Perfume Directory

Armani Code / Black Code (2004)
by Giorgio Armani


Armani Code / Black Code information

Year of Launch2004
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 1227 votes)

People and companies

HouseGiorgio Armani
PerfumerAntoine Maisondieu
PerfumerAntoine Lie
Parent CompanyL'Oréal Group > Prestige & Collections

About Armani Code / Black Code

Giorgio Armani's first masculine oriental-style fragrance is Black Code. Armani say that it is elegant and understated and that the bottle is inspired by the "satin lapels of an Armani tuxedo".
The name was changed in 2005 from Black Code to Armani Code.

Armani Code / Black Code fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Armani Code / Black Code

Armani Code (2004) has erected an empire of flankers, giving younger Armani fans at the time a cold weather and nightclub option where Acqua di Giò (1996) would not do, but is ultimately a victim of it's own "too many cooks" construction. Three perfumers were brought in to create this "fresh oriental" night time fighter, including Clement Gavarry (son of Max), Antoine Li, and Antoine Maisondieu. Together, this group fashioned a powdery and spicy fragrance that threw down a gauntlet of challenge to the reigning champion of Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle (1994) a decade after that scent's release, but didn't really dethrone it in it's target demographic. Instead, Le Mâle and it's army of flamboyant flankers in muscular torso bottles continued to enthrall the gay clubbing scene while Armani Code slid into first place for strait guys looking to party, but also looking to attend a suit-and-tie event, thanks to Code's associated advertising. A lot of things came precipitously close to Armani Code in the mid-2000's, even Avon's own Passion Dance for Him (2004) rode very close to this but totally by coincidence since it released concurrently, and the powdery "itchy amber" style across orientals or fougères has never been my favorite. Still, I can see why Armani Code saw so much use: it wasn't necessarily better than something like Versace Blue Jeans (1992), but it was darker, more serious, and had marketing that was on point, plus the name Armani attached to it during a time when the brand was peaking in the male segment.

Armani Code is a semi-oriental/barbershop fougère with aromatic woods in it's base, using spice and biting tones as the thing which makes it exciting. Code opens with bergamot and lemon, sharp and citric but in that old-school 1960's fougère/semi-oriental way like Fabergé Brut (1962) or Avon Wild Country (1967), just even sharper than them. There's almost a piercing talcum powder note created due to this sharpness, veering into a style of women's perfume traditionally created to replicate the smell, so Armani Code accidentally gives itself some unisex flexibility for ladies that enjoy such things, especially in the coriander and olive flower heart. This tandem of notes creates the "powder" note when the dry spice of the coriander and anisic tone of the olive flower mull with the razor-like citrus to make a fougère-like barbershop tone. The itchy amber accord quickly distracts from that nice barbershop glow for me however and little else in the base can save me from it. Spare amounts of oakmoss exist here, and even less in the wake of 2011 IFRA restrictions on it, with oil of guaiac wood filling in the rest, increasingly so with newer batches. There is surprisingly little detectable use of aromachemicals to make the final piquant base accord of Armani Code, but once again, the "itching powder" dry down just makes what is otherwise a potent but pleasant clubber into a scrubber for me instead. Sillage is oddly mild for the style unless over-applied, but I think Armani did me a favor here. Longevity is otherwise good at about 8 hours if you can hang with the style. Best use is naturally night time, clubbing, romantic or formal situations, but this is dry enough for the office too if you're the boss.

Armani Code originally went under the name Black Code for its first year, but that name was changed once it was decided flankers would manifest and "Black" was already a flanker identifier among designers, plus "Code" was just simpler anyway (especially since many of the future flankers do not have black bottles). Armani Code also reminds me of a sharper and spicier rendition of Emporio Armani He/Lui (1998), which plays in the same ballpark but with a more-pleasant and droll juniper focus. Just like with He/Lui, Armani Code emerges to my nose as a boring if not for the itchiness, especially in light of three perfumers having worked on this to He/Lui's one. Armani Code has become a lazy way to pad out the catalog with flankers on the male side ever since, but taking into account that retro styles were gaining ground at the time thanks to Tom Ford's efforts at Gucci and YSL, it also feels like Armani Code's powdery dapper gent aesthetic cranked to 11 was the label's intial way of trying to make a "next level" entry with some night life power. I can appreciate the effort here, so I'm not going to flunk this, but like with Le Mâle, I can't feel anything greater than indifference, and highly recommend testing this in stores before letting the hype train carry you off. Also as an aside: there is no difference between 2004-2005 Armani Black Code and 2005-2011 Armani Code, but there is a slight increase of wood and amber in post-2011 Armani Code batches, sans oakmoss of course. In any case, the effect is about the same once that powder accord hits, so I'm still left scrubbing. Oh well.
20th December, 2018
Such a great fragrance, different from what’s on the market for men. It’s clean and sexy, it’s got some powder and spice. I love the use of olive flower (the light anise note). I’m a woman and like to wear it often!
04th November, 2018 (last edited: 07th November, 2018)
Really nice smell. Quite original in fact. Was let down by poor longevity on this one.
31st October, 2018
This is Armani's shot across the bow of JPG Le Male. And they crush it.

It has the same essential effort to it: nighttime, dark, spicy, powerful. But it has a formal touch to it that JPG doesn't have. Beyond some of the intent behind this fragrance, the comparison with Le Male stops.

Powder. That's the first thing to detect. It is very present in the opening. There is a faint citrus worked into it, but powder is all I get up front.

It does dry down fairly quickly into something more complex. The spice is always well balanced with a vanilla accord that I can appreciate.

This is a great cologne. Not my favorite. Maybe it cracks the top 20 in my collection; there are some days I think 'this is my last bottle' and some days where I think I should always keep it around.

My ex demanded I wore it for most every close encounter, for whatever that's worth. Ultimately, I could do without the powder, but projection and longevity are solid.

I also like having something in my wardrobe that has this scent profile and isn't Le Male.

Wear this on a date, to an after-work office party, and never without a white collar.

Scent: 7/10

Longevity: 8/10

Sillage: 7/10
24th July, 2018
Pure gentleman's cologne; slightly citrusy and sweet with a bit of floral and coconut as well as tobacco; very "upper class" type scent and very masculine although sweet; scent transforms throughout the day and is complex; mild-to-moderate sillage and moderate longevity (5 hours).

11th May, 2018
Citrus, powdery and fresh. Nothing special here,your daily modern perfume with an exclusive brand. Wearable at any time, this one is okay and nice at best.

Scent 7.0/10
Longevity 7/10
Sillage 7.4/10
23rd February, 2018

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