Negative Reviews of Black Orchid by Tom Ford

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    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    Genre: Woody Oriental

    The crude, adolescent aspect of Tom Ford’s taste responsible for the notorious Tom Ford for Men advertisements finds olfactory expression in Black Orchid. There are certain over-ripe, almost rotten, fruit notes that hold a perverse attraction for the nose. Eduard Roudnitska used them with brilliant subtlety to throw a lascivious shadow over the otherwise sunny woody florals of his Diorella, Le Parfum de Thérèse, and Ocean Rain. In Black Orchid a similar rotten fruit note plays at tremendous volume against a huge, dense, 1980s-throwback spicy floral oriental composition. The idea was no doubt to evoke lush tropical decadence, but the outcome actually falls uncomfortably between high camp deco nostalgia and horror movie makeup job. (Think irradiated mutant Narcisse Noir or Freddy Kruger with pink lip gloss.)

    The problem is mostly one of proportion. Why have just a little fleshy indole with your tuberose and orange blossom when you can pour on buckets? Why use a dash of nutmeg or cardamom when you can toss in the whole jar? There’s just too much of everything here, and the lack of restraint leaves Black Orchid feeling garishly overstuffed and over-embellished. I’m a confessed sucker for outrageously melodramatic fragrances – Mandarine-Mandarin, Black Aoud, Amouage Gold, Intrigant Patchouli, Kouros, Onda – but Black Orchid doesn’t work for me. The execution is not only too crude, but far too loud as well. As with Opium, Amarige, or Giorgio, it’s nearly impossible for me to apply Black Orchid lightly enough to leave the house without feeling self-conscious.

    The vanilla-amber oriental drydown is Black Orchid’s nicest part, but it’s also a conventional formula that can be had elsewhere, without Ford’s overwrought decaying floral fright wig. The basic idea behind Black Orchid still appeals to me. Once, while wearing it, I found myself wishing it had been realized with more élan. Then I remembered Roudnitska, gave myself a dope-slap, and dug out my sample of Le Parfum de Thérèse.

    09 June, 2014

    ClaireV's avatar

    Ireland Ireland

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    I bought it, like the idiot I am, based on a quick sniff of it in a little perfume store here in my town, an obscure Balkan outpost where the most "niche"-y that our perfume stores get is an odd bottle of Bulgari Black hidden behind the Feerie bottles angled at our callow youth. So delighted was I to find Tom Ford anything in our dusty little backwater that I whipped out my wallet with feverish intensity and just about managed to croak "I'll take it!" to the young girl manning the counter. I trembled as I punched in my pin number into the credit card machine - at that point I had never spent so much money on a full bottle of perfume in my life. I bought it home, cradled in my arms like a precious baby, and gently placed it in my then meager collection of Bulgari tea scents and Burberry cheapos, taking care not to let the other bottles touch the splendid ribbed, horny-looking bottle in the price of place lest they contaminate its extraordinarily sexay Tom Ford-ness.

    I wore it.....exactly three times.

    I tried to convince myself I liked it, because of the price I had paid. But there was no getting around it - I could never bring myself round to even tolerating it on my skin, that's how much I dislike this scent. It is like a wildebeest that dry humps your leg in a dark alley and you are too scared to say anything or move, and then in the end, you find yourself squeaking "Thank you" just to get away with your life intact.

    It is an unholy mix of dark chocolate, raspberries, truffles, dirt, and something watery.....Luca Turin says cucumber, so hey, who am I to argue with him. The opening is impressive at first sniff, yes, but soon it coalesces into a greasy, sickening sweet-aquatic mess of a thing that you can almost taste with your third eye. Goes on and on and on until you shower or die, or whichever comes first. When they are digging us out of the ground and displaying our bones in museums in the far future, if any one of us had been wearing Black Orchid at the time of our burial, then it will still project pretty strongly right off our old bones, causing the ur-people in the future to exclaim, "Whor blimey, what a stink!"

    04 June, 2014

    MisterFrancis's avatar



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    'Road Trip with Great Aunt Dorothy'

    It's like being driven in the car of a chain-smoking great aunt: Lambert & Butler cigarettes; old lady perfume; lipstick; hairspray; a little car air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror.

    It mellows down into a kind of happy, nostalgic memory of that smell a couple of years after she died.

    03 March, 2014

    the reaper's avatar

    Venezuela Venezuela

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    disapointed

    I was in Sephora in Champs Elysess so I know I smelled the real thing and must say that this thing is pure blah blah. Get a bottle of Chanel Anateus instead. Please Tom!!!!

