Donna Karan Gold : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Among the prestige releases (i.e. those that lie between niche and mass market), Donna Karan never fails to capture my attention with imaginative and elegant compositions. Even the fruity-floral idea of Be Delicious was rendered in such an unexpected manner that I cannot fail to admire it. What could have been a sweet and pretty apple is instead an intensely green violet leaf composition suggesting a vision of a crisp fruit. Although miles away from the sparkling vibrancy of Be Delicious and the seductive darkness of Black Cashmere, Gold nevertheless maintains a sleek urban image that marks the Donna Karan fashion line as well as the fragrance range. …

The fragrance explores the green and animalic facets of lily, resulting in a composition that offers layers of sensations. Though Gold initially appears as an aloof ice queen, one glimpses more surprising facets of her personality as the courtship evolves. The transparent and crisp floral accord that unfolds like a sheath of cool silk slowly heats up to attain a spicy warmth.

In the Eau de Toilette concentration, the cool and lucid sensation is maintained longer, being anchored by the sheer ambery base. However, in the Eau de Parfum, and even more so in the pure parfum, the alluring richness of amber and leather completely envelops the floral heart. The subtle animalic undercurrent colors the pristine whiteness of lily, lending the floral bouquet a sensual touch. Gold elegantly straddles the line between a smooth flower petal and a supple leather ribbon.

In contrast to the plush Serge Lutens Un Lys, another beautiful lily dominated floral, Gold is rendered as cool and crisp. Its softness becomes more pronounced with time. While many modern florals are structured in a linear manner, unfolding panoramically within the first few minutes, Gold’s evolution with time is one of its most appealing qualities. The best part is that it makes the most of it, becoming more and more alluring the longer one wears it.

Donna Karan Gold was created by Calice Becker, Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux. It includes notes of patchouli, balsam, acacia flowers, jasmine, Casablanca lily, clove, amber. It is available from various retailers such as, Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks5th Avenue, Neiman Marcus.



  • Nick: Nice to hear it evolves over time. Linear compositions are definately in vogue, but often do not deliver in terms of interest during their evolution on the skin. Chanel’s Chance is a good example. A linear that was nonetheless supposed to be “a scent in constant motion,” delivering what Chanel called “an unexpected accord.” This accord, to my knowledge, never arrives. Give me a traditional structure instead, any day… November 13, 2006 at 3:09am Reply

  • Nina: Lovely review, and nice to see Gold getting positive feedback. I have a sample of the EDP, and find it gorgeous – but there’s one problem…….it makes my lips numb! Weird, I know, but there’s something in the juice that seems to have an odd medicinal ‘taste’ and my lips start to tingle after a while. I’ve never had such an effect from all the perfumes I’ve worn over the years. November 13, 2006 at 6:18am Reply

  • March: Victoria, I’ve been re-visiting the line, having fallen hopelessly in love with Chaos, and already loving Black Cashmere. I read somewhere that lily is one of her favorite flowers, it appears as a note in several of her fragrances. Even though I didn’t want to wear Be Delicious, I admire it.

    Do you have any opinion on the original Donna Karan — the one in the odd robotic-duck bottle? I’m having a hard time … understanding it. It was wildly popular in the early 1990s … November 13, 2006 at 7:26am Reply

  • Robin: Lovely review, V, and I do think this is one of the prettiest new fragrances this year. November 13, 2006 at 9:50am Reply

  • violetnoir: Well, it was sort of pretty until my darling, sophisticated 17 year old noted, in a loud voice I might add, that the base smelled like dog p**py!

    Animalic indeed, lol!

    Hugs! November 13, 2006 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Marina: There are so many great scent in her line, kudos to DK for always doing something a little different from everyone else. Gold, unfortunately, did not agree with me, but that is a reflection on my difficult relationship with lily note, not on the blend itself. November 13, 2006 at 8:32am Reply

  • Tigs: I’m not particularly into “layering” products, but the lotion for this one seemed particularly nice. November 13, 2006 at 2:04pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Nick, I think that both can be very interesting, but sometimes one wants to keep guessing a bit. I very much enjoy the harmony of the heart and the contrast that becomes more pronounced with time. Very pleased with this fragrance. November 13, 2006 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Nina, how strange! I have never experienced this. Perhaps, you are sensitive to something in it. November 13, 2006 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: March, I hardly ever wear Be Delicious, but it is a very clever composition. Black Cashmere is great, and it has a slighly aloofness too, much like Gold in the beginning.

