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Or Black - Butch in the best sense (November 26, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

I was blissing out in My Favourite Perfume Store last Thursday, scanning the walls and the counters for treasures. My eye caught two words on a box in the men’s counter and the words came out of mouth without thinking “I’ll try a sniff of Or Black, please”.

Pascal Morabito and Or Black – I couldn’t believe it! I'd just read about this obscure Men’s fragrance earlier in the week when I was flipping through Luca Turin’s The Guide, and all I could remember was that it was a fougère,  Luca gave it a five-star rating, and he thought it was sensational. I was about to find out just what he meant...

Never heard of Pascal Morabito? Me neither. He’s a Paris-based designer of luxury goods such as jewellery, perfume, travel luggage, and even champagne. His jewellery is beautiful - gems suspended in geometric gold shapes – Or Black  and the womens’ version Or Noir, were created in 1982 by Morabito with Jean Louis Sieuzac, and have really limited distribution - they're sold from his online store.

It was painfully obvious that this was not a best-seller – the juice in the tester was darkened, and the stock consisted of one bottle in a beaten-up box. I felt a little frisson of pleasure, the thrill of discovery. This was authentic genuine niche.

The first sniff out of the tester was pretty awful – nasty, in fact. But no, moments later, the magic started to happen, and I could see Luca’s five stars starting to glow.  Half an hour later they were shining so bright, I was almost blinded by their light!

The notes in Or Black are bergamot, pepper, leather, sage, benzoin, cistus, vetiver, amber, tonkinian musk, oak moss. (Yes, real oak moss) Traditional fougères are kind of green and soapy smelling, but aromatic fougères pack a lot more notes in with the herbal lavender and vanilla-ish coumarin - they are much more butch. Or Black is a super virile, butch powerhouse which smells absolutely great! It makes other famous mens’ scents like Chanel, Guerlain, YSL, Armani, seem almost wussy. 

The opening “nasty” notes are those chemical smells I love – tar, rubber, gasoline - but almost right away the herbs come up from underneath, with the citrusy bergamot, sharp pepper and rich leather. It’s starting to smell very good, and as the dry down continues to unwind, amber and dark musk create a smooth wave of sweetened animalic warmth. The base of green vetiver and oak moss, with the smoky dark leather wafting in and out, is earthy and sexy, with a distinct whiff of skank.  

Or Black is capital-M male. This is not Tom Cruise or Jude Law, short guys with pretty faces and perfect clothes, this is Clint Eastwood or Liam Neeson at their peak, big guys with lived-in faces and sleeves rolled up. It's not trendy or mainstream, but exudes a confident intelligent masculinity.  As I said earlier, a virile butch powerhouse.

Or Black is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Great finds

I was riding shotgun with Sniffing Around this weekend, and I was thrilled to pick up an older bottle of Diorella (with the hound tooth packaging). it's a splash bottle so now I need to stock up on an atomizer. I was chuffed to learn that it was designed by none other than Roudnitska who I have grown a tad obsessed with in recent months. I see in Gwen's latest post she talks about her favourite Frederick Malle (Eau d'Hiver). I discovered the wonders of Roudnitska through Malle's release of his Le Parfum de Therese, which will one day be my inaugural introduction to the line!

I see in The Guide that Turin smells a lot of similarities in the two. One day I'll do a side by side comparison and report back. I love the woody freshness of this one. Maybe not so great for this time of year, but oh what a glorious spring ahead!

Or Noir is pretty nice too!

I haven't tried Or Black--though will be ordering a sample soon!--but I recently found Or Noir, the women's version in a dusty corner of a perfume shop, along with a faded-tissue wrapped bottle of now-discontinued Yohji Essential. Both Or Noir and Yohji Essential are rose perfumes, but Or Noir is a bit spicier--there's that deadly oak moss and clove in the base--and YE is brighter--there's raspberry and grapefruit in there as well as "herbal amber" according to Both are terrific!