I've never been much of a fan of sweet oriental perfumes. It's not that I don't care for the smell of vanilla--who doesn't love the smell of a sticky black vanilla bean?--but that personal fragrances based on those notes have a weird way of making something deep within me recoil and flinch away from them. Perhaps I was simply far too traumatized by the 1980s. I lived in New York City at the height of the loud orientals era, you see, and I commuted to work by subway. By RUSH HOUR subway. So as hesitant as I am to draw the ire of the perfumistas by admitting this, I was indeed one of those people who heaved a giant sigh of olfactory relief in the 1990s, when all of those new cool quiet "fresh and clean" aquatics finally replaced the deafeningly loud warm-spicy-yet-also-sickly-sweet-and-don't-forget-the-absolutely-*filthy*-come-hither-animalics! melange as the prevailing smell of the crowded morning subway car.
I know, I know. I'm so sorry.
Anyway, the point is that I didn't really expect to care all that much for Dzing! As far as I could tell, it looked to be a warm, spicy, candy-sweet, vanillic gourmandish yet also kinda fecal-filthy oriental. All of the things that I thought I didn't care for in a fragrance.
But then I gave it a sniff.
And then another.
And then another...and another...and another...
And then, only a week after my first whiff of Dzing!, I had somehow managed not only to use up my entire sample, but also to shell out more money than I thought I would ever be willing to pay for 100 mls, just to have a great big stonking bottle of this for my very own. I just couldn't help myself. I simply had to, you see, because this remarkably addictive fragrance smells like so many of the very best things on earth: of well-kept stables and tack rooms and warm sweet hay, of a healthy horse's neck when you nuzzle it after a good day's ride and the way that your palms smell after that same day of riding (the leather of the reins combining with your sweat and the fine fresh horse sweat to make something new and strange out of the once-familiar skin-smell of your own two hands). It smells of fresh-cut pine boards, ancient varnish, the tasty salicylated green inner layer of black birch bark; of sarsaparilla and sealing wax; of the inside of a lacquered Chinese false-bottomed box. It's the smell of schoolbook covers made from brown paper grocery bags and decorated with thick and redolent permanent markers, and of the enormous cardboard refrigerator box your parents let you play in when you were very small. It's all of the good smells of childhood and none of the bad: it's fatwood and toffee and that fried dough with powdered sugar they sell at the state fair. It's that funny brown benzoin your grandmother once dabbed on your scraped knee to make a bandaid stick better -- and it's also the weirdly rubbery old bandaid itself. It's dusty boxes in the attic, a forgotten cake of rosin found inside a velvet-lined antique violin case, shelves upon shelves of old used books, the fur behind the ears of a sun-warmed purring cat...
It's all of these olfactory memories at once, and yet it doesn't...quite...match any one of them perfectly. It somehow manages to be both intensely allusive and profoundly nostalgic, while never quite settling on any single precise referent.
And in the end, of course, like all the best fragrances, Dzing! smells like nothing but its own unique self.
I am absolutely, head-over-heels in love with this fragrance, but the thing is, I can also recognize that many of the reasons others have given for finding it gross are pretty much accurate. There *is* a fecal aspect to the smell of even the best-maintained stable, and while I may find that tang of well-aged horse manure to be not only inoffensive but even actively enjoyable, I can certainly understand why someone else might be violently averse to the idea of deliberately scenting themselves with it. Cat fur, similarly, is not a smell that everyone enjoys, nor is attic dust, and I am sure that there are many for whom the words "horse sweat" do not precisely ring out as a positive endorsement of a ladies' perfume (especially since, as my mother always told me, while horses are lucky enough to be permitted to sweat, and gentlemen may perspire, ladies must never do anything more than "glow"). And though I've always loved the turpentinic smell of rosin, I've never heard of anyone rubbing it all over themselves in a futile attempt at budget DIY perfumery -- unlike, say, vanilla extract from the kitchen, which very many young people do try to use in just that way.
So yeah, I get what others might find disgusting about Dzing!. Honestly, I really, really do get it.
But to me, it is just hauntingly beautiful.