Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cuba Black

It's taken some time for me to finally appreciate this fragrance, as I totally hated it when I first wore it a few years ago.  However, the more I wear Cuba Black, the more I think I understand it.  I don't think this is meant to smell black like tar, rubber, or burnt wood, or ashes from a fireplace - leave that to other fragrances like Jacomo de Jacomo or Bulgari Black.  

I remember being taught when I was a kid that black is not a color, but rather the absence of color.  And if you think about black from that perspective, then Cuba Black makes complete sense.  That's because Cuba Black is a truly colorless fragrance.  It does smell sweet (like most fragrances with "Black" their names), but it smells deep and low-pitched, like a perfume made up entirely of base notes.  There are no bright citrus or lavender top notes, no sharp woody notes, no green herbal notes, and no complex floral notes in here to provide any color, brightness, or variation from its dark, dense, low-frequency hum.  If Cuba Black were hard rock music instead of a perfume, it would sound like grinding power chords and bass guitar only, with no vocals or drums, and the treble knobs on the amplifiers  set to "0".  That's pretty black to me.

Cuba Black is sweet, but it's never cloying or heavy.  I can't really identify exactly what notes are in here, except for the heavy loads of tonka bean in the base, which provides its hallmark dry, hay-like sweetness, and anchors the entire scent down.   It's hard to detect when the drydown arrives, since the whole fragrance smells like its in perpetual drydown mode.

Don't think this is a boring fragrance, because it's not.  It's dark and well balanced, and its sweetness makes it smell both sexy and comfortable to wear.  Sillage is moderate, and longevity is very good, as would be expected from a fragrance that smells like all base notes.   The price is dirt cheap too, so this is a bargain for sure.

MY RATING:  7.5/10

Fragrance House:  Cuba Paris


  1. So would you say they were shooting for Azzaro, or Rive Gauche with this one? That seems to be what everyone is saying about it.

  2. I read all those reviews on Fragrantica saying that this is like Azzaro and Rive Gauche. I don't smell many similarities. Black smells like an oriental, not a fougere. Plus, Azzaro and RG are a lot more multifaceted than this. Most importantly, Black is much sweeter than either of those. I don't consider Azzaro or Rive Gauche sweet at all.

    I don't really know what this frag was trying to imitate, if it is at all. Maybe Bulgari Black? Or maybe just Cuba Paris' own take on the whole "Black" fragrance fad, only much better than most of them.