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.

Black fragrance notes

  • Head

    • lapsang souchong tea, bergamot, jasmine
  • Heart

    • cedar, sandalwood, leather
  • Base

    • amber, musk, vanilla

Where to buy

Latest Reviews of Black

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
8th October 2021
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.
4th July 2021

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.
6th May 2021
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.
6th April 2021
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.
5th November 2020
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]
20th December 2019
Fragrances are a "subjective" thing in that we all can smell the same odor and interpret it in different ways. I never wore Black when it came out, and the only version I'm familiar with is this more recent iteration. This must have undergone a significant reformulation, because the famous "idiosyncrasies" of Black seem to be absent in the bottle that I'm smelling.
I purchased this on Fragrancenet a while back, so I know that this isn't a Canal Street knockoff shipped in from Shandong Province.

Upon first spray, and for a while, the intro to this is dominated by sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, and amber. Two of the three mid notes are cedar and sandalwood, two of the three base notes are vanilla and amber. Minus tonka bean, those four notes make up the base of Jean Paul Gaultier's Le Male (1995), and I have to tell you that the similarities between Le Male and Black are pretty darned apparent. Instead of the smoky Lapsang tea, I'm getting only a hint of the smokiness -- not so much tea -- and I'm only picking up a tiny bit of the leather. Since the leather and the tea notes are responsible for Black's infamous "rubber" note, and they seem to be basically neutered in this formulation, the rubber note is almost undetectable, and what's left is a semi-darker version of Le Male after it dries down a bit.

They must have really mucked around with the reformulation because this scent is not bad, but at the same time it's not interesting at all, save for coming across as a more restrained, smokier Le Male. I'd like to get my hands on some vintage Black, as I'm assuming this version underwent the same kind of castration that Dior's Fahrenheit (1988) did, except that Fahrenheit still retains it's diesel-soaked leather vibe, but just not as well as it used to.

All in all, this is a fair scent. I hope that the original iteration is better than this one, because for all intents and purposes this is a relative snoozer.

I give it a neutral, as I am truly indifferent to this scent.
11th September 2019
Back in black... ACDC
Unless it's bulgari
Smoking vanilla pods...

Nice for the price

15th November 2018
An extraordinary machine among clones

I believe that anyone who becomes obsessed with perfume, particularly those who maintain a strict budget like myself, eventually starts making a list of white whales. Difficult to find or discontinued Moby Dick-ian perfumes you build up in your mind and chase, fragrant phantoms in your imagination, haunting you when you least expect it.

For me, one such fragrance has been Bvlgari Black. I first read about it years ago in Tania Sanchez/Luca Turin's Perfume Guide in which Turin waxed rhapsodic and anointed the scent with a coveted 5-star rating. Its pyramid hit all the notes for I love smoke, woods, rubber, jasmine. And then there were the descriptions. Innovative and modern yet wearable. Complex and perfectly balanced. Scintillating, smoldering, daring, original. More CdG than CdG, more L'Artisan than L'Artisan. Black has been described as all of these things and so much more.

In my mind, Black began to take on mythical proportions. I read reviews as if they were travelogues from Atlantis. I imagined the burning asphalt of Nasomatto's Black Afgano, but with subtlety and grace. The effortless cool of CdG's Black, but something more innovative and daring. The patent-leather insouciance of Etat Libre d'Orange's Rien, but without its brattiness. You get the idea. Black was the Alpha and the Omega. Holy Grail status before I'd even smelled the thing.

Of course I've had Black sightings in online stores and flash sales over the years. I've always known samples and decants were readily available. But I never bought it. I told myself this was because of prohibitive shipping costs but the truth was, I was avoiding the crushing disappointment of getting what you want and finding you don't really want it afterall. What's more valuable? A wonderous fantasy of the most perfect fragrance, THE Platonic Angelus Novus ur-fragrance, or 40 bucks plus shipping for the real thing?

Well, I came across a tester of Black today. I hesitated. They say you should never meet your idols. But it was time to kill a god. I sprayed my wrist, and inhaled.

Black is good. It starts off innocuously, but give it time to breathe and that smoky, rubbery, synthetic accord starts to come alive. It's nothing like the acrid smoke monsters I often flirt with, burning a black swath through the air with cade and birch tar. In fact, there's a transparency to Black that contrasts well with the smoke. It's also a lot less cerebral and more approachable than one might expect. It's the vanilla, which manages here to impart a soothing quality to the composition. The jasmine seems gentle, the leather becomes friendly. There is an attractive warmth to Black that reminds me that synthetic arts can in fact be very human, kindly even. This is a fragrance for urban types who do not find cities intimidating or overly exciting, but rather, welcoming and familiar.

After 4.5 hours, Black dries down to a warm vanillaic wood skin scent. My chief complaint is that Black seems weak overall and does not last very long to the point where I was tempted to knock my rating down to neutral. And if I am to be honest, I personally prefer something more aggressive. I'm afraid this was not FB worthy for me.

So there we have it. What was once limitless potential has been met with finitude. Although it was not a hollow disappointment, it's strange to think that the chase for Black is now over. How shall I comfort myself, murderer of all murderers? Why, I shall steep a pot of tea, curl up with a book of poetry with my nose to my wrist, send in an order for another round of perfume samples and call it a day. Because I'm just a lady who enjoys smelly water. And it's one white whale down with countless others to go.

If you have read up to this sentence, thank you for indulging me with this unnecessarily long and tangential review. Le parfum est mort. Vive le parfum!
9th November 2018
When I bought this for my husband, I wondered if he too would like the warm, musky and leathery, rubber scent as much as I did - he did. Now our son is older, he has taken to wearing it regularly also. It's unusually attractive, and even now I wonder how the scent of new car tyres could be so highly intoxicating, but it is. It's very masculine, and so far every man that I know, that has been introduced to it, likes it too.
30th October 2018
Wanted this to be amazing, from the strong positive reviews.Rubber, leather and smoky tea over a vanilla Amber and musky bases sounded like it'd be a hit.
I don't get much of the notorious tea or rubber notes at all.
Again like a generic modern frag, sweetish gourmand and or Oriental, feels like an easy inoffensive metro crowd pleaser.
I get a quite nice vanilla and sandal, but that's it's. Possibly had set it up and a mind blower from the note pyramid.
As it stands ( for me and my chemistry I guess) an ok sweet vanilla sandal , I feel something tart and peppery would really lift it.
Generally pleasing but it won't be on my wish list.
26th May 2018
Smells like plastic/rubber and baby powder. Feminine leaning of the unisex range.
17th May 2018