A leather chypre fragrance with notes of pepper, leather, vetiver and amber.
This was once discontinued but is now available once again.
The company say:
In his reference book Perfumes : The Guide, Luca Turin gives it the 5 stars optimal grade, “Or Black is an extreme fougère, smoky, dark, bitter, resinous-green, like triple-distilled Earl Grey, a step beyond even Rive Gauche pour Homme in its saturnine glory. Sensational”. In order to constitute the Parfum Couple with its predecessor Or Noir, Or Black was created in 1981. The new version is a subtle mix of ephemeral bergamot and pepper’s hints to which is added precious woody aromatics heart’s notes. Or Black suits self-confident and well-grounded man who makes the most of the male and sensual character of the perfume as well as its animalized notes. Or Black can be enhanced by the skin of a woman.
Or Black fragrance notes
- Bergamot, Pepper, Leather
- Sage, Benzoin, Cistus
- Vetiver, Amber, Tonkinian Musk, Oakmoss
Where to buy
Latest Reviews of Or Black
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.
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.
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.
It's light and easy to wear, dark in tone but very refreshing and relatively timeless in character. Justly celebrated.
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.
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.
You can forgive the burnt rubber / plasticine accord if it settles down to something more recognisably perfumey. On my skin, though, Or Black never goes through those gears. It's a little like spending a night in the woods without proper camping equipment. This is savage stuff. On paper, it dries down to something quite nice in the space of about three days, but that's not really a prospect for skin use.
It's been educational, though. I've figured out that personally, the idea is to smell good, or at least feel as though I smell good. Edginess can come later. Rive Gauche carries me as far in this direction as I need.
Other notes: available direct from France with a very affordable price tag. I like the colour of the juice - deep herbal green - but I find the bottle poor, with a loose cap.
A very unique experience and I suggest you keep a vintage bottle of this fragrance handy when you want to feel nostalgic about the 1980's.
Update: I eventually got a bottle of this, three years on, and it's like the third wearing described above. The alleged similarity to Dans Tes Bras is fascinating. I'll have to check that out, but it sounds like a stretch.
This is more like Ho Hang Club or Moschino Pour Homme, very much in my style.
Update: I'm trying Dan Tes Bras again, and I can see what I meant about there being a connection to Or Black. Odd that I knew this, then forgot.
A nice herbal, smoky masculine fragrance. It has spices and a certain soapiness to it.
There is a soap - Cinthol, that was perhaps the first "Made for Real Men" soap in India. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSqaoQBgacY.
Cinthol has borrowed heavily from Or Black.
recommended in any form/vintage
All I can do is express my appreciation for such a unique and complex fragrance that suits my personal preferences so exactly. I appreciate both the vintage and re-launch almost equally and find the differences near negligible, the newer having a slightly peppery facet.
Like previous reviewers have already stated, it's hard to pin down genre-wise and I've given up trying, opting instead to just enjoy it's utterly refined presence on my skin.
It's a leather, it's a chypre, it's kind of a fougère, it's herbal, it's animalic, it's just outstanding and unmatched in my eyes.