Sunday, January 18, 2015

His or Hers? 1: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

(Editorial note: the below post is a reblog from Il Mondo di Odore, which is no longer publicly accessible. Please excuse irrelevant seasonal remarks!)

I was suffering from ADD-oid symptoms long before the advent of the internet, so I cannot really get anything done unless there is some sort of structure in place. Having just completed an enormous project, I see liberty looming before me and have decided that it is time to return to this wonderful venue to post regularly along with a couple of my best fragrant friends, Aromi Erotici and Couture Guru! I am delighted that Couture Guru has decided to join this site as a regular contributor, and I know that everyone has already been enjoying his splendid reviews, myself naturally included.

A Warm Welcome to You, Couture Guru! 

(sorry I'm a bit late on this, but you know me...)

I was thinking about starting a new series here, “Tons of Tuberose,” specifically in honor of Couture Guru, the world's foremost tuberose enthusiast, and I may do that in the future, but I have to confess that of late I have become overwhelmed with the sheer number of tuberose perfume launches. Where to begin? Do we really need anything but Robert Piguet Fracas? These and other questions continue to plague my mind, so I have decided instead to satisfy another desire of mine, which is to comply with a promise I made a while back to Bryan Ross at From Pyrgos and Christos at Memory of Scent: to start reviewing more men's fragrances.

It occurred to me a couple of days ago that it might be fun to do a “His or Hers?” series, reviewing the made-for-men and made-for-women versions of same-named perfumes. One reason why this idea appeals to me is that many of us have been singing a refrain according to which all fragrances are more or less unisex. Is it really true? Why not put this little adage to the sniffing test?

A “His or Hers?” series would also be a great way for me to work through the mountain of men's fragrance samples which I have somehow managed to amass, while also providing me with the sort of structure I need in order to be able to get anything done! Without further ado, I present the first entry of His or Hers?

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (2001)

Now that Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue has been exalted by The Curator as a masterpiece of olfactory art, I decided that I'd better give it another sniff. I have never owned a bottle, but apparently this fragrance is wildly popular, and its popularity is bound to surge once again, allowing it to rise like a marketing phoenix as a result of the current exhibition—coinciding, I might add, with high holiday shopping season—at the Museum of Arts and Design. Talk about an ingenious marketing scheme... Bravo to the masterminds at P&G!

I've seen several reviewers compare this composition to Bond no 9 Scent of Peace, and I must say that in the opening seconds there is a definite overlap. One clear distinction between the two is the centrality of black currant from start to finish in Scent of Peace. Black currant is entirely absent from Light Blue. Moreover, once the bright and shiny SSRI opening has subsided, Light Blue—at least in its current formulation—dives immediately into a now tired iso-E-super plus ambroxan drydown in near ubiquity among men's colognes (somewhat ironic, given the explicitly targeted gender). So Light Blue is no longer original, if it once was. Was the trend begun by Light Blue? Or was Light Blue reformulated to conform with the trend? Qui peut savoir?

In the end, if this is what Light Blue always was, then I don't believe that I missed out on a great fragrance, pace The Curator. If this is only what Light Blue has become, then I must say that it is misleading to vaunt this current version as a masterpiece of anything but marketing. 

Perfumer: Oliver Cresp 
Notes (according to apple, cedar, bamboo, jasmine, rose, amber, musk, lemon tree

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue pour homme (2007)

Light Blue pour homme is not nearly so citric as its feminine counterpart (again, ironically, given our stereotypes), and it also is quite a bit more complex, offering light green and herbal elements up to and including moss—both evernia prunastri (oak moss) and evernia furfuracea (tree moss) are listed among the ingredients on my manufacturer's carded sample—which together give the overall composition a much more sophisticated demeanor, to my nose. Aromachemicals are fine as a booster, but when they take over a fragrance completely, as in Light Blue for women, then I just find them boring and hackneyed.

I am convinced that Light Blue pour homme is fully unisex. I am surprised, in fact, that hardly any women appear to have taken to this scent—at least judging by the reviews I've seen. I would definitely consider acquiring a bottle of this creation for hot-weather wear. I enjoy this combination of rosemary, moss, and juniper in a light woody base, and I do not find it aquatic in the least—good news for all aquatic/calone phobes. This composition seems to me obviously to be an aromatic, not an aquatic or citrus cologne. I am baffled, frankly, as to the comparisons I've seen of this fragrance to Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio, although I am not entirely sure whether I have tried the made-for-men version of that fragrance. There must be a sample of that somewhere around here—let's see if I can find it...

As usual, there seems to be a fair amount of divergence of opinion between “the experts” on these fragrances. I did notice in someone else's review that Light Blue pour homme won a FIFI in 2008, and I must say that I do not disagree with that award. For a mainstream designer fragrance, this is quite nice, and much better than the entire D&G Anthology series, in my opinion. (I know, I know: faint praise...)

Perfumer: ??? 
Notes (according to, with juniper added from bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, pepper, juniper, rosewood, rosemary, oakmoss, musky wood, frankincense

Concluding Assessment: His or Hers?

I do not believe that I was unduly influenced by the lagoon advertisements, but  in the end my choice is His in this case! I seem to be in the minority on the D&G Light Blue duo, finding the made-for-men version quite a bit more appealing than the lemon juice + loud aromachemicals that is Light Blue for women. Oh well, this won't be the first time that I have been a bell-curve outlier. What are bell curves for, after all, if not to exceed?  

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