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Launched: 1992, reformulated and re-launched in 2009
I collect rare and discontinued fragrances and there has been talk of the vintage / re-launched versions of Donna Karan's legendary first perfume Donna Karan New York Eau de Parfum (not the DKNY branch) in perfume circles. I already have a 50ml vintage bottle (pictured by dooyoo however this review is for the new version) and I wanted to see the difference. Luckily I won an unused 5ml miniature of the new fragrance on eBay for a bargain price of less than £3.
The fragrance is now called Signature and is part of Donna Karan's more exclusive Essences range along with the rest of her discontinued fragrances (Chaos, Black Cashmere and Fuel for Men. They all come in tall, cylindrical bottles that are opaque and impressive-looking. It's interesting to see how 'designer-does-niche-line' brands (see my review on Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille) share the heavy, dark bottles and the metallic (golden or silver) emblazonment across the packaging.
Top notes: peach, apricot, bergamot, grassy green accord
The first accord I'm getting after applying the fragrance is a strong phenol (tar-like) smell that's not unlike the bitter, mossy opening in Habanita I recently reviewed. Similarly, the fruits - if any - aren't noticeable here as the smoky grass accord that reminds me of the deep, cut-grass aroma of galbanum, takes centerstage and dominates the composition.
I don't mind the absence of fruits, I was half-expecting them to be honest. They seem to have been added to suit modern tastes but aren't meant to leave a lasting impression anyway. In a few minutes Signature warms up and gets mingled with the softer, sweeter and more floral accords that constitute the backbone of the fragrance.
Heart notes: orange blossom, lily, jasmine, ylang-ylang
As the first notes pass and the greenness subsides, Signature takes on an increasingly classic profile reminiscent of floral / floral oriental scents. It later dawned on me that it actually follows a typical classic floral structure that was commonplace up to the end of the '80s. Florals (mostly the famous 'lily - jasmine - rose - ylang combo) are accompanied by a dry and powdery accord that has a dark, mossy core - except that in the old days, the dark core would have been civet - much to the same effect to add a deep, warm feel and anchor the florals.
It does remind me of something my mother used to wear in the early eighties, though all she can remember is Yves Rocher's Magnolia, which is a sharp floral with generous servings of oakmoss in it. Amongst the florals it's the jasmine and lily that stand out the most, their representation is different though. Don't expect these white florals here typically dripping with sweetness and nectar. They are sweet but rather powdery, earthy and dry, making Signature kind of aloof in a way. The mossy cloud that's still present swirls in and out of the sillage adding a green depth to the prominent florals.
Base notes: resins, suede, amber and patchouli
About 7 - 8 hours later I'm getting a delicious mossy - insense-y lemon meringue aroma - imagine being outdoors in the woods type of smell that's mixed with frankinsense burning and a lemon meringue pie you're eating. Well, quite an odd combination to my nose but I relish every bit of it and even surprise myself at how much I love it. The sillage is balanced and quite noticeable to others. I feel very cozy in it now and realise Signature isn't as distant as I thought.
Mossy florals weren't a category I'd have considered wearing even a year ago and certainly not in winter however Signature is so different and rich in comparison to those. It's multi-layered, complex and deep so it's easy to fall under its charm. It has the ability of being floral, mossy-green and sweet enough oriental at the same time and an extremely smooth and seamless one at that. The final, close-to-the-skin accord consists of a fruity, powdered vanilla and smokey frankinsense accord that stays on for up to 16 hours from first application.
Harrods' website described Signature as 'Sophisticated and warm with a subtle bouquet of delicate florals and a grassy accord lingering in the background, Donna Karan's Signature scent is a perfect summer scent.' I'm quite surprised at the summer reference, for me it's a perfect winter scent since it has a deep and insense-like mossy-vanillic base. Admittedly, something that isn't easy to find in its category as indeed modern mossy florals are a lot more linear and sharp-smelling.
Signature is a complex and soft fragrance that's also quite rich, warm and creamy with a dark, mossy undertone to it. I'd probably wear it on dressed-up summer evenings but definitely not when the temperature climbs above 25 degrees where a lighter, more crisp and sharp fragrance would probably be a lot more appropriate, such as Cristalle or No. 19 from Chanel.
To sum up, Signature is an extremely well-blended, refined and sophisticated juice that should be part of any perfumista's wardrobe. It's classy but not cold, sophisticated but friendly and wearable, motherly and sexy at the same time. A masterpiece that definitely deserved to be brought back!
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Just like the rest of the line, Donna Karan Signature Eau de Parfum can be bought for £63 / 100ml Eau de Parfum or online at Harrods, Selfridges and other major department stores or fragrance outlets.
Thanks for reading.
©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk