Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Black Orchid by Tom Ford

Total Reviews: 165
As original and ground-breaking as Tom Ford's scents are, at least under his own brand, Black Orchid certainly ticks that box. But in no way does this work in TF's favour.

Black Orchid is as hard to pin down from smell as it is from the description. I find it hard to pin-point Black Truffle for starters and the over-load of powder and dark, often mothball-like accents, make it hard to distinguish any note. Patchouli is certainly there as are some vague-smelling florals (jasmine perhaps?). It's almost as if the perfumer thought 'might as well throw some of this in there as well'. The result is an unfinished cacophony of notes, all working against each other. It's the opposite of 'perfect harmony'; a bit like getting five year olds to follow strict rules of football in the playground.

In terms of longevity and projection, Black Orchid goes on far too long and projects by miles. Anything it comes into contact with will smell of it for hours and this is only a good thing if you'd like everything around you to smell of it.

But why anyone would want to smell like this, I have no idea. I note that this is a well-loved scent by many - I have known several that wear this as a signature scent. Ultimately there are better versions of this around, such as the much tamer and more floral Black Orchid Voile de Fleur (now discontinued) and 2018's Ombre Leather which takes the Black Orchid theme and gives it a smoother edge.
08th November, 2018
Tom Ford's Black Orchid is an accomplished work of modern perfumery. Its notes are masterfully blended: jasmine, bergamot, and lemon dominate an opening that gives way to a surprisingly linear dry down, which to my nose is more floral and vanilla than chocolate or vetiver. It really is an exquisite scent on paper and on the skin, though I find it extraordinarily cloying when I wear it. A bitter, metallic note that I can't identify keeps Black Orchid well balanced, and is perhaps the only thing that doesn't turn it into a complete floral train wreck.

I would find Black Orchid absolutely compelling on somebody else. Probably more traditionally "feminine" than "masculine" (side note: not a huge fan of assigning gender to fragrances, but this one screams feminine to me).

Overall, perfection in theory. Disappointing in practice. Your mileage may vary.
31st October, 2018
I love this fragrance. but I do have to admit its very acquired. im into very unique daring scents and this one takes the cake. my mom on the other hand hates it. she considers it to smell completely raunchy. and in ways, it does. very hard to explain. the top notes literally smell a bit like sweat and sexual secretion but not to a disgusting extent. but also, it reminds me of a cold concrete basement. as bad as this may sound, its actually not. when it comes to the spices and floral undertones, think a mans cologne mixed with a womans perfume. its odd, and at first, I hated it. I smelt like I felt like I needed a shower because to me it smelt somewhat "dirty" as in unwashed. but once I gave it time, it died down to a very mysterious pleasant dark scent. and I felt very frisky wearing it. i have no real way to describe it, but ive never had anything like it. but now its my favorite perfume. if you want something extremely noticeable and you don't mind strong scents this ones for you. but if you want to smell sweet like flowers or candy, and don't like obnoxious scents then pass this one. i like the eau de parfum spray and even put some of it in my oil diffuser in my bedroom, and it smells a bit different in the air than it does on my skin. when its diffused it has even more of a musky scent. but wearing it, i prefer the rollerball. its a lot stronger.
06th September, 2018
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There's much ado about Tom Ford Black Orchid (2006), since it's a very controversial scent and one that started the house for Mr. Ford. Originally marketed to women, but sometimes also seen in the men's sections of Sephora or Ulta because guys like it too, Black Orchid is an unintentional unisex hit thanks to it's provocative nature that exclaims smelling like "a man's nether regions". As a bisexual but homo-leaning male myself, I can say that this simply isn't true, but like most animalic perfumes of bygone eras, this does try it's little heart out being something funky and virile, but it's simply no Kouros (1981) or Eau d'Hermès (1951), sorry Tom. What we do get is a fragrance that tries to be the darkest orchid-inspired floral on the planet, and I'd say it mostly achieves that aim thanks to ample amounts of dark fruit, chocolate, and aromatic notes spread throughout. Black Orchid is a strictly romantic affair, and like many old feminine orientals or indolic florals, is the essence of the "fallen" women or men of Victorian-era street culture. Tom Ford seems fond of this aesthetic, and would disseminate his work here in Black Orchid into a number of simpler and more-focused Private Blend pseudo-niche lines in the years that followed, so when a Tom Ford sales rep says this is the one that "started it all", they're not entirely incorrect. We don't know who the perfumer is, but we do know that Givaudan won the contract for development on this, and having smelled plenty of Givaudan perfumes, I'd say it's pretty evident this is no "light and pretty" IFF thing or "phoned in" Firmenich number, not that there is an overarching style among chemist firms, but just my observation with designer things in general.

