Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline ~ fragrance review

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

These are happy times for lovers of incense fragrances: there are lots of new choices on the market, in fact, incense rivals iris as the latest "it" note, at least in the niche sector. Over the past year, I've fallen for quite a few, including Juozas Statkevicius, Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory and Amouage Jubilation XXV.

The first three fragrances from Olivier Durbano's relatively new line of "Bijoux de Pierres Poèmes" (Stone Poem Jewels) are all based around incense, and I can only hope that the four left to come will be too, as I like what I've sniffed so far. Rock Crystal doesn't quite suit me, but I thought it well-done; Amethyste is a soft incense with peppery fruit, and more to my personal taste.

Black Tourmaline is the newest of the three (it launched last fall), and the churchiest of the lot. The opening is a rush of spices, with plenty of pepper and cumin (other notes: cardamom, coriander, frankincense, smoked wood, oud, leather, precious woods, musk, amber, moss and patchouli). The dry down is dusty-smoky and dry, and smells like incense, smoldering logs and warm earth. There is a touch of leather, slightly scorched, and a touch of human sweat, and the slightest hint of something vaguely medicinal. Only a perfumista (or a crazy person), I suppose, could write those last two sentences and then follow with how absolutely wonderful Black Tourmaline smells?

I said Black Tourmaline was churchy, but it is a deeper and darker scent than Comme des Garçons Avignon (my own gold standard for church incense), in fact, it is more of everything than Avignon: more spice, more smoke, more wood; and while there is nothing feminine about Avignon, Black Tourmaline has a rougher, more obviously masculine slant. Black Tourmaline has a kind of swagger about it that is in stark contrast to Avignon's austerity, and I wouldn't be surprised if many people found it to be just too much.

I love it, but I'm not sure it's something I'd wear just anywhere. A little dab over a rich vanilla lotion might soften it up enough for public consumption? And if you know of a really wonderful rich vanilla lotion, please comment, I need one.

Olivier Durbano is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($125). For buying information, see the listing for Olivier Durbano under Perfume Houses.

Tomorrow: Tauer Perfumes Incense extreme

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Parfums Raffy


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm drooing, R! And looking forward to tomorrow's review, too. Thank you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love this one so, so much! One of my biggest discoveries of 2007.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps you'll love it then :-)

  4. Anonymous says:

    M, still hoping the next one is a green incense for emeralds or some such!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This question is probably dum…I know what incense is but how does that go in fragrances?! I mean, how does that manifest itself in a perfume? Which olfactory families contain incense?

    I suppose that frags with incense are a bit on the heavy side.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This sounds heavenly. Avignon is lovely, but a bit wimpy on my skin; this sounds like just the ticket.
    Speaking about strong incenses, I'm wildly curious about the Norma Kamali incense. How does that compare to the CdG incenses?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Not dumb at all. Don't think of finished “incense” cones or sticks that you burn, but of the tree it comes from (boswellia). Frankincense essential oil is extracted from the resin (sap) via steam distillation or carbon dioxide extraction.

    Just about any olfactory family could conceivably contain frankincense, but many would be classified in the woods or oriental families. Really they needn't be heavy, although this one is.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I'll not be much help — I've only tried the NK line briefly, in the NY boutique. There are 2 incenses: Incense and Ceremony. Her scents, in general, are STRONG, and so it is hard to try them in the store on a test strip. I wish I had been able to get samples, they are definitely worth exploring. IIRC, Ceremony is softer, Incense is stronger & spicier?

  9. Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU for answering M's question so helpfully, R. It's helped many of us, I'm sure. It sure enlightened me!

  10. Anonymous says:

    No problem! You might also be interested in reading about how they harvest frankincense — a google search on “harvesting frankincense” turns up all sorts of fun reading.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Oooh!! I know what I'm doing tonight!! xo

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Robin! I will google it up and read about it.

    Maybe this is something that I will like in a fragrance.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Avignon is one of my favourite incense scents so I am intrigued by this one especially the possibility of Avignon with swagger. Although the price is extremely reasoanble so far as $/£ per ml is concerned I WISH it came in smaller bottles! Lovely review thank you and may I just mention my own favourite vanilla body lotion which has kept me going so far this winter – Korres vanilla and cinnamon. The cinnamon keeps it from being icky and although the scent is there it hasn't ever interfered with my perfume of the day. I hope you can get Korres in the States – it is a Greek line specialising in products containing as few nasties as possible without being all hair shirt.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I'm laughing about the “hair shirt” comment! :) I've heard of Korres, but it was probably online, will have to look. Vanilla and cinnamon sound really nice.

