Never before had a perfume party been shrouded in such mystery and excitement as the one planned for the unveiling of designer Tom Ford’s new scent, Tom Ford Black Orchid.
The press release for the fête last Thursday at the Top of the Rock told of Mr. Ford’s “fascination with finding the elusive black orchid.” It further boasted that Mr. Ford had personally cultivated the “blackest orchid in nature.”
Upon receiving the notice, The Transom could only gaze upward and thank the heavens in anticipation of such a moment in the history of party reporting.
Would any of said rare orchids be at the party? Would they be locked in a glass box protected by two perfectly coifed armed guards, all in black Gucci?
The poor, unfortunate doorman stuck in the Rockefeller Center lobby—it had been converted into a Tom Ford Black Orchid gas chamber—knew nothing about any rare flowers on the premises.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” said a male model carrying a champagne tray. His black suit and crisp white shirt looked like a million bucks. He said Mr. Ford had had a hand in the dress code.
Yoo-hoo, Carmen Kass! Seen any black orchids? “Yes. Over there,” she nodded. “Oh, that’s only a purple one. No, I guess not.”
Ms. Kass said she hadn’t given much thought to whether or not the black orchid was elusive. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen one. “I don’t know,” she said. “I like orchids.”
And what of the perfume? “Oh, I haven’t tried it.”
What?! Had the string-bean cover girl been spared the brutal initiation misting on the way in? “I didn’t notice,” she oozed, lifting a flute of the bubbly to her fine, thin lips.
“Amazing view up here,” said Jamie Johnson, looking out on the city from the building’s glass-encased balcony. “I think I’m going to go soon.”
Paris Hilton’s former walker, Stavros Niarchos, had to know something about perfumes. “No. I don’t know. It smells O.K., I guess,” he said of Black Orchid. He was standing with several other tall, foreign dudes dressed in black. He seemed agitated.
Right. And what of that rare, highly elusive flower—any thoughts? “No. I don’t know,” he hissed.
“It smells O.K.,” said Rachel Roy of the fragrance. “I like flowers. But not orchids necessarily.”
“It’s cool,” said her husband Damon Dash.
Around 11 p.m., Mr. Ford arrived from a dinner that his friend Donatella Versace had thrown in his honor.
“I have always been passionate about orchids,” said Mr. Ford. He wore a double-breasted black blazer with flared lapels. His shirt was deeply unbuttoned, natch, and a silvery checked scarf graced his tanned chest. A chiseled Blue Steel expression never left his face. “Each one is unique. They’re so beautiful and so chic.”
“It’s so elusive and mysterious and sensual,” Mr. Ford said of the black orchid. Of late, the stylist’s quest for the so-called “unicorn” of the orchid family has brought him (or a few of his minions) into the greenhouse laboratory. “I’ve been developing the blackest possible orchid in Florida—the Tom Ford orchid. I’ve got the patent. It’s almost black. Maybe not completely black, but a deep, dark chocolate.”
He said his new fragrance “absolutely captures the essence of the black orchid.”
Orchids? Paging Susan Orlean!
“As far as I know, there is no such thing as a black orchid, and from what I was told, it’s botanically impossible,” Ms. Orlean said by phone on Nov. 7.
“I’ve often wondered why people would want one,” she said, “except that it might heighten the dramatic effect of the orchid. As I say in my book, orchids are really more sexy than pretty. And a black orchid just has that sort of dramatic, mysterious, seductive dark quality.”
Ms. Orlean pointed out that most orchids had no scent at all. But the Orchid Thief author sent her best wishes to Mr. Ford.
“Sure, I would encourage him to continue in his quest, because there is no doubt that if someone could do it, it would be very cool and dramatic,” she said. “As a great believer in life being all about aspiration but not necessarily achievement, I say, ‘Go for it, Tom. Keep at it, buddy.’”
The party’s gift bags offered an elegant little black bottle of the stuff; they came with “23K gold-plated name plaque and engraved lettering.”
Vogue fashion giant André Leon Talley was getting in the elevator. He was draped in a snakeskin overcoat.
A quick squirt for the road was offered to him. “Oh darling, please stop it!” he said.