There is nothing quite like Bulgari Black. In the world of fragrances you can usually find derivatives or outright copies here and there but in the case of Black, there is nothing remotely close.
It’s particularly known for looking like a hockey puck.
Composed by the brilliant Annick Menardo (Hugo Boss Bottled, Lolita Lempicka, Diesel Fuel for Life pour homme, Body Kouros, Dior’s Bois D’Argent and Hypnotic Poison), the notes have almost no evolution on the skin. It smells, from beginning to end, of sweet leather and hot pavement (burning rubber). The sweetness seems to rise out of the richness of leather, which is to me inherently sweet, or can tip over into sweetness very easily, deepened with amber, vanilla, and jasmine. This blends with a smoky tea note, and this tea thread somehow comes together to evoke the unmistakable smell of rubber. It sounds bizarre, and it is, but mostly because it smells so strange while also smelling so good.
I consider this truly unisex. I can see how the sweetness might be too sweet for any given man (but overcome this thought, men, and please try it, particularly if you are drawn to leather. I find it especially captivating for a man, precisely because of this slight sweetness), and the rubber might be too smoky for any given woman. This [like anything] is for anyone who loves it.
I suggest wearing it with a leather jacket.
OK, so Vétiver Tonka is a top favorite, and Guerlain Vétiver never lets me down, and we haven’t even talked about Chanel Sycomore yet…but Bulgari pour Homme is my favorite, too.
Bulgari pour Homme smells like the grapefruit of the gods. This is a bright, ripe (sweet) citrus blended with a soft darjeeling-like tea note. The notes list bergamot and orange blossom, but I get grapefruit and more grapefruit. The base is noted as amber and musk, but to my nose neither of these elements translates directly. They serve instead to make sweet notes feel sweeter and to make the overall effect more sumptuous.
Bulgari pour Homme Extrême smells similar but with a bit more of the green, bitter aspect of the pith allowed to come through, and with better lasting power (the regular pour Homme is too weak for some but – as with Vétiver Tonka – if I like the scent enough, I’ll just spray more). Extrême could be seen as the more conventionally masculine of the two, and is the one I would recommend those who prefer a masculine style to smell first. I like to wear both at once, the sweetness of one balancing the bitterness of the other and vice versa.
These are some seriously voluptuous citruses, and you can completely ignore the ‘pour homme’ bit if you like. I recommend that course.