Black Orchid opens with an oriental-chypre hybrid blast of jasmine, gardenia, blackcurrant, lemon, bergamot, mandarin orange and black truffle. All of this comes across like a head rush of floral citrus sweetness, with a dull thud of that truffle, which is essentially a musty fungus lusted after in culinary circles and the most expensive of such mushrooms available, hunted by pigs in the forests of France. The mustiness is slight, but combined with the indolic florals and juicy fruit creates apart of the "lust" in the scent. Black Orchid quickly reveals it's composite "orchid" note, which is reinforced with tuberose, cumin, cinnamon, and calone to add more sweet spiciness to the mix. Round and round we go by this time during Black Orchid's dry down, a fever pitch of fruit, florals, spice, and chemicals that will either scare away somebody of any sex, or lock them into place with fascination, like hypnotism through the nose. I find myself continuously sniffing the black magic on my arm during the trial wear, which is something I try not to do in public, and the animalic aspects intensify a little when the base appears. vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, incense, amber, dark chocolate, vanilla, musk and balsam fir complete the package, with the fir and vetiver being desiccants while the heady incense, amber, and gourmand notes kick the romantic intent into overdrive, supported by a dirty kind of musk that isn't your usual designer staple. Black Orchid finishes in patchouli, with traces of the musk, chocolate, florals, and spice pinned down in a slightly itchy amber glow, which is the only weak point in the scent. Black Orchid has nuclear projection and eternal sillage, like a darker sibling to Joop! Homme (1989), so beware when applying.

The cumin, musks, and amber are likely responsible for the "crotch funk" claims from fans of the stuff, but they're very slight, and I've smelled 1980's fragrances that make this feel like a timid puppy by comparison, although for a new generation unfamiliar with the era of the powerhouse, I can see how this would feel very scandalous. I adore Black Orchid, and would easily wear it out to a bar or a night on the town. Likewise, a woman fond of the "fallen" image (think sleezy cabarets and back-alley taverns in 1800's London) would likely get a hoot out of this too, as it's street urchin/fop in a bottle. Tom Ford would pluck the truffle and patchouli from this, pairing it with rose and oud for Noir de Noir (2007) as part of his Private Blends launch, and the flanker Velvet Orchid (2014) would see Tom Ford set a whopping four Givaudan perfumers on the task of making the Black Orchid theme feel less scandalous and more effeminate, as if he was suddenly unhappy with the notoriety and unisex appeal Black Orchid had garnered. Overall, this is just a great floriental with tons of murky, mysterious character, bubbling with romance and naughty intent, designed for women but great for anyone as time has shown. Tom Ford would set a high bar for his Signature Line hereafter, which is why many of them on both the female and male sides of the line get shot down with impunity from critics and collectors. This is for all intents, Tom Ford's Jicky (1887), and that's a tall order to follow up. If you like sweet, sultry, and musky affairs, use this in your weekend or after work libations, but not really anywhere else. Great stuff but not for the timid.
20th August, 2018
This is nice. I think I like Velvet Orchid even more. They're similar. They both have a nice, easy wearability.

They remind me a little of Piguet Visa and V. Intense, effortlessly smooth sweet florals.

Black Orchid strikes me as more tropical than Velvet Orchid.
03rd August, 2018
I don't know why is this classified as feminine cuz depending on the skin PH it can fit very well on a guy too.

The opening is very medicinal and cold but in time some notes of vanilla, jasmine, patchouli, amber and musk are coming by, leaving an interesting and almost mysterious smell.

Not a masterpiece but a good choice for TF fans.

Projection, sillage and longevity are very big. Only 2 sprays will last on your skin more than you ever imagined.

