Perfume Review: Velvet Tonka by BDK Parfums

I’ve been waiting for a fragrance from French brand BDK Parfums to click with me for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, everything they do is very well crafted and pleasant, and the packaging is exquisitely luxurious and well considered. It’s just that nothing has moved me yet. Perfume is so personal, right? So, sometimes a brand just doesn’t gel with your tastes or style, no matter how good they are, and that’s how I feel about BDK, well, I should say “that’s how I’ve felt”, because since their latest launch ‘Velvet Tonka‘ came along, everything has changed.

Velvet Tonka is described as being a tribute to the Morrocan origins of BDK founder, David Benedek, capturing the flavours and landscapes of the country “like a sweet, indulgent breeze coming straight from the Atlas Mountains”. As part of BDK’s Collection Matières the fragrance focuses on the rich and complex note of tonka bean with its supple facets of coumarin, marzipan and vanilla, blending it with key materials of orange blossom and almond. The result? A decadent gourmand that surprises with its lightness of touch.

The Notes

Top: Orange Blossom and Almond
Heart: Rose Absolute and Tobacco Absolute from the Balkans
Base: Tonka Bean Absolute, Vanilla Absolute from Madagascar, Amyris Wood Essence and Amber Woods

The Perfumer

Alexandra Carlin (Symrise)

How Does it Smell?

Velvet Tonka opens relatively fresh with a ruby red flash of cherries, showcasing the marzipan-like, almond character that makes tonka bean so instantly recognisable. Orange blossom adds a flash of freshness, and I do mean a flash – it’s just a squeeze of floral water that brings a French baby powder vibe to the opening (French baby powder being more neroli/orange blossom than the British version, which is more rose/violet). But other than a quick flash of florals, Velvet Tonka starts as it means to go on, progressing in a linear fashion.

So how does it really smell then, if it smells pretty much the same throughout? Well, imagine a delicate, almond-scented powder with hints of orange blossom, cherry and vanilla. Got that? Good! Now imagine said powder as a great big fluffy cloud that totally envelops you wherever you go. That is Velvet Tonka.

Can we talk texture for a moment? Because what I really love about Velvet Tonka is the way it feels. The texture is so soft and so smooth – it’s at once like a finely-milled powder and swathes of delicate velvet fabric. It’s light, misty and airy, evoking the image of two hands clapping together to disperse a gentle haze of pale pink powder. Alternatively, I think of it as the smell of powdered terracotta – if you could diffuse that into a perfume, Velvet Tonka would be it. It’s delightfully airy and soft, which feels just right, otherwise it wouldn’t be perfectly delicious.

So, as you can guess, and mostly because I told you right at the beginning of this review, Velvet Tonka is pushing all of my buttons. This is most surprising because I’ve never been particularly into tonka-centric fragrances because they tend to be quite cloying, but heavy and oppressive, Velvet Tonka is not. It smells like the most luxurious, enveloping talcum powder on the planet, served with a touch of deliciousness. Good work, BDK. Good work!


Velvet Tonka is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £170.


Images are my own. Sample (full bottle) provided by brand for review. This is not a sponsored post.