Or Black 
Pascal Morabito (1982)

Average Rating:  39 User Reviews

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Or Black by Pascal Morabito

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About Or Black by Pascal Morabito

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Pascal Morabito
Fragrance House

A leather chypre fragrance with notes of pepper, leather, vetiver and amber.

This was once discontinued but is now available once again.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Reviews of Or Black by Pascal Morabito

There are 39 reviews of Or Black by Pascal Morabito.

This is the legend (and Luca Turin had some part in it, but its warranted). The vintage bottle I have in this sleek black bottle is really an entity unto itself. I had to take the plunge and find out for myself, and I am glad I did.

The opening is this peculiar, yet darkly gorgeous anisic, almost violet-like sensation, with peppery, leathery undertones. It is something out of a David Cronenberg movie, futuristic, austere, sly, and stealth. The leather intensifies in the heart with elements of aromatics and resins unfurling as it warms on the skin, and there is a soapy, yet unctuous element that reminds me of the "alpha male" trope of the 80s that, while potentially problematic if taken in the wrong direction, can be romanticized when taken in....the right direction, if you catch my drift, wink wink.

Here, its almost like Or Black was the precursor to Fahrenheit; not quite motor oil, but traces of it. Hints of elbow grease, if you will. Or Black is more nuanced, however, suggesting rather than urging, but it is an understated insistence, even down to the chypre-like base of this vintage's dry-down, with its slinking balsamic presence wrapped in a cloud of bone-dry oakmoss. It's as if one brought their nose close to a lichen-covered tree on an arid summer's day. Wild, absolutely wild. And beautiful.

Dark oily, violet leaf and liquorice/anis and above all leather, as true as I've ever smelled, just great.
When I lived in NYC in the 90's and 00's, I've spent a few late nights at a leather bar called Rawhide, I'm sure it didn't reek of Or Black, but it should have.

Vintage mini

I was moved to buy a miniature of this by Luca Turin's assessment quoted above. Having said that I dislike almost all the fragrances he extols the virtues of, so my reaction to this is probably going to be neutral or worse.

The particular sample I tested paired a smoky violet aspect alongside a very familiar earthy odour I couldn't place at first, but then I got it. Verdoracine. No doubt about it, once smelled that earthy rootiness is not forgotten.

With that realisation, some of the intriguing fascination of the perfume was dispelled, so I probably won't bother searching for a big bottle.

Opens up fizzy and heavy on the anise, a bit like carbonated absinthe. The heart skews toward juicy violet (shades of Lalique Hommage a L'Homme) paired with leather, along with a smooth blend of green/herbal notes that can sometimes give off a shaving cream feel.

It's light and easy to wear, dark in tone but very refreshing and relatively timeless in character. Justly celebrated.

This review is for the 2014 version:

If you're a fan of Rive Gauche, Fou d'Absinthe, Azzaro Pour Homme, or Drakkar Noir you may very well enjoy Or Black 2014. I was pleasantly surprised by this, a very darkish green herbal fougere with an anisic, licorice like quality accenting its central accord. Or Black is piquant to some extent, its aromatic herbal notes catching the nose with a crisp, cooling spiciness. And it's fairly light. For some reason I was expecting Or Black to feel a bit heavy and stuffed, but it is not. It's more diffusive and bouyant, with a vibrant bite, a sparkling quality to its dark green hue rather than any kind of smokiness or leathery qualities. It can be described as fresh, spicy, herbal and aromatic with a Barbasol, shaving cream aroma. Projection is moderate but nice and solid, and longevity is about 6 to 8 hours. Overall this is a very nice offering from Pascal Morabito and available for a very fair price on eBay from sellers in France (about $50). Recommended as a blind buy if you enjoy the above mentioned scents, otherwise, it's completely worth sampling. Thumbs up.

