Cologne

Black Orchid by Tom Ford Cologne Review – 2022 Test

Black Orchid is an attractive and warm blend of dark florals and spices. It takes formal fragrance for a spin, injecting some flair and flamboyance into a refined palate. 

This is not for people playing it safe; this is not a generic cologne. If you’re looking for something different – but in a good way – you’ve found it with this 9/10 ride of alluring woods and captivating spices.

So if you’re looking to add some elegance and confidence to your outfit, read on for my play-by-play, hands-on review.

tom ford black orchid sampler front face

Black Orchid

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First Impressions

The standard-issue bottle is a thing of beauty. This sleek black glass plinth with vertical ridges provides a night sky for the glimmering gold details to shine upon. It’s a tactile design that begs to be handled. 

black orchid bottle
Full-sized bottle
black orchid sample
My 2ml decant

My sample tester was a little more modest, but it still functioned perfectly well. The promo material gave me a sense of the atmosphere Tom Ford situates Black orchid in; refined minimalism that provokes intrigue. 


What Does Tom Ford Black Orchid Smell Like?

This hypnotic symphony revolves around “orchid” and amber, rounded out with earthier touches of truffle and bergamot.

In case you didn’t know, orchid doesn’t actually smell of anything. At least, not technically. It’s what’s referred to in the fragrance community as a “fantasy note”, used to evoke a sense but not actually rooted in any particular set of notes. 

Tom Ford seems to have claimed the moniker from the exotic floral notes in the opening and the heart. This sensual blend of jasmine, ylang-ylang and light citrus does sort of match up to how you’d expect a “black orchid” to smell. At least to me. 

 black orchid sample in hand
It seems big things do come in small packages.

In any case, Tom Ford uses this creative license to the fullest practical sense with Black Orchid. I’d never really smelt anything like it. It’s such a deep, dark, woody spice. It feels sort of dangerous, pleasingly prickly – and certainly opulent.

By hour 5 or 6 I’m also picking out dark chocolate and earthier patchouli. There’s a sense that Black Orchid is becoming more masculine, and preparing for the afterparty. It’s still sweet, but it’s become more overtly sensual than ever before.

Top Notes:Truffle, Blackcurrant, Jasmine, Bergamot, Orange, and Lemon
Middle Notes:Orchid, Spices, Fruity Notes, Ylang-Ylang and Lotus
Base Notes:Chocolate, Patchouli, Vanilla, Incense, Amber, Sandalwood, Vetiver, and White Musk
Black Orchid Fragrance Notes

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Is Black Orchid by Tom Ford for Men or Women

Black Orchid is technically bracketed as a women’s release by Tom Ford – but not the fragrance community.

Men and women are equally capable of wearing Black Orchid. It’s a great example of a cologne that is genuinely gender neutral without compromising on character.


How Long Does Tom Ford Black Orchid Last?

Black Orchid lasts between 5 – 6 hours and turns into a skin scent for another two after that. For the first 3 hours, you get some really significant projection where people are likely to compliment you. 

tom ford black orchid sampler open

You’ll be detected from a couple of feet away, but not in a way that blows anyone’s head off.

Whether that’s adequate for you really depends on your perspective. If you’re talking in terms of use case, sure – 6 hours is going to last roughly the duration of what it is you’re up to. A full shift in the office, a dinner date plus drinks.

So it does the job. Cool. 

The problem is there are other Tom Ford fragrances like Ombré Leather that consign reapplication to a mere myth. Apply once and you’re done for the day, not just the activity. 

These performance beasts – the Tom Fords, the Guccis – all come with a similarly beastly price tag, in the same world as Black Orchid. 

The only thing I say about that is the more powerful the cologne, the less you need.

The less you need, the less you buy. 

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How Many Sprays Of Black Orchid By Tom Ford Should You Use?

You should use 2 – 3 sprays of Black Orchid for the best results. Anything more is just going to be overpowering.

My 5 – 6 hours of longevity came off the back of just two sprays a day. One to the chest, one to the back of the neck. That’s usually my go-to: one for the people I’m headed for, one for the guys in the back. 

So with that in mind, you don’t need to worry about burning through your Black Orchid at an alarming rate. You should be more focused on making sure you’re not over spraying. 


When Should You Wear Tom Ford Black Orchid?

