Donna Karan Gold fragrance review

Donna Karan Gold

Donna Karan launched Gold earlier this year. The fragrance was created by perfumers Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux, and features notes of Casablanca lilies, fluid amber, sparkling acacia, white clove, jasmine templar, golden blossom and patchouli.

Last month I said that I thought Tom Ford's Black Orchid was perhaps the most impressive mainstream perfume release this year; Donna Karan's Gold may well get my vote for the prettiest. The top notes are crisp and summery, with lots of lily; as it calms, the lily is folded into the other floral notes — it is never cloying or heavy, as lily can sometimes be — and in general the fragrance has the "well-blended" aspect that distinguishes a modern department store floral. If you're a huge lily fan, you may find the whole thing too sheer for your taste; if you're not, it might be just the thing.

As it dries down, it gets warmer and takes on a pale, sueded amber finish with mild hints of spice. In the Eau de Toilette, it never gets more than middling-warm; the Eau de Parfum is both richer and warmer, and perhaps more appropriate to cold weather.

It is supposed to be "unabashedly sexy" (Women's Wear Daily, 6/9/06), but I can't say I find it so; "unabashedly pretty", however, I'll go for. Given how rare unabashedly pretty is in the department stores these days, I'm very surprised it hasn't garnered more of a following on the fragrance forums. Do comment: did you love it? Hate it? Couldn't care less?

Donna Karan Gold is available in Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum (in spray or rollerball), Parfum and Body Lotion. The Eau de Toilette is available now at imaginationperfumery; if you want the stronger concentrations, you'll have to pay full price at a department store. Do note that the pretty bottle shown above is the Eau de Parfum; the Eau de Toilette is in a clear glass bottle.

Tomorrow: Serge Lutens Un Lys

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I liked Gold very much indeed – but it has the strangest effect of making my lips tingle and go numb! Someone suggested this might be to do with the jasmine; I haven't had the same problem with other jasmine-rich scents, so I'm not sure. It really is very weird.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can't believe such a boring ho-hum fragrance was wasted on that bad ass bottle…. I would have that glass blown up and put it on my wall if I could! This stuff is so incredibly non-descript it makes me want to yawn when I smell it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Robin, I think it's a gorgeous fragrance — in general with DK, even if it's something I'm not wild for personally, I think they're very well done. Her fragrances have an aspect of feeling very much “from the heart” to me, if that makes any sense — there's a unity that makes me believe she's intimately involved in their development. She also has lily in a number of her fragrances; I think I read that it's a favorite flower of hers.
    Having said that – unlike anyone else, boy, I find this one VERY strong. The EDP is much more appealing, but it's a walk-through scent on me, right up there with Fracas.

  4. Anonymous says:

    On me, DKG has an unpleasant cucumber note. Not at all what I expected from the notes. This one doesn't work on me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow, that is unfortunate, and I'd suspect a sensitivity to a synthetic component before I'd suspect jasmine.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Really, boring & ho-hum? It just didn't strike me that way at all. But have a feeling more people agree with you than with me, LOL…

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree, DK does a great job with her scents, even though some of them (Be Delicious) I can't stand. But so surprised you find the EdT strong — I think most of the complaints I've seen on MUA have been the opposite — too weak & watery.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is something watery in the top notes that I can see being described as cucumber-ish, though it didn't strike me that way. Now I need to go smell it next to En Passant…

  9. Anonymous says:

    No, I should have been clearer — I don't find the EDT strong, but I don't like it, either — too sharp. So it's the EDP for me — you know me, mostly more is more ;-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    I found it amazingly strong, too. It reminded me a lot of Carnal Flower, which simply roars Huge Aggresive Floral at me. Not being a tuberose fan, I liked Gold much better.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bottle design for the new Donna Karan was done by Robert Lee Morris. I like the bottle better than the juice! Very much like his hammered jewelry.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the EdP is softer. I think maybe I like sharp, LOL…and I'm probably closer to “less is more” :-)