Here we have a strange creature made by a fairly strange designer. The name Morabito first became associated with leather and jewelry in 1905 with Jean-Baptiste Morabito, and although Pascal is in that family (even sharing the same logotype in his brand), he broke off on his own initially as an architect and engineer, only to eventually bring those skills to bear on the family trade in the 1970's under his own separate house. Pascal was fascinated with obvious industrial construction, including visible bolt heads and cubical shapes, exercising this fascination by suspending jewels inside hollow rod cubes to make his earliest jewelry creations. Or Noir (1980) was the first "Perfume Jewel" from the house of Pascal Morabito, showcasing a green chypre fragrance inside such a trademark glass and steel container in place of a diamond. Or Black (1982) followed a year later, originally also in a chrome metal-sandwiched glass bottle with exposed screw heads, but eventually moved to plain bottles in 1982 featuring the diamond-in-a-cube logo of Pascal Morabito for wide release. Or Black became discontinued for a long count of years until the house ressurected it in 2014, being contained once again in a modified version of the original sandwich bottle Pascal designed himself. Or Black is as murky and mysterious to smell as it is odd to visually behold, combining green leather chypre and classic barbershop fougère elements into a bitter, dark, chewy oakmoss fragrance with just a hint of clove and tonka smoothness. I like Or Black a lot, and feel the only reason it wasn't bigger when launched had to do with so many juggernauts of masculine perfumery being released the year prior, meaning the dark beauty of Or Black was submerged in a cloud of powerhouses.

Jean-Louis Sieuzac came on board to compose after assisting with Yves Saint Laurent Opium (1977), but he was completely on his own here. Aromatic fougères were extremely popular for men at the time, while green-hued leather chypres had become popular for both sexes, so it's kind of interesting to see the genres merge here in Or Black. Bergamot and sharp pepper combine with wormwood and leather in the top, which is exceedingly rare as leather notes usually form the base of a composition. With Or Black, this bitter peppery bergamot and petrol leather "absinthe" tone introduces the greener and slightly rounder ingredients later on, mostly fading from awareness once clary sage shows up to share the heart with two more elements typically found in the base of a perfume: Benzoin and cistus labdanum. The benzoin has traces of styrax for a slight animalic feel when joined by the leather top, but otherwise is of the rounded green variety. Labdanum helps smooth over what would otherwise be a shrieky introduction, and moves into a hefty oakmoss bite laced with tonka, musk, trace powdery notes, clove, and a hearty vetiver reminiscent of Guerlain. Or Black wears darkly dense and completely serious, with its green fougère inflections only acting as a softener for what would become a pretty bleak composition without them. In some ways, this presaged Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche pour Homme (2003) in the dry down by over twenty years, making it a darker but adjacent alternative. Or Black is also no powerhouse despite its year of creation, being of moderate sillage but performing admirably for hours on end, making it good for formal office use and day wear in colder months outside when something that's practically all base notes is needed to cut the chill air.

Or Black is a phenomenal creation by Jean-Louis Sieuzac, and the 2014 reissue compares well to vintage batches from what my samples of both told me, which compelled me to save money and get the newer version instead of deep vintage. The only noticeable difference between them for me is the slight increase in the leather top and benzoin middle, while vintage had a tiny bit more longevity with more oakmoss, musk, and an oiliness the modern lacks, even if the oakmoss note represented by evernyl is still miraculously very present in the newer formula, meaning Pascal Morabito must have very carefully built it up with other notes to better convince you there's real evernia prunastri in there. I mean sure, hunt down vintage if you're that much of a collector, but the modern is about as faithful as one could ask for, and nobody is going to mistake this for a new release on you. The closest comparison I can make here is a cross between Dior Jules (1980) and the aforementioned Rive Gauche pour Homme, and even that is something of a stretch as Or Black is just so unique in its own spooky little world. Or Black would also not have stood out among guys wearing Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent (1981), Chanel Antaeus (1981), or Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui (1981) due to its lack of overtness, which was a similar problem faced by Dior Jules. Still, in a 21st century world where this was available once more, Or Black found itself given a new lease on life against an array of super-sweet tonka bombs which get called "fougère". If you are able to snag yourself a bottle, spritz it on, step out, and stand out now in ways it probably couldn't back then. If you can't get it, don't overpay for vintage because stuff like Jules is still out there. Thumbs up.

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