawing

  • CindyN says:

    Unlike March and Patty, I adored this frag. Bought it Friday, and couldn’t stop smelling my wrist…then arm…then, well you get the idea. On me, there is a bid of a rustic, not-quite skank, but compost burst that I attribute to the Black truffle, then a tad of citrus that is quickly enveloped in a cashmere wrap of incense, amber, patch and chocolate. Not headshop patch, smoooth creamy patch. I love this on it’s own, then also layered it with JM Blue Agava and it was heaven. To me, this juice is right up there with my beloved OJ Woman.

  • Erica says:

    I would like to be in the drawing! I have been dying to smell it because i luuurrrvvve the ad, but now I’m scared!

  • patchamour says:

    That ad looks like Black Aoud to me — no, Poison is it. That gal does not look to me as if she’s thinking of vanillachocolatepineapple, etc. Please count me in for the drawing. And thank you.

  • Em says:

    What a gorgeous bottle! I’d love to get this just for the bottle, too. Please include me in the drawing. 🙂

  • minette says:

    wrote a much longer review of this one over on PoL (it’s under Victoria’s BO thread)- but to sum up, all of the interesting stuff is front-loaded – and it all goes away in the drydown, when Black Orchid goes from relatively hypnotic to mainstream department store boring. great bottle, though.

  • sariah says:

    Love the photo, definitely a femme fatale vibe, tuberose would fit the bill, I would say Fracas except you wanted a modern suggestion – so I’m going with Versace Blond.

    The packaging kind of reminds me of Habanita. Love it. Please include me in your drawing.

  • Patty says:

    R, I put you in the drawing, and hugs back to you!!

  • Patty says:

    Ina, maybe if we combine it with Bvlgari Black, it would be what we all want?

  • Patty says:

    Victoria, I would *love* to try the parfum, a drop, but that price tag is just ridiculous. But it does make me wonder if that would be the formulation of this that lives up to its billing.

  • Patty says:

    Bianca, I believe it is released now, I think as of Friday it should be in at least NM stores.

  • Patty says:

    Angela and Marina, put you in the drawing!

  • Patty says:

    Kuri, it’s really not terrible at all, and I don’t find it (though I think March did) overly fruity, except for a little bad spot in the middle. It’s the lack of dark that I was thinking it would be that was disappointing.

  • Patty says:

    Ann — Agree on Paestum Rose! I can’t even begin to sample what sounds like a divine concoction because the bottle is such a turnoff. I know, I’m a packaging whore. 🙂

  • Patty says:

    Christina, you’re quite welcome. I was disappointed in just the lack of innovativeness. It is nice juice, and I wish they hadn’t built up the dark aspect of it so much in pre-release hype. It couldn’t help but be disappointing unless it smelled like mud, woods and vetiver.

  • Patty says:

    Iris, put you in the drawing!

  • Patty says:

    Veronica — what would a fishnets vetiver look like do you suppose? 🙂

  • Patty says:

    Josey, I like the DK Gold too, and I do think this is a good ad for that one as well.

  • Patty says:

    E — March gets more of the vanilla and pineapple. I honestly don’t even smell those. I smell a general fruity thing for a while before the patch kicks up, and then that simmers down. The chocolate, yes, I get that too, but not overwhelming. Vanilla? I guess it’s in there, but background.

  • Patty says:

    Judith, I think the ad screams Opium too, or maybe Bvlgari Black too.

    I’m thinking this one is definitely not one you would like.

  • Patty says:

    Trinity, I really don’t smell pineapple. If it’s there, it’s like the woods part, just don’t get enough of it to register at all.

  • Patty says:

    Kayliana, I think this would be perfect for a little black dress. While I wish it were darker and more black, it’s still really lovely and perfect for the holidays.

  • Patty says:

    Alica and Jo, Tmp, Justy Ivy, put you in the drawing!

  • violetnoir says:

    Okay, maybe a modern Fracas print ad, but I’ll go with Carnal Flower, too.

    Please enter me in the drawing, y’all!

    Hugs and love!