    02 October, 2013 (Last Edited: 06 March, 2014)

    Possum-Pie's avatar

    United States United States

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    Floral spicy but not unisex

    I picture Tom Ford putting a floral orchid fragrance together, and at the last minute, he says, We want this unisex! I should dump in some spices to Make this masculine. Oops, what a waste of oils!

    24 July, 2013

    lairdangus's avatar



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    Girly girl girl show

    My first scrubber. Couldn't get this off my skin fast enough. I had read a number of reviews here and on Fragrantica suggesting that Black Orchid was a unisex. That, combined with its legendary sillage and longevity, was enough to pique my curiosity.

    To my surprise and disappointment, this was the most feminine fragrance I have ever sampled. Please understand, I write from a masculine perspective. This may be a lovely ladies' perfume, but it is not unisex. For the first 45 minutes, I detected nothing but overpowering gardenia, one of the most feminine scents in the perfumer's repertoire.

    I wish I could comment on the middle and drydown, but I didn't last long enough. Gentlemen should avoid this dark flower at all costs.

    Pros: enormous projection and longevity
    Cons: cloying floral nasal mist"

    09 July, 2013

    Mario Justiniani's avatar

    Cuba Cuba

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    Oh, Buddha! Where do they come up with these names? The scent itself is like John Varvatos on steroids, possibly estrogen. Fruity and cloying with a pungent kick that's supposed to bestow elegance.

    Still, one must concede points for the moniker!
    Have you watched any corny spy movies lately?

    FADE IN: Our agent is trying make contact with the deadly Natasha. Could this really be her? This wholesome looking salesgirl behind the fragrance counter? He gives the code signal.

    -- " Excuse me but do you carry CARNAL FLOWER? "

    She smiles and replies with the countersign,

    --" No, but have you tried BLACK ORCHID? "

    Whereupon they engage in car chases, exotic hideouts, wild sex, betrayal, 10,000 rounds of ammo, hand to hand combat--and at the end save the world, fall in love and forsake weirdly named flower frags-- for cactus flesh.
    They both sport XERYUS ROUGE at their wedding.

    FADE OUT/THE END.







    06 May, 2013

    drseid's avatar

    United States United States

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    Extremely floral and overbearing (albeit, it does live up to its name). This one was a scrubber for me. I honestly could never pull this stuff off, and while it would smell better on a lady, I am not sure I would want to smell it on *anyone*. Just way too much, IMO The sillage on this one is tremendous, btw, so if you *do* want to wear it, be well aware that everyone else around you will be smelling it too. Just the thought of that makes me want to hide. 1.5 stars out of 5.

    02 February, 2012 (Last Edited: 22 December, 2012)

    MOONB's avatar

    United States United States

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    Controversial? Perhaps, but undeservedly so. Sniffing Black Orchid calls to mind four things: lipstick, makeup powder, bubblegum, and grape candy. Much has been made of rotten fruit notes in this scent, but I get none of them. The fruits simply smell dense and synthetic, perhaps intentionally unbalanced, and are wedded to cold orchid, milky ylang, and indolic jasmine notes, but nothing here smells overripe. There is a rich, smooth, sweet, and dramatic feel, with emphasis on the darker side of everything represented. Still, I'm not in the least bit compelled by Black Orchid, see very little unisex potential in it, and would rather be smelling something else.

    30th January, 2012

    Kukka's avatar

    United States United States

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    Very exotic & expensive. Very beautiful black bottle. But just too masculine and overpowering. I tried to love it, even putting it on at night... Because it takes about 8-10 hours for it to smell pretty.
    Sorry, Tom Ford, I had to let it go. A nice man purchased it from me on eBay, I'm sure it will smell perfect on him!

