Green floral leather chypre - yes, it's all these and more.
One of the most original and unique scents I've yet encountered. One that smells unlike anything that is listed in its note tree, nor any combination I have smelled in hundreds of other scents.
It's wonderfully dry and sophisticated, utterly masculine and as delightful as the perfumer's other scent, Or Noir, a superb oriental for women, although I find it eminently wearable by a man.
Here is this perfumer, who had created up until 2008 when Turin wrote his Perfume Guide, only two scents, and both of these stunning. If he has created more in the interim, I look forward to them.
A bright light in the dark tunnel of niche scent creations. Highly recommended.
Or Black in its original formulation was a composition I had a major problem singling out individual notes with, and its 2014 iteration proves equally problematic in that respect. Instead of the typical note breakdown all I can offer are some general accords that present themselves throughout...
Or Black (2014) opens with a slightly citric bergamot, laced with an underlying peppery, near-boozy bent. As the composition makes its way to its early heart, musk-infused dusty resinous amber mixes with the remnants of the gentle pepper giving off a suede leather vibe. During the late dry-down the primary dusty leathery heart accord slowly recedes, revealing a mild natural smelling herbal woody base. Projection is below average and longevity is on the low side of average at about 7-8 hours on skin.
While note breakdowns may help some get a better feel for what the composition smells like in the case of Or Black (2014) it is all too easy to forget about the individual notes and just enjoy the symphonic overall effect. The primary heart accord is best described as a dusty suede with an almost play-dough-like undertone. While that may not sound appealing it actually is, big time. The herbal woody dry-down finishes off the fougere structure and is tremendous. I wish I could do a better job of explaining what the composition has to offer, but all I can say is it smells superb and is quite similar to the Or Black of old. This 2014 release is no cop out reformulation; it is the real deal with some minor modifications that don't detract from one's enjoyment one iota. The bottom line is the 69 Euro per 100ml bottle Or Black (2014) is a strikingly successful composition that will impress fans of the original while drawing in new converts to the fold at an extremely reasonable price point, earning an "outstanding" rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 and a super-strong recommendation.
Or Black (vintage version) has a breathtaking opening of ultra-black patchouli, leather, amber, something indolic on the very base, carnation, herbal and mossy notes, tobacco, dark woods enhancing the leather accord, and a light, silky floral side which gorgeously manages to smell velvety in a "total black" way. Utterly refined darkness, modern and sophisticated, halfway the darkest Slumberhouse scents and Private Label, Norma Kamali Incense, House of Matriarch Blackbird, Puredistance M (ten times more powerful and interesting than the latter, obviously). Basically a more sophisticated, deep, intriguing, dusty version of all those scents. The very opening also reminded me of some works by O'Driù, also for a more broad sort of "industrial" mood, a general breeze comprising smoky, dark, pungent notes, also slightly medicinal. On the contrary it's really incomparable to other scents of its era – Or Black may be called a "fougère" but it escapes almost all the conventions of the genre, starting from the leather accord, which smells totally unique – softer, more elegant, sharper, more silky and more "realistic" of actual polished leather. The only vintage scents which may compare to this that come my mind may be Kouros, Krizia Moods, Krizia Uomo, Moschino pour Homme, but the similarity is really not that close. Urban elegance at its best (that is why I thought of Krizia). The only reason most of "dark leathers" of today survive on the shelves is precisely the fact that these gems are discontinued... Incredible!
My first thought after dabbing on Or Black? “Wow!” My next? “Oh, crap – now I’m going to have to track this stuff down and spend a fortune on a bottle of it.”
Or Black leaves the bottle smelling like pure rubbing alcohol, but it’s mere seconds before one of the most complex accords I can remember assembles itself like one of those Transformer toys my eight year-old nephew is so fond of. Good grief, what’s in there? Smoky Lapsang Souchong tea, dry leather, moss, a campfire, vetiver, tobacco, animalic musks, a touch of rose and frankincense? Is that even a tiny trace of oudh I smell in there? I give up. I don’t want to think about it as much as just to smell it.
