One Thousand Scents

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Double Feature: Dolce and Gabbana BY Man


As a general rule, oriental scents play their hands quickly. On first sniff, you can tell you're getting an oriental scent, even with light or fresh top notes: there are intimations of darkness, perhaps, or a full-out barrage of darker, heavier notes evident right from the beginning.

Sometimes, though, a particularly well constructed scent will fool you.

Dolce and Gabbana's BY Man--what a strange name!--opens like a standard herbal-aromatic men's scent. In fact, it smells very, very much like Versace The Dreamer, with its chilly-spicy top note (in this case pepper and nutmeg) and its expansive lavender note. It more or less sits there for quite a while, and doesn't do much in the way of changing. It's very nice, but nothing more.

But then, if you haven't been applying your nose to your skin every ten minutes, something strange and unexpected happens while you're not paying attention: it simply turns into an oriental scent. There isn't the slightest hint of it in the top and middle notes: all of sudden, it's just a wholly different scent. It's the most inexplicable thing. I've been wearing nothing but this scent for days now and it always comes as a surprise.

The base notes, what I think of as the real scent, are delicious: warm, slightly sweaty leather (a sprinkling of patchouli gives it that sweaty-earthy scent); sandalwood, and the milky-woody scent of guiacwood; and, most of all, my beloved ambergris. They last, as you would expect, for hours.

The scent is wonderful, but I'd like to know what the deal is with the name, and with the bottle, which sort of has "tacky" written all over it in big zebra-skin stripes. (The women's version, just as inexplicably, is the same bottle except with leopard-skin.) The fact is that although many Dolce and Gabbana scents are wonderful, their bottles are probably, taken as a group, the worst in the trade, either boring or ridiculous. I just don't understand it.

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