    I have a sample of the original Donna Karan, but I still did not get to try it. I remember sampling it ages ago and thinking that it was interesting. November 13, 2006 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Marina, yes, if you do not care for lily notes, then I do not see Gold appealing to you. I do not remember now if you liked Un Lys or not. November 13, 2006 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R, I cannot agree more, it is very lovely. November 13, 2006 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: R (violetnoir), she is a riot, your darling daughter! 🙂 Animalic indeed! November 13, 2006 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Tigs, thank you, I have not tried the lotion. I will make sure to stop by Saks to do so. November 13, 2006 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Kristen: V, your review is making me a little jealous. I see you’re one of THOSE PEOPLE who can wear the DKs. For some reason, these fragrances hate me, no matter who created them or what is in them. I loved Cashmere Mist on a friend, and on me it is cheap soap and hairspray. Be Delicious, similar story – gorgeous on another friend, nothing but White Rain apple shampoo on me. I recently tried the Gold, no luck there either. 🙁 The only one I can wear is Black Cashmere. November 13, 2006 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Elle: Beautiful review. I really admire the DKs and I love the edp bottle for this scent. It sounds like the parfum is the formulation I’d like most, but it doesn’t seem to be available online. 🙁 I’m hoping it’s price is not as exorbitant as Black Orchid’s. November 13, 2006 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Kristen, I cannot wear all of them, but Black Cashmere and Gold are definitely my favourites. Cashmere Mist is unfortunately very harsh on my skin, like a cloud of metallic dust. Some others are just not that striking. For instance, I fail to understand the purpose of Donna Karan Essences–they seem to be just facets of Black Cashmere. I loved Chaos and was very sad to see it disappear. November 13, 2006 at 5:02pm Reply

  • cynthia: I loved the drydown but the top notes were too cold for me. I think that like Marina I am not a big lily fan. November 13, 2006 at 10:56pm Reply

  • miriam: Thanks, V, for this lovely review. I’ve been aching for more true lily scents (sans muguet) since JAR Golconda, which, though a true carnation and nutmeg absolute, conjures a spicy rubrum lily perfectly. How watery is Gold? How sweet? Are there muguet notes in it too? I was excited by the description of lily and amber, but I found Lutens Un Lys too watery and sweet, marred by lilies of the valley. I’m still searching for a warm, spicy lily, and hoping that will be next on Linda Pilkington’s list of things to do (she already has a casablanca lily candle). November 14, 2006 at 12:33pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Elle, I recall that the price of the parfum was around $250. I am waiting for it to show up on discounters (or Ebay), although I am sure that it shall take some time. November 14, 2006 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Cynthia, that I can understand. Initially, the lily is a cold, silky one. November 14, 2006 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: Miriam, you will probably find Gold too muguet like and too cold. It does not have the immediate spicy heat of other lilies you prefer. You might also try the new Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice. November 14, 2006 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Leoness: V, I guess I just like the scent of lily. I have a fragrance by Geir Ness called Laila, which is primarily “Norwegian” lilies (not sure how they smell different from any other lilies). It’s nice- simple, but nice. It annoys me if I wear it too close to my face though. I hope DK Gold doesn’t do the same thing. Your review makes me want to try Gold even more. March 25, 2007 at 7:49pm Reply

  • Scout: “Gold” is perhaps the most beautiful scent I’ve ever worn. To me it is odd that it is described as being “urban”, as it evokes (in my mind, at least), the following: Imagine being in a mountain forest in the west or northwest, just after a warm, summer shower. As you emerge from the wet, woodsy smells of the forest, you find yourself in a high mountain meadow filled with a plethora of damp, intoxicating wildflowers. I have spent years hiking in such forests, and no perfume I know of has captured the whole essence of the high mountain forests and meadows as well as Donna Karan’s “Gold”. So, Donna, you’ve outdone yourself, as what is supposed to be “urban” is also wonderfully outdoorsy! July 7, 2007 at 10:35pm Reply

  • jimmyfresno: Just to throw in my two scents on the “chemistry” people so often describe in fragrances, I actually think it has so much more to do with our inability to smell fragrances that we wear due to the phenomenon of ” olfactory fatigue.” Many molecules in fragrances, such as Iso E Super and a ton of macrocyclic musks actually occupy receptors in our vomeronasal organ so that we are incapable of perceiving them until the molecule is released.

