Awhile back someone emailed us here at the blog looking for a fragrance. This happens at various times in various ways (sometimes they´re looking for a particularly shaped bottle, or they have a few memories or visual cues.) Invariably the result is pretty much the same: I have no clue. I poke around online and write back a polite, cheery email wishing them luck. This particular reader was looking for a fragrance called “Zoo” by Dolce & Gabbana. And there isn´t one, of course. But not too long after, s/he emailed me back to report that, after some research, it appeared that the D&G “By” for men (or women, it never was quite clear to me) was the long-lost love, the clue being (drumroll, please) both scents are done up in animal prints: zebra (men) and cheetah (women.)
I was a little embarrassed. I hadn´t looked at the online images closely, and I should have been able to Sherlock my way into that deduction. Then I stumbled across the “By” Woman at the weird local perfume shop (note to anyone in D.C. area: check out the boringly-named joint — Perfumania? Perfume Shoppe? — right outside the top-floor Macy´s entrance in Wheaton Plaza, which has a fun selection of offbeat stuff with testers and a very patient staff). I was sufficiently intrigued to buy a mini of the “By” Man, which is possibly discontinued (it´s much harder to find online, anyway).
I like most of the Dolce & Gabbana fragrance line. I find their eponymous D&G men´s scent very sexy. I love their women´s original D&G in the red cap as well, although its incandescent sultriness reminds me of curvy Italian goddesses (my parents were Fellini nuts, and regularly dragged us to movies like Juliet of the Spirits.) I have a bottle and I wear it maybe twice a year, and I have to dab it on very lightly or I´ll kill everyone around me with the sillage. Sicily (which has been d/c´d?) was a little too much sandalwood, but I probably should retry it now. The One (which I believe is widely available in the UK and elsewhere in Europe but not in the U.S.) is pretty enough but feels a bit like they were trying to recapture the success of Light Blue. And who can blame them?
Light Blue, which I am assuming you have smelled unless you are anosmic, or live in a yurt in Bhutan … well, you may want to sit down. I like the way Light Blue smells. I tried to hate it. Its dullsville ad campaign and mall ubiquity annoy me. It is everywhere (or at least anywhere Angel isn´t.) But it smells great, and there´s nothing I can do about it. Diva´s getting a bottle for her birthday at her request, and I can think of a lot of things I´d be less thrilled to smell on her. I have drenched myself liberally in Light Blue on several occasions, trying to trigger one of my hissy fits or petulant screeds, but instead found myself walking along eating a hot pretzel from one of those mall kiosks, humming cheerfully to myself. I´ll stop yakking about it now and move on (finally!) to By Man and By Woman.
A fragrance called “By” is a perfect illustration of the phenomenon Robin at NST, tmp00 and others have joked about: perfume designers who aren´t thinking of the google hardships when they name their fragrances. Try googling “by Dolce” to look for the fragrance and you´ll see what I mean. The notes for Woman are: clementine, bergamot, cyclamen, ginger lily, tiger lily, pittosporum, bourbon, coffee, sandalwood, cedarwood, and musk.
By Woman starts off on a spicy-citrus note (clementine and the lilies, most likely) and then rapidly moves on to the notes at the end of the above list – it is a more “masculine” smell than I expected, and even at the opening it´s a feline rather than feminine floral. The impression is something playful and sexy at the same time, like a woman dressed up in a panther costume rather than the panther itself. This is the sort of interestingly offbeat, attractively priced scent I wish were available near you, instead of the Ferragamo flankers and the entire fruity-floral army. It´s not unconventional along the lines of, say, Malle, or Serge Lutens, but it is certainly unusual; the coffee/woods drydown is extremely attractive, and I think someone smelling it at the latter stages might even place it by mistake in the men’s department. Women who like their scents less sweet might try it. If you google “Dolce By fragrance” and dig around it´s available online at various fragrance discounters.
By Man has notes of: hediones, pepper, nutmeg leaves, lavender, artemisia, sandalwood, leather, guiacwood, ambrox, amber. At first sniff it reminds me quite a bit of the gorgeous MDCI SB/1 (grapefruit, bergamot, violet leaves, white thyme, cardamom, lavender, ginger, cedarwood, vanilla and musk) now known as Invasion Barbare and carried by LuckyScent. The name Invasion Barbare doesn´t quite match up with the fragrance – instead, Invasion Barbare-SB/1 is the sort of elegant, woody fragrance that would be worn with a bespoke suit. D&G By Man, on the other hand, really cries out for one of those cornicelli nestled into some chest hair. (Those things are apparently to ward off the evil eye, and here I was thinking it was some sort of Italian horndog symbol.) By Man has SB1´s creamy, almost sweet gentle spiciness, with a more masculine leather-woods underlay. The hediones and ambrox give a particular luminous feel – as if you were smelling it on warm skin, and make it more sensual than swaggering (the men on Basenotes give it almost unanimous thumbs-up reviews but find it a lot more horndog). I like it very much, but I´m not really familiar enough yet with all the men´s fragrances out there to know what else it might remind folks of.
By Woman and By Man layer beautifully; I´d consider them both unisex. I´d love to hear opinions of anyone who´s worn these, and also – how do you feel about Light Blue or any of the rest of the Dolce line?
Giulietta degli Spiriti (1965) with sexbomb Sandra Milo and Giulietta Masina, imdb.com; Dolce images, polimaia.com.br