Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur (1999) is sadly yet another testament to how creative and unique one of the first niche perfume houses used to be, but is no longer. Jean Laporte left Sisley to start L'Artisan Parfumeur, citing a need for return to artistry in the perfume industry after years of watching it increasingly become more under the creative control of soulless marketing ghouls, and after having only been with the former brand -which he also helped start - for only a few years. Ultimately, Laporte would leave L'Artisan too by 1983, selling the brand to Cradle Holdings, then emerging at the helm of Maître Parfumeur et Gantier in 1988; a brand focusing on taking French perfumery aesthetically back to it' 17th century roots, when the indulgence of the noble classes spared no expense in composition and cared not about marketing to the unwashed masses. L'Artisan Parfumeur made a great many artistic and memorable fragrances, all truly niche in their limited appeal to the general public, but they sold at a modest premium and the brand had lifelong buyers. Like Jean-Claude Ellena's L'Eau de Navigateur by L'Artisan Parfumeur (1982) before it, Olivia Giacobetti's Dzing! was among the perfumes most signature to her developing style as a perfumer, and also like L'Eau de Navigateur, was brutally murdered ironically at the hands of those same soulless marketing ghouls, now in possession of L'Artisan Parfumeur itself. There's no escaping the grim reaper of late-stage capitalism, and the bill always comes due, as it will for us all before too long with the way the world is shaping up thanks to them. Please excuse the bit of nihilism, but it's hard not to be when watching the world literally burn in the fires of greed.
So the point of Dzing! was to be a recollection of Olivia's in perfume form, an impression of visiting the circus from her memory. These days both Byredo, Maison Margiela Replica, and Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle all try this same shtick with varying degrees of accuracy, and for much more money than L'Artisan did. Dzing! therefore has some woody bits, some hay-like and musky bits, plus some sweetness redolent of cotton candy or toffee found at an old English traveling circus. Dzing! takes some cues from Dertrand Duchaurfour's Méchant Loup by L'Artisan Parfumeur (1997) which came out a few years before, but amps up the barnyard musk and hay aspects a bit, at least in the beginning. The opening of Dzing! will be the most challenging aspect of the perfume, with sour apple and cotton candy gourmand notes crisscrossed with urinous hyrax-like musks and suede leather notes. Eventually the hay-like tonka moves in, dry and not at all like the usual tobacco stuff you see in men's fragrances. Saffron, ginger, and what smells to me like suederal comprise most of the heart, before cedarwood raw materials and something like the old 70's style "fur rug" tonquitone musk notes finish this off. This switcheroo from unpleasant to pleasant animal musks is what makes Dzing! such a hoot and holler for both vintage nuts and niche lovers, not to mention muskophiles who love anything stanky, but the end game of Dzing! isn't to be overtly stank, since the cedar and fluffiness offer some clean in the end too. Wear time is moderate, as is sillage, and Dzing! is no horny monster like some may paint it to be. As a somewhat lighter leather fragrance, I think you can get away with wearing Dzing! in most seasons save the dead heat of summer.
How much this really smells like a circus is really up to you, as I've personally never been to a proper three-ring circus in my life, and somehow I don't think Cirque du Soleil counts. What I do know is Dzing! smells a bit more like how I would have liked Méchant Loup to smell, since that one was supposed to be horny werewolf bait and when I wore it, I was left stood up by my big fuzzy musclebound date for lackluster animal magnetism. In any case, Dzing! may seem wild and crazy to noses used to big ambroxan clean fragrances, but still doesn't hold a candle to the classic whorehouse smells like Jicky by Guerlain (1882), Moustache by Rochas (1949), Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez (1982), or even Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent (1981). It's a shame really, most of those are discontinued too, as people are just so afraid of getting their hands dirty to smell good these days. At the end of the day, Dzing! is a bit of a sheep in wolf's clothing, coming out of the gate growling like a paper tiger, then succumbing to the clean cedar and cozy tonkin vibe in the base, starting off like an unhinged Michelle Pfieffer Catwoman only to go all seductress mode like Ertha Kitt Catwoman in the end. I do like Dzing! but I wouldn't pay the insane finder's fee prices of scalpers online now that L'Artisan Parfumeur has axed it along with most of what made the house so appealing. If there's ever an argument for the "Shadow of Its Former Self" accusation lobbed by nostalgia-drunk vintage gatekeepers, it's with the fate of the house responsible for this perfume. L'Artisan Parfumeur helped kick off the niche segment in protest of cynical market-driven perfume, and now like most of that segment itself, has come under control by the same cynics it sought to escape. Thumbs up
Another masterpiece from Olivia Giacobetti Absolutely fabulous, sublime, elegant, flamboyant, luxurious.One of a kind and one of the best perfumes and leather scents ever made. A night walk by the fairground attraction: flashing lights, roller coaster hysteria, indecipherable words, sounds and smells invading and assaulting your 5 senses; cotton candy, caramelized apples, steamy hot dogs, leather accords coming from jackets, animals, and purses; red sexy lipstick , fur neck scarves dressing women from black and white pictures and suddenly you are inside the circus and the whole place becomes an olfactory accord. Oh Lord! the leather smells so good and so sexy! An imaginary journey to the Circus and its surroundings.
