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.
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.