Stack Heals and Hearts Aflame………. Tom Ford Black Orchid The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter


Sweat like an oil slick secreted from the smoked glass mirrors hanging on bitter chocolate walls.

Super sweet fruit cocktails ‘straight from Fire Island’ going half drunk on low tables, others tipped over, their cheap containers crushed under foot.

Four tonnes of silver glitter mixed with shards of glass and fresh cut coke for a floor.

Schrager says ‘it’s like standing on stardust’.

Secretly you’re thinking ‘how would he know he’s flying with the stars’.

She enters on a white horse: red dress, black hair, scarlet lips.

Supernature gives way to Heart of Glass.

And the beat goes on.

Around her, instantly, a crowd, a clamour for her glamour.

Photographers and their flashes, an instant strobe.

It’s all too much.

‘Someone will have a seizure’.

Behind Bianca you see her, pale and slim in a green sequined dress like a tube giving way to her equine neck and explosion of crimped coiffed hair, dusted pink.

She’s a flower.

An orchid.

And she’s holding his hand.

The skinny black kid wearing skinny pants, topless except a for a crimson bow tie, sucking on a lolipop holding a golden briefcase.

Blondie hands the baton back to Ceronne.

“We all feel the pain.
Is it necessary?”

You kiss her and your lips gloss leaves a mark on her powdered porcelain cheeks.

You can’t take your eyes off of him.

You long for Frankie Valli to come on, for the room to melt away for there to be just you and her… and him.

“When we feel the pain
Better stick together.”

You smile in his direction, he cocks his afro-ed head back and opens his plushly upholstered mouth ambiguously.

Is it a smile, an invitation?

“Music is the way
To relieve the pressure.”

She laughs and strikes a pose, he starts to dance and so, as if worked by wires, do you.

You spin and send out arms at diagonals, snake her under your embraces, crane yourself backwards against his leaning body.

In the heat their scent rises, they smell as though they came from a squat via a head shop and a candy store.

You’re high as hell on them.

“Music all the way
Do you get the message?”

His face in yours he mimes the words.

You close your eyes.

A kiss.

“Music all the way
Do you get the message?”

You come up for air.

It’s her staring back at you.

When did they change?

When did you stop caring?

“Music all the way
Do you get the message?”

You go straight back under.

The damndest happy drowning man in NYC.

Je suis musique.”


Je suis musique.”

To be clear Tom Ford Black Orchid emphatically does not smell like Studio 54, or at least not how I imagine it.


This rich pseudo-intellectual, uber-complex, grand confection of a scent is an unmatched olfactory soundtrack for contemporary disco decadence everywhere.

It is the spirit of the dance floor at the end of the universe, bottled by Biba shipped by Star Wars.

Just as ’54 was very nearly the real incarnation of that concept.

It is perfume to be sexually ambiguous to, a fragrance for “girls who are boys who like boys to be girls who do boys like they´re girls who do girls like they´re boys”.

Sweet toothed and narcotic, floral and cordial-fruity it is a vulgar, beaming, over-opulent, grotesque of a thing.

And I love it.

I love the fact that it is everything that every two bit celebrity scent aspires but cannot bring itself to be.

I love it because I shouldn’t, because I know I should know better, because of all the ‘it’s beneath me’ baloney.

I love it purely and simply as a not-guilty pleasure and because if I were a clutch of years younger I’d be bathed in it every Saturday and silly on the fumes.

And in these times when it seems to have become a fashion, a sport even, in the Western world to wage cultural war on the young, this is one un-adult unadulterated pleasure we can and should afford them and, indeed, everyone.

There are acres of space devoted to this perfume’s notes, structure and development, so I feel no obligation to describe them in detail here.

It’s sticky, patchouli, smoky, berry and very, very chocolaty. It seems to make some people feel sick and an awful lot of others inclined towards sex.

Just like a good discotheque then.

Fans pretend after sophistication, but actually it’s a bit of wonderfully old fashioned razzle dazzle.

And if it seems already a little out of date in this age of austerity… wait, it’s time will come again.

Ring my bell.

By the way I hope you enjoyed all the tunes (try tapping on the pictures).

Just call me DJ Dandy!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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30 responses to “Stack Heals and Hearts Aflame………. Tom Ford Black Orchid The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. Lilybelle

    What a fantastic review, DJ Dandy! ♥ TF Black Orchid is not for me, but I totally get why you love it. Thank you for the musical links. That was fun.

    • Dearest Lily
      Oh lord Black Orchid’s not one I could wear every day… strictly high days and holidays only. Part of why I like it is because it’s so very different from most of what I wear, in a way it’s more typical of what I generally choose not to wear!
      But a change is as good as a rest or a bit of what you (don’t) fancy does you good to mix to British proverbs horribly.
      The music must be getting to me!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        No, I get it, I really do! 😉 I can’t wear it because it wears me (and my husband said it smelled like a man’s cologne on me), but it makes sense in the context you present in your review, much better taken in fun and not so seriously.

