Perfume Review: Tom Ford Black Orchid
Black Orchid is the first offering from the newly established Tom Ford Beauty brand, modestly envisioned by Ford as “the first true luxury brand of the 21st century”. With his first perfume, Ford wanted to create “an iconic fragrance that could become the center of the world of Tom Ford Beauty”. Being, by his own admission, obsessed with orchids, the designer wanted to base the scent on the blackest orchid of all, a flower strange and rare. The flower, a black bloom with a hint of aubergine, was found at a Swiss orchid breeder, and, using the headspace technology, the essence of the Tom Ford black orchid was captured. Outfitted in opulent, Art Deco-inspired black and gold packaging, the darkly-sweet, heady fragrance speaks of unabashed luxury and glamour.
According to Tom Ford, the fragrances that have been launched in the last decade were “so stripped-down, so transparent in terms of color and often in terms of scent (…) they often become quite watered-down. Ford’s goal was “to create old-fashioned, but in a new sense”. (From Women’s Wear Daily, 07/28/2006) Like it or dislike it (and opinions probably will be as polarized as that), no one could call Black Orchid transparent or watered-down. The robust, striking juice certainly evokes an era that is much less politically correct and “stripped-down” than ours. And actually one doesn’t have to go back too far to find an example of a scent of similar boldness and lavishness. To me, Black Orchid has the same general feel as Poison, that magnificent giant from the 1980s. Tom Ford Beauty only tells us that the fragrance was created by Givaudan, but if I dared to attribute it to one specific perfumer or to guess where at least some of the inspiration came from, I would have said that Black Orchid evokes the audacious, generous, alluring style of Edouard Flechier.
It was easy for me to fall in love with Black Orchid, because in the very first notes it has given me what I always adore in perfume, the warm darkness, the appealing earthiness, the strangeness. The first accord, the blast of wet soil (black truffle?) and patchouli is odd, even awkward. With its fruity and gourmand accents, which would appear shortly, Black Orchid certainly gives a nod to the current trends, but that black, velvety earth in the beginning, which would be always present at least as a hint throughout the scent’s development, becoming more prominent in the drydown…that black earth, in which black orchids grow, is what constitutes the boldness and the unusualness of the scent and what shows to me that Ford Beauty are prepared to go in directions where few luxe brands dare to venture.
After the striking, unexpected top accord dissipates, the (black) flowers begin to flourish, they are creamy (ylang-ylang), buttery even (tuberose?), they are heady. Combined with the honeyed fruitiness, the flowers smell hypnotic, they are so sultry, they are almost unbearable. Were it not for that earthiness, which at times, in the middle stage, has a beautiful incense undertone, the heart of Black Orchid could have been too much for me. In a while, the fleshy fruity-floral sweetness subsides; patchouli, incense and woods become more apparent. The official description promises “the Noir Gourmand Accord” in the base of Black Orchid, and there is a chocolate-like quality here, but, perhaps again because of the earth and the woods and the incense, it is not nearly as Gourmand as it could have been. The scent has tremendous lasting power and takes a long time to develop, continuing to change on my skin for eight-nine hours. In the very last stages of drydown, Black Orchid is all soft creaminess of vanilla and sweet balsam. If I had to describe this fragrance in one word, the word would be “decadent”.
This glamorous bombshell of a scent can be found at Neiman Marcus, where Eau de Parfum retails for $90.00-$135.00 and pure parfum in black crystal Lalique bottles, for $600.00. It is said that in the spring, three ancillary Black Orchid products will be also released, an $80.00 hair perfume, a $45.00 body lotion, a $45.00 cleansing oil, and a $48.00 finishing oil spray.
The first image is from neimanmarcus.com, the second from tomford.com.
Labels: Tom Ford