Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Donna Karan Gold: fragrance review

Donna Karan strived for a lushly feminine lily effect with her stupendous 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. On the contrary.

Scent Description 

The main accord in DK Gold 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 concentration 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.

Concentrations & Notes

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 as per above, also being much closer to the revered Serge Lutens Un Lys. Parfum amplifies the cistus and incense with more vanilla.
The elegant bottle is created by jewellery designer Robert Lee Morris.

Current distribution of DK Gold is bust; get some while you can on online discounters.

Notes 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

Photo of French actress Eva Green via Google (have since forgotten the exact source)


  1. Ziobhan14:41

    Happy to see your review of this majestic yet easy-to-wear lily, IMHO the best lily out there! I have stocked up on 4(!) back up bottles of the EdP. Besides, the bottle is gorgeous.

  2. Ziobhan,

    thanks for commenting! And wow, lucky you!! I bet you're all set. I love this one, also Lys Mediterranee. I have a thing for lilies, the spicier and lusher the better.
    And couldn't agree more: the bottle is very nice indeed. Contemporary looking and unique at the same time.

  3. I simply love this scent, and I believe it was a mention on this blog that spurred me to try it for the first time, so thank you :) I picked up a gift set featuring the edp for practically nothing on *bay a few years ago. Gold holds it's own so well in very cold weather but it blooms wonderfully in heat too. I will wear it today.

  4. One of my all-time faves! It always feels right. I have both the EDT and the EDP, plus a backup bottle of EDP. While I love the smell of fresh lilies, I usually find lily perfumes a bit sharp or rubbery. The amber in Gold is the perfect balance.

    I also love DK Signature.

  5. Anonymous15:38

    This lily (in EDP) didn't work for me after the top notes. The bottle is beautiful and I love lillies (they smell optimistic to me); I'm envious of those who can wear this lovely scent!

  6. Mimi Gardenia15:50

    It's a beautiful scent ! I have learnt to love lilies now. :) My decant came from a kind friend . I heard it is discontinued, Elena - what a shame .

  7. Rosarita,

    overjoyed to have stirred you in the "right" direction so to speak.
    Isn't it lovely? I find it wearable too. Enjoy!!

  8. Elisa,

    good on you!
    It's a perfume to enjoy all year long. And the EDT is more summery, more "watery" without betraying the lily nevertheless.

    DK Signature is another one that flew under the radar when it came out. It seems it needed to arrive at Black Cashmere being axed (and Chaos) to pay attention to DK. Thank God they reissued.

  9. Anon,

    perhaps you might enjoy more Lys Mediterranee by F.Malle? That one has the freshness and spiciness of the lily bouquet, but no leathery-ambery drydown. Also try the quite good Lily & Spice of Penhaligon's. That might do the trick ;-)

  10. Mimi,

    didn't think lilies might be a "difficult" blossom, but I guess they might (they have the spice and the indol). Yes, this is a beautiful scent that got discontinued too soon; you're "Grab while you can" seems to be the operative phrase.
    I don't know why they do this. How difficult is it to keep something in limited production, at the very least? Loyal customers get very disappointed in that treatment... :-(

  11. MariaA16:38

    Absolutely beautiful lily!! This was a blind buy this winter as I was afraid if I waited a bit more to sniff it somewhere and then buy it would be too late! I bought the EdP and wasn't dissapointed! I trust Yann and Rodrigo's as well as Calice's creations ( to follow up my previous comment in your pyramid article) and very happily wore it all winter. It is very warm and seductive and the bottle is gorgeous too!!

  12. Anonymous22:57

    Love Donna Karan! Michael Kors has a fragrance which goes by the exact name Gold which by the way I love. Hopefully DK fragrance will be just as good or even better.

  13. Selina02:33

    It sounds lovely. Lilies are my favorite type of flowers- not sure about the scent, since I've never had a lily fragrance. Considering how cheaply it is sold online, I think I'll pick up a bottle. Thanks!

  14. Maria,

    excellent! You did the right thing.
    It does lend itself beautifully to all seasons, doesn't it? And gotta love the bottle: from metal exterior to wooden cap it's really beautiful and "design".

  15. JoJo,

    now you have me all hot and bothered: I don't recall MK Gold and need to track some down to sniff.
    Thanks for the mention!

  16. Selina,

    if you like lilies, then you will find this one agreeable, I bet; it both rings true and is an accomplished perfume (not just a lily note but a complex composition). Do try some if you can find on the cheap ;-)

  17. Anonymous17:14

    Does Gold resemble Vanille Galant? I remember reading a comparison when VG came out...


  18. Maltesia,

    hey hi there! How are you? Nice to see you again :-)

    Although VG is also a lily rather than a vanilla (as the name would suggest), Gold is less ethereal, more solid, drier and ambery to make it different from the Hermes. VG is ethereal and lightly tinged with ylang ylang.


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