Okay, so here’s the thing about Bulgari Black: after I read Tania Sanchez describing it as one of the scents that set her on the road to perfume enthusiasm, I really wanted to smell it. But no one carries it. Not Nordstrom, not Macys, not the Sephora in town and forget Penneys or Sears. I could have got it online, but I have a thing about not buying perfume unsniffed.
So I squealed like a Daisy Scout when I spied it way over in the men’s fragrance section of the Seattle Sephora. Had it been there on my two previous visits? Had I walked past it each time? Probably! I made a beeline for it with a speed that left Mr Kristin’s head spinning, and one whiff told me it was just as interesting as I’d expected. (“It’s supposed to smell like rubber,” I may have explained as I towed him over. “And you want to smell that why?” he may have asked. “Because it’s weird, duh,” I may have shot back.)
Bulgari Black does smell like rubber. To be exact, it starts with fairly strong and slightly sweet vanilla, which the smoky rubber catches up on until it’s the dominant note. I guess if you really wanted to you could call it leather. I say it’s rubber, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. The thing I love about Black is that the rubber’s not just weird and interesting, it’s pretty. Black manages to fold it in as something that utterly belongs even while it’s hogging the limelight. It simmers down a little as some warmer and well blended possibly-woody things come out, and some gentle musk helps the vanilla gets powdery. The rubber is definitely there the whole time, although the smokiness fades as the powder gains, and it takes what would probably be a boring scent and makes it fascinating with the balance of innocent powderiness versus dark leatheriness and woods.
It’s soft but not girly, warm but with the warmth of skin rather than a snuggly wool sweater or toasty spices; I think it’s as good as it is because it’s not a RUBBER! scent sprinkled round with other notes but a good skin scent plus rubber, which makes it utterly intriguing while still being completely wearable. I was head over heels in 5 minutes.
I wouldn’t describe this as a sweet scent — the vanilla and the rubber and woods balance out well to a sort of neutral on the scale, and because of the smoky rubber/leather ambiguity it maybe leans slightly salty. It doesn’t have a lot of throw, and because of the rubber plus skinlike nature it’s kind of naughty-sexy, but not overwhelming sex in a bottle (although a touch of perspiration might change that). It reads gender-neutral to me.
Bulgari says: lapsang souchong tea, bergamot, jasmine, cedar, sandalwood, leather, amber, musk, vanilla.