    For me, my incense memories are often based on sandalwood (which I like) or patchouli (which I don't). I've been layering Demeter's Sandalwood (very strong, I've got a mini splash – it would be unbearable in a spray I think!) with Watkins vanilla body butter. It's very cozy.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Here's a little url to the watkins product:


  16. Anonymous says:

    I'll always vote for smaller bottles!

    Yes, you can get Korres in the US, and have tried the Vanilla Cinnamon Body Water, although not the lotion. Will have to look for it, thanks!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks R, I hear great things about the Watkins body products. 2 questions: do you find these in any brick 'n mortar stores?

    And how strongly scented is that body butter, would you say?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I love the incense fragrances I will have to try to locate this one. It sounds extremely interesting. It sounds like more of a winter fragrance since you classify it as heavy but it sounds well worth the money

  19. Anonymous says:

    Got mine at wal-mart, I've seen it at cvs and some of the “country” shopes carry it (fits well with the old fashioned rustic decor). The butter has a stronger/longer lasting scent than the lotion and has shea in the background (which always smells a bit like coconut to me, but it's pretty subtle).

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, will look for them!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think it might be overwhelming in hot weather, for me at least. Hope you'll like it!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Black Tourmaline is (besides Narciso Rodriguez for Him & Virgin Island Water) my favorite new scent of 2007.

    I think I must stress what you mentioned Robin – this is quite the SMOKE-fest and if one doesn't like smoke I can't imagine them enjoying BT. But the smoke is not the liquid smoke/BBQ variety (Japan Noir by Tom Ford comes to mind…) or the campfire variety (CdG 2 Man for instance) – but instead, quite meditative (like…Avignon!).

    I also think that this would smell amazing on a woman – but most likely it 'butch' character will appeal to men.

    Oh yeah – and the little black crystals at the bottom of the bottle [that swirl around] are clever and cute, but I felt like Durbano was copying the Miller Et Bertaux line, since they do this in their bottles too.

  23. Anonymous says:

    It is true that it is quite smoky. I tend to forget that some people object to smoke. They might find plenty else to object to in BT anyway, I suppose :-)

    That is a very disparate group of 2007 favorites!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I have been searching for a winter fragrance for far too long now. I must admit to liking Thierry Mugler's Angel (if it weren't so trendy I'd probably be less embarrassed) but I want to get away from wearing it. I want something gourmand-ish – but not fruity. Something dark, deep, smoky, with a hint of sweet. I've tried Jo Malone Pomegranite Noir – and like it OK – but it seems to fade after 1 hour. Tom Ford's Black Orchid doesn't work for me. Any suggestions? I like cinnamin, vanilla, almond, but with a lot of sexy, dark, peppery stuff over it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Some possibilities: Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Givenchy Organza Indecence, Dior Hypnotic Poison, Prada Eau de Parfum Intense.

    Also, did you try any of the Angel Garden of Stars — Lily Angel, Rose Angel, etc? Might be worth a shot.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Oooh, Abigail! Sounds incredible. I want me some, too. I don't know of any, but watch the veteran perfumistas weigh in any minute! I'll be watching, too, believe me. (And if you VPs could possibly mention something that has even a chance of being available in Canada, I would be indebted.) The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is the rich, very sweet Organza Indecence, although it's lacking that peppery overlay. . .

  27. Anonymous says:

    Omigod! Could it be I'm starting to earn my perfumista wings? I posted BEFORE Robin posted with her helpful list, including Organza Indecence!!! Have I been absorbing everything you guys are teaching me, or what? Wow.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank u so much for the ideas. I love Hypnotic Poison and have it already, but have not tried the others. Will need to get sampling.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Amarige by Givenchy was my signature scent for at least 5 years, and strangely I've never even sniffed Organza….I'll give it a try.

    Thank U!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and I forgot to answer your question about the other “Angels” – yes, I tried them, didn't like them. Thought I'd love Violet and liked that one the least. I just like the “straight up” Angel. But, as I said, it's too trendy and tho' I still like the scent, just want something new, and perhpas something more natural smelling – higher quality. Any Serge Lutens you can think of that might fit the bill??

  31. Anonymous says:

    LOL — or, you're just getting poisoned by my views on fragrance ;-)

  32. Anonymous says:

    That's a strong possiblity.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Just make sure you go for the Organza Indecence, not the regular Organza. The two are poles apart. Another idea might be Dior Addict, which is slightlysmoky and “dark,” although you've probably tried that one already. . .Oooh, I can almost imagine that layerd over Organza Indecence to tame its sweetness. . .