    Long story short, we can either wear fragrances as they smell to others, or to ourselves, and rarely the two shall meet. It is not that a fragrance isn’t as delicious on us, it’s just that our nasal receptors get tired of some of the accords and it doesn’t smell the same to us.

    It always subtly irks me to hear that this perfume “went sour on me,” or that perfume turned to hairspray. The complete biochemical aspect of fragrance perception is so often ignored. Its sort of like, pardon the analogy, but the touch of someone else is so much better than our own. December 5, 2007 at 12:06am Reply

  • sangkae: I just tried the Gold edp and I’m impressed with the fresh and sweet lily top note. I love that indolic quality. Comparing to Un Lys, I find this fresh, bright and captivating, while Un Lys is smooth velvet dry vanillic floral to my nose. I think I prefer Gold. However, it’s just the top note that I like cause the edp dries down to something quite oriental which is not my taste, maybe the powdery amber and leather note that make me slightly nauseous. I think the edt may suits me more since people say it’s lighter and not as rich. I love everything in the Diorissimo category..pure, fresh white floral with the sharp green opening…yes, I do want to smell like a bouquet of lilies!, without any heavy base that will ruin the beauty of flowers. But it seems like most people hate the edt so I just hesitate to buy the bottle unsniffed… Is the edt that bad? Smell cheap or low quality? Give me more opinions! January 25, 2008 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Rachel: I have had a bottle of Gold EDP for quite some time and am just now discovering it and like it to my great surprise, as a summer perfume. It is sheer, as you say, and cool and yet not cold. There is a slight warmth to it which is pleasing. However, the jus is now red! I don’t think it was always that way. When I look on ebay, there are a lot of images of bottles of similarly red perfume, but, some stock images, which I assume are original marketing images, show a light golden liquid. Do you think it’s still ok to wear, health wise? Thank you! July 12, 2012 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Rachel, it should definitely be ok healthwise. As long as the perfume smells good to you, the color change doesn’t matter. Some materials are simply prone to discoloration, that’s all. July 12, 2012 at 11:23am Reply

      • Rachel: Thank you! Btw, your suggestion to layer Onda EDP w/ JM Orange Blossom was brilliant! I haven’t had a chance to try the Knize Ten yet. Thanks, again. July 12, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

        • Victoria: Hurray! Glad that you liked it. Can’t wait to hear what you think of Knize Ten. July 12, 2012 at 12:40pm Reply

  • rh: Hello again. My boyfriend loves this perfume! You mention in this review that there is a parfum -or used to be. Where would you go to look for an image of the bottle? If one ever comes up on ebay, I’d like to know what it looks like. Google search turns up nothing at all. Is there a repository of such information? Thank you! rachel October 5, 2013 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: The bottle was similar to the edt/edp but much smaller. If you were to look for it on ebay, I would look for something called parfum. It won’t come up otherwise. October 5, 2013 at 6:02pm Reply

      • rh: Ok..thank you! October 5, 2013 at 8:34pm Reply

  • Sexy Sadie: Is the EdP version discontinued? November 18, 2013 at 12:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Unfortunately, not just the EDP; the whole Gold collection is gone. November 18, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

      • Sexy Sadie: I see the DKG EdT in my habitually netshop for shampoo and makeup, and wondering if I should bother since I am more of a Black Cashmir girl. November 18, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: I wouldn’t recommend it, since Gold is a plush floral, very different from Black Cashmere. Too risky of a blind purchase, I’m afraid. November 18, 2013 at 2:25pm Reply

          • Sexy Sadie: Ok, thank you. November 18, 2013 at 2:54pm Reply

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