November 28th, 2006
Tom Ford Black Orchid was one of my major anticipations this year: its promise to bring retro glamour back to perfume as well as the rendition of a one-of-a-kind flower of black orchid captivated me to the point of infatuation. It was evident from the start the scent would be somewhat controversial (consider other perfumes created under Tom Ford’s direction – M7, Gucci, Youth Dew Amber Nude). I can take controversial any time (unless it’s pretentious) – there’re way too many smell-and-forgets (SAFs) out there. When it comes to perfume, I like to be challenged, provoked, haunted. Black Orchid did jus that, and it is after numerous skin tests that I’m writing this review.
Classified as a spicy oriental, the accord of black orchid is achieved with the help of opulent floral and fruity notes (ylang-ylang, jasmine, bergamot, black currant) on the base of patchouli and woods. Upon first contact with skin, the scent strikes me as bitterly dirty and edibly creamy simultaneously. It’s a rather pungent beginning, almost to the point of being appalling. As it’s claimed to be the modern version of retro glamour, I can’t help but wonder if “modern” in today’s perfumery translates into everything sweet and vanillic. The “noir” retro chic is definitely there, and for that alone I can tolerate the vanilla. What I cannot tolerate is the underlying aquatic note that manages to permeate the scent in all stages of development. I’m puzzled as to its source – it must be the black truffle. I can only imagine it smelling wet and earthy (in this case, more wet than earthy). Combined with the base notes of patchouli, incense, vetiver, amber, and sandalwood, it has a jarring, obtrusive effect. Black Orchid leaves a smothering impression on me – I cannot help but find the fragrance overpacked. It will definitely wear you. It will dominate. It will intimidate. It will rip up all the retro glamour with its excessive forcefulness and lack of grace.
Tom Ford Black Orchid is available at Neiman Marcus.
Image source: www.neimanmarcus.com
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