Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Category: Perfume Reviews (Full) (page 1 of 3)

Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Get a whiff of this:

This afternoon you are at a polo match, sipping wine and shmoozing with riders and their horses in the stables after fine day of watching balls get whacked around by distinguished men mounted on beautiful creatures. There’s a little manure on your gorgeous leather boots, but not to worry. You rub your heel into the ground to coax off some of the crap, put down your empty class, and pop a toffee into your mouth. You head over to the biggest, blackest, and sleekest of the horses, give him a welcome pat, and then sit yourself down next to his rider, who is proudly oiling his saddle. You offer up formal words of congratulations to this winning team member, whose hair, you note, is as sleek and black as that of his horse. Without asking, you run your fingers along the soft leather of the saddle, which is getting slick and silky from the oil, and then you stick your nose into it, inhaling its sweetness, all the more delightful due to the caramel still in your mouth, and the sweat of the dark rider right next to you. You wonder if his compelling body odour is a result of the earlier game, his diligent fuss over the saddle, or perhaps your presence. And then you stop wondering as your face is drawn into the leather again, and you inhale, faintly aware of the residue on your boot.

This perfume is a glorious example of what a gifted perfumer can create when not pressured to fit within the constraints of working with major brand executives, who in turn have to appeal the mass market in order to produce what any corporation requires to thrive – profit. The concept for Dzing!, originally named Désir de Cirque, was the scent of the circus: woody sawdust from the ring, saddle leather, animalic tiger smells, caramel apples, canvas-tent-covered air. If you know what to sniff for, you might just be able to make out these elements.If you don’t know the conceptual blueprint, however, you it could be that you have a nose like that possessed by scent critic Luca Turin, who notes that Dzing! smells like some sort of paper, perhaps cardboard, which he defines as a comforting, subtle but succulent mix of wood, spice, and cream. This is due to the lignin in the recipe, which is the stuff in trees that prevents them from weeping, and is chemically similar to vanillin in composition.

Sitting in the most sought-after, well-worn leather chair in a cozy corner of a prestigious library with an old book in hand – this is what you might get out of Dzing!. Well, OK, add a feline companion to snuggle up to your neck, and pop a Werther’s Original caramel hard candy into your mouth for good measure.

The nose for this scent is the extremely talented perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, and she was able to create mystery in a bottle with this fragrance by ingeniously interlacing a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated textures together. This masterpiece is hands down one of my favourite perfumes – warm leather, animal fur, talcum, Bandaid strips, Cracker Jack, and spices. The juice is weird, but also sensual and tasty. It is a refined and sophisticated scent that dispenses with frills and saccharine prettiness, although the drydown is softer, sweeter, and also less musky. Or perhaps more musky? I admit I am probably not one who easily picks up on the gentler side of musk.

I love this scent so much that I perceive it as an idealized version of myself in animal form, a somewhat sweaty one. Some people find this fragrance bears similarity to Bvlgari Black – there must be a rubber note in there for some noses that I’m not picking up on, but I recognize that they are both highly unique and interesting scents. One of the most evocative descriptions of Dzing! that I’ve found was in a comment by Fragrantica member Giles Howe: It smells like “the skin of someone who was innocent until just a moment ago.” Indeed.

Dzing! is a unisex blend, but not a perfume enjoyed by all. I’ve read it described as scent that serves up notes of barnyardy, steaming-fresh dung. No, not the haze of human defecation or industrial cow manure, but rather the much more earthy and organic fumes from the turds of harmless, well-cared-for herbivores, or perhaps the little droplets that ooze out from puppies. Could this be the effect of the saffron? Poop or no poop, even if you do find this fragrance appealing, there is still a chance you may find all its weirdness overwhelming if you are a mainstreamer, and there is nothing wrong with that, in which case you might limit its use to those times when you are tired of ordinary orientals and soft, powdery florals. If you like Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle, you’ll likely have a place in your heart for Dzing!.

When I lived in Tokyo, I liked to enjoy Dzing! in late summer or fall when I was on walk about among trees, perhaps after a rainfall, or if I was parading in some upscale downtown zone, shopping for things I wanted but didn’t need. I see it as a weekend or evening scent, but as it lives closer to the skin after the first hour or so, you could get away with it at work, if you dare. Dare? Well I guess that depends what line of work you’re in. I wish it had more than average lasting power on me, but the projection is good enough to turn the heads (lovingly or in offense) of those you closely pass if you spray enough on. It’s works in winter for me, too, only then it reminds me of ski lodges. Not the alpine ones, but specifically the cross country ski lodge in St. Bruno, south of Montreal. You’d come into the little wooden shack at lunch time, flushed after a chilly gander around one of the trails, and be greeted by a smoky, crackling, warm fire and the smell of wax sliding over skis, being prepped for a second outing. Wood everywhere. Creaking floor boards. Hot beverages warming everyone’s hands. Leather ski boots drying by the fire. The breath of dogs panting and the laughter of kids. Memories!

