Black II by Widian is one of those perfumes that instantly transported me the moment I smelled it.
The year is 2009. It’s been less than a month since my friends and I graduated middle school, and the summer sun beats down on our already-blond heads. We’re a common sight – a group of awkward teens at an outdoor mall in suburban Virginia, its buildings elegant and new, while well-dressed shoppers of all ages flow around us with mild annoyance. We’re all looking around, making awkward small talk and laughing at nothing, as we wait. One of my friends thinks we’re “too close.” Too close to what, exactly? The entrance of Victoria’s Secret.
All of us are embarrassed to be there, but we’re waiting for our friends who have been inside now for what seems like forever (and was likely about ten minutes.) Finally, they come out smiling, swirling bags, and jogging over to us. That moment is what I remember when I smell Black II – the massive cloud of Victoria’s Secret perfume as it washed over the summer air.
Widian Black II Notes
Top: Plum, Mandarin Orange
Heart: Sandalwood, Rose
Base: Vanilla, Musk, Moss
I’ve since grown past the point where underwear of any kind is scary and embarrassing, and I have since visited Victoria’s Secret with my friends (pre-pandemic, of course.) Like the perfume nerd I am, I always go running for their perfume bottles, trying to find a hidden treasure or two. The scent from that day in 2009 is not the scent in those bottles (Darn reformulations! Just kidding.) However, I do still smell the familiar structure of that perfume in my memory.
Victoria’s Secret perfumes are quite nice, but they do not smell like they cost $245. Black II by Widian does smell like it costs $245. It also still smells like Victoria’s Secret perfume.
Black II opens with a massive blast of a familiar smell: fruits, vanilla, and musk. While the orange might add a touch of brightness to the composition, plum is absolutely the main player here, and the accord it forms with the vanilla and musk is remarkably bold and smooth. Nuance is nowhere to be found. Like the orange, Black II’s other notes play very supporting roles that you have to have a truly discerning nose to pick out from the crowd.
The plum-vanilla-musk combo holds on tenaciously throughout the drydown, and the competitor that does the most to make an appearance is the sandalwood. Even here, it’s more of a suggestion than a note, as the vanilla and musk do their darndest to shove everything else out of the picture. The opening of the perfume holds a very strong grasp many hours into its life. If you love the opening of this perfume, you’re likely to enjoy it until the moment it disappears completely.
It’s difficult to imagine a nose that would find Black II offensive. It’s friendly and enticing, and if any of its attributes is a little risky, it’s the strong performance. At this price, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
However, its over-familiarity is exactly why it might not be an excellent purchase in the first place. Unless you’ve got your nose stuck to your arm – like I do right now – you’re probably not going to smell the difference in quality between this and any other fruity floral fragrance. I’ve smelled some quite distinctive, lovely plum notes (Feminité du Bois and Plum Japonais come to mind) and this is not one of them. If you’re looking for a glorified version of a throwback, this might whirl you to nostalgia heaven. It certainly takes me there. But at this price? There are too many other places I’d rather go.
You can get a sample of Black II here, or a full bottle here.
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The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.