Donna Karan DKNY Men ~ fragrance review

Donna Karan DKNY Men 2009 fragrance

We are living in the age of Queen Melon (née Calone) and King Violet Leaf; those two notes are dominating so many releases of the last year and a half that when I smell those notes in a fragrance I lose interest almost immediately. I don't dislike melon and violet leaf, but smelling them in fragrance after fragrance over a long period of time has dulled their effect on me. So here comes Donna Karan's DKNY Men (late to the violet leaf party) lagging behind other recent violet leaf-heavy scents such as Narciso Rodriguez For HimDsquared2 He Wood, Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme and Burberry The Beat For Men (to name just a few).

DKNY Men was created by perfumers Alberto Morillas and Harry Fremont and contains bergamot, mandarin, juniper, sage, white pepper, cardamom, lavender, violet leaf, jasmine, cedar, patchouli, orris and vetiver.  DKNY Men opens with warm bergamot, violet leaf, and a touch of mandarin. The fragrance does not change much after the first few minutes on skin, and as the fragrance dries down, it resembles a slightly happier Burberry The Beat for Men (but with less cedar, slightly less-obnoxious violet leaf, and added patchouli). There is a brief hint of pepper in DKNY Men that smells salty-aquatic (pepper mixing with violet leaf-calone-ozone?). If you like Burberry The Beat for Men but want no "sweat", try DKNY Men. The base of DKNY Men is sweet-woody with violet leaf still discernible.

DKNY Men fragrance bottle

DKNY Men is aimed at a "young urban"* audience (men ages 25-45). Donna Karan said, "DKNY Men is all about the man and the city. It takes a certain kind of guy to live and thrive in New York [and] I wanted a scent to speak to his unique style and strength."* Goodness, this theme of New York, New York ("if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere!") is as tired an idea as too much violet leaf in colognes for men. I enjoy many Donna Karan fragrances; Karan's perfumes stand out (in a good way) from other mainstream designer offerings. If past Karan perfumes were influenced by her esthetic, I wonder why DKNY Men is so unoriginal?

DKNY Men has excellent lasting power and sillage; it's available in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($35-65) and in matching grooming products.

* Women's Wear Daily, 2/13/2009

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36 Comments

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  1. wildheaven says:

    Hi Kevin, I’m with you in this one, nice but boring…probably perfumers are trying to find the ultimately boring fragrance to replace Acqua di Gio for Men as #1 best-seller…

    • SmokeyToes says:

      Well good luck with that.

  2. Kevin says:

    wildheaven: apparently, AdGio is unstoppable!

  3. Karin says:

    Oooh! Mark Vanderloo! He’s a doll…

  4. Carlos BFL 319 says:

    Tried this at Macy’s recently. Fits right in with the rest of the other boring lineup there. I dont think I’ve ever owned a bottle of any DKNY. My other bottles have been fiending for Chaos and Fuel to share their cabinet space though.

    24 hours…Julian still hissing as if Sebastion is the Devil. Not happy about that.

    • Kevin says:

      C: I like Chaos, Wenge too. (Cats! If any meds got on S’s fur that could be the problem…SURELY tomorrow will be better….)

    • Daisy says:

      Is that Julian in your gravatar? He’s quite regal with that ruff.

      • Carlos BFL 319 says:

        Actually that’s Sebastion Daisy. He appreciates the kind words, but the SCRUFF is actually a SCARF! HA!

        • Carlos BFL 319 says:

          I meant RUFF is a SCARF. :-)

          • Daisy says:

            Well, then Sebastian is quite regal in his winter weather gear.

            Ah, I see…Sebastian and Julian have had words, as it were. It sounds as though one had a stay at the vet’s and the other is unhappy about it. Dirty looks will be exchanged for awhile, that’s what happens around here.

  5. SmokeyToes says:

    Violet orris, vetiver and Patchouli? This is right up my alley, I must give this a try….. and my hubby could wear it too, even better…. :)

    • Kevin says:

      Smoky Toes: your nose may be better than mine, but I didn’t smell half the listed notes….

  6. gblue says:

    Donna Karan fragrances are good. DKNY fragrances are not. DKNY Men is so dull :(

    • Kevin says:

      gblue: one has to be careful with most fragrances aimed at a ‘young’ audience (that is when the company TELLS you a fragrance is aimed at a young audience…esp. a MALE young audience!)

  7. Carlos BFL 319 says:

    Kev…do you like Black Cashmere? Is it uni…or strictly fem?

    • Kevin says:

      C: it’s been so long since I smelled BC…maybe someone else will comment but I remember it as “feminine.” Check and see if Robin reviewed it…I think she did (but will have to check!)