  34. Anonymous says:

    Most likely candidates: Douce Amere or Un Bois Vanille. Also possibly Chergui, Daim Blond, Santal Blanc.

    Also wondering if you might light L'Artisan Vanilia or Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka?

  35. Anonymous says:

    Meant “like”, not “light”!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Aha! Robin, howzabout Trouble by Boucheron?? Gosh, I think I'm on a roll!!! Or Gaultier2. . .Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille. . .Chypre Rouge. . .

  37. Anonymous says:

    The only SL's I have are the Vanilla one (Vanille Bois or whatever) and Fleurs de Oranger (gorgeous), and Datura Noir — all summery sweet scents. I'll get samples of the one's you've suggested. You don't think Santal Blanc is too sweet? I got a sample of Rousse and like it but it's a bedtime fragrance for me. It's nice, gentle, discreet & light on me. I'm looking for something with a bit more kick!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the specificity! I might have been so disappointed with the wrong Organza.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I have SL Un Bois Vanille. Love it. Love it. But I'm looking for something with more oooomph :-)

  40. Anonymous says:

    I just read a review of Organza Indecence and it really sounds just like what I was imagining….I am so excited. I didn't know this fragrance existed. I only knew of the floral Organza. I'm about to see where I can find it online. yeah!

  41. Anonymous says:

    LOL — you *are* on a roll! I wouldn't have thought Gaultier2 or Trouble was spicy enough, but who knows? Chypre Rouge might work.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Good luck! If you like the anise note of Douce Amere, perhaps Lolita Lempicka Midnight would do the trick? It's like a vamped-up regular LL, darker and heavier, gourmandy. . .

  43. Anonymous says:

    SB starts sweet, but I don't think it is too sweet once it dries down. But Douce Amere might be a more likely bet.

  44. Anonymous says:

    ooooh, you are a wealth of knowledge. I didn't know Lolita had a darker version yet….

    I'm beginning to see a lot of bottles in my bathroom – yikes!

  45. Anonymous says:

    oy vey! can't seem to find Organza Indecence anywhere online. Looks like it was discontinued and then put back on the market but not many sites carry it…. some have it but it's sold out.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Try Ulta. Also, Macys, Dillards, etc, often have it in store, although not online. Not an easy one to find at discount, unfortunately.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Mike, I wear this one a lot and I love it! It's very smoky, at first it smells like a campfire, but it wears very well and I think it's quite sexy on me. Not too masculine at all, although I can see why some might perceive it that way. It's my favorite Durbano so far.

  48. Anonymous says:

    You're quite right, R. They certainly don't have the peppery stuff on top that Abigail wanted. But since we seemed to be heading in various other directions anyway, what with the Angel Garden of Stars stuff et al anyway (although maybe I'm wrong to think that they are not particularly spicy?), I thought that the shotgun approach might be more helpful than trying for a bullseye. Perhaps I'm thinking of myself in this case: when I describe things I want in a fragrance, it's not always with completely analytical accuracy. But I may well be entirely wrong, as I usually am ;-)

  49. Anonymous says:

    No, you're exactly right!

  50. Anonymous says:

    Vindication is sweet!

  51. Anonymous says:

    You know, Abby, I'm a right rookie, so please take any of my recommendations with a large flake of Maldon sea salt. That's not false modesty, that's the unvarnished truth. Sniff before you buy, if you can, just as a general principle. I've heard that several times from experienced fragrance addicts, and they oughta know.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Just thought I'd throw in my (late) suggestions for scents to try for Abigail – Pi by Givenchy (yep, it's for men, but works for women – thank vanilla with an edge), Jungle L'Elephant by Kenzo, Brit Red or Gold, Ambre by Baldesserini (another men's that I love – smoky, boozy amber and vanilla), Cristobal by Balenciaga, and the fantastic old standby, Opium.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I love this one so much, thanks for the rec. Robin!! I find it to be a smoldering sexy combo of burnt wood, smoke, sweet incense, and leather with a musky drydown. I laugh now at a guy's review that had me a little worried about trying this, who on both luckyscent and the perfumed court touted this as the ultimate macho scent, “No unisex frag here. FOR REAL MEN ONLY”.

    The frankincense can make it churchy sometimes-here that note comes and goes on me- but I think of it more as a wild pagan scent that speaks of dark rituals done in the light of the full moon. With that thought in mind, sometimes I think something green layered with it might make it even better. I plan on trying CBIHP Wild Hunt in the spring and will have to layer the two and report back on the results.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I am very surprised at how often I read something like that about “for men only” — and it's usually about something I wear, LOL…

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