Bvlgari Man in Black - cologne review
- Chocolate and pumpkin spice, fresh tobacco, rum, quality woods – so rich, it smells of wealth
- Takes a mature, sophisticated guy to wear this – we love it and recommend it
- Highly rated on Amazon with 4.5 stars
- A well-known classic now: you can’t go wrong
- Check the price on Scentbird here and eBay here
It's a matter of wonder to the Best Cologne for Men team that a house such as Bvlgari can produce a cologne as unconvincing as Bvlgari Blv Pour Homme and yet also produce a masterpiece like Bvlgari Man in Black.
Have you ever tried those little chocolate squares made by Ghirardelli - the pumpkin spice ones? We give thanks on high that those decadently and devilishly delicious little chocs were invented. And if they could build a machine that could distil those little beauties into a cologne, Bvlgari Man in Black would be that fragrance.
The overwhelming, strong flavours here are of spices - particularly cinnamon. If you really search with your nose, you get that sweet smell of empty cigarette packets, and expensive leather upholstery.
We're echoing Bvlgari themselves to a large extent, when they talk of: 'Vibrant Spicy Tobacco, Ambery Rum [...] Leather Accord'. For once, a fashion house delivers on its scent promises, it seems. That said, we've no idea how rum can be 'ambery' or why tobacco would be 'spicy'. Rum scent? OK, we guess that exists. Tobacco scent? Yep. Spices? Certainly. But 'spicy tobacco'? These phrases are a Frankenstein's monster of nouns cannibalized as adjectives... Thank you, the Marketing Division...
Anyway, enough of the English lesson - this is a cracking scent. As usual, the Best Cologne for Men team detected a few notes in there than nobody else seems to get: while not strong, we thought there might be shadows of some cedar wood in there, for example.
But a word of advice: this is, in our view, a highly sophisticated fragrance. Its richness, warmth and heaviness heaviness needs confidence and, frankly, maturity to pull it off.
To put it another way, I doubt you will find teenagers wearing this: it wouldn't feel right. It smells almost a bit 'churchy' (not that we wish to take anything away from it), because of the lingering smell of wooden pews, burnt incense, leather seats and hymn-books. We can imagine a very rich, older guy, sipping a whisky in front of the fire in his mansion, sporting a lush velvet smoking jacket. It's got that kind of vibe. It's one of those ones that smells of wealth. And no question at all: it is delicious.
Bvlgari Man in Black promotional video
So if the product itself is sensational, how about the marketing? Well, there's good and bad here, we think.
First up, the name. Well, it echoes other great colognes for men: Armani Code used to be called Armani Code Black, of course. There's Polo Black by Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole Black for Men, Drakkar Noir, Gucci Guilty Black Pour Homme... the list goes on. Black is cool, tough, mysterious, brooding, menacing and aggressively sophisticated, we suppose, but who knows why so many colognes have to be 'black' by name? Seems a little derivative to me that Bvlgari should join this 'black cologne' herd when in reality this fragrance stands out from the crowd in so many respects.
Then, of course, 'Man in Black' makes you think of a certain well-known sci-fi film and comic franchise - we're really not sure what this excellent cologne has to do with Government agents harrassing UFO witnesses and wiping their memories, so it's all a bit confusing. And now we've got that damn Pitbull riff going round and round our heads...
Then there's the vid. Again, mixed reviews from our side:
On one hand, some pretty cool stuff here: for a start, it stars Patrick Petitjean, famous for his trademark lank locks and impressively bushy (and un-model-like) beard. We like the way he doesn't have a particularly good body (just look at his weak chest), and no tan either (although that could be because the film is shot in black and white - black again, geddit?); and the grey streaks in his beard seem both slightly subversive of the youth-and-body-fascism of the modelling world and entirely appropriate in the context of a man apparently stranded all alone on an island of black (there's that word again) volcanic rock.
He's even got a suitably haunted, slightly frazzled, weird, 1000-yard piercing gaze. He's like that old geezer from the film Christine.
But there are a few downsides here. For starters, Monsieur Petitjean might be clambering gingerly all over a black volcanic island (it's not Tenerife by any chance, is it?), but he's not a 'Man in Black' himself, is he? He's stripped to the waist, barefoot, and his trousers are pale (not black anyway). He's a kind of wild mountain man, really. Hardly a paragon of sophistication; and a world away from the nearest smoking jacket.
Then there are the echoes of what we can only describe as the standard men's cologne advert template: splashing waves on the shore, the beach, the half-naked guy all alone (compare Chanel Allure Homme Sport, Armani Acqua di Giò etc. etc.). Kudos for the fact that Patrick isn't the typical young hunk that one might use in these sorts of flicks, but we're still walking familiar ground here to some extent.
So we're going for independence, resilience, ruggedness, cragginess, toughness. It's not what we had in mind at all for this cologne, but that's all part of the fun of picking apart these vids.
Given what we've said above, something more sophisticated, rather than wild and isolated, might have fit the scent itself better. Oh and pictures of flowing molten lava - the only splash of colour in the vid - are of course awesome under all circumstances: so the vid ends well, if slightly... er, pointlessly.
Overall rating: a spicy, delicious 9 out of 10.