Perfume Reviews

Negative Reviews of Black Orchid by Tom Ford

Total Reviews: 38
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.
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
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
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
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Foul. I love feminine fragrances but this one is waaay too much. I was seduced by the fig top note so I bought a bottle. Big, big mistake. This is the one fragrance out of the 100's I have that I just cannot stand. One spray lasts for days on your skin and it never changes - no drydown, no change....just solid "old lady" for hours and hours.

Try on your skin before you buy and wait a couple of hours. Easily the worst fragrance I own.
03rd March, 2015
For years, I have heard about Black Orchid, so I decided to finally try it. The notes listed include ylang-ylang and black currant, black orchid, and, basically, a patchouli/chocolate/vanilla drydown. I am wearing it now, and, basically, all I smell is a slightly metallic chocolate/vanilla. There seem to be differences of opinion about whether or not Orchid is strictly for women, or could pass as unisex, but personally, I think it could be worn by either. I admit my nose doesn’t pick up “creamy” scents very well, so any depth to this doesn’t register. I have heard the Bath and Body Works fragrance, Black Amethyst, is a “cheaper version” of Black Orchid, but after wearing both, I completely disagree. In fact, I actually prefer Black Amethyst, which opens with a lemony bergamot, compared to Orchid’s slightly powdery chocolate. I guess I am in the minority here, but Black Orchid isn’t worth the hype, which doesn’t surprise me because, although I love Plum Japonais, I have found Tom Ford fragrances to be drastically lacking in the drydown stages. Black Orchid reminds me of a melted, chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bar in the back seat of a warm car.
06th February, 2015
Marais Show all reviews
United Kingdom
According to one telling of the Greek myth, although Perseus managed to escape the Medusa's petrifying gaze through nifty use of Athena's reflective shield, the Gods failed to equip our hero with a mighty nose clip and he fell victim to the gorgon's scent of the day, Black Orchid by Tom Ford.

Centuries may have passed, but the horror remains undiminished. Modern monsters who still wish to use BO, possibly in a misguided effort to detract from their hideously-deformed physogs, are entreated to think again, or at least apply with one dab of a brooch pin: any more produces a suffocating fog of sickening sweet stench - please have some thought for your fellow fiends, who would still like to be able to smell their own stink of the day once your awful presence has passed, without having to bolt back to the lair for a shower and change of rags.
14th November, 2014
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.
09th June, 2014
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!"
04th June, 2014
'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.
03rd March, 2014
Get a bottle of Chanel Anateus instead.
02nd October, 2013 (last edited: 15th September, 2014)
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!

24th July, 2013
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"

09th July, 2013
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.


06th May, 2013
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drseid Show all reviews
United States
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.
02nd February, 2012 (last edited: 22nd December, 2012)
MOONB Show all reviews
United States
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 Show all reviews
United States
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!
28th May, 2011
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.
06th April, 2011 (last edited: 30th March, 2014)
smells like something you would refreshen the smell of your toilet with. not for me
25th March, 2011
This is the smell of funereal flowers covering up the smell of grandpa's corpse in the parlor.
25th January, 2011
Benj Show all reviews
United States
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.
16th January, 2011
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 Show all reviews
United Kingdom
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.
09th July, 2010
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 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!
03rd May, 2010 (last edited: 25th October, 2011)
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
Yuck, this "fragrance" is awful. Lovely bottle though.
21st July, 2009
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.
17th May, 2009
Nizzle Show all reviews
United States
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
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.
29th December, 2008
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.
08th November, 2008
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