When Tom Ford debuted the fragrance Black Orchid in 2006, he was trying to steer the beauty world away from the minimalism of the ‘90s and reintroduce some glamour and drama into the equation. “I wanted a potent product,” he said, and potent it is.
It may be too potent for some. Even I got a headache once after spraying too much, and I never get headaches from perfume. The scent charges out with the initial spray, demanding your attention, until it softens into a floral... or maybe more of a woodsy sort of… actually, some people have said… No, you know what? I can’t describe perfume the way some people can. I’m not even going to try.
Instead, I’ll show you what this perfume smells like to me and how it makes me feel.
No, I’m not going to match it up with emotion faces like Alle did, although that was brilliant; I’ll show you the two women that Black Orchid invokes in me, like I’m starring in one of those cheesy perfume ads. One woman is reminiscent of the past, while the other represents the future. Both are sensual and a little mysterious--neither woman is a wallflower.
Some days when I wear Black Orchid, I feel like a glamorous film siren, or the kind of tortured heroine from the past that I’ve read about in books. The design of the bottle calls to mind art deco and film noir, while the heady scent makes me want to drape myself in velvet and furs.
Vampy lips in a deep plum, shining black hair, and bold eyebrows all pair well with this dramatic scent. This is not the time for subtlety, so feel free to break out your best jewels and your thickest false eyelashes.
When I wear Black Orchid and become this version of myself, I want to wear sweeping robes and trailing gowns. I find myself having to set aside time to pose with an anguished face in an empty winter field like I’m the heroine in a Bronte novel. My hands become ice-cold, and the wind makes tears leak out of the corners of my eyes, but I don’t care because I’m surrounded by a fragrance that makes me think of a complicated, hairy man and our convoluted love affair.
However, this perfume also opens up another side of me: the modern, sophisticated urban woman that I want to be one day.
The first time I tried Black Orchid was in New York. The first man in the store that I passed stopped me and said, “Are you wearing Black Orchid? You smell so good.” My sister insisted he must have worked there and was supposed to say that but we shall ignore her haughtily. This perfume is perfect for haughtiness.
I will always remember that December night in the city. Normally, I never feel like I belong in the city when I visit there in the winter. It’s too cold and harsh, and I’m too small and poor. That night, however, as I inhaled the exhaust from cabs and the fresh night air mingling with Black Orchid, marching along in my new black coat under the twinkling lights, I felt rich and powerful and warm. I finally felt like even though I didn’t belong in the city yet, maybe one day I could.
When that day arrives, I’ll be a savvy industry leader or successful author, ruling the office (or the local Starbucks) in four-inch heels and leaving a trail of rejected lovers in my wake. Obviously, my apartment will have extravagant, black French doors leading out to a balcony, and I’ll sit out there even in the winter, smoking a single cigarette like Claire Underwood and sipping an extremely manly drink. Scotch? Moonshine? 160 proof bourbon, lit on fire? Sure, that works.
Black Orchid is wholly a winter fragrance to me. I would never wear it in the summer. It kept me company all this winter, first with generous samples every time I passed a Sephora, and finally with my very own small bottle that I bought this month (using a gift card, obviously; I’m not actually rich--I just smell like it).
As soon as it gets cold again next fall, I’ll wear it once more. It will remind of me of all the horrible things that happened to me during this endless winter, only maybe with the nostalgia of time and fragrance my past troubles will suddenly seem romantic. I’ll spray Black Orchid onto my coat collar and then bury my face in it. This way, whether I’m wandering through a snowy field or hurrying through dark city streets, the scent will keep me feeling warm and powerful.