  13. Anonymous says:

    Now see, CF doesn't scream at me either. Fracas screams at me, but I like the screaming ;-)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks P, I so rarely remember to pay attention to the bottle designer. Will check out his work!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful review. I must agree that this is a very well done fragrance. While I can't pretend to identify all the notes it supposedly contains, I do know a well-constructed fragrance when I encounter one. In general, since Estee Lauder acquired the fragrance license (not sure who held it before), DK's concoctions have improved immeasurably – does anyone else recall the stinkbomb that was 'Chaos'? How about 'DKNY Fuel'? Hope I haven't offended anyone – it's just my humble opinion that those were heinous. I'm pretty certain that the only DK fragrance that Lauder has NOT had a hand in creating is 'Cashmere Mist'. How Ms. Karan managed to get that one right remains a mystery.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm.. I took a whiff of Gold yesterday at Macy's. It just didn't do it for me.. I thought it was boring. But perhaps, I need to try it on my skin before making that judgement. Many years ago I was a HUGE fan of Cashmere Mist, actually I still like it but I've grown away from it. I'm just not sure what DK was trying to invoke with Gold fragrance.. The bottle itself is quite artistic. Reminds me of that movie, “Titus”.. Very old Rome..

  17. Anonymous says:

    Before EL, DK tried to do the beauty line in-house, and apparently lost a lot of money (according to WWD, around $20 million).

    Just got a sample of Chaos & haven't had a chance to try it, but must tell you that it has its own little rabid cult following who pay enormous prices on ebay. Fuel I've never even heard of!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I don't know what she was trying to do either. It isn't as “evocative” as Black Cashmere or Cashmere Mist, and doesn't have the youth appeal of Be Delicious or Red Delicious. Its just a really pretty floral, and I think very well done, and that is getting so rare that I don't find it dull, LOL…the number of recent mainstream/dept store florals that don't have too much sugar and/or fruit for me are very, very few.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Fuel is otherwise known as DK Men: I believe the tagline was “Fuel For Men”. It was a suede-and-tobacco scent in a spectacular bottle by Donna Karan's sculptor husband; it fit into your hand like a combination stick-shift and gun (you pulled a trigger to shoot the scent onto yourself) and it had a surface that patinated with age. You can see the bottle and read about the scent at Basenotes (, but trust me: the list of notes doesn't tell you anything about the scent, which suggests, among other things, L'Eau de Navigateur and M7. It had a gasoliney note that was removed for its sequel, DK Men Unleaded. They're both discontinued now, unfortunately.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I definitely agree about the recent mainstream fragrances that are too sweet… I definitely have to get a sample of Gold and try it on my skin… If I have to go by memory, I would say Gold reminds me of hanging out in NYC at night, perhaps at some trendy club…?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well, I only sprayed this once in a store (I think it was the EdT), but not only did I find it very strong, there was something in there that made me queasy. I should mention that I usually really like strong perfumes–but something here clearly disagreed with me. Not sure what it was–this was during the sniffa and I was sniffing tons of fumes, so I just put it down as a “no” and went on.

    Note to julien–I adore Chaos (and I am far from alone.:)

  22. Anonymous says:

    That sounds interesting — Navigateur & M7 are both great scents. And love the idea of “Unleaded”. Will have to see if I can find samples.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Looks like you aren't alone in not loving Gold, so I wouldn't necessarily go out of your way to try it again ;-)

  24. Anonymous says:

    This will not come as a surprise to you at all. I hated it. I felt that if I don't scrub it off, I will suffocate. Never cloying or heavy, eh? Well, not for your EFT :-)

  25. Anonymous says:

    The Sniffa obviously brings on overload, LOL…but reading all the comments above, you're not alone. Many people seem to find it too sharp or too strong.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Well I knew *you* hated it, LOL…

  27. Anonymous says:

    Robin, beautiful review! I got on MUA i think, when i didn't see a review from you and the amount of comments for people who hated it was overwhelming. I thought i was crazy in absolutely loving it. i did my favorite thing when wearing a scent i adore: walk down city streets and shop.. since a good fragrance puts me in a good mood. The scent on me is warm and creamy and i just want to eat my arm. I love it.. now that I'm not crazy I'm going to grab a bottle. A handbag i put back in rotation had a sample in it, making a lovely aroma…… i fell in love all over again!

