Donna Karan's new Pure DKNY fragrance is reportedly built around a "drop of vanilla in water" — and not just any drop of vanilla, mind you, but a drop of vanilla ethically sourced from a women's agriculture project in Uganda; as part of a collaborative project with CARE, "nearly 1,000 women [in Uganda] will gain new business skills".1 The packaging is recyclable, and the outer box uses low-VOC inks on certified forest paper. All of that environmental and humanitarian goodness, hopefully, will help the end consumer to relax and enjoy their purchase: Pure DKNY notes that in today's fast-paced world, "you need a moment of calm, to find beauty in living simply".
The "calm" and "living simply" evoked by Pure DKNY, mind you, is a very modern sort of "calm" and "living simply" — the opening smells entirely synthetic, and recalls any number of FRESH FRESH FRESH fragrances of the past 10+ years. I believe Donna Karan is calling Pure DKNY a floral, but Michael Edwards classifies it as a fresh water and that's a better fit: in case you didn't take me seriously when I said FRESH FRESH FRESH, let me say it again — this is a very fresh fragrance, and it's rather loud about it in the early stages. The floral notes are transparent, watery and vague, and for the most part, front-loaded: they don't really last long into the dry down.
What's left after an hour is something of a skin scent: pale wood, musk, a bit of vanilla. It's soft and only lightly sweet, and it's got an almost-powdered, velvety finish. It's still terribly clean — it teeters on the edge of laundry-detergent / dryer sheet territory, although it doesn't have the harsh edge of some such fragrances. I have seen a few complaints about the lasting power, but I found it quite good; the vanilla skin musk part makes it through most of the day.
The Pure DKNY fragrance is a good fit with the Pure DKNY fashion range, which is all about casual, relaxed comfort (Donna Karan has explained the inspirations for the Pure DKNY line with references to yoga and her weekends in the Hamptons). So, let's say you want a very clean, eco-friendly perfume, but you're not really a granola cruncher — you want your clean, eco-friendly perfume to come from a department store, and you want it to have a designer name on it, and you're not particularly interested in a natural product. Voilà, here it is.
Pure DKNY is pleasant and likable; although if you don't like aggressively clean fragrances, you might find it more so after the first hour has passed. If you're after something clean and casual, it's worth a shot, although I don't think it's likely to excite many perfumistas either way.
Donna Karan Pure DKNY is available in 30 ($42), 50 ($60) and 100 ($80) ml Eau de Parfum. The notes include vanilla, dew-drop petal accord, lotus, rose, transparent jasmine, freesia, orchid, white amber and sandalwood.
1. Via Women's Wear Daily, 2/5/2010.