    28 May, 2011

    Darvant's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    At first sniff, few minutes over the first spray, this spicy-floral (yet fruity) oriental smells as a sultry and tropical concoction with a dark leading note of synthetical orchid similar in perception to a sort of aromatic violet, a smell ready to fluctuate around you in the air of the hot seaside resorts. In this phase (but just for a while) Black Orchid is still earthy, somewhat dark and pungent, exuding an almost bully type of bombastic boldness. The citrus are detectable for sure as well as the floral notes (ylang-ylang, jasmine and a sort of sultry violet). Black currant provides a strongly pungent fruity vibe while a touch of black truffles imprints a gasolinic type of whiff detectable till the end of the development. In this phase the juice smells almost carnal as a battle of tropical sex and this is the best part (better to say the more lively part) of the fragrance in se. The smell nevertheless  is loud and crude in a somewhat chemical and synthetical way. Foetidus talks about bubble gum and I surely see the association. I don't perceive deep darkness ( i mean the dense-smoky obscurity exuded by Black Afgano or By Kilian Pure Oud) while the sensation to take part to a chaotic beach party in the course of a torrid summer night. The spices are faint in the heart and are not able to prevent the final refinement's collapse of the pale dry down. The last phase indeed is surprisingly evanescent, airy, vaguely candied and flat despite its tasty and deep notes. Going on in the journey the depth fades, the rooty notes of vetiver and patchouli becomes shy, the resins are not dense, the amber is gently mild but not well rounded. A note of  chocolate plus vanilla provides taste but not real darkness and elegance. The incense is prominent in my perception and all the other notes manage to flavour its aroma. The outcome is a light and gasolinic floral synthetic smell with a touch of cake taste. I was disappointed for the initial boldness subsidence and for the aroma morphing in to a sort of artificial olfactory tropical sunset, for the approximate candied darkness and the excessive synthetical presence. Longevity and sillage are more than good on my skin.

    06 April, 2011 (Last Edited: 30th March, 2014)

    DazWah84's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    smells like something you would refreshen the smell of your toilet with. not for me

    25 March, 2011

    Castrensis's avatar

    United States United States

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    This is the smell of funereal flowers covering up the smell of grandpa's corpse in the parlor.

    25 January, 2011

    Benj's avatar

    United States United States

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    Oh. My. God. Overwhelmingly potent and heady. Tropical flowers, overripe-to-the-point-of-fermenting tropical fruits and coconut. And then the orchid. Along the lines of Angel and Poison in its ability to clear a room (and polarise opinions). It even polarises me. Most of the time, I hate this stuff. The problem is, every now and then I smell it and I think it smells really, REALLY good...I should give this kudos for unsettling me, but I would never ever want to know someone who wear this.

    16 January, 2011

    foetidus's avatar

    United States United States

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    It’s a good thing that I had a huge sample: It took me at least ten trials to wrap my brain around this one, to get my nose to respond consistently and close enough to what others reviewers are saying so that I can believe we’re speaking of the same fragrance. My first few tests gave me Nu: Nu with more variety, more breadth, more depth…but Nu, nevertheless. Then came bubble gum—my next three testings gave me bubble gum—grape bubble gum to be exact. Finally, one night after a sushi meal in an excellent Japanese restaurant and half a bottle of very good Sake, I tested Black Orchid again and, there it was: Exotic, fruity, earthy—who knew that fruit, floral and fungi could achieve such a level of vibrancy? Although I recognize its daring, I’m not sure that I even like the opening—along with the impressively dark earthiness it carries an oozy fruity sweetness that I don’t care for—it’s too much: I live near a swamp and if I want that smell, all I have to do is open a window. When the orchid note kicks in, I am reminded of Nu and I can’t rise above that connection. I think that it is an interesting accord, but, in addition to being a bit too feminine for my tastes, it’s nothing that I really want to smell for very long, which is to say that I could enjoy this accord on another, but don’t want it on myself. Also, as others have mentioned, it has been seriously reduced in intensity from the beginning. While it has become quite wearable in that respect, it has lost much of the initial drama and intrigue. The dry down is excellent except that it should manage more substance and sillage. How could it miss with a luxurious lineup like chocolate, incense, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, and vetiver? But it perhaps did miss…this is a balanced and refined base, but it is also quite anemic. The thing is, Black Orchid tends to too quickly lose its impact and settle into something more ordinary, and its similarity to Nu means that another Tom Ford variation of Black Orchid can be had at bargain basement prices. No thank you.

    Originally submitted 24 May 2007

    11th December, 2010

    orrisboy's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    There is sense of heightened vulgarity with Black Orchid, something only just on the right side of restaurant clearing. Every generation gets the Giorgio it deserves. Black Orchid is ours. You can taste in the air in almost every bar you go into these days, even smell it rolling off hen parties as they reel brutally around drunken streets.

    Now I adore Tom Ford, but sometimes even I stop and think; it’s all so plastic, porno and unoriginal. He will never be Yves, or Halston or anyone with real discernable talent. Sure, he can market, sell sex and he is a triumph of his own botoxed, glassy pr machine. Look at his movie; a cold, sterile adman’s dream dressed up as boutique merchandising and frustrated desire. It’s clever stuff, we get blindsided by the man himself, the almost mythic feel to his so called Midas touch. His early Texan acting lessons were not wasted. This smelt BIG when it appeared, like Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives, brash, loud and full of over heated sex. The images were dripping in retro atmosphere, we were supposed to think of Hayworth and Harlow, Colbert and Crawford, claws glazed, draped over impossible men. Whereas in fact The Black Orchid is mutton dressed as leopard, trying ever so hard to impress. More is never enough, she might say to herself, sashaying into the night, plants and animals wilting behind her in her truffled, indolic, musk-laden wake.