  28. Anonymous says:

    It definitely appears to be a “love it or hate it”, and it has its share of haters on MUA to be sure. But there are a few people there that always comment positively! And I always think it is better that way — everyone and their sister won't be wearing it, which is what seems to be happening with Juicy Couture at the moment ;-)

  29. Anonymous says:

    LILAC! Oh my, “Gold” is like being lost in a lilac bush while wrapped in honeysuckle. Perhaps with a couple of violets matted in the hair. Not a bad thing for me, really, since I admire all three blooms but I'm amazed that it never developed into the jasmine that I anticipated. Lovely enough…very creamy-smooth, but I have no idea if I'd wear this! If so, this will be a long courtship…

  30. Anonymous says:

    No lilies at all?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well I'm a guy so this is definitely a fragrance I wouldn't wear myself, but I love floral fragrances, specially tropical creamy and heady florals like gardenia, tuberose and frangipani. IMO DKG is one of the best “non tropical” floral based perfumes that I've smelled recently. My first impression was…oh!, Lilacs!, but then it developed a nice silky lily note that was just like the fragrance of my giant crinum lilies wafting in the breeze at evening. I can smell some jasmine and other narcotic floral notes in it as well, but it's more like a complement to the lily notes. The ambry “heart” is very well done and don't overtakes the lily bouquet. Yes it's quite strong, so I think is a fragrance is to be used very lightly, but it would smell wonderful on a woman. I don't find it a boring scent at all.

  32. Anonymous says:

    So glad to find someone else who thinks it is lovely — I really don't think it is selling well in the US at all, although I am basing that only on what I read. I think it is a shame, as I completely agree that it is one of the best of the recent “non tropical” florals.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I must now broaden my scent definition of “lily” ;). I think the creaminess of “Gold” throws me off. I know many people mistake jasmine for lilac, but “Gold” reminds me of lilac and honeysuckle. It's a lovely scent; wearable and very unique. I like it very much. It reminds me a little of “Sicily” by D&G, but with a creamier finish.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it is very creamy, and it looks like many people smell as much lilac as lily.

    I need to re-try Sicily, have only tried it very quickly and hardly remember it.

  35. Anonymous says:

    This fragrance was such a disappointment to me. I was expecting to love it – love Donna Karan, love lilies, love amber…but on my skin, this smells exactly like a lily and nothing else! No interesting changes, no spices, no amber! Gorgeous bottle, but I don't think it represents the juice inside very well, neither does its name (I don't think of lilies when I hear the word “gold”). I was hoping Gold would do for lilies what Stella did for roses, but alas…just not for me. Glad others can enjoy it!

  36. Anonymous says:

    So sorry you didn't like it — it is certainly getting a mixed reception! I'm not sure it is quite “Gold” either.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I hope more women will give this one a try. At first I found it a little “obvious” but repeated tries on my skin and some real attention paid to the unfolding subtleties has made me totally fall in love. It's so beautifully-made, the dry-down is lovely, haunting at every stage, the sillage is just phenomenal. . .Patience has paid off! It puts me in a great mood every time I wear it, and it has the pretty personality to work well all through the day, from morning at the office to in the evening.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Glad it has found another fan — it needs every one it can get ;-)

  39. Anonymous says:

    Definitely. Funny it hasn't taken off. I wonder why. (I guess it's good, in the sense that I won't be smelling myself in every office cubicle at work as can happen with the popular likes of J'Adore et al.) You know, the gold and black EDP bottle is just exquisite as well.