31st May, 2018
Dear gods. <sigh> I tried to like this, I really did. It's original as all hell, and I do bitch a lot about the zillion boring, unoriginal fragrances out there. It's extremely accomplished, interesting work, and I also bitch about the dumbed-down construction of so much celebrity/drugstore juice.
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But to me, it just smells awful. As a previous reviewer said, it's hard, sharp and loud. On my skin, the metallic/sweaty brutalist weirdness of the opening doesn't go away. Maybe that's body chemistry, but whatever it is, this is just not for me. Ugh.
28th February, 2018
Not, as Tom Ford himself deadpanned, evocative of the smell of a certain portion of a man's anatomy. The strange opening dries down to something pleasant, at least to my nose. After spraying the back of my hand from my newly arrived and eagerly awaited bottle, I couldn't stop sniffing it for the next few hours. Although the consensus is against it, wearing it to the office just might be the thing. After all, I've worn Kinski to work and nobody there asked me if I'd been...smoking!
09th February, 2018 (last edited: 21st March, 2018)
This is one of the perfumes that got me inspired to start collecting, again. I nearly fell on the floor, back then, when I smelled this for the first time. It still makes me swoon. I think it is genius. Chocolate, tuberose, patchouli, orchid, vanilla, gardenia, amber, musk, jasmine, and some fruit as well. Sultry. Sophisticated. There must be another word to describe this, for me, for my love of it. My mind goes blank when I don this. I think it takes some confidence to wear. It isn't for the timid.

Anyway, I believe as long as Ford keeps making this available, I'll always have a bottle.
23rd November, 2017
Want to attract girls? Wear something with a touch of "femininity!" Works brilliantly. I get more compliments on this scent than on any other I own, by men and women (mostly women). By far. Just the best scent I've ever had, and it will always be on my dresser.
Be warned, however, that not all men can pull it off. My ex-girlfriend actually used to steal sprays of this because she loved the scent so much! Buy whay you're comfortable wearing, and what you like, not what others say! This is STRONG. One spray, two maximum if you want to really project. Lasts a long time, and man does it smell good....haha
08th November, 2017
This is the holy grail of fragrances. This lingers for days and on a night out will turn heads. I can not compliment this fragrance enough, I think the only cologne for me which has a primal seductive effect on the opposite sex as much as this, is Creed Original Santal and these two fragrances are gulfs apart in term of their constituent ingredients.

Black Orchid is bit hard on the pocket but will last for a long time so is money well spent. Literally two or three sprays will last for a solid day. You will then get hints of it days later in your bedding or anything else you've come into contact with. Do not go over the top spraying this stuff and do not wear it in the heat. 9.9/10
19th September, 2017
Quality fragrance for sure, but unfortunately for me it's reminiscent of the middle aged Sunday school lady who used to smack me on the hand with a ruler (and she sprayed way too much..). I could see a guy wearing this, but definitely not this guy, it's just a touch too fem. Still, I can appreciate it for the quality.
06th September, 2017
Lovely fresh smelling unisex fragrances. Not sure if anyone else feels the same but to me it smelt similar to expensive sun lotion. I just so happen to like that smell.
02nd May, 2017
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A lot of flower. Very feminine and sexy, in the elegant way.
Jasmine, gardenia, orchid, and I thought tuberose, but I was wrong it seems. Sillage is good. It's gorgeous, well worth a full bottle so you can reapply it again and again, because sillage is average.

Edit for the second try: I smell a lot of vanilla and chocolate as well. May be white chocolate. Sillage is very good, actually.
29th April, 2017 (last edited: 29th December, 2017)
A bottle of Black Orchid was somehow sitting among other men’s fragrances by Tom Ford at a local Nordstrom. I’d never heard of it, and proceeded to give it a sample spritz. Yipes! Definitely not what I as a man would want to wear; and it turns out that this aromatic monster was indeed a women’s Eau de Parfum, which makes sense! That being said…

Black Orchid is a wild, deep, and rich monster that unashamedly announces itself to the world when worn. It's loaded with a potent combination of florals, spices, citrus, and gourmand notes that radiate wildly in a potion that must be smelled to be believed. Heavy, sharp, loud....these qualities come to mind when I sniff this potion.

Some men may consider this a unisex or even moderately male fragrance, as it may have a "metrosexual" daring and boldness to it. Not my cup of tea, as I prefer masculine elements to be present in what I wear, and this one waxes very feminine overall.