Black Orchid has a bit of a formal aura to it. I’d feel a bit overdressed wearing it down to boozer, let’s say. It’s more suited to a silky jazz bar, or even an awards ceremony.

You could probably get away with it in a particularly cute coffee shop in a nice part of town, but only if the atmosphere is very rom-com Hugh Grant energy. Black Orchid is not casual – it elevates situations.

Can You Wear Tom Ford Black Orchid to Work?

Hmm. That’s a tricky one. I’m going to go with no. It’s just too performative to be considered fully professional.

Sure, if you’re top of the heap and you think you could pull off the “corporate goth” thing, run it. But I think it would smell a little self-involved to be swanning around as something that could be perceived as overly showy.

You’re there to be professional, not to perform.

I think that a woman would have an easier time pulling it off in the office. Rightly or wrongly, we’re used to ladies wearing slightly more exuberant fragrances than men, particularly in the florally-inspired department. 


How Much Does Black Orchid Cost?

Black Orchid costs between $150 and $210, depending on what size bottle you buy and which retailer you go through.

Keep in mind that you can make significant savings by buying a larger bottle.

Check out the pricing table below for a cost breakdown (prices courtesy of Nordstrom.com)

SizeRRPCost per Oz
1.7 oz$150$88.24
3.0 oz$210$70
Black Orchid Pricing

Is Tom Ford Black Orchid Worth it?

I’d certainly say that Black Orchid is worth the money. You’re getting one of the most iconic fragrances of the last decade for a very fair price. If you need a signature scent for parties and extravagant evenings, you’ve found it. 

Where to Buy Black Orchid

I’ve used Nordstrom for a couple of years, and so far every product has been authentic and shown up when I expected it to. Their returns policy is also second to none, which is handy.

Beyond that, Amazon is probably the most stocked place to buy colognes online. You can search for reviews for each vendor so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Plus, delivery with Amazon Prime is crazy quick. It’s great or impulse buys that you need in time for the weekend.

tom ford black orchid sampler front face

Black Orchid

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Black Orchid Alternatives

If you’re looking for fragrances similar to Black Orchid, check out my two recommendations below:

Ombre Leather – Black Orchid Alternatives

ombre leather bottle

Ombré Leather

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Ombré Leather is like a cheat code for confidence. It’s near enough guaranteed to attract compliments at the bar, but it’s clean enough to wear to work too.

A lot of leather-leaning fragrances can smell a little impure and rugged, but Ombre Leather is a refreshing exception. Think “new supercar” rather than “Hell’s Angels”. 

The primary leather expression is helped along by flickers of vanilla and cardamon, adding welcome nuance to an otherwise uncomplicated palate.

This uniquely clean leather representation is able to confidently speak for itself, rather than smack you with earthiness until you succumb to its raw alpha energy.

With Ombre Leather, you’ve got CEO confidence, not ruffian bravado. Think Tony Stark, not Conor McGregor.

Top Notes:Vanilla and Cardamom
Middle Notes:Jasmine and Leather
Base Notes:Moss, Patchouli, and Amber
Ombré Leather Fragrance Notes

Polo Black by Ralph Lauren – Black Orchid Alternatives

polo black bottle

Polo Black

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Polo Black is like something from a Bond movie. It is smart, sophisticated, and would be an excellent choice for a suit-and-tie function.

In the opening, fresh fruits combine to produce a quality watery fragrance that refreshes and energizes.

Underneath, there are herbal and spice elements from sandalwood, tonka bean, and sage that add some welcome masculine bite.

It’s my favorite Polo cologne, for sure.

Some of the best black colognes, while more expensive, can’t compete with the impeccable balance here. 

Plus, women seem to like it. When I wear Polo Black, I get so much attention that my male friends will stop and ask me what I’m wearing and how they can get a bottle.

But here’s the catch. The projection and longevity could use a little work. It’s not terrible, but I find that by the afternoon Polo Black starts to cling to the skin a little. You’ll get 6-7 hours of meaningful projection at most.

Top Notes:Mango, Tangerine, and Lemon
Middle Notes:Patchouli, Tonka Bean, and Sage
Base Notes:Sandalwood and Wormwood
Polo Black Fragrance Notes

If you enjoyed this guide to Black Orchid, check out some more reviews about our latest buys:

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