L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing : Fragrance Review

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If anyone could make an animalic fragrance radiant and dream-like, it would be Olivia Giacobetti. Originally called Désir de Cirque, Circus Desire, when it debuted in 1999, Dzing ! is a fragrance inspired by the circus ring, the smell of the talcum, animal fur and candy apples. As if by a crack of a whip, tarry and balsamic notes spring forth, creating a leather accord against which rose suddenly appears. The effect is simply bizarre, but memorable, setting a perfect stage for a more tranquil undulation of sweet and resinous notes that combine into multifaceted chords, one moment of hammy lapsang souchong and cinnamon, next vanillic sweetness of benzoin and balmy complexity of musks.

At-the-Cirque-Fernando-The-Ringmaster

A vaguely familiar note keeps hiding underneath, teasing my memory and conjuring visions of stage. I have not been to the circus in ages, but a rosin box in the corner of my ballet studio is a fresh enough recollection. Rosin is used by musicians on bows to produce a better sound and by dancers to prevent satin pointe shoes from slipping on the floor. The scent of this brittle grey resin, a by-product of turpentine distillation, is what lurks underneath animalic notes, lending a strangely ethereal quality to the base. Like Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings of seedy Montmartre corners, Dzing! has a certain juxtaposition of oddity and fascination. It would be daring and arresting on a woman, and wonderfully sensual on a man.

Painting: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Trick rider at the Fernando Circus. 1887-8. The Art Institute of Chicago.

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13 Comments

  • Tania: Rosin! I’ve never actually smelled it. Now I want to tell my sister to bring her violin when she visits me, so I can sniff at the bowstrings. (Dzing! still manages to surprise me whenever I revisit it. What an odd scent—and a must-have.) July 1, 2005 at 10:06am Reply

  • Robin: I was horrified the first time I smelled Dzing, but bear in mind that I was horrified the first time I smelled Philosykos. Tried it again much later and was very impressed. It still isn’t something I wear, but it is a beautifully constructed scent, and I love the saffron in the dry down. July 1, 2005 at 10:28am Reply

  • KS: Robin: “Horrified”? Do you also jump up when you hear a creak somewhere at 3 a.m.? HA! I do think “rosin” MUST be the keyword here — that gurgling turpentine note is what keeps me away from Dzing! When I wore it the first two times I felt flammable…about to ignite (and not in a good way). It brings to mind artists’ studios or furniture refinishers’ stores. I do love the smell of turpentine, gasoline, kerosine, glue…all things that no doubt rob me of much-needed brain cells — but I just can’t wear Dzing on my skin. I did smell its weeks-long dry-down on a scarf and THAT smelled nice. (Victoria, I’m imagining you in Russia…and since you can’t respond to this I can keep dreaming.) Kevin July 1, 2005 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: T, I like the scent of rosin, probably because of the memories associated with it. Dzing! manages to weave in this note remarkably well!

    R, I have plenty of scents I appreciate but cannot wear. Thankfully, Dzing! dries down into something dark yet ethereal. I really enjoy how it handles animalic notes.

    K, it took me a while to start appreciating some of the notes you mention in perfume, however sometimes they work remarkably well. Gasoline and honeysuckle in Farenheit is one such example. I do know what you mean about Dzing! drydow. I started liking it after I sniffed a scarf that absorbed the remnants from my testing spree. July 14, 2005 at 8:09pm Reply

  • Viktorov: I can totally relate to the initial feeling of horror by the first smell of Dzing!. I was very sceptic to say the least when i first got to smell the fragrance. Probably because my expectations were so high. Now, after having tried it without that stress, I’ve fallen helplessly in love with the scent and when my samples are empty I am so going to get a full bottle of this baby.
    Thank you for a wonderful work here by the way!

    V.W. January 16, 2006 at 11:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Viktor, I think that I was just unprepared for its animalic/cardboard side when I first tried it. Yet, when I revisited, I had the same feeling as you did–I knew that this one will be a keeper! January 17, 2006 at 12:34pm Reply

  • sdn: i just got a decant of this. i feel like i’m wearing eau de cardboard. utterly bizarre! February 6, 2007 at 9:12pm Reply

  • BGfan: Whoever HAD to drink Altayan Mumio, now can enjoy the same in perfume. Good God… May 24, 2007 at 1:53pm Reply

  • Daisy: I’m coming to this discussion really, really late! But I just tried Dzing! for the first time today. I wasn’t expecting to find it so . . . comforting!

    To me, it smelled initially like sweaty leather, elephant dung, and sawdust. I could literally see the circus in front of me, but kind of the circus after all the guests have left and the animal handlers are winding things down. It reminds me of Prada Candy in a barn, which is not a bad thing! And later I did see that there are caramel notes and benzoin — so it really is like Prada Candy in a barn!

    But I do really like it. I think it’s one of these ones that you really need to try on your skin and give it some time to really appreciate it.

    Great review! I was never a ballerina, but I can imagine what dusty rosin might smell like now 🙂 July 20, 2012 at 7:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love your description, Daisy, and I think that it’s really spot on. I will always now think of Dzing as Candy in a barn. 🙂

      By the way, the smell of rosin is starting to disappear slowly as the stages are made more and more out of ‘marley’ type materials. Those don’t require any rosin. But when I was a dance student in Ukraine, we had wooden floors, which we sprinkled with water before dancing (to make the floor stickier). It really gave a peculiar, memorable scent. July 21, 2012 at 1:19pm Reply

      • Daisy: That makes me kind of sad to think that the smell of rosin is going away! I guess its inevitable in a way 🙁 I am glad that you have that scent memory. Sometimes, I look at kids nowadays and wonder if they will have as rich of a scented past as we did. And I get kind of wistful when I think that my scented past pales in comparison to my grandmother’s!

        It would be a real shame if this generation looks back in 20 years and can only think of Axe body spray and Pink Sugar . . . July 21, 2012 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Jeannine: This is one of those scent that you must try on your skin and wear it for a few hours. Right out of the bottle, it smelled awful, like medicinal band-aids. Really weird. I tried some on my skin and was really worried that I may need to scrub it off immediately or I might get nauseous. S glad I didn’t do that. It evolved into a complex, beautiful fragrance. I love it so much. It smells very warm, sexy and comforting to me. You do get all kinds of odd notes, but they really work well together. Caramel, smoky tobacco like scents and, yes, a kind of animal fur. Weird, but delicious. I was wearing this on a train ride to work and I got a really strong, but fleeting whiff of a scent that smelled exactly like my puppy. S much so that it was like he was right next to me. Not a dirty dog smell, but a beautiful puppy scent. I could go on and on, but this scent is my fave. I just bought a full bottle which will be the first of many. May 17, 2013 at 1:36pm Reply

  • marios: Victoria, you are right…what a magnificent perfume Dzing! is….Animalic and sweet but not cloying…it smells indeed like circus, the animals, the gasses from the generators, the fire eaters, the candy apples and toffee…So far, this is my favourite from L’artisan….and is not a perfume for women…it reminds in the dry down other perfumes with civet, like mouchoir and jicky by guerlain and the big kouros…but Dzing is not old fashioned or dandy, is a new version to this kind of perfumes…. December 19, 2013 at 5:38am Reply

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