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 Him, Dsquared2 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 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