Bulgari (1998)

Average Rating:  320 User Reviews

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Black by Bulgari

Fragrance Overview Where to Buy Reviews Community Ownership

About Black by Bulgari

People & Companies

Fragrance House
Annick Menardo
Thierry de Baschmakoff
Packaging / Bottle Design

A woody, smoky fragrance. The bottle is rounded and designed to fit the hand. A combination of metal, glass and rubber. Like most of the Bulgari fragrances, it contains a tea note.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Where to buy Black

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Reviews of Black by Bulgari

There are 320 reviews of Black by Bulgari.

People like to give Bvlgari Black (1998) credit for being this edgy and daring avant-garde monster of a fragrance that was "niche before it's time" and all that crap, when the truth is that all perfume was once niche, and the excuse used to charge more money for something a little less contrived than what marketing data spits out comes from the same boobs that think "niche quality" is a real thing with any actual meaning. The reality of Bvlgari Black is simply that it came out at a time when intentionally unisex creations (marketed as such) were the next "big thing" every major perfume maker had to do in order to be hip, and there was overlap with the newly-emerged trend of "black" as a way to describe a style of fragrance vis-à-vis "sport", so Bvlgari combined the two. I think the association with smelling like rubber also comes with the bottle's resemblance to a tire more than intent to smell of actual rubber, and then confirmation bias from the online fragrance brouhaha going "yup yup yup yup yup yup" in forums. We are not FragBorg. You will not be assimilated. Smell with your nose, not someone else's.

Annick Menardo did a fairly good job mixing polar extremes in the fictional universe of fragrance gender, in that she basically made a female-friendly vanilla fragrance with male-friendly accents of leather. The "rubberiness" of the opening is really more so the way the Bvlgari house tea note was amped up in the top of the scent, as it's a very dark black tea note (surprise), that usually anchors tea-centric scents with a heavy dollop of something like dry tonka to boot. Here, it comes and goes pretty quick, more quickly in newer bottles that have it toned down. After that, you get a sort of suederal leather, not the big sour tannery stuff of Piguet Bandit (1944), and ionone powder. Beyond that, you get some token synthetic sandalwood and cedarwood materials mixed with amber (likely a single woody-amber compound bolstered with Iso E Super if I'm honest), some vetiver, white musks, and the vanilla. Wear time is moderate, projection is moderate, and you will feel moderate wearing this. Best use for me would be in cooler months at home, as the vanilla here is cozy without being cloying, like a nice scented candle. I'm not a vanilla fan, but I like this.

Actual self-identifying niche brands like L'Artisan Parfumeur were running circles around stuff like this with their releases in the 90's and 00's, just before the meaning of "niche" was perverted to mean whatever the accountants want it to mean in order to justify throwing a monthly car payment away on smelly water in an embossed bottle with a heavy brass cap. Yeah, Bvlgari Black was admittedly a little weird for a unisex fragrance, and maybe a little weirder still for being a paper tiger that turns into a sugar cookie in the dry down; but is it really all that daring? Maybe compared to the "beige age" 90's freshies anything was daring, but I'd much rather place the word "daring" at the feet of something like Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood (1998) or Cartier Déclaration (1998), both of which looked to era far removed in time from the 90's for their source inspirations. Adding to the mystique is the usual allure of anything discontinued, and the only real monster here are the stories told about Bvlgari Black online. If you like your vanilla a little smoky and handbag-ish, forget the claptrap and sample for yourself. Thumbs up

Bulgari Black's always throw's me back in time to the early 00's, New York, the hip art crowd I was sattelite to, parties in stylish lofts, deconstructed fashion etc.
How much did I actually encounter it back then? Avant guarde a clue. Most likely just a scent of it's time. People say it's lost its edge drowned in today's myriad of niche excentricities, but to someone like me who doesn't dabble much in niche it remains very unique. I don't know if it was intended that way but it feels very much like Shalimar for the nascent 21st century, concentrating on the smoky vanilla, amping it up and taking it out of parisian hausmannian boulevard boudoir powder and stepping into rubber and asphalt minimalist Chelsea art gallery.
It's been talked as having been discontinued for years, but I still see it available for cheap. It's an easy blind buy in my opinion for Shalimar lovers or for who wants a somewhat "historical" landmarks collection.
And yes it smells great!

Some say it's been somewhat stripped of its originality in reformulations, how much that is true or its place in the scent world of now I don't know.

It's amusing that this was ever seen as radical, but early reviews treat Bvlgari Black as downright edgy.

What it is is a sophisticated but modest rubbery, smoky, floral vanilla (with more artful blending in older bottles, but it never became unrecognizable). I find it comforting.

Generally I'm loath to read reviews bemoaning the fall from greatness of a certain scent or other. I'm all for Jeanne Moreau when she says the life you had is nothing, it's the life you have that matters. The life Bvlgari Black currently has is stripped of some interest. It retains a kind of weirdness, a daring and arresting originality of character. But it fades. Sooner and sooner it seems, to leave us with a fairly linear, sheer-y vanilla. It's not bad by any means, but it's hard to get into it in its current state, specially if you knew it before. Time rolls on, and there are better things out there. I still sniff it in department stores every now and then, and sometimes spray it on myself for that famous (and now fleeting) kick of burnt rubber.

It smells like vanilla laced tires, but also of asphalt a bit. Maybe that's why I love it so much - it smells just like my childhood on the block in the 90s/early 00s.

As another reviewer noted, this seems to have been reformulated into irrelevance. I get nothing of the rubber tire accord I've heard about, just a bland vanilla in the genre of Le Mâle.

[Purchased Nov 2019 from FragranceBuy, batch no. 00H15K17B]

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