  40. Anonymous says:

    The EdP bottle is perfect. I don't know why it hasn't taken off, except that it isn't a trendy scent at all.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Somewhere else we were discussing niche scents, and I'm wondering if DKG has fallen through the categorical cracks somehow: not niche enough to appeal to the nichers, and not mainstream ehough to appeal to the masses. A shame. Well, I'm launching a one-woman crusade here in Vancouver!

  42. Anonymous says:

    That might be it — the Be Delicious range is very mainstream, Gold & Black Cashmere, less so, although BC has a pretty big fan base despite that.

  43. Anonymous says:

    True. Then it's a stylistic thing; I guess florals themselves without interesting “niche” type twists fall through the cracks. Ah well, I'm enjoying my lack of fashionability tremendously anyway!!

  44. Anonymous says:

    Ok I just really discovered this one and I LOVE IT. My coworker got a couple free samples in the mail a couple months ago (random) and is allergic to most perfumes so she asked me if I wanted them. At first try I was a bit “eh” so I threw the samples in my bag and forgot about them. But, I went out of town last weekend and forgot perfume and ended up using the samples. I'm so glad I did! I wore it on a night out and I totally loved it. The scent kept unfolding, with slightly different layers coming out and I love the way the white clove compliments the lily. I may have scared some friends the way I kept sniffing myself. So, late convert but convert none the less.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the club — of Gold lovers and obsessive self-sniffers :-)

  46. Anonymous says:

    Hey…I'm on my 2 + 1/2 time trying DKG, and yes, I have cucumber at the midpoint. Spritzed once, late afternoon, was just running some errands…who knows what delurks the lurking notes?

    I still find this one has potential, as a sharper floral…I kind of like the cucumber (or whatever) edge for summer/heat.

  47. Anonymous says:

    If you like it, you might want to buy soon — I”m hearing rumors it is discontinued.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I bought it. I love it.. I hope it's not going to be discontinued. lol

    I don't like lilies that punch me in the face, so it works incredibly well and does it's job. Those who give it a boring or weak tag, I don't know what they are looking for… A perfume that can be smelled a mile away? This lasts the entire day for me.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I worry about this one…seems to have been pulled from lots of stores. Might be worth hoarding…

  50. Anonymous says:

    I've noticed the same thing. I could not find it anywhere and had to buy it online. It's still on her beauty website though.

  51. So, this is really great! It is a recommandation from some expert here from the blog :-) and I think I really love it.

    • Robin says:

      I’m hoping it isn’t discontinued :-(

  52. RusticDove says:

    HI Robin – I have a 1.7 oz bottle of the eau de parfum which looks like the bottle pictured above. I thought I liked this scent – but have come to the conclusion that it gets a little weird on me. Since reading your blog, I have discovered that people trade perfumes online and I would love to swap this for something else. Is there a particular site you would recommend for such a thing? Thank you for your help!

  53. scented1 says:

    A few years back I was given a sample. I hated it on first wearing because it was so foreign to what I had been accoustomed to wearing. Scrubbed it off and didn’t revisit it again until I came across the vial quite a few months later and tried it again. I slowed down and re-evaluated the scent that had been an initial unfamilar assault and recognized the innocent lilly in the space and gave it another try.

    I immediately took myself to Saks and purchased that beautiful gold bottle!

    • Robin says:

      Always worth giving something a second shot, no? Glad you fell in love with it.

  54. mals86 says:

    I love lilies, and was intrigued by the reviews of this one. I was lucky enough to snag a 1 oz bottle of the edp on evilbay for… drumroll… $7! The bottle had a smudge of black on one side, but that came off with a little hit of rubbing alcohol.

    Not particularly long-lasting on me, although I seem to have that problem a lot. I get 4 hours, which is decent for my skin, of lily and clove, and a very soft amber-wood drydown. Pretty.

    • Robin says:

      Wow, fabulous buy, congrats! Glad you like it too.

