Bvlgari Black, 1998


Perfumer Annick Ménardo

I’ve just written about Guerlain Shalimar and Heritage and their lineage in the evolution of the amber fragrance. There is a strong sense of through-line. Although separated in origin by about 70 years, similarities of composition and intent are far more apparent than their differences. Then Black, the evolutionary jump. This fragrance captures the best of post-modernism: the breaking down of form, a grasp of the tools of abstraction,  the value of simplicity. It also avoids postmodernism’s traps: colloquialism, cleverness posing as consideration, default irony.

And there’s the additional factor that I’ll chalk up to perfumer Annick Menardo. Similarly to her Lolita Lempicka, Black is fun. Not trite, not a diversion. Truly fun–enjoyable, exciting, something to engage you, something you want to share. A hockey puck, something outside the pharmacopoeia of perfumery, smells good. No shock value, no in-joke smallness, no irony. Who knew?

I think it’s telling that every person I’ve shared this perfume with, 1) finds it beautiful, and 2) then wants to talk about it.  I couldn’t ask for more in a perfume.


(image source unknown)

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