Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Marc Jacobs Bang was without doubt one of my favorite fragrances from 2010. Its elegant, polished structure belies a bold character, and in fact this juxtaposition makes Bang very appealing. It has a great opening accord that fits well with its name—the composition explodes into a vibrant, brilliant, peppery sparkle. Experiencing this piquant woody-spicy prelude is not unlike biting through the fiery, pleasantly burning pepper crust on steak au poivre, and the effect is just as mouthwatering.
The fragrance traces an interesting arc in its composition, from bright, spicy and fresh to smoky, dark and dry, yet all of its phases are alluring. The woody accord on which Bang is built is elegant, yet it is quite dramatic. As the peppery sparkle wears down, the woody accord assumes an earthy, sun weathered smoothness. The austere violet and cedarwood impression of Iso E Super, used liberally here, is reinforced by the classical notes of vetiver, patchouli, and Veramoss (transparent, leathery oakmoss aroma-material). The elemi is bright and peppery in the top notes, while it becomes smokier and darker as Bang develops.
Overall, Bang is dry, woody, smoky, with hints of pepper, tobacco and leather, but the effect is still transparent and modern. All of these nuances make Bang quite versatile. It exemplifies to me modern masculine elegance but with one advantage: it is a fragrance that can suit both the younger and the older generation, without making any compromises or diluting its message. It has a classical austerity that works so well for a daytime fragrance—while it will not shock, it will be noticed. In fact, on the occasions when I wore Bang, I received plenty of compliments from both men and women. In the same vein, a woman who enjoys wearing dry androgynous fragrances from Comme des Garçons, L’Artisan or Tom Ford, will find Bang as sexy and comfortable as a crisp white shirt.
Marc Jacobs Bang was developed by Givaudan perfumer Yann Vasnier. Bang (fragrance family: woods) includes notes of black pepper, pink peppercorns, white peppercorns, woody notes, benzoin, elemi, patchouli, vetiver, and white moss. It is available from Sephora, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Neiman Marcus. Other similar masculine-to-unisex woody fragrances worth exploring include Comme des Garçons Series 2: Red Palisander, Shiseido Basala, Givenchy Gentleman, Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man, Tom Ford Oud Wood, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc, and Hermès Terre d’Hermès.