Bvlgari Man in Black – still shining in 2022

A strong flanker that outshines its older brother in performance and character.

Ever since moving beyond the basics of fragrance, I’ve harboured a general distaste for designer fragrances. Often stereotyped as rather bland and sacrificing character for mass-market appeal, a stereotype that has been born with good reason, modern designer scents in particular often have a tendency to blend into each other. However, occasionally a designer scent pops up that wins over – or at least somewhat warms – the hearts of even those who have developed a taste for something more.

For me, Man in Black is one of those. A flanker to Bvlgari Man, Man in Black was launched in 2014 and has enjoyed continued popularity since, maintaining a contemporary feel to this day. It’s a comforting winter warmer with a composition credited to legendary master perfumer Alberto Morillas.

It took me a while to warm to Man in Black, and I actually wasn’t a big fan of the blend initially. However, after letting my bottle macerate for a couple of months during the warmer season, I revisited the scent. From that point on, I’ve found myself using it multiple times per week!

BVLGARI Man in Black fragrance review

An initial spritz greets the nose with a balanced, powerful combination of booze and resin. Giving the opening an initial dash is a. rum accord, which toys with a pleasing tobacco accord – think the enticing synthetic tobacco accord in CK One Shock rather than a lit cigar or cigarette – and is bound together with some hints of spice. The scent fills the room when sprayed, projecting strongly, though toning down quite quickly.

Drying down, Man in Black plays a more subtle hand. Hints of the tobacco and rum top notes remain, backed with a soft leathery accord and a mix of iris and tuberose. Thankfully, the iris plays more than the tuberose, and the iris is vaguely reminiscent of the smooth buttery accord used to great success in the Dior Homme line. Projection is intimate to moderate from this point on, owing to the mostly low-slung presence of the fragrance’s composition.

The base notes are the star players of Man in Black, with the heart notes mentioned above playing second fiddle to the base even when the drydown is barely complete. A heavy hit of benzoin and tonka bean accords make for the spine of the overall character, with an oil of guaiac (not actually from a guaiac tree!) accord contributing to the strong resinous base. Projection remains intimate, however the longevity is impressive. This is one of those scents which I find traces of on my hair the next morning; the impressive longevity is the other side of the coin from the intimate projection, with the resinous ingredients sitting low but lingering for a long while.

I find it particularly interesting that despite Man in Black‘s dressy innuendo, I actually prefer to wear it with more rugged outfits. This being said, it’ll go with a suit just as well as it goes with jeans and cowboy boots. Daytime wear is no issue for the scent, and office wear would likely be appropriate given a conservative finger on the atomiser.

If you like Man in Black and want to expand your horizons to niche scents with a similar manner, try Floris Honey Oud and Clive Christian E Gourmande Oriental.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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