08th April, 2017
Heavy, sweet, smokey, mysterious and truly unisex. Can't work out why, and it's frustrating! Definitely - for the men - it demands dress shirt, flattering tuxedo, cuff links, classic watch, and patent black shoes. Ready for the red carpet, ball and opera. That's what it conjures to me. Lasts really well too!
12th March, 2017
From my point of view this isn't a man's fragrance it's not your dior intense or one million borderline genius ..it's a superb female fragrance that swings into the edge of masculine like Marc Jacobs decadence does ..so good in fact I purchased this for my mum over chanel for her 60th.
03rd December, 2016
Jasmine and gardenia supported by vetiver -- giving it a hint of cologne scent while being unmistakably floral.

It fades and I get just a few moments of chocolate-patchouli similar to Angel, and than that fades to a beautiful sweet vanilla that clings for a good while.

Lovely.
12th September, 2016
Black Orchid isn't pleasant. It isn't easy. It's falling in love - irrationally and uncontrollably. Love in that raw, lustful and chaotic way. Your hair stands on end as your skin tingles. Your insides flip and thrash all around and it makes you feel sick. Longing invades your mind and prevents any useful thoughts from forming, and your heart beats so hard you can see your skin jump at its pulse points. No matter how much you inhale, you just can't breathe. It's overwhelming, stifling...

And despite all of these terrible (terrific) symptoms, you just can't get enough of that sheer possession and desperation! If you've never experienced falling in love that way, you certainly won't appreciate the chaos that is Black Orchid. It's thick, heady & carnal madness! (And yes, that madness is absolutely unisex!)

Mysterious, syrupy, exotic & peculiar. Unforgivably sexy and dripping with personality - there's nothing else quite like it.
12th June, 2016
Be afraid...be very afraid. This stuff is grandmama perfume with the longevity of a nuclear winter and dark, dirty, coffee grounds all rolled into one. I literally had to scrub off the first layer of skin to get rid of the stench. I had heard this was a good unisex fragrance, and I apologize to all those who love this frag, but this is one of the worst things I've ever put on my skin. It made me ill almost immediately.
10th May, 2016
Orchid-based fragrances rarely appeal to me, but I scored a free sample of this and decided to give it a shot. I'm not too surprised that it wasn't a winner. It opened with a surprisingly fruity burst - I got melon, but maybe it was the mandarin? - which lingered into the dry down. Very sweet and a little bit cloying for this nose. Eventually it settled down to mostly amber and vanilla with a little hint of chocolate. The orchid/white flower note was present throughout - this was actually the nicest aspect of it for me, even though I often find orchid scents a little insipid. I do think that this perfume is skillfully put together (and worth a sniff if you love gourmand scents), but just not for me.

Lots of sillage, and it lasts pretty well.
24th April, 2016
I have revised my opinion on Black Orchid to the point where it's now going on my wishlist. Many thanks to a kind BN member who showed me the light. I'll write an updated review sometime soon. In the meantime, here's my old one from last year sometime, which will demonstrate the degree to which my attitude has changed:


Before I go on, you need to know that I am not a Tom Ford Hater. At all. I find many of his fragrances wearable, interesting, and definitely unlike anything else out there. I own a couple. I fly the flag.

But Black Orchid--just, no. Not for me. I loved it on paper. That cucumber/chocolate/floral thing seemed crazy enough to be worth wearing, or at least trying to wear. But I put it on for the first time, and I felt like I had swallowed Ajax on top of a massive slice of chocolate cake. I expected the aquatic top note to fade, but it just kept getting stronger, while the rest of the scent bloomed as well, and then a cacaphony of other things came into play. Remember Monty Python's Meaning of Life? I felt like Mr. Creosote, having devoured the entire menu 15 times over, with John Cleese waggling a wafer in my face, promising, "Eeets wah-fehr theeen." I honestly needed a bucket. Fortunately, I have a sink and some soap.

