Rose and saffron make such a perfect combination; it is no surprise that perfumers return to the theme over and over. There is L'Artisan's lovely Safran Troublant, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Cimabue, Agent Provocateur and Ormonde Jayne Ta'if, among others. Then there are the numerous rose + saffron + agar wood (aka oud or oudh) combinations, such as the much-loved and much-missed Dark Rose by Czech & Speake (I keep hearing rumors it will relaunch, but then it never does), and A.MAZE by The Peoples of the Labyrinths, and of course, the many variations by Montale. Washington Tremlett's Black Tie is thus only one of many, and when I first tried it, it got tossed unceremoniously into my purgatory basket — not because I wasn't sure if I liked it (I liked it right away) but because I thought I ought to try it next to its most obvious cousin (or at least, its most obvious cousin in my collection), A.MAZE, and I wasn't in the mood at the time.
As sometimes happens, Black Tie lingered in the basket far longer than I anticipated, but I finally fished it out over the weekend and tried it next to A.MAZE. Agar wood is not listed in Black Tie's notes (saffron, walnut, galbanum, salvia, rose, geranium, tuberose, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, musk), but the two fragrances are certainly similar — if Black Tie does not have an oudh note, it mimics one, albeit without the occasionally overbearing medicinal haze that sometimes announces the presence of agar wood. Black Tie starts out with hints of bright citrus and moves quickly into a sheer, greenish rose over deep earthy woods. It has a spicy warmth, but it is neither dark nor heavy (it wears nicely in hot weather), and the tuberose does not have much presence. The saffron is quite noticeable, but I would not call it overdone; Kevin, however, would beg to disagree. If you don't like saffron, consider yourself warned.
Black Tie is nearly linear after the opening notes calm, and the dry down is very smooth. If you have struggled to love the Montale rose + oudh scents but found it rough going, Black Tie might be more to your liking: there are fewer jagged edges, and the sillage is (much) more manageable. A.MAZE is a more herbal scent, and the combination of henna, saffron and agar wood in that one lends it a more obvious medicinal cast, so that while I do love A.MAZE, the Black Tie wins out handily on the "wearable" front.
Washington Tremlett Black Tie's lasting power is quite good, and it could easily be worn by either sex. It is available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($160). For buying information, see the listing for Washington Tremlett under Perfume Houses.