      • Dearest Lily
        Now your husband’s comment is very interesting for in some territories (Turkey, the Caucuses and Middle East) this is pretty much marketed as a young, unisex clubbing scent. Friends in Dubai report that every second guy in the dancefloor has it on.
        Perhaps the other half has a future as marketing director for a fragrance brand.
        *He smiles*.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Ha! You captured it perfectly… and there was a brick-dust smell you get in old theaters, too… And electricity… And something like; heartbeat blood surging as you raise your hands and press into the rhythmic crowd as all heads drop back and the glitter rains. Thanks for the soundtrack. Lovely to wake up dancing 😉 . Now, if only I weighed what I did then…

    • Dearest V
      Of course you were there!
      That’s probably the other place you wore that lovely dress you’re sporting at your place today…
      It was a theatre wasn’t? Before it was a movie studio. And it was again when I went there to see, so appropriately Cabaret. Liza I’m sure would appreciate the poetic justice.
      The only problem with that soundtrack is that I may have to get on my part pants to work off the excitement it’s sparked chez Dandy!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. rosestrang

    What fun, I just had a dance to Blondie and it seems the weekend is here! (not that I go clubbing these days mind you!). I’ve never actually tried this perfume on, but I don’t really need to because a friend of mine wears it and when we hug goodbye it clingers around for about an hour! I agree it’s definitely a nightclub sort of scent. I wonder what the lighter version is like. I can definitely see this worn by the women in Tom Ford’s life – i.e. models and PR women!
    Two reviews to read in one day, this has been a treat! Have a lovely weekend Sir Dandy!

    • Dearest Rose
      Deborah Harry always make me feel as though good times and, in all likelihood, trouble, are just around the corner.
      I’m laughing out loud at your comment about never actually having worn the perfume personally… so true, it’s certainly a presence, like another person in in the room almost!.
      And a wonderful weekend to you too!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Love all the musical references. I like your deft weaving of Madonna in there too 😉

    • Dearest Liam
      Hurrah… I wondered if anyone would get the ‘dancefloor’ reference to ‘Our Lady of the Confessional!’.
      Have a disk spinning weekend.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Oh I spotted it! I’m not a the biggest Madonna fan, but I can’t help myself if Vogue is on, or Music, or Deeper And Deeper, or Ray Of Light, or Hollywood…

      • Dearest Liam
        Not a fan then Mr Liam… you don’t have to justify your love of the holy mother to us, just go ahead and express yourself.
        But what else might be an appropriate perfumed accompaniment to all this getting down?
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Hehe there go your wordsmith skills again 😉

    For all this boogying and grinding I’d go for Gucci Rush as The Candy Perfume Boy had me convinced it was perfect hooker scent but also it smells of “plastic flowers, poppers and vinyl heels” Sounds totes apropes!

  6. Bee

    Fabulous!Thank you for a wonderfully nostalgic and full sensory experience! I think I personally peaked in the age of disco and I miss the glitter and glamour sometimes. I love to smell Black Orchid but I prefer it on others rather than me. I am looking forward to the new flanker, Velvet Orchid – I am hoping it has most of the power & passion of the first but will be just a tad more wearable for me – fingers crossed!

    • Dearest Bee
      Oh to have peeked in the age of disco… I think that’s a slogan for a t-shirt waiting to happen!
      There seems to be a theme developing here: the ideas that Black Orchid smells better on others than oneself, it’s there in the review and now in a few reactions.
      I’m pleased buy that as it means I must be spreading pleasure when ever I wear it!
      Velvet Orchid sounds intriguing, a more introverted version, the Velvet Underground meets Chic…. now that’s a thought.
      Your ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Nena

    I remember hating this one the first few times I tried it. Now I’m willing to give it another shot, but no-one seems to stock it in NZ anymore, and I’m not going to risk buying a bottle and hoping for the best, given my previous experiences with it.

    • Dearest Nena
      This is definitely NOT one to take a blind punt on… I love it, but with my tongue firmly in my cheek and glitter on the other one!
      I’m amazed it’s not stocked in NZ anymore, being essentially an Estee Lauder product I would have thought it available half way up the Amazon, maybe it never proved a hit?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Nena

        It definitely used to be available at a pharmacy in town, because I remember seeing the bottle sitting on a shelf in the perfume section. But now, not even the fancy department stores in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch have it. I could try finding it when I go to Melbourne, but I just discovered that the David Jones there stocks the exclusive Guerlains now. I think I had better devote a large portion of my perfume spending money to those.

      • Dearest Nena
        Oh My Goodness.
        No competition.
        The Guerlains must have it.
        Black Orchid is a slice of hedonistic here today gone tomorrow wickedness destined not to last.
        The Guerlains are forever…. do you know which ones they have?
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  8. Gorgeous. A rush. And a total party primer for me.

    • Dearest Ginza
      I did rather have your upcoming event in mind when I thought to post this… I wish you every joie de boum.
      Now that’s appalling French, but that’s another invariable feature of all the best parties I find.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  9. Hey Perfume Dandy, we are coming to the UK in February, are you around for a catch up?
    Portia x

  10. Nena

    For some reason, I couldn’t reply to your last comment, so I’ll reply with a new one. According to the website, they stock the majority of them, except for Spiriteuse Double Vanille, and most of the ones that come in the bee bottle. They do have L’Heure de Nuit, Liu, and Nuit d’Amour, though. I think I’m going to have to devote the majority of the money I’ll allocate for perfume to these, as I’m pretty sure they won’t send them to me later. And I’ll definitely need some help making a list of ones to test.

    • Dearest Nena
      So that means all ‘Les Parisiennes’ and ‘Art et la Matiere’? Plus the cuirs!?! Gosh that’s quite a haul to get through! So many to try… I wonder will they have Vega and Sous le Vent too?
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Nena

        They don’t have Vega or Sous le Vent, unfortunately. But they might have them by the time the end of October comes around. I checked their website not that long ago to see if they had them, and they didn’t, so they must be a very recent addition. By the time I get there, they might have the ones they’re currently missing. I’m going to try to expand my perfume budget so that I can bring back as many of them as I possibly can, assuming I can quickly save up and pay for my flights, hotel, and anything else I’ll need. I already know of one that I’m definitely buying, and that’s Gourmand Coquin.

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