Or Black sweetens ever so slightly as it ages, but the pipe tobacco, leather, and campfire notes assign it the same dry, sophisticated mood as Guerlain’s Derby or Shiseido’s Basala. Luca Turin calls Or Black a fougère, but I’d be more inclined to group it with the leather chypres, since I don’t get all that much of the classic fougère’s coumarin or lavender out of it’s composition. The smoky moss and leather drydown is a real treat, enhanced by the round, yet pungent animalic musk that blends it seamlessly with the skin. I caution against sampling Or Black, lest you too be driven to acquire this elusive masterpiece.
While you deal with Pascal Morabito Or Black as a quality perfumes addict it can happen that the easiest thing to be involved in is the sliding in to pyrotechnical swirls of the rhetorical emphasis since this gorgeous parisian leather-chypre is still probably the finest leather founded concoction ever created. Tall, dark, commanding and saturnine this fragrance astonishes us due its ability to go beyond its initially obscure aura in order to stand all at once out as a surprisingly daring, active, dynamic and contemporary type of olfactory character. Two souls in an unique chameleon fragrance, Jazz Club e La Sorbonne, Opera and urban Funky Beat. Tradition and modernity (especially in the new excellent reformulated 2014 version) miraculously merge in order to issue a new millennium olfactory refinement of unparalleled craftsmanship. Don't be fooled by the "complicated" opening guys since Or Black turns finally out in the most subtle and fine sort of "triple-distilled highlands scotch" you can dare to wear on a leathery coach (enjoying a smooth jazz melody) and beyond. This leather is velvety and suave, ideally arousing the atmosphere of cozy leathery ambiences full of flavoured smoke, fine leather wrapped fornitures, extra old liqueurs and seasoned woods. The beginning of this self confident aroma is utterly compelling since your nose is invested by a cloud of pepper, decadent bergamot, ghostly honey and aromatic herbs, by soon followed by an heady almost gasolinic rubbery fist rolling powerful and spicy along the top and a part of the central stage. The green aromatic, rubbery and hesperidic elements, almost boisterous for a while at the beginning, end to be wonderfully absorbed by a general musky/leathery final subtleness in a renewed olfactory entity rich of suave nuances of fine leather, furs, boots polish, resins, balsams, smooth rubber and seasoned woods. The green and initially angular elements leaves the way to a finally soft breezy cool wave over the smoothest type of leather while the initial complicacy, the welcoming strong rubbery leather, leaves gradually the stage to an ambery/benzoinic (almost balmy) bed of suede, old malt and musk. The aromatic (aldehydic) mossy-leathery-ambery (and freshly spicy) vetiver-accord conjures me vaguely the (similar) one I get in the most aldehydic but basically less rubbery Ysl vintage Kouros. Friends please be patient, wait the end, be worthy about the real comfort and the magic will appear. For hours and hours you will feel yourself encompassed by a general sense of velvety coziness, organic warmth, silky old leather, rosey/musky breeze and unmentionable licentious "backstages". A fragrance for the warriors of voluptuary indolence, for prophets of the sin. Or Black, in its holy olfactory balance and the classiest landmark refinement, does not cage anyway its substance in the stuck mists of the conservative formalism managing on the contrary to exude an indescribable sense of sin, lived life, cultured debauchery, a sense of "The Great Beauty" you are looking for lost motion and bourgeois decadent indolence. In all of it abides its extraordinary modernity. Probably the best around.
P.S: The new 2014 version is excellent, it is not properly a new fragrance as we read on Fragrantica (in my humble opinion) but a revisiting "still faithful to the original" formula, probably slightly muskier, brighter, more soapy/ambery, "vetiver-centered" and approachable in the first stages, still holy perfection in its dry down (a concert of misty velvet, malt, moss and suede). Repeat, the new 2014 version is excellent and I underline "excellent", don't be fooled by the upcoming "cheap" "philosophy" about the recent "assumedly bad" formula, several "new-age perfumistas blather in the attempt to try being trendy in their own mediocre ways.
31st March, 2014 (last edited: 28th February, 2016)