      • Kevin says:

        C: Robin said: “It is decidedly sexy, and I should think anyone, male or female, could wear it.” SO I’ll have to resniff.

        • Carlos BFL 319 says:

          Ok cool! Thanks Kev and (((ROBIN)) !

    • SmokeyToes says:

      Carlos, I wear Black Cashmere and love it. It is fem, but I get the impression a man could wear it too. To me, it’s a dry woodsy incense scent. It is verrry sexy.

      • Carlos BFL 319 says:

        Thanks Smoky Toes.

  8. Joe says:

    Oh, thank goodness!! According to their marketing position statement I still fall into the category of YOUNG URBAN. Thank you, DKNY!

    Kevin, I can never have me enough violet leaf. I’d like to find a bed of violet leaf to roll around in, please. However, I don’t need a shelf-full of various mass-market violet-leaf scents, mostly because what the accord is often combined with is so boring and unoriginal. I still need to try that Burberry The Beat for Him (BTBfM?), but NR for Him didn’t do a thing for me. I still need that FB of HeWood, however.

    It’s enjoyable to see a non-film-celeb advertising model older than, oh, 26, in a fragrance ad campaign also.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: Indeed, he’ll be out of the marketing range for this scent in short order! (and good point: violet leaf is combined with the same old notes over and over and over again….)

    • Rick says:

      So, is anyone making anything for the OLD RURAL client, as in “gentleman farmer”?

      • Kevin says:

        Rick: HAHA! Good one…but I’m sorry to say I’ve never come upon marketing materials like that…even in Merrie Olde Englande (where one thinks there could be a possibility of such a scent!) But thankfully there are many scents a gentleman farmer could wear with pleasure….

  9. krokodilgena says:

    NY kind of makes me think of American Apparel.
    I used to want to move to NY but I think it’s probably the most boring city on Earth. Like more boring than Falls Church, VA.

    What does violet leaf smell like?

    • Kevin says:

      krokodilgena: American Apparel is based in L.A. I do believe…and smell some HeWood … that has a strong violet leaf aroma. (I love New York…the museums and galleries, I’m an art fiend, opera, shops, close proximity to Europe…I’m just tired of the old marketing ploys…as if New Yorkers are a different species of humankind and being “tested” by New York is the biggest test of all!)

      • krokodilgena says:

        I wanted to move to New York because I wanted to be an ~*artist*~, and I applied and was accepted to Pratt so I was kind of destined to be a New York art student
        I have never seen a bottle of HeWood in person ever

    • Carlos BFL 319 says:

      Really? I’ve never heard anyone call NY boring. I live here and there is ALWAYS something to see, do, visit, dance, shop, sniff, walk, eat, party, wear, pray, yoga, meditate, workout, fish, swim, subway, taxi, rave, lounge, music, AHHHH too much to do. HA!

  10. Honestly, this is one of the worst men things that got under my nose. It is not really bad, it is just so annoying and disappointing. And this is not only my opinion, some of my friends did not like it either – just one had some nice words for the packaging.
    It’s a mixture of too much stuff thrown together.

    • Kevin says:

      mybeautyblog: it’s very ‘old’, as in done too many times

  11. rickbr says:

    Kevin, I think this is because DK Brand is administrated by Estee Lauder know.

    Well, you’re right about Gucci by Gucci. I got bored of it, in the end i thought it was too light and bland, and swapped it for something more interesting, a bottle of terre d’herme.

    • Kevin says:

      RICK: EL had their hands all over this, you’re right.

  12. HDS1963 says:

    I hate to disagree with Kevin on this – we normally agree on so much. But I tried this the other day when out with my girlfriend and I really liked it. Not as much as her however, she responded like a cat on catnip… I’ve had to buy a bottle as a result.

    I don’t think this is half bad actually as a designer fragrance. It lasts a long time and smells more expensive than it deserves to.

    • kaos.geo says:

      I agree with you.
      I liked it. It smells more expensive than it deserves to.
      The bottle is nice, the cap is nicer.

      I can certainly picture myself wearing this.
      Perhaps it does some trick with my body chemistry, as I find it slightly sexy too. (does not smell like that on paper)

      For the record, I do not consider myself someone with sexy-chemistry, as several perfumes I’d love to wear en up smelling foul on me. So I guess I am lucky and should buy a bottle of this! :-D

      • HDS1963 says:

        “Sexy” is exactly the word my girlfriend used to describe it. She was positively weak at the knees… I wasn’t complaining, lol.

        • HDS1963 says:

          Oh and another thing. This LASTS, 12 hours on today’s evidence.

          The drydown is really lovely, I don’t see what the problem is. I disagree with an earlier poster, this is not another dull member of the designer parade in countless outlets. It’s really rather good…

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