  • tmp00 says:

    I’d love to sniff it, even if it’s sounding more Baskin-Robbins than Neiman-Marcus…

  • Ina says:

    I very much agree with your descriptions! I too thought it wasn’t black enough. Too milky-sweet and not particularly original.

  • Victoria says:

    Yes, it was rather less innovative than what I anticipated. I now hope to try the parfum. Maybe, it will be better. However, its price is downright prohibitive.

  • Bianca says:

    Likewise on the chocovanillapineapple. I guess I was also imagining more of a rich woodsy, incensy noir-esque perfume. That being said I don’t really like peachy smells and I still loved Chinatown, so please enter me in the drawing. Is the perfume officially unveiled now?

  • Just Ivy says:

    It really sounds delish! but you never know..I’d love to be entered in your drawing!!

  • marina says:

    I am very scared of chocovanillapineapple, but I’d love to be entered in the draw.

  • AngelaS says:

    I love the bottle, too. To me, the ad is a dupe of the Youth Dew Amber Nude campaign.

  • kuri says:

    Please enter me in the drawing. I’m not sure (haven’t figure out my preferences really), but I have a feeling I don’t like that much fruit 😀 It sounds very fruity. The packaging is very pretty though. The ad looks like it should be an ad for a rich, smoky fragrance. But without skank (or very little). It’s sultry but not indecent. I don’t know enough fragrances to be able to make a suggestion.

  • annE says:

    That bottle is to die for, but chocovanillapineapple? Count me out on that one. Oooh, hurts to just think about it.

    I’m tryin’ like heck to think of a modern fragrance to go with that bottle, but it’s a stretch. Must be that floral/fruity tsunami that we’ve been inundated with for the last few years. Maybe Paestum Rose? Now *that* would definitely be a bottle upgrade.

  • Christina H. says:

    I love the bottle but not enough for those descriptions! All I can say is thank you both, very much for sparing me and my wallet!

  • IrisLA says:

    I’m need to sample chocovanillapineapple! The bottle would be suitable for Dorissima Goldmund, an elegant honeyed scent. Please enter me in the drawing.

  • Veronica says:

    I would be more receptive to Black Orchid had the decadent base notes included a voluptuous vetiver instead of just plain, old vetiver.

    Vibrant vetiver? Vixen-y vetiver? A black- thong-and-fishnets va-va-voom vetiver?

  • Josey says:

    I could definately see this as an ad for Donna Karen Gold (which *really* impressed me)

  • Elle says:

    My reaction is the same as Judith’s – chocolatevanillapineapple??? Ugh. Is the target age 15? But I agree w/ Patty – the bottle is brilliant.
    Your choices and Judith’s were all great for that ad. It also makes me think of L’Arte di Gucci, Paco Rabanne’s La Nuit and the original Rumeur.

  • Judith says:

    Chocolatevanillapineapple??? count me out! For the ad–both of the Malle choices seem good to me, and I know this isn’t right, but I keep thinking of Opium (maybe it means I should wear Opium today):)

  • trinity says:

    Morning Ladies!
    Thank you both for the reviews!

    I was fairly intrigued until I read about pineapple, yuck! I love to eat it, but I sure don’t want it in my perfume. Also, pineapple just seems so very un-Tom-Ford-like. I don’t know why.
    From the looks of the bottle, I expect a dark, sultry, va-va-voom scent. Black thong panties and fish-net hose. Along those lines…..
    Anyway, please add me to the drawing!!!

  • Kayliana says:

    It’s a Poison ad. From 18 years ago. I’m loving seeing this 80’s dark makeup back in! Great write up you two, I was wishin’ and a hopin’ for it to be a little dirtier and more dangerous. That bottle scream’s that it is. Is it appropriate for a little black dress? That is the one spot I need to fill in my frag collection, especially with the holiday parties coming up… Please enter me in the drawing I would love to smell if this could be the one. Pineapple huh? In the fall…? I just don’t know about that….

  • Jo says:

    The ad alone makes the fragrance worth trying! Please enter me in your drawing.

  • Alica says:

    Hi, I would like to be included in the drawing, thanks