Bvlgari Black perfume review

Bvlgari Black fragrance bottle

Black was launched by Bvlgari, the Italian jewelry line, in 1998. It was created by perfumer Annick Menardo, and the fragrance notes are black tea, rosewood, bergamot, cedar, oakmoss, vanilla, amber, sandalwood, and musk.

Black is one of those masterpieces of weird that you would expect to come out of an obscure niche design house. Bvlgari calls it a "supreme exponent of the metropolitan concept", and the fragrance does have an edgy, urban, very modern feel. There is a short lived citrus top note; after that, the focus is on black tea, in this case lapsang souchong, which lends a smoky, almost earthy edge to the dry woods. It is mildly spicy, with hints of burning rubber and leather, and a whisper of something like tobacco leaf. The far dry down is smoother and softer, with an almost comfort-scent blend of vanilla, musk and woods. A tinge of powder lends a velvety finish, but just enough of the smoke and rubber remains to keep it from being dull and pedestrian.

It is marketed as unisex. I have read comments by men saying a woman couldn't possibly wear it, and likewise, comments from women saying it is too soft and vanillic to be worn by a man. If both sexes think the other can't wear it, it is a true unisex, no? Either way, it is a fragrance that requires a certain kind of personality to pull it off.

Bvlgari Black is available in 40 or 75 ml bottles of Eau de Toilette, and if you shop around you can find it at discount. Scentiments lists a 75 ml tester for $24.99, and promises that it will be back in stock shortly. If you don't like testers, both perfume.com and imaginationperfumery have the same bottle for under $40.


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92 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Robin, it's so weird, I'm wearing this today. I'm not sure if I have the personality to pull it off (which is???)

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Masterpiece of weird”—-that is perfect! Hey, I see a bottle of Douce Amere pointing its shaming finger at me, off to the right of this box, in an advertisement space. Star anise is on today's grocery list!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love Bulgari Black, it's one of my absolute faves. To me it's not weird at all; it's very much in line with my taste (which I guess must be 'weird' – or maybe 'edgy, urban and very modern'. LOL!) It's my preferred way to wear vanilla – with tea and rubber.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You have to be the kind of person who can wear rubber and not feel odd about it, I guess. What kind of person is that, LOL? I like it very much, I just think it isn't something that is likely to be universally loved.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ha, my advertisements are nagging you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is really a great scent, and I meant “weird” in the best possible way. Boring is bad, weird is good, at least in my book.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is the fragrance that turned me on to fragrance. I'd never smelled anything like it. I found it on the girl side of the Sephora the first time I tried it. When I went back to buy it, I searched in vain, and after I had given up, spotted it on the boy side, sprayed it without hope, and was shocked to find it was the same. I think I called it “burning tire à la mode” once upon a time, and I meant it as a compliment! May it never be discontinued.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I adore it, too. I get no vanilla; on me it's all smoke and asphalt and musk. The drydown smells like sex, I swear. But in a good way! I don't wear this nearly enough, but we're having the perfect weather for it so I'm totally spritzing this tomorrow! (I'd do it today but I'm already wearing UD Go, which does not match the weather AT ALL, but I'm all in denial over here and whatnot.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Usually, Black is fave of mine – well, I admire it I mean, though I don't wear it all the time – and I thought I felt like it today, but somehow it isn't working for me right now. Perhaps the prospect of smelling like (or wearing?!) rubber is not appealing when you are liable to produce a baby any minute. I was looking for something soothing – I probably should have worn Chamapaca or Tocade. The rice pudding scent you were trying to review the other day sure sounded nice.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My Mom bought this for me when I was 16 (I'm female) and I remember loving it. I can still remember what it smelled like and how I felt wearing it. It's a bit too smoky for my taste now, but I have certainly do have fond memories of it!

  11. Anonymous says:

    OMG, any minute? And you're wearing Bvlgari Black? See, you are a stronger woman than I. In my last days, I could barely be bothered to comb my hair, much less put on fragrance, much less put on an edgy fragrance. Champaca does sound perfect though.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ah, your first love was “burning tire a la mode” — that is impressive, T!

    Bvlgari seems to be pretty good about not discontinuing things. So far.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Asphalt — yes, that is exactly right.

