Zino (Davidoff)

Every once in a while, someone starts a thread on a fragrance site asking what the "darkest" or "most goth" scent is. There are usually a myriad of answers, but a select few are guaranteed to be mentioned. No 88 by Czech & Speake always shows up, as do Montale's Black Aoud, Dior's Poison, and Kingdom by Alexander McQueen. Lately, Zagorsk by Comme des Garcons Series 3 Incense has gained traction in the black-heart market, while more debatable entries include Paestum Rose by Eau D'Italie, Jacomo de Jacomo, and Ungaro III.

All of these perfumes are expensive, hard to find, or obscure. With the exception of Jacomo, these "dark" items need some pretty deep pockets. They also require more than a little pretension; wearing Kingdom, Black Aoud, or No 88 outside the bedroom is a No-No unless you're accessorizing with a history of murder, a mental illness, or a bevy of friends from that Guggenheim gala you attended last weekend. If it's not being sold as a death-threat or art, no one's buying it.

Unless you're wearing Zino by Davidoff. The first cool thing about this ambery fougère from 1986 is that it's inexpensive. The second thing is that people are under the odd impression that it's discontinued, which puts it firmly in that netherworld of shadowy and rare retro frags that only true connoisseurs would wear. Last but not least, Zino is the darkest, sultriest, "gothiest" fougère imaginable.

It opens with a smooth lavender, bergamot, and sage accord that rapidly darkens into a huge heart of rosewood, rose, geranium, and patchouli. Many admirers of Zino seem to identify a rich rose note, but my nose finds the rosewood far more dominant. In fact, Zino's entire structure is made of wood. A simple trio of rosewood, sandalwood, and cedar lift the potentially-dull elements of citrus, herbs, and spices above a legion of turgid orientals and Victorian-fougère wanna-be's. Every facet of the fragrance is dusty and sinister, like David Bowie in the classic goth flick The Hunger.

My tastes tend to reflect my moods, and I slip into shadow more than light. It's not that I'm truly "dark" or mean. These are tough times, and life has been tough for me, and for almost everyone I know. The prevailing zeitgeist is dead, and the string of days we've all been living in are a requiem to it. The only thing left is a mere shadow of the past, that grim optimism that dominated the '80s and '90s. Saccharine gourmands and airy floral perfumes don't work anymore.

Zino, however, characterizes the quiet desperation of a 21st Century man perfectly, down to its last vapor.


  1. This sounds quite intriguing! Rosewood can be such a beautiful note. I will have to look this up, having never given Davidoff much of my time, after the generalized Cool Water overdose-by-osmosis that was the 90s.

  2. I'm very curious to know why you consider wearing all those other scents as a "no-no" outside the bedroom? I found that remark quite amusing.....

  3. Or woman, as the case may be. This fragrance is in heavy rotation once we cool off here on the Coastal Plain of Virginia. My fellow bookseller, Mykel, rocks this criminally underrated fragrance. On him the patchouli rules, on my skin I get more rosewood. What never fails is the compliments we both get when we wear it! Davidoff has a new Leather Blend fragrance that sounds quite promising. Have you had the opportunity to sample it yet?

    1. No, not yet, although I will ASAP!

    2. Howdy, Bryan.

      I'm green to the fragrance world and so are my tastes (and I mean that literally, I love everything green). I'm a younger guy, but so far I'm absolutely adoring the uncompromising, open-chested powerhouses of yore. I'm particularly taken with Giorgio Beverly Hills For Men, Grey Flannel, Quorum, Tsar, Polo Green, Bowling Green (I'm gaga for this one), Sung Homme, Drakkar Noir, Aspen, and most especially, Zino Daviddoff.

      Imagine my surprise when I read that Zino is discontinued and my confusion about it existing in a kinda/sorta/I dunno limbo. My detective skills are limited, but here are a couple of links on the matter you've probably seen:



      I'm torn between wanting to horde Zino and stock up on a bottle or two every month and just letting it go. Do you have a definitive feeling about Zino? Again, I don't know much about fragrances or the fragrance market, but I'd imagine Zino wouldn't be found for under $30.00 a bottle too easily, right?

      I've spent an unreasonable amount of time digging into this one and although Davidoff/Coty replied to an inquiry and confirmed that Zino has been discontinued, that doesn't explain its abundance or people finding bottles with recent batch codes.

      Do you have a hunch about this? Thanks.

    3. Which is more likely? That Zino is readily abundant for $5 an ounce despite being discontinued, or that Coty knows there are people who will swallow their bullshit about discontinuation and will thus buy more bottles of Zino than they need, even though it's an outdated fragrance by 21st century standards, and that it can only survive in our aquatic "fresh" fragrance market by a clever ruse like this?


Thank you for your comment. It will be visible after approval by the moderator.