If you want to know how this smells go to LUSH and smell Silky Underwear dusting powder, powdery jasmine and synthetic vanilla. Vulgar.
This really is a bit of a mess. I was expecting earthy, fungal truffles and the dark, dangerous beauty of a velvety black orchid. Instead, I was slammed with a peculiar spearmint note and lots and lots of cloying berry jam. This scent is more grocery store produce department, than steamy, tropical jungle. When a loud pineapple note showed up to join the berry jam, I was about to scream for mercy. A couple hours later, the fruit departed, and all that remained was a mildly pleasant, generic, amber/vanilla accord. Everyone seems to love the top notes in this, so I guess I'm in the minority who prefers the drydown. I don't actually like it all that much, I just dislike it less. Although I think Mr Ford did a fabulous job with his Amber Nude cosmetics collection for EL, I have yet to experience a fragrance creation of his that I'm able to enjoy. *flashing eyes at YDAN*
Contrary to some of the other reviewers, I actually love the way this fragrance smells on me, both at first application, and the base notes when it has dried down. I think it's the perfect winter fragrance: dark, mysterious, rich and layered. It has now become my daily fragrance, and I will definitely repurchase though it may be a bit heavy for warm days. For what it's worth, I also wear Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, Caleche, Fracas, Narciso, and Jo Malone 154.
At first, Black Orchid seems to stand up to all the expectations the packaging and the anticipation has created: luxurious, Femme-Fatale infused mushrooms sautéed in spices. If you think these are the base notes you’ve been deceived: these wear off quickly, gradually revealing a phase of rum-soaked berries and than a rose opens its velvety petals for a short while as well. From this point on, it’s all goes downhill: the patchouli showing some unlikely affiliation to a marine note, and the whole thing turns into a better version of Allure Sensuelle – not as obnoxious, and definitely more wearable. Black Orchid is disappointing: I can accept the idea of some scent having less than lovely top notes, even marine top notes, as long as they evolve into something more than just that. Tom Ford has shown us that this is possible in reverse, and created the most disappointing fragrance in 2006.
This is, apparently, Tom Ford's big effort in bringing luxury and decadence back into perfumery. Black Orchid certainly is a decadent scent, but on my skin, I also found it to smell remarkably like Sage Machado's Garnet (sans watermelon) with an added touch of Scottish broom (or some other ingredient from Gobin Daude's Jardins Ottomans). I'm guessing the similarity rises from the same combination of amber, patchouli and vanilla at the base of each. Black Orchid is perhaps not wholly original, but still quite good for a department store offering, somehow managing to be warm, dark, creamy, sensual and spicy all at the same time.For the time being, it can be found exclusively at Neiman Marcus.
(As an aside, I am insanely curious to what exactly the "Tom Ford Black Orchid" in the notes refers to. I heard a vague rumor that Mr. Ford had a special breed of orchid specifically bred for him to imitate the scent he wanted, but suspect this may be just fictional marketing hype. Marketing, by the way, does seem to be an insanely important aspect to this fragrance, from its lovely vintage style bottle to its very name: the rumor goes that TF was so determined to have Black Orchid as his title that, to avoid copy infringement, EL paid perfumer Suzanne Lang a hefty amount to modify the name of her Black Orchid scent to "Midnight Orchid.")
Top notes: French jasmine, black gardenia, black truffle, black currant, ylang ylang, bergamot, mandarin and effervescent citrus
Heart notes: Tom Ford black orchid, spicy floral orchid accords and lotus wood
Base Notes: Patchouli, incense, amber, sandalwood, vetiver, balsam and vanilla continued >>
The opening of Black Orchid is complex and stunningly beautiful - spicy vanilla, flowers, a pleasant hint of
fruit - the works. In the drydown, I'm getting largely vanilla, with amber and a hint of patchouli and incense, etc. The vanilla was so familiar....maybe akin to Dior Addict? Black Orchid lasts well during the day. I like it best at the skin,
but found the sillage overwhelming when worn for a full day.