I had written that Un Lys by Serge Lutens represents the dying breath of an angel in heaven. Such is its poetic licence that you have to approach it with sacred awe.
Donna Karan strived for a comparative effect with her Gold fragrance for women in 2006. Its mix of vibrant lily with animalic profundity puts Gold on a pedestral of worship, that of a stony goddess who demands the coming of Choephoroi.
The fragrance necessitated no less than 3 perfumers of the caliber of Yann Vasnier, Calice Becker and Rodrigo-Flores Roux. Usually that would be a recipe for disaster (too many opinions and twinkering often lead to an incoherent vision), yet in Gold the result is none the worse for trying.
The main accord focuses on bright, trembling with life lily, suave woods plus musk, effecting a round and creamy composition accented with discernable jasmine adding its indolic glory.
The opening of Donna Karan Gold has the dewy freshness of green tonalities of muguet, vaguely reminiscent of the green overture of Annick Goutal's Des Lys (another floriental focusing on Casablanca lilies) and the sharper start of Lys Mediteranée by F.Malle. Although the floral phase is clearly discernible from the start, the more the scent dries down the more the sensuous aspects reveal themselves beneath the droplets of lucid coolness.
Underneath a camphoreous scent is peeking through, like a riddle on the edge of the screenshot in a Greenaway film: now you see it and now you don't.
The development of Gold in the Eau de Parfum adds a very alluring animalic submantle which hints at ductile leather and ambergris rather than the traditional resinous amber mentioned, yet it doesn't do so with too much rebelliousness, remaining a sensual touch warming the proceedings and adding gravitas. Perhaps Gold, although certainly not ground-breaking, is a knowing wink of Donna Karan to her first perfume, the long discontinued Donna Karan New York in the phallic black bottle, which utilized lily, amber and suede to great effect.
Compared to Serge Lutens Un Lys with its mellifluous vanilla merging flowers with a dancing cloud, cherubically ethereal and featherbed soft at the same time, Gold stands as a drier, less sweet composition; but for those with no access to the exclusive Lutens it's a good alternative.
Notes for Un Lys: lily, musk, vanilla.
For DK Gold: Casablanca Lily, Amber, Acacia, White Clove, Golden Balsam*, Gold Pollen and Patchouli.
*a mix of Peru tolu balsam, olibanum, benzoin, vanilla, and cistus
Please note that Donna Karan Gold comes in Eau de Parfum concentration, which is warmer and much more complex than the more aqueous and linear Eau de Toilette, as well as a Sparkling Eau de Toilette. Between those versions Eau de Parfum is highly recommended per above. Parfum amplifies the cistus and incense with more vanilla.
The elegant bottle is created by jewellery designer Robert Lee Morris.
Un Lys , being a non-export fragrance, is only sold at Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido, who ship across Europe, while a few remaining bottles of the limited edition in export oblong bottles can be found at select few Lutens sellers.
Pic of Gold bottles courtesy of Donna Karan Beauty