    I'm in denial & whatnot here too…or trying anyway. Do I need UD Go? Have only tried Pistol.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ah, your Mother has good taste in fragrance! Black certainly beats all the sweet fruity florals that 16 year olds seems to be wearing now.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Well, I'm supposedly due in 10 days and the baby has “dropped” so they said to be ready any time (watch me go late!). I'm still working and it's snowing quite badly today so I hope s/he holds off for a little while. I'm sure I'm not stronger than you – I just needed to smell good to even get out of the house today! :)

  16. Anonymous says:

    LOL at “masterpieces of weird”. But that is true! As someone (you, perhaps?) said somewhere, this scent seems to belong in the Comme des Garcons fragrance line more than in the Bvlgari's.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Life's too short to wear boring fragrances!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for talking about this great fragrance! I recall how odd I found it when it first came out. Now, it strikes me as much more tame, although it is still special and wonderful.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I found this so similar to Dzing! that I thought the main choice factor was which name one preferred, and which bottle design. Mind you, I wasn't testing them both at the same time, and I have a suspicion that Black was more Rubber, and Dzing! more sawdust. Both entertainingly perverse.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Wishing you an easy delivery, on a day with no bad weather!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Don't think it was me, but it is true, it could easily be a CdG scent.

  22. Anonymous says:

    V, quite so, it doesn't hit me in the same way that it did when I first smelled it. But it is still a very unusual scent, especially for a “mainstream” house.

  23. Anonymous says:

    You know, I think of them as in the same class, whatever that means, but like you have never tried them together. Suspect that they don't smell that much alike, just as you say…both entertaininly perverse.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I tried to sample this at the local Bloomies counter but the sprayer was all wonky & wouldn't work.

    Very frustrating!

    “Weird” = must try!

  25. Anonymous says:

    The nozzle actually has on & off positions…so it might have been all wonky, or maybe it was in the off position (?)

  26. Anonymous says:

    great review Robin! Definitely one of my all time favorites and I am still in shock that they could possibly think to discontinue it!!

    But you know how I feel about the On/Off switch. I still can't find those pliers…

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hello, everybody! I like Black, burnt rubber or not…It´s just sexy and right on my skin. I agree it´s not the scent everybody would wear, it´s kind of strange. In Spain it´s the least popular of Bvlgari, I think. Urban, …yes, definitely. Great review as always, Robin.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Oh how I love Bvlgari Black! But has time has progressed and I've used it more and more, the very noticeable rubber smell has kind of vanished from my nose. Now I always seem to focus on something almondy in it.

    I'm kind of suprised to see people saying that it is a bit too smokey for them. I guess that can still be true, but I don't really find it THAT smokey. Super silky and transparent is my verdict.

    Another very good twist on Black is V.I.P. Room Signature. A tad more feminine I guess, but just as lovely.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I checked the on/off positions. The sprayer was actually tilted, as if someone had tried to force it. It was definitely inoperable, so I sniffed the sprayer but couldn't tell much from that.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Just adding my praise for this scent; I love it! And I love the bottle, too. I don't know whether this was the intent, but I always think of it as a big, black tire–to go with the smell. I have also noticed the similarily in VIP that shifts did, but I much prefer Black; VIP is too sweet for my tastes.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Ah, then it was just wonky. I love the look of the packaging, but have seen many complaints about the functionality (the nozzle breaks, it leaks, etc)

  32. Anonymous says:

    LOL — it should come with its own tool kit.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how it sells in the US? I notice that most of my local stores only sell it at the men's counter, so I have a feeling it is a hard sell with most women. You're right though, it is sexy!

  34. Anonymous says:

    I don't find the smoke at all overwhelming either. Or the rubber. But some people would rather not smell *any* smoke or rubber in their fragrance, I'm sure.

  35. Anonymous says:

    It really is a great bottle. Love the rubber, love the chrome accents.

    Didn't even think of VIP Room as similar (other than the burning rubber note), so will have to try them together.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin! Posting kind of late here…I haven't tried Black yet, and I'm curious how it compares to one of my favorites, L'Artisan's Tea for Two. It sounds like they might have a similarity with that lapsang souchong thing.

    I definitely need to try this one.

  37. Anonymous says:

    They do share that same accord, K, but I would say it is much stronger in Tea for Two. They sort of work in reverse: the rubber is strongest in the top notes of Black, in Tea for Two, it starts later & gets stronger as it drys down. Tea for Two is also much spicier, and while I haven't tried them together, I remember it as even smokier. Now I'll have to put them both on & see if I am right, LOL…

  38. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for replying to my very late post! Oooooo…definitely sounds like something I need to check out. xo

  39. Anonymous says:

    My husband, who does not enjoy Black, likes to say that I, as a proud Canadian, like to own a scent that looks and smells like a hockey puck…..

