Marc Jacobs Bang : Fragrance Review

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Marc-jacobs-bang

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.

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15 Comments

  • Olfactoria: I think this could be something my husband could enjoy, he loves pepper. If I only could get over the image of Marc Jacobs lying seasoned and marinated in perfect Kebap-style on a bed of aluminum foil in a spacecraft, fancying himself utterly ravishing, I may like it too. 😉 January 4, 2011 at 4:22am Reply

  • kuri: You make it sound delicious! Although, given my experience with Santal Blanc and Terre d’Hermes, it’s probably not quite for me. January 4, 2011 at 5:43am Reply

  • Marina: I like this one a lot. And with an inhuman effort of will I erased its ad from my memory 🙂 January 4, 2011 at 8:15am Reply

  • Victoria: Lately I have become immune to advertising, and I hardly pay much attention to it. In this case, that might be a boon!
    For me, it just feels like MJ is trying to go Tom Ford route with the ads. The only ad with a designer posing nude I liked was 1971 Yves Saint Laurent for YSL Pour Homme. The photographs by Jeanloup Sieff are great, controversial, yet elegant. Still, it was not the most successful marketing campaign either. January 4, 2011 at 10:12am Reply

  • Victoria: If you like woods, then you will definitely enjoy Bang. It is really well-made! January 4, 2011 at 10:12am Reply

  • Victoria: Notice that I made an effort not to mention the ad. Until you guys twisted my arm and made me recall it from the depth of my memory, where I tried to hide it! 🙂 January 4, 2011 at 10:13am Reply

  • sweetlife: Ah, well given that I own and love Palisander, Terre d’Hermes, and Santal Blanc and admire the other two you mentioned, I’d say this is a must-sniff for me. And I do like the bottle, if poor Marc has been a little overeager to shed his pudgy nerdiness. (Preferred him that way actually…) January 4, 2011 at 1:25pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Make that “even if”… And I’ve never heard of Basala. Have to check that out. January 4, 2011 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Skilletlicker: Thanks to the ridiculous desperado commercial, I had already written this scent off as a bogus, crass, revenue-generating product for gullible, wannabe-hipster followers. Gag. But thanks to your review, Victoria, I may have to take it seriously. It has everything I love. Poivre Piquant is a big favorite so Bang is now on my list to try, if I can manage to avoid the promotional material at the counter… January 4, 2011 at 2:19pm Reply

  • minette: you know, i saw the display for bang at saks this weekend, and walked right by it because the stupid, stupid ad for it convinced me that it was something i wouldn’t like.

    how’s that for the power of advertising?!

    your description makes me want to try it now. although i don’t much care for elemi.

    cheers! January 4, 2011 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: Do try it, despite the ads and the commercial! I think that it really is well-crafted and quite interesting. If it came out under L’Artisan label instead of Marc Jacobs, I would not have been surprised. January 4, 2011 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: I guess, Marc Jacobs reps did not have you and I in mind when they devised the campaign! 🙂 That being said, the ads are worth overlooking, because for anyone who loves dry woods, this is a nice choice. January 4, 2011 at 2:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, then I think that you might enjoy it, especially if you like Palisander (Vasnier created that one too.) I would really be curious to hear your thoughts.
    I also preferred Marc Jacobs in his pudgy days, he had this cute boyish charm. However, we are probably in minority on this one. January 4, 2011 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, Basala is excellent. I have not searched for it in stores recently, but January 4, 2011 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: Basala is an interesting fragrance, although I admit that I have not tried looking for it recently. Hope that it is still around. January 4, 2011 at 4:15pm Reply

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