    09 July, 2010

    tonileefiore's avatar

    United States United States

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    Was really looking forward to trying this one after all the hype and all the great reviews here on Base Notes. I really value my fellow base noters...so I couldn't wait to purchase this fragrance and give it a whirl.

    HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT for me! Just your average, run-of-the-mill, non-descript, floral perfume that I have smelled a million times before at the perfume counter of any department store. Floral-y, powdery, almost grandma stuff.

    Definitely not for me!

    03 May, 2010 (Last Edited: 25 October, 2011)

    mrclmind's avatar

    United States United States

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    I like quite a few of Tom Ford's scents, although I would not call myself a full-fledged fan. I can see why BO has admirers; this is definitely a scent I can see many people considering luxurious, dark, mysterious, and sensual. On paper it sounds like something I would love! But it really smells obnoxious to me. The very prime top notes hold some promise with some nice ylang and jasmine with a bit of currant, but immediately the whole thing starts to develop and completely loses its balance with a sickening combination of aroma chemicals that try as they might leave absolutely no impression of any orchid I have ever smelled, instead they take all the worst headache producing aspects of a floral oriental and turn the volume up to full blast. When the dry down eventually (and thankfully) comes it is an anti-climax of monumental proportions weaving in the blandest interpretation of woods, ambers and gourmand notes I have ever smelled. It is a big seller for this house, and I guess my tastes are absolutely not with the masses on this one. This is one expensive, over the top mess.

    01st February, 2010

    Chypriot's avatar

    New Zealand New Zealand

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    Yuck, this "fragrance" is awful. Lovely bottle though.

    21st July, 2009

    mandarinita's avatar

    United States United States

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    I am trying to understand how, you guy's who voted thumbs up can handle the repugnant smell of Black Orchid. I tried it this past week becuase of the rave reviews I saw here, but when I sprayed it on, I thought the smell was putrid, my head began to hurt as well as my stomach, I tried to wash it off, didn't work, the scent stayed on the fingerprints that sprayed the toxic perfume onto my skin. If the drydown is supposed to be fabulous, I don't have the stomach to wait for it. The top notes were so repugnant that I felt sick. So if you are able to muster the time the top notes disappear to experience the supposed fabulous drydown kudos to you, I certainly don't have the stomache for it. Not brilliant at all.

    17 May, 2009

    Nizzle's avatar

    United States United States

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    Smells like a bucket of dried cherries rotting. This is dense and heavy, headache inducing. Lots of sillage and lasting power. Definitely not warm weather wear. YSL Nu shares similarities, and that is also somewhat nauseating (to me) [=

    10th March, 2009

    Aznavour's avatar

    United States United States

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    Very interesting opening with lots of berry and a hint of chocolate, but the middle and drydown is just the sort of faded, generic patchouli.

    29 December, 2008

    Heartwood's avatar

    United States United States

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    When I first applied Black Orchid, I found the opening notes (especially the syrupy black current) way, way too thick and sweet for my taste, and I was convinced people had been hitting their bottle of Dekuyper's a little too hard when trying this out to be singing such praises. There's a good progression when the patchouli and incense enter to temper the sweetness (the chocolate also seems more dark and bitter than sweet), but it remains pretty boozy and I like my incense drier. I'm also just not a big fan of gourmands; I've yet to find a scent with a chocolate note that I like. Dries down first to an ordinary dirty patchouli, then a fine but basic vanilla oriental, which is disappointing given its bombastic beginnings.

    08 November, 2008

    FullCircle's avatar

    United States United States

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    Here are the notes I collected from various sources on the internet for the Perfume: Notice the Dark Chocolate in the base...only found at two sources.

    Top: Black Truffle, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Black Currant, Mandarine, Jasmine, Black Gardenia
    Mid: Lotus Wood, Black Orchid, other fruits and florals
    Base: Dark Chocolate (from FragranceX, also listed as Noir Gourmand at Saks), Patchouli, Incense, Vetiver, Vanilla Tears, Balsam, Sandlewood

    When I first sniffed out of the bottle during a recent shopping trip, I was entranced, and couldn't wait to spritz this on. Sorrowfully for me, that's as enticing as the scent got. I got my hands on a decant, and eagerly tried it for the first time last night. It was with great anticipation and relief that my first impression was indeed marvelous...the scent was so very...all over the place. What was I smelling? It has only to get better! It was a HOT scent, a touch exotic, with definite blasts of vanilla and oriental spice, and what I'm imagining as "orchid".