  40. Anonymous says:

    I have never smelled a hockey puck, but I'd guess he is right, LOL…

  41. Anonymous says:

    I have to get a sample of this. My husband and I are huge fans of Lapsang Souchung Tea (and Russian Caravan Tea) to drink. It reminds me of a camp fire (the tea) and it reminds him of a tar smell on the top of Norwegian houses. (I think that is what he said). Now I seriously have to find this Bulgari Black as well as the CB Russian Caravan Tea to try.

    I love the review and all the comments!

  42. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the tar is there, so it might be perfect for either (or both) of you. The CB is a much lighter scent.

  43. Anonymous says:

    After reading the Now Smell This review I was looking for an opportunity to try black. On a short solo visit to Hong Kong I found it in Harvey Nichols. The sales girl grabbed my arm and sprayed it on without discussion. My first impression was utter revulsion and total disappointment – I don’t know what I expected but all I could smell was a the synthetic rubbery sent of an adult toy store mixed with tire fire – interesting on some level but I really didn’t want it on my body. Wandering around I kept catching hints of Black as it morphed and developed, sometimes not knowing what it was and then remembering. Hong Kong is a cacophony of smell dominated by pollution. Black was mixing and contrasting with the diesel exhaust, tires, un-burnt gasoline along with the smells form the restaurants and food stalls, the raw meat, fish and the ocean air – incense, tea and rotting leaves – expanding these smells and making them noticeable and enjoyable in a new way. I learned something from Black and we became friends. I put off showering as long as possible, but when I did I missed Black and was never able to get it out of my mind – after a couple of months I did give in a buy it. Bold and enduring Black is Hong Kong to me now.

  44. Anonymous says:

    What a great story, thanks so much for posting it! I am always interested when I come to love a fragrance that I found absolutely revolting on the first try…in this case, it is doubly interesting that you can trace how you came to love it via the association with Hong Kong.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I really do enjoy reading your reviews and the comments you receive. They're an adventure all on their own! I've always been interested in the Bvlgari line of fragrance and thankfully ran across your blog.

    I'm a fighter of stereotypes so this scent smells like it'd be right up my alley! I'm very sensitive to florals and major musk. It's like experiencing allergy season times ten. Not fun at all.

    So I'm a new gal searching for a new fragrance that's clean and masculine. Have any other suggestions besides Black? Thanks in advance for any help!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the nice words :-)

    It might depend on what you mean by clean — the BB isn't clean at all, for instance. But “clean and masculine”, to me, = Guerlain Vetiver or Christian Dior Eau Sauvage. Another kind of clean might be Prada Homme. It might help if you can give me any more clues about what you like/don't like?

  47. Anonymous says:

    I came across a website that recommended this perfume. The comment given is that 'Ladies love it' but I wonder whether it means ladies like to wear this or ladies like the smell of the person wearing it. any idea?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Well, I would like it on me or on a man, but no idea which they meant.

  49. Anonymous says:

    You should have smashed it on the floor and dabbed a finger in the puddle. Beleive me, it would have been worth it!

  50. Anonymous says:

    can anyone help me out with 'operating' the bvlgari black??
    i'm not sure whether it's something wrong with the nozzle or my problem..
    and the open and close mechanism.. when i pressed it, it didn't spray like other bottles i have. thanks in advance.

  51. Anonymous says:

    The on/off mechanism seems to break easily — many of the testers I've seen don't operate at all, even in the open position, and I assume that is because the on/off confuses people and they try to force it or something? But not sure what to advise other than to try to be sure it is in the open position.

  52. Anonymous says:

    i finally found a tester of this yesterday, tried it, and loved it. the store doesn't stock it anymore though, and they told me it's been discontinued… true or false?

  53. Anonymous says:

    it's being continued… i think the salesman had tried to convince you to buy another fragrance instead of loosing you for to try finding it at another shop.

    you may check the official website of bulgari…

  54. Anonymous says:

    It is the perfume of choice for Angelina Joli. hmmmm…

  55. Anonymous says:

    This is the perfume of choice for Angeline Joli….hmmm. Can't imagine Jennifer Anisson wearing it.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I've had Dzing for a while and noticed the same thing when I tried Bulgari Black. And again when I tried Frederic Malle's Une Fleur de Cassie. They're all considered “weird” fragrances, and it would be interesting to find out what weird note they have in common. There's also a thread in the Perfume of Life forums that suggests that all three are related to the older Je Reviens by Worth, which I ought to try.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I believe that Dzing & Bvlgari Black both have birch tar, but don't know if the FM FdC does…

  58. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the hint. Grinding through Google, I found that birch tar is mostly methyl salicylate, which is also a main ingredient of cassie absolute. So maybe methyl salicylate is the “smell of weird”.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, I missed your comment entirely, I'm sorry! Anyway, would be very surprised if Bvlgari discontinued Black, but never say never. It does still seem to be on the market at the moment though.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Hey, good detective work!

