Tom Ford Tried to Find the “Perfect Flower,” and This Cult Perfume Is the Result

When I was in college, I got it in my head somehow that I needed a signature scent. Up until that point, I’d been wearing Victoria’s Secret Noir Tease, unless I stole a spray of my mom’s perfume before a big event. But I wanted to find a smell that people would remember me by, that people would smell and instantly think of me. 

I went to Sephora and took a fragrance quiz. I knew I didn’t want anything too floral or sweet. I’ve never been one for sugary or flowery scents. I wanted something dark, spicy, and different. My quiz came back with one perfume that was my top match: Tom Ford Black Orchid. I smelled it and was instantly sold. 

I pooled together my babysitting money for my first bottle, and though I now have an impressively large fragrance collection, I always find myself going back to Black Orchid. I wore the scent exclusively for a few years, and I’m sure if you asked anyone who knew me between 2015 and 2019, they would instantly recognize the scent as my “signature,” as I originally intended. 

Black Orchid was born from Tom Ford’s quest to find the “perfect flower.” It’s not a typical orchid scent—black orchids are rare and mesmerizing. (If you’ve read The Orchid Thief, you know how special orchids can be.) In nature, there’s no orchid that’s truly black, but some are dark enough to look almost black, and they’re hard to find.

Tom Ford’s Black Orchid perfume is the perfect dark perfume. It blends together florals and spices in a way that’s genuinely hypnotic—to me, no other fragrance comes close. The heart of the fragrance is black orchid, while black truffle, bergamot, black plum, noir gourmand accord, and patchouli round everything out. 

While I’ll happily wear this fragrance every day, this is the perfect special-occasion fragrance. Wear it on a date, a night out, or whenever you want to feel confident. It’s luxurious, sophisticated, and modern while also feeling timeless. I’ve been wearing it for years, and I’ve honestly lost track of how many people ask me what scent I’m wearing when I have it on—it’s that good.

I’m a sucker for the original Black Orchid Eau de Parfum, but that makes the Parfum even more alluring. The gold bottle is described as the “most potent version of Black Orchid ever made.” It’s basically an amped-up version of the black bottle, with the addition of ylang-ylang and golden rum to make the scent even more intoxicating. The fragrances are very similar, but the Parfum is more intense and reads a bit more masculine than the Eau de Parfum.

Key notes: honey, rum, orchid. This orchard-forward scent falls in Black Orchid’s orbit, but it’s a bit more feminine and fresh. 

Key notes: cinnamon, pink pepper, mandarin, ylang-ylang, orchid, plum, sandalwood, vanilla, incense, patchouli. Dossier creates fragrances inspired by designer scents. This one, inspired by Black Orchid, has notes of cinnamon for a spicy take. 

Key notes: palo santo wood accord, ebony wood accord, rose. When this perfume came out last fall, I instantly fell in love. It reminds me of Black Orchid, but it’s much woodsier, making it feel warm instead of spicy. 

Key notes: cassis, lemon, vanilla blossom, bamboo, jasmine, vanilla beans, sandalwood, patchouli fraction, red orchid. This vanilla-forward scent has hints of hypnotic orchid and woods to create a scent that’s undeniably vanilla but different than the vanilla you’re used to. 

Key notes: orchid, rose, lily of the valley, peach, apple, musk, wood, amber. Deep and woodsy notes are balanced out by fruit in Zara’s Orchid fragrance. 

Key notes: pink pepper, bergamot, tuberose, incense, jasmine, agarwood, sandalwood, patchouli, ambergris, vetiver. This woodsy scent is bright and energetic thanks to pink pepper and bergamot, which make it come alive. 

Key notes: bergamot, ylang-ylang, jasmine, black currant, oak acorn, angelica, orris root, agarwood, lotus wood, cumin, honey, patchouli, cocoa powder, cistus labdanum, sandalwood, amber, rosewood, opoponax. This perfume is bursting with leather and wood notes, making it heady and bold. 

Key notes: oud wood, sandalwood, Chinese pepper. Spicy, woodsy, and sensual, this scent feels fresh and different and smells absolutely divine on anyone who wears it. 

Key notes: juniper berries, bourbon, cedar. Ellis Brooklyn’s newest scent is an ode to being outdoors in the wintertime, and it instantly transports you to a cabin in the woods.

Key notes: clary sage, mandarin, iris, tonka bean, black leather, vanilla. Hints of mandarin and sage add freshness to the deep, sultry leather scent that grounds this alluring scent. 

Key notes: bergamot, spices. This spicy fragrance is inspired by Moroccan tea and couldn’t be more delicious.

Key notes: cashmeran, black tea, leather, tobacco leaf, birch, oak moss. If you love the smell of leather, this ultra-concentrated scent will be your new favorite. 

Key notes: green grass, vetiver, freesia, patchouli, vanilla. Sophisticated and indulgent, this hypnotic blend smells earth and warm. 

Key notes: coffee, white flowers, vanilla. Coffee notes are often overpowering in perfumes, but this one is perfectly balanced, resulting in a warm and spicy mix. 

Key notes: peach, ruby orchid, vanilla. If you like sweeter floral scents, you’ll love this perfume, which is tinged with notes of peaches and vanilla. 

Key notes: olibanum, leather, sandalwood. This smoky, leathery scent is different in the most alluring way.  Next: 6 Black-Owned Perfume Brands for Every Fragrance Lover’s Collection