Only a smidge of the original 100 ml remains in my beautiful bottle, the one containing the tiny, erotic image of a scantily-clad woman riding an erect tiger like a dance pole. Yes, Dzing! has that provocative side to it, suggestive to the point where I feel I might go red in the face if the wrong person, or perhaps the right person at the wrong time, smells it on me. And that makes it exciting to wear – like having sex in a semi-public place. I’m tempted to buy another bottle right away, lest it goes off the market completely (I’m not sure if it’s still in production).

From Fragrantica:

  • MAIN ACCORDS: leather, woody, musky, sweet, animalic, warm spicy
  • TOP NOTES: [Say what? No, this one goes straight to the heart, baby!]
  • MIDDLE NOTES: leather, white woods, saffron, ginger, toffee, cotton candy, candy apple, caramel
  • BASE NOTES: tonka bean, musk

Bvlgari Black by Bvlgari

Get a whiff of this:

You are at a party in a tire warehouse. It looks to be a bit naughty due to staff wearing skin-tight latex bearing whips as appendages. But there is nothing dirty going on at this affair. There’s not even alcohol – only a nice spicy black tea served mostly by friendly, upbeat girls next door – their demeanor anything but dominatrix. There is no hint at the whips being wielded anytime soon. A Hell’s Angels contingency is out in back of the shop enjoying a smoky little campfire, with back-slapping and cheerful laughter easing back into the shop along with the sweet smoke. You almost expect children to be on the premises, and your eyebrows raise as you eventually do see them, clustered on the floor silently devouring a succulent vanilla cake. You stand in awe, and silently receive a slice of the vanilla delight with a cup of tea spritzed with a hint of lemon from a Steve McQueen lookalike in a sterile, squeaky clean F1 leather jacket, and then you sit yourself down on a freshly-made Michelin truck tire, eagerly awaiting what you anticipate to be an interesting myriad of conversations as the party progresses.

I’ve read Bvulgari Black has been described on a forum (or was it Youtube?) as “the Michelin man driving a good year blimp into a vat of vanilla extract,” and although the scent is far too soft and demure for than analogy, it is not unfitting either. This somewhat linear fragrance’s opening note is a split-second citrus, followed quickly by smoky, warm rubber, but it isn’t burnt – it’s sweet, refined, and raw rubber, more like eraser debris. The rubber note is actually a result of a smoky tea called lapsang souchong, simulating rubber, car tires, automobiles, asphalt, and engine noise, but the amber, vanilla, and woody notes negate the idea of fast cars and fast women with their nuance of romance and tenderness. It’s powdery, leathery, smoky, and strangely light and fresh at once. Oakmoss is listed as an ingredient in Black, but I don’t get it, and seeing as the IFRA has that ingredient on its banned list, I’m not surprised if newer batches don’t or won’t include it. The longevity is pretty good, but it fades very close to the skin, with the rubber fumes exhausting out after an hour or two, muffling into aspartame sweetened vanillic, woodsy, and amber tones built for close quarters. But wait, is that the rubber coming back? You can also hear echos of muted, far-away florals. This vanilla-flavoured plastic, sexy gourmand is perfect for dudes who secretly dream of either being Hank Moody or traveling to outer space.

Black is marketed for men “living a metropolitan life,” but it is actually highly unisex, and brings to my mind a colour lighter than black. It is more masculine than feminine at the start, but more feminine than masculine in the drydown. Although urban and edgy, it is also versatile in that it can be worn night and day, although better in cooler evenings, and is unoffensive, comforting and pleasing. Yet at the same time, this is one weird concoction.

The trademark for Bulgari is usually written BVLGARI in the classical Latin alphabet (where V = English U), and is derived from the surname of the company’s Greek founder, Sotirios Voulgaris. Bvglari commissioned perfumer Annick Menardo, a prolific nose with an amazing portfolio of artworks, including Bois D’argent and Hypnotic Poison by Dior, Body Kouros by YSL, and the main Lolita Lempicka perfumes, to create this wonderous, vanilla rubber delight housed in a black, matte plastic hockey puck. While the bottle does not quite convey the luxury of this high-end jewelry maker, it is far from inappropriate with its rubber fetishness and off-on gadget for spraying.

Bvlgari Black has fast become classic that is future-proof. Annick Menardo, in her genius, has managed to satisfy her artistic needs in creating something abstract, unique, and incredibly interesting, yet she’s also met consumer demand for something that is safe, balanced, and highly wearable. If you’re a quiet, confident bad ass who thinks or knows you’d enjoy hanging out in the interior of a new luxury car sitting on hot pavement, this 5-star scent is for you. My only personal lament with this fragrance is that it doesn’t have a louder engine. BB hums just a wee bit too gently for my personality, but I did finish off a bottle in my collection. The good news is that the fragrance can now be had at a very decent price and is not hard to find.