  61. Anonymous says:

    this is my absolute all time favorite despite the functional problems with the nozzle. the design is actually a wheel with a locking hub for those “girly girls” who don't quite get it, lol. it isn't a hockey puck despite the similarity of the black rubber wheel portion. i have been attempting to contact bvulgari reps, to no avail, regarding the sprayer problems as i have purchased 6 bottles over the past 5 years all with the same fate despite that i am extremely careful how i use the on/of positions. i keep buying it and i hope it doesn't get discontinued.

  62. Anonymous says:

    The nozzle really is a pain, and it is surprising that they haven't redesigned it given how easily it breaks.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I went perfume shopping today armed with my list of “to try” scents, thinking I would likely buy EL Sensuous or a summery Jo Malone and somehow wound up with Black. Not exactly summery, but I adore it!! Kind of reminds me of Black Cashmere in genre, but I think this may be a little more generally wearable.
    I do not have any on/off nozzle-y thing, just a regular spray. I guess Bulgari listened.

  64. Anonymous says:

    So glad you've fallen in love with Black, it's a great scent. And very glad if they've done away with the on/off.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Any thoughts of how this works for men? It seems to me that most of the reviews on this site whose gender is apparent from their post or their name are from women. I’m a (manly) man, and Black has been my signature cologne for nearly a decade. I’m currently running low and was checking online to see if Black was even still available (none of the department stores I’ve been to recently carry it any longer). For me, the fact that it is an uncommon fragrance was part of the appeal. However, the posts I found here made me concerned that it can be perceived as feminine, which is definitely not the effect I’m looking for. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  66. Anonymous says:

    The majority of the readers here are probably women. You might want to go check the reviews at Basenotes, where most of the readers are probably men.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Daddy, go for it! If Black makes you feel like a tiger, splash it on! I wear Black which always puzzles my husband because he can smell the rubber note but since he dragraces it seems to have the desired effect. IMHO, a lot of 'unisex' fragrences smell like nothing (ie, CK One). Whom does that please? It's not as if you're wearing Jean Nate…if Black is yours, wear it happily! I got it at Fragrance X.com. Enjoy!

  68. Anonymous says:

    When the other day both my husband and me tried it,we just fell in love with it and had to buy it the next day. It's great. I like different, not the same old boring floral fragrances that all look alike. I said to my husband “I feel like I'm wearing you” and he replied “You're not wearing me, darling, you're wearing Bvlgari”.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Nice — you guys need to make a commercial :-)

  70. Anonymous says:

    Hmm. Not sure I think it woudn't work…going to splash some Jean Nate on my man and see what comes of it…

  71. Anonymous says:

    Oops…forgot to mention that a friend sent me some Black, and I'm really liking it….

  72. Anonymous says:

    That's good! Make sure you post your results. It would improve my man…

  73. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone else have the experience of not being able to smell this at all? After reading lots of great reviews I was so excited to try it – but I left Sephora convinced that something was wrong with their bottle!

  74. Anonymous says:

    I'll bet you're anosmic to the musk they're using in Black.

  75. Blimunda says:

    This is a very, very “after the main posting event” posting…….but I just purchased this as my first lemming! I found it very cheaply online and found myself involuntarily pressing the ‘confirm payment’ button………..I’ve wanted to try it for AGES, but never found it in any department stores, so what the heck?! It’ll make a brilliant present for someone if i don’t like it. But, I somehow doubt that!

    • Robin says:

      Hope you’ll love it when it gets there!

      • Blimunda says:

        It is here. And I do love it. So it was a very successful first lemming! It’s totally the wrong time of year to be wearing this – but it’s tucked away for when autumn/winter arrive! It does have an ‘edgy, urban, very modern’ feel about it. You’re absolutely right. It makes me think of slinky, metallic, neon-lit cocktail bars and vodka-martinis. Mucho ‘sleekness’!