Dzing! Is supposed to be an olfactive portrait of a trip to the circus, like a scratch-and-sniff accompaniment to the Beatles' Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. John Lennon famously said, I want to smell the sawdust. And, the great Olivia Giacobetti executes this, with style, panache, and animalic stank for miles.
The perfume opens with big blast of bergamot, followed by a rising, massive, cloud of cedar, leather, and white-pepper horse poo. It is the kind of animalic leather accord, that could cause some confusion, regarding the state of the wearer's hygiene. It is so horsey, that it takes me back to my grandparents' farm in the South Texas Valley, the dust and hay and weirdly comforting scent of freshly mucked stalls.
It settles into a musky leather accord, that is rough and furry, like the animal musk in dirty mustachiod 70s perfumes, like Jovān's Musk for Men, elegant musks like Kiehl's Original Musk, Serge Luten's floral Musk Kublai Khan, and Parfum d'Empire's Musc Tonkin. It is a ketone musk, the artificial substitute for Tonkin Deer Musk (the real thing has become fashionable again, thanks to Bortnikoff and his sustainable deer musk perfumes).
The musk is assimilated into the dry, funky leather, which begins to take on the vegetative, resinous, almost caramelized sweetness of labdanum, itself a furry-smelling substance that used to be harvested from goat beards using a rake-like combing device, and even in cultivated form has a goaty smell that reminds me of childhood misadventures at petting zoos (a goat once managed to untie and swallow most of a grosgrain belt off of one of my little jumpsuits, before my mum intervened, and rescued both me and the belt, from the goat's overenthusiastic chewing).
It is a genius transition, as the sweet edge of the labdanum, leads to a swelling, delicious scent of buttery, toasty esters, the popcorn in Dzing!'s conceptual, virtual circus. The perfume balances, like a seal on a beach ball, the animalic leather accord, with an animalic amber, that reminds me of Profumum Roma's fabulous Fiore d'Ambra, one of the greatest celebrations of labdanum in modern perfumery. I also smell a teeny, almost subliminal, hint of cotton candy, another circus element, that lingers in a puffy cloud, as the perfume darkens, in a long sunset, over the tents, and wagons, and animals bedding down for the night.
Dzing! Is one of the great L'Artisans, a landmark in niche perfumery, that belongs with the house's other mid period masterpieces, such as Bertrand Duchaufour's vetiver duo of Timbuktu and Dzongkha (btw, this house and its Dz names, am I right?), his equally magnificent orange-blossom/beeswax Seville a'L'Aube, and his iris tour-de-force Traversée du Bosphore, his savage incense Al Oudh, and Giacobetti's creepy incense Rue d'Infer, a masterful run of niche perfumery classics, that L'Artisan Parfumeur has, unfortunately, probably, left behind, as their new corporate masters at Puig, have left behind, just like they have spoiled the house's lovely packaging, with grim gray glass, that replaced their sparkling, clear, colorfully labeled bottles.
Dzing! packs a punch. It projects in about a three foot radius, and it lasts for at least twelve hours, in its final phases, a gradually boozy amber, that could perhaps be imagined as drunken carnies, relaxing after a day's work, of wrangling horses, elephants, big cats, and crowds of people. From its marketing , I expected it to fall further on the gourmand, than the leather, spectrum, as its featured vanilla and amber, listed in L'Artisan's description, are largely subsumed beneath its beastly animalics. It is a scent that leather, and certain amber, junkies will love, but it is likely not for people, who don't like strong musks and barnyard accords. Nevertheless, this it necessary exploratory smelling, for anyone who wants to expand their palate, and understand, what great niche perfumery, with brilliant execution and artistic direction, can, and should be. There is literally nothing else like it. On my personal rating system, I give it four and a half stars, as I sometimes find it a difficult perfume to wear, I definitely have to be in the mood for it, but when I am in a Dzing! mood, it is like the old Snickers as copy–it really satisfies. I wish I had purchased a bottle, a couple of years ago, when Puig bought L'Artisan Parfumeur, and the gray market had been flooded with discount bottles, with the old packaging. If you are reading this, and have an old unfinished bottle, that you would like to sell, send me a message, please. Until then, my 10ml decant, will probably get me through the cold months left in this winter, and cooler days in the spring. Thumbs, absolutely, up!!
Dense, tufted clouds of smoky incense-like and charred, smoldering oud. Drifting into a series of long abandoned sea caves, thick with the musty dust of time long ago past. Or, for a more modern take, riding the water attraction at an amusement park, waves of excess water splashing into the adjacent petting zoo. There's a hint of dried down feces, hide, and dampened dirt, straw and sawdust trodden into the earth. It's rather animalistic in nature, and oddly, not unpleasant. I don't get a sugar bomb, but there's a wisp of deep caramelized, wood-fired vanilla candy. This has just enough oddness to keep things interesting, and have me sniffing my shirt and wrists, repeatedly.
Sadly, Dzing! falls flat in the longevity and sillage. It's mildly weak, fading down to a faint leathery musk, and it stays on the skin and clothes.