Reviews of Black 
Bulgari (1998)

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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
Oct 8, 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.
Jul 4, 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.
May 6, 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.
Apr 6, 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.
Nov 5, 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]
Dec 20, 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.
Sep 11, 2019

Back in black... ACDC
Unless it's bulgari
Smoking vanilla pods...

Nice for the price

Nov 15, 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!
Nov 9, 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.
Oct 30, 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.
May 26, 2018

Smells like plastic/rubber and baby powder. Feminine leaning of the unisex range.
May 17, 2018

A kaleidoscopic modern vanillic oriental, Bvlgari Black is elusive and intriguing. Crafted carefully and cleverly, Black is a wonderful interplay of leather, smoky tea, florals, a rubber like accord and vanilla. Yet, rather than being loud or cacophonous, Black is gentle, persistent, wearing like a translucent veil of grey. Black opens with a hint of jasmine, but is soon accompanied by a wonderful note of black tea, a little smoky. As these persist, the development leads to a famed accord of 'rubber', to which the jasmine contributes notably. This is the phase where a leathery aspect comes to the fore, that I associate more with new car tires than anything else. The final development brings a dry, non-sweet vanilla laced with musk.

Bvlgari Black is a unique and interesting fragrance, and perhaps best showcases the talent and ingenuity of Annick Menardo. It is beautifully androgynous, futuristic and very memorable. While I admire Black more than I love it, it is one of my personal favourites to wear on a cool rainy day. I find sillage to be close and persistent, and duration to be excellent at over several hours. However, perhaps the greatest achievement here is how all these innovative and seemingly discordant elements come together to create a whole more than the sum of its parts, and an end product that is a complete personal fragrance. It's like a L'Artisan, perhaps before L'Artisan became widely respected for being innovative. Those in disagreement with Black usually come around to the fact that it is a venerable perfume. Just that it's not stereotypical, but perhaps a trifle quirky.

Feb 1, 2018

I read the reviews on this website and was a bit intimidated. It's actually one of the safer colognes that I've ever encountered. It's like a Vanilla scent for those who found others too cloying. There is a rubber note which seems to even it out, and it's the one cologne which I feel that one could be doused in without being overbearing. Unique. I wear it almost every single day.
Dec 23, 2017

Love that new car smell!
Nov 19, 2017

I liked it. Smell like burning rubber gasoline at auto shop. Really neat perfumery. Great idea. Good to see that the shops are putting out really new ideas, however like most department store brands, it faded after two or three hours. Longevity poor, projection poor
Jul 15, 2017

Spin true, fake wheel's tea!
Rubber lies of leather's lie,
True enough for me.
Jul 2, 2017

I remember buying my first bottle of Bulgari Black, back in about 2000. I read about it in a magazine shortly after its launch; the big hype in the press centered on the tea note, which got my attention immediately, seeing as I was a tea drinker, and a lover of Lapsong souchang. This was right at the time that Sephora first opened in the US, so I headed to the brand-new store in the Houston Galleria, seeing as I could sniff and think in relative peace there, with no sales assistant staring at me while I tried to decide if I liked it or not. I figured I'd need a few visits before I made up my mind.

I don't remember what I expected, but it wasn't . . . this. It came out of the little rubber-coated bottle hitting on all four cylinders, all big, meaty, smoky, and floral in the way that tea smells floral, with an expansive quality that reminded me of redwood forests in the Pacific northwest. The rubber note felt almost like sap (which is where rubber comes from, after all). But what Black really brought to mind was the machine shop at the family business; Dad was a pipeline contractor, and the shop comprised a warehouse of lathe operators and arc welders--hot metal, cool lubricants, and the smell of shavings piling up on concrete. So there it was, a machine shop forest, or a forest in a machine shop, or vice versa. And it was--daringly--marketed primarily to women, although even the early blurbs mentioned that anyone could wear it. I fell in love with it instantly.

The best thing about Black was its aura of mystery. It smelled a little perfumey (from the jasmine on the top, which gets lost once the smoke gets going) and a lot dangerous. Plus, it cost a very reasonable 50 bucks, even at full retail. It took me about 10 seconds before I stuck one of the square black boxes in my little Sephora basket and headed for the counter. I took it home and wore it nearly every day for at least a year; it put me in a sort of friendly ass-kicking mood, which was perfect for surviving the daily insanity of living in Houston, with its batshit traffic and noxious weather.