        • Robin says:

          Oh good, so glad it worked out!

          • Blimunda says:

            Thanks Robin! And they’ve obviously redesigned the spray nozzle, as you now pull-off the nobbly bit on top to get to the regular ‘pump’!

  76. Az says:

    I really adore this perfume, but can sbd tell me does it last long? Thanks in advance.

  77. Brigitte says:

    I adore this scent- it is “odd”, but hardly shocking to me. What I love is that though black tea is normally a very soft note, it manages to be the strongest note in this scent (on my skin anyway), the leather compliments it gently, and the vanilla is just perfect (I find the vanilla Bvlgari uses typically is very much to my liking). I adore the scent of black tea, I wish it showed up in more fragrances!

  78. Subhuman says:

    Black is quite nice, although like another poster above, I think I may be anosmic to some of it. When the SA sprayed it on the card I couldn’t smell a thing, then the faintest hint of vanilla showed up. On my skin I get more – jasmine, vanilla, a bit of rubber, and a powdery musk – but very little tea, spice or leather, and the rubber definitely isn’t burning. I’ve heard rumors that Bulgari has toned down some of the “odder” aspects of the scent, so perhaps I’m smelling a reformulation, but it could just be my nose. I usually don’t have trouble detecting musks, but there’s a first time for everything.

    Also, does anyone else see a resemblance between Black and Dior’s Hynotic Poison? When I first wore Black it struck me, beyond anything else, as a less saccharine and syrupy HP, with a dryer quality and more breathing room. Which is great, because I would love HP if it wasn’t so…THERE. And SWEET. It’s like a brick wall of scent.

    • Robin says:

      I’ve never noticed a resemblance, but they’re both by the same perfumer — probably you’re noticing something I’m not.

      Really sorry to hear Black might have been toned down…waaah.

      • Subhuman says:

        Well, like I said, it could just be me. (I’m the type that considers Chanel Coco and YSL Opium “comfort scents”, so perhaps I’m immune to Black’s supposed oddity.) It IS hard to pin down – the vanilla and musk suggest pillowy comfort, but the noticeable rubber and hint of smoke (more evident now, as I sniff it again for the first time in a week or so) keep things just a little…askew.

        And yup, it still reminds me of Hypnotic. I blame the vanilla/musk/jasmine combo, as well as the hand of Menardo, whose creations (and overall style) I’m rapidly falling full-throttle in love with.

  79. jmk says:

    Black remains my alltime fave perfume! And I have to respond to subhuman’s comment that I also totally get the resemblance between Bvlgari Black and Dior Hypnotic poison. Interesting also is that I have always loved coco channel (which was a favorite comfort scent he/ she also mentioned) and there is a huge similarity between coco channel and bvulgari’s jasmine noir. :) and i’m so happy they finally fixed Black’s nozzle :) just wish that more stores still carried it, but as some comments suggested, the “weirdness” probably made it a tough sell.

  80. sweetgrass says:

    I was killing a little time in a mall today before meeting up with my sister-in-law, and I saw Black on the men’s side at Sephora. I had been curious about the rubber note I’d been reading about, so I decided to try it. Love. It. The rubber note wasn’t all that strong on me, but definitely noticeable. It was like spiced vanilla tea and auto parts store.. and somehow it just worked. I don’t generally like it when I get a plastic note in a perfume, so who knew rubber would work for me? I was sniffing the back of my hand as much as I could without looking ridiculous. The drydown kind of reminded me of Kenzo Amour, but a bit stronger and less milky (Amour pour Homme?). I was really enjoying this scent as I walked around the mall, and it just made me feel good. I think I may have even strutted a little bit.. heh. The staying power is great too (I think I may have picked up Iso E Super in there, which would explain that). I think I may need to get to a discounter and see if I can find a good deal on a bottle.

  81. jbordeau says:

    Will comments never end on this review? I hope not!

    I finally smelled this yesterday for the first time. Given how much has changed in fragrance since its release, it smells completely modern. I’ve heard no one mention a strong note of anise in the beginning. I love the smell of licorice, and this has it. I also loved the fact that there didn’t seem to be much in the way of strong top notes (maybe just the anise?) but it did give me beautiful things to think about all day. Most definitely full-bottle worthy some time soon. I waited almost a year for my Youth Dew, so I guess I can wait a bit longer for my Black…

  82. jbordeau says:

    Poor grammar: “Given how much has changed in fragrance since its release, that Black smells completely modern today is both surprising and telling.” Send me back to school.

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