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.