I have a strong tolerance for intense perfumes, but this crazy accord does not work for me. I'm sure I've smelled it on other people, and nothing horrible happened. But I'll never put myself through that again.
17th April, 2016 (last edited: 20th July, 2017)
I agree with martinijo in regards to this. It is far too sweet for men. I find Copal Azur, with it's Myrrh and Orchid-like note, drier and better suited to my male skin. On the girls this shines with its sweetened
Indolic.
23rd March, 2016 (last edited: 23rd April, 2017)
Someone got it half way down this first page :
"road trip with great aunt Dorothy"
Men REALLY should stay away from this.
11th March, 2016
This perfume is so good that I kind of feel like any negative reviews of this one are sacrilege! :D I know we all have our personal tastes, but I don't think there's anything about "Black Orchid" EDP to not like!
When I first sprayed it on, my initial thoughts were "classy", "expensive" and "very well made perfume." Of course, I already knew the price range of the Tom Ford line of fragrances before I even tried this one on, but honestly, this perfume even smells classy, so I would have thought that even if I hadn't known that this is one of the highest end lines. It just smells like a high-priced perfume, seriously. The notes seem refined, sophisticated and distinguished, and all the notes are very well blended. The way "Black Orchid" was "put together" was very, very perfectly done. Nothing seems harsh, jarring or out of place, even though there are some very unusual notes and note combinations included. Everything just harmonizes wonderfully. After wearing "Black Orchid" for at least 25 minutes or so (after the scent has had a chance to develop properly) another thought I had is that "Black Orchid" reminds me a lot of "Nirvana" by Elizabeth and James, the black bottle version. The notes that I can smell the most in it are the sandalwood, combined with lots of sweet notes and incense. After I actually looked up the notes, I realized that I can actually smell the Mexican chocolate in this scent like crazy too, more than the vanilla, which is probably the main reason I love this perfume so much! :D So, it's not exactly like "Nirvana", but it still has very similar qualities. Overall, "Black Orchid" is very warm, sensual, exotic, spicy, dark and mysterious fragrance. I think that everyone who loves exotic and oriental perfumes should probably love this! Although it's listed as having a pyramid structure, to my nose, and on myself, it seems like a pretty linear fragrance as well which is another reason it reminds me of "Nirvana." What it smells like when I spray it on is what it pretty much stays smelling like. It's also a pretty quiet and subtle scent. It's not exactly a skin scent, but I find the notes it projects are never overwhelming. So, it's a great choice if you want a more soft or subtle fragrance. Overall, it's just a great perfume. "Black Orchid" definitely gets two thumbs up and five stars from me, and I highly recommend it to everyone! I don't think you'll be disappointed!
29th December, 2015
My favorite fragrance from Tom Ford for women. My wife wears this beginning at Thanksgiving every year and stops wearing it around Easter Week. The black currant, gardenia , jasmine and pulp citrus in the opening are incredible. The incense, patchouli, amber and chocolate in the base make this fragrance a distinctive favorite of mine through the cold weather. I always make sure she has a bottle. I love Black Orchid and my wife very much!
05th November, 2015 (last edited: 04th November, 2015)
I love the strength and the nose of this powerful fragrance.
05th October, 2015
There are no words to describe how much I love this fragrance. The reviews sum up its notes well. I would only add that I detect a salty texture to the blend between the heart and base notes a few hours in that roughens up the sandalwood. This scent smells much higher quality than a lot of niche fragrances and has outsanding sillage and longevity. Projection is pretty powerful, so I often only spray this on my wrists.
02nd August, 2015 (last edited: 06th January, 2016)
What is it about this fragrance? I came on this one too late, after half the world was wearing it. I never wanted to try it, it sounded so disagreeable and loud. So now that I have and discover it really smells nice on my skin, I don't know I can wear it because of its over-familiarity. Angel had that problem 20 years ago and I got tired of smelling it on everyone and everywhere. So I really hesitate to jump on the Black Orchid bandwagon.
But... this one should be totally not my style, and most fragrances like this smell awful on me, so  the miracle that this one wears beautifully makes me inclined to get it anyway.
The strangest combination of cucumber, silky flowers and dark chocolate.  Unusual, but undeniably silkenly sensuous.

It also wears like iron and lasts forever.
29th May, 2015
This had so much potential. The mix of oriental and fresh notes seems brilliantly judged...at least initially. It slowly starts to fall into the unpleasant Allure-like accord of "tropical" florals and vanillic basenotes. I get that it's intended to replicate the smell of an orchid, but it just doesn't work. They should have used the Voile De Fleur flanker as their main attempt. Thank goodness for the derivative, yet interesting events in the line like Sahara Noir, Grey Vetiver, and Noir.
18th May, 2015