Now, almost two decades later, I still have one vintage bottle of Black. It's on its last legs, and it breaks my heart a little every time I spray it. Reformulation removed the chewy complexity of the tea notes, exaggerated the rubber, and also brought out the vanilla/tonka accord in the base; the whole perfume went out of whack and lost the balancing act that made it so interesting. Also, unlike many reformed perfumes, the drydown of the original smells quite different: when the smoke dies down (literally), my vintage settles back into a true tea scent instead of the rubber marshmallows of the current version.

I could elegize for several more paragraphs, but it's depressing, and boring, to read reviews that moan on about the ruination of great perfumes. So I'll just say that the latest (and the last, as I believe it's discontinued) edition of Black still smells pretty good, albeit much cruder--a better masculine, perhaps, but a less compelling perfume to my nose. It's still better than 99 percent of the stuff out there, and my heart still skips a beat when I smell it on a stranger. Passionate love has faded to wistful affection. I'll miss it when it's gone.
Jun 25, 2017

What more can be said on this one?

I ordered it blind ages ago having read countless reviews. It wasn't what I was expecting.

I don't get the Lapsang references - yes, it's smoky, but Lapsang tea has a sort of meaty smokiness, and this is more of a citric, vanilla, amber smokiness. I get something of the same zingy citrus vetiver bitter sweet top I get from Fat Electrician although vetiver is not listed as a note in Black. Again, I wish I actually knew how to identify notes - I might reward myself with a course when this odyssey is over!

I was a Lapsang drinker in my day and I might have some later to actually run some data against my opinions! I'm not a huge fan of tea scents as I don't like the tang of tannin they seem to engender in me. This has none of that.

I love it, especially as the first thing I noticed on smelling was its resemblance to the Je Reviens Memories of Times Past that haunt my dreams. It's got that same oddly sharp chemical bite that I love - which seems to be floral, vetiver, spice, and vanilla all at once. I think the 'rubbery' aspect is what I consider the shared Je Reviens DNA. The sharpness keeps the whole confection light and not too sweet.

It is lovely in autumn and winter, but I'm running out of summery stuff, and it is perfect today - the weather has cooled down a bit and it's cloudy. It has a tiny hint of plasters or bandages - the old very sticky type that came on a roll and smelled 'clinical'. It lasts as a lovely skin scent and is linear enough to stand repeated sprayings throughout the day.

It also makes me long for skyscrapers and modernity - it has an urban feeling about it - perfect for walking city streets and soaking up the energy.
Jun 22, 2017

Smells like last night's campfire in my tent awaking with my face nestled in my air mattress. On one hand it is summer and I love camping but on the other hand, I long for a shower.
Jun 18, 2017

Big on leather and Lapsang souchang tea. A bit of sandalwood as well. This very smoky, almost like a burnt tyre, but in a good way; definitely an evening scent and a sexy one at that.

Bottle Design: 3/5 Looks like a tyre with a silver top.
Scent: 4/5.
Complexity: 3/5 Not overly complex. The smoky tea and leather dominate.
Value for Money: 2/5 Possibly discontinued. Prices have gone up over the years. I paid the equivalent of around £30 in France for 100ml when it was launched which is a bargain; for £70 now not good value.
Overall: 3.5/5.
May 20, 2017

I picture a garage filled with mechanics. There are automobiles and motorcycles in various stages of repair or rebuild. It is mid-autumn. The smell of burning wood wafts inside the open door, from a neighboring dwelling. Someone amongst these rough-looking, grease-covered mechanical gurus is wearing fragrance.

That's my take on this one. Leather is the strange passenger aboard this liquid ride. It is peculiar, at best.
May 10, 2017

Annick Menardo's Parfum de Pneu or eau de tyre is an impressive idea, there's no denying its originality. The problem is that its passive-aggressive mix of dry rubber and aldehydic floral is more interesting than likeable, and this amounts to a self defeating strategy. It seems strange to criticise a work of art for not being practical but Black rarely gets worn in the gardener household because it's so difficult to connect with. More respect than love.

Mar 27, 2017

I overlooked trying this one for quite awhile, and after reading some of the reviews I almost put it on my "only if extremely convenient" list. I'm kind of glad I waited, because last year, I may not have enjoyed this one.
It's a strange one. Definitely on the challenging side, not one I expected from Bvlgari.
To me: Dr. Pepper and Cypriol/Nagarmotha. That's what stuck out to me. I am in love with it. I know it's likely the lapsang souchong that gives the smokiness, and with the strange rubber ball note, plus vanilla... I can't even think of what else to say.
Except, if you can afford it, and it sounds interesting, it's so affordable that you might as well spring for it. I chose to get a large decant, in with an order of some other decants, out of convenience.
But it's going to be my next full bottle.
Here's to the strange!
Feb 2, 2017

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