Blog post by Gwen

Black – rubber and wood and leather

Photo: perfumeniche

Perfumes have always been in my life, but when I discovered niche scents in the early 2000s, everything changed, and perfumes became a part of my life. Now, I not only wear perfumes, but I also collect them and write about them.
One of the first niche fragrances I discovered was Black from Bulgari, the Italian luxury brand known for its fine jewellery, fragrances, and leather goods. In 1998, Bulgari hired brilliant Annick Ménardo to create a fragrance designed for the urban man, which is to say, a man’s fragrance that smells of the city as opposed to the country, the sea or a barbershop. Ménardo delivered and created a masterpiece that has become a classic of modern perfumery.
Ménardo constructed Black without top notes or dry down, which some people interpret as linear. I am not among them.
On me, Black opens with a hint of fresh bergamot and the smell of rubber. To my mind, it’s not the smell of a hockey puck or a rubber suit – it’s the smell of new car tires. I can’t think of a better note that defines the sophisticated man about town than this one. The rubber smell comes from Lapsang Souchong tea, which gives Black a soft, seductive, smokiness. This smokiness is steeped through the entire fragrance. Jasmine links to the tea. Here it’s green and gently floral, its opulence holds the rubber smell in check so that it never becomes harsh or overbearing. Woody notes - cedarwood and sandalwood - usher in a note of sensuous, supple leather. I smell musk, which heightens the animalic aspect of the leather just as sweet, creamy vanilla shows up. To me, the vanilla ties it all together by adding something familiar and comforting to offset the smell of rubber. Amber keeps the sweetness going while resins extend the smokiness for hours.
When Black first came out, reviews described it as unconventional, avant-garde, edgy, and Goth with a fetishistic/rubber smell. A lot has changed since 1998. Nowadays, the smell of rubber in fragrances is not uncommon - think Eau du Fier from Annick Goutal or Tom of Finland from Etat Libre d'Orange. And while Black was designed as a fragrance for men, it’s now considered unisex.
Our perceptions of Black may have changed, but the fragrance remains the same: a rather delicate fragrance with no edginess, sharpness or harshness. It is still one of the most elegant, exquisite fragrances ever made and every time I wear it, I fall deeper in love with its timeless beauty.
Check out Black in our Shop.