  55. Wingfield says:

    I found a 50ml bottle of this on sale the other day in edp formulation and snapped it up. There was no tester so I took a chance, unfortunately it didn’t pay off. I sprayed it on one wrist and I loved the beginning and the first hour or so but as it starts to dry down it becomes poisonously and clausterphobically sweet on me. So disappointing. If anyone knows of someone looking for a bottle of Gold with only one spray gone out of the bottle, point em in my direction will ya!

    • Robin says:

      What a shame! Hope you’ll find it a new home.

  56. jonr951 says:

    I found a 1.7oz bottle of Gold 2day at TJmaxx. I was so tempted to buy it cuz I remember really liking it when it first came out. Its been gone 4ever. I cant remember the smell very much so I decided not to get it. And I just got me 4 new ones ystrday. I have to control myself. : (

    • Robin says:

      Glad you showed restraint!! But do tell me how much it was?

  57. jonr951 says:

    I believe it was 29.99.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks! When it gets down to $19.99, I’m buying :-)

  58. jonr951 says:

    Yeah me 2!!!

  59. poppy field says:

    Bagged a 30ml edp for £10 which arrived today and am sniffing myself whilst reading all the comments here :-D It’s not my usual style (heavy bias towards orientals, gourmands and incenses) but for a tenner it was worth the risk! Currently undecided – I can see the beauty in it but don’t feel entirely ‘me’ wearing it. Will see where it takes me…

    • Robin says:

      Great deal! Hope you’ll fall in love with it eventually.

  60. jonr951 says:

    So when I 1st found Gold it was the 1.7oz for 29.99. I just found the 3.4oz 2day for 29.99 too! I was so tempted!! I might have 2 give in soon!

    • Robin says:

      That’s a lot of Gold though! Hope it has a long shelf life.

  61. dee says:

    Just got my 1oz edp today, and it smells delightful ($2.99 on ebay).
    My first lily, and I think it’s a good starting point–so creamy and bright– I’m looking forward to trying more lily!

    • Robin says:

      Wow, what a deal — congrats!

  62. shanon says:

    I was out doing perfume shopping today and nothing struck me the way this perfume did back when I got it. It’s been a few years and I haven’t seen it. After reading everyone’s comments about snagging it for cheap at different places, does this mean that it’s no longer being made? I wound up buying YSL’s Parisenne (which is so much different than DK’s Gold). If Gold is no longer being made maybe I can get over it and move on to a new fragrance…. Thanks for the info! =)

    • Robin says:

      I am not 100% sure it has been discontinued, but I understand it did not sell well, and it’s no longer listed on the Donna Karan website. So my guess is that it’s no longer in production.

  63. wendy05 says:

    Can anyone please comment on the two different kinds of packaging? I know about the bottles — clear for edt and the nice gold sides for the edp, but on the bay i see edp’s in black boxes, but also in gold boxes.. which is the older packaging, and is the juice different, too? thanks!!

    • Robin says:

      I’m afraid I have no idea, sorry!

  64. bluegardenia says:

    I’m a few years late to this one, but wow. I’ve just sampled the parfum. What a stunningly beautiful fragrance. I’m hard pressed to remember anything in recent memory that is as enjoyable to wear. I’m shocked to read all the comments and even more so that it was discontinued! Still seems available for cheap online though, thank goodness. 3.4 oz FB, here I come! This one is going to get a lot of use.

    • Robin says:

      So glad you found a bottle before it’s gone!

  65. Oakland Fresca says:

    I love this fragrance. Just found 1.7 oz bottles of the eau de parfum for $18.99 on Caveat– I received the old bottle, which is wonderful with the hammered metal on the sides (not what is shown in the picture) and no box. Parfum needed a few sprays before it hit its stride. Am now obsessively sniffing my wrists throughout the day to catch the layers… Not for everyone tho. It is definitely a fuzzy smell, not crisp, and the trajectory of the notes seems to change every time I wear it. If you do not like lily, this is probably not the perfume for you. But if you’ve been looking for a sweet deal to replace your last flask, this might work. Did for me.

Leave a reply