From Fragrantica:

  • OLFACTORY GROUP: oriental woody
  • MAIN ACCORDS: vanilla, animalic, woody, green, powdery
  • TOP NOTES: green tea, bergamot, rose
  • MIDDLE NOTES:  sandalwood, cedar wood,  jasmine
  • BASE NOTES: leather, amber, musk, vanilla, oakmoss

Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)


Get a whiff of this:

It’s 2007 and you’re an intelligent but naturally impressionable teenager watching your first large-scale teen beauty pageant on TV, much to your mother’s disgust. You have argued that you are mature enough to make rational decisions about the media and how it can manipulate the minds of youth, and not convinced by the “old enough” claim, but impressed enough by your choice of words in the latter part of your plea, she concedes. Your eyes are glued to the screen and you watch with delight as the these young but very glamorous, sophisticated, all-grown-up and confident-looking beauties parade around the stage, and then it is Q&A time. Miss South Carolina takes the stage.

The question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”
The response: “I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as South Africa and, er, the Iraq everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should… our education over here in the US should help the US, Ira-, or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future. … I’m sure that all makes sense in context.”

You turn off the TV, and say to your mother. “Sorry mom, that was disappointing. But I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining.”

Well, in defense of Miss South Carolina (see the video here), she was probably extremely nervous (I mean these are kids, after all – that’s a lot of pressure!), and later it was discovered that she did indeed have the ability to answer the question in a more-than-satisfactory manner, but sadly, this is not the case when YSL’s Manifesto is used as an analogy.

The creators of this fragrance wanted to create a Manifesto of Femininity whose fragrance would evoke “an attitude, a burst of laughter, a tone of voice, a presence.” The TV ad for the scent shows a lovely Jessica Chastain showing off the luminosity, charm, grace, power, and audacity attributed to the scent, but sadly the declaration of independence the perfume is supposed to make seems somewhat lacking in the juice itself. An assertion in which one watches what one says so as not to piss off any authorities, supports the status quo, and avoids calling attention to oneself strikes me as a more convincing manifesto for what the scent’s pretty-but-just-from-afar bottle contains. When I used to think of YSL in my younger years, I would think of bold, timeless, renegade perfumes full of character and luxury from different eras, such as Rive Gauche, Opium, and Paris.

This current top seller, however, proves again, after its previous releases of Parisienne and Elle, that YSL is falling prey to mainstream commercialism. Manifesto fails miserably to give its wearer the wow factor it promises. Not to say it’s a poorly-constructed composition. It’s just that it doesn’t bring on anything exciting, sophisticated, original, modern, rebellious, daring, or bold… or even oriental, for that matter, and it’s classified as a floral oriental! And this is exactly what the marketing of the fragrance said it would do, so I have to admit confusion and disappointment at the sales pitch. Perhaps I’d respect Manifesto a lot more had it been named something less misleading.

This is all not to say I dislike it. Manifesto is may not be unique, but I don’t think it’s that predictable. At first spritz in the store, I got a generous, bubbly burst of tart and juicy blackcurrants, stems still attached, which is perhaps why it had me at first sniff and why I ended up with a wee bottle of the stuff in my duty free cart at the airport. I love Crème de Cassis, and this is what the sticky, jammy top notes remind me of, along with some fizzy champagne. Kir Royale anyone? I found out later that once the top notes fade, Manifesto’s loud and friendly laugh turns into a mild whisper as the sheer, musky jasmine and lily of the valley at its heart come out and subtly do their thing. It has a clean patchouli at the base smothered with some creamy vanilla, sugar, and wood, and there is also a slight marzipan kick to it. It’s a sweet gourmand of a perfume, so if Flowerbomb, Jimmy Choo, Prada Candy, or Angel aren’t your thing, this likely won’t be either. As for me, yes, I have a sweet tooth. Umm, you might also compare Manifesto to Dior Addict, Miss Dior Cherie, and Chanel Coco Noir, which are also all nice fragrances, but just slightly uninspired and a tad generic.

Manifesto is an easy-to-wear, non-offensive (unless you drown yourself in it), office-friendly fragrance, and this is probably why I’ve used so much of it compared to other bottles in my collection, despite liking it nowhere near as much as some of the others in its company. Though somewhat run-of-the-mill after the top notes fade, it is a warm and comforting blend with decent lasting power and sillage, so I grab for it a lot, particularly in the fall and winter. As a sweet scent, this fragrance should please a younger crowd of perfumistas. I’m not saying that sweeter fragrances are for younger people, it’s just that consumer statistics apparently sway that way.

However, to reiterate, the marketing campaign for Manifesto again seems amiss in this regard. Jessica simply looks too powerful, mature, romantic, intelligent… and too pale-skinned to be the right face for this scent. Someone conveying a more bubbly and youthful look is required, me thinks. Clearly, like many others, I am not kosher with the contradictory message YSL sent out with this scent, but overall, again, I indeed do think it smells nice, and it grabs compliments. As it’s an appealing-to-the-masses, vanilla ice cream and cupcake concoction, you probably cannot go wrong with this little number should you need to buy someone, or yourself, a gift.

From Fragrantica:

  • OLFACTORY GROUP: oriental floral
  • MAIN ACCORDS: balsamic, vanilla, woody, aromatic, powdery
  • TOP NOTES: black current, bergamot, green notes
  • MIDDLE NOTES: lily of the valley, jasmine
  • BASE NOTES: vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, tonka bean
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