    Well, as interesting and confusing as the first spritz was, the rest was oh, so disappointing. After about 15-20 minutes, the thrill was gone. What developed was a common oriental (although marvelously smooth) with a hint of B.O. Now, knowing that Chocolate was a note, I recognized this as chocolate...and not something that won me over...just out of place. The whole of the scent got very heady, and bordered on bothersome.
    After an hour, the chocolate was still present, but the scent had died down to roar, a simple spicey oriental. The next day even the chocolate was gone, with remnants of the everyday spice.
    I will try this again, but don't have much hope. I rather detest orientals, wishing that this one would have change my perception. It didn't. I wouldn't shell out cash for this, and would pass if it was handed to me. What a disappointment!

    01st November, 2007

    lefay's avatar



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    Gawd! The name is so enticing, and the reality so crass! I love many complex and "challenging" orientals, but this is not among them. On first blast it has a sickly sweet gourmand, boozy, borderline rotten sweaty animal pong -- after a few moments I detect an ambery accord similar to the original Prada -- and then it quickly devolves into something anemic, faintly metallic, and synthetic. Beware.

    12 July, 2007 (Last Edited: 07 November, 2013)

    margi's avatar

    England England

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    After all the hype and expectation, this was a mega disappointment. Sickly, headache enducing and syrupy. I imagine a bordello in a red light area to smell like this. I could not smell any truffle or indeed any of the listed notes. My husband gave me a wide berth the evening I wore my sample, and told me I had an 'unpleasant odour'. I think it was his hint for me to hit the shower!!

    29 June, 2007

    Quarry's avatar

    United States United States

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    Does anyone remember the store chain Spencer's Gifts? (They have an online entity now.) They sold/sell gag gifts, semi-obscene t-shirts and posters shown under blacklights, lava lamps, etc. I didn't remember that the store even had a particular smell until I tried Black Orchid last night and Bam! I went back in time 30+ years and found myself standing 10 feet into the store at the mall. Freaky, man. There are layers of scent emanating from the store shelves: waxy pads of sandalwood and patchouli for hippy-wannabees and sugary sweet smells that I can only believe came from edible panties, and there's another odor I can't quite name (and maybe I don't want to?). Once I had that mental picture, it was hard to shift focus to a more neutral context.

    The high- and low-pitched top notes start quite some distance apart and take their time settling toward each other. I was hoping once the candy faded, I was in for some pleasure. Twenty minutes in, I was reminded of the feel, although not exactly the smell of mure et musc. The arrangement never quite came together for me because the candy panties smell hung around too long. Yet, there is something compelling about the scent of the sample sprayer itself. So, maybe someone with the right chemistry can bring out the truffle undertones I'd prefer to have encountered.

    22 June, 2007

    sparkleplenty's avatar

    United States United States

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    oh...my...g-g-g-god! one awful smell and i love frags of many stripes. this stuff billowed, sweet and cloying, out of the sample vial, followed me thru the next 4 hours while downgrading to a vanillin (not vanilla) with a cadaverous rotten wood undertone that COULDN'T BE SCRUBBED AWAY! gives orchids a bad name. not only that but the crusty perfume woman at nordie's insisted on giving me a tom ford bio even after i told her i already knew about him...

    20th May, 2007

    iMaverick's avatar



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    Hell of an expensive scent that smells rather synthetic and mainstream. Bold, with berry and creamy notes, the wood and incense is choked off of its beautiful qualities due to this berry-floral, Aunt Betty has just entered the room smell. You'll be better off reading about a black orchid in a mystery novel rather than trying to read the black orchid in this composition. Did Tom Ford really have a hand at creating this? Doesn't smell like it at all!

    29 April, 2007

    MsTikl's avatar

    United States United States

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    Given this by a friend who knew I love orchids....

    What a terrible stench! The truffle was not as bad on her as it was on me, but we both scrubbed it off - or at least tried to!

    It does endure - a plus if you like it.
    I get none of the sweeter, deeper notes that others love - only funk and stench. No development past the awful rot.

    I sooo wanted to love this! But it's impossible on me. I tried to wear it a second time - same bad luck.

    Even the friend who gave me the cool-looking bottle doesn't want it (sigh).

    What a waste of money. One of the worst disappoint-scents in my career!

    26 April, 2007

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