DKNY Be Delicious Men (Donna Karan)

We live in an age of hybrid perfume. There are many examples of formulas that incorporate multiple structural forms into one fragrance. Halston Z-14 is my favorite in this category, a classic oriental/chypre in which a cinnamon-spiced floral amber is conjoined with a simple bergamot, rock-rose, and moss accord. Creed's Orange Spice is often labeled an oriental, but in truth it reads as more of a barbershop "fougeriental," with brisk citrus, clean clove, animalic musk, and a highly-blended and dry-powdery amber, which one could liken to the coumarin in Brut and Canoe. I had a chance to wear DKNY Be Delicious Men recently, and was a little surprised to find that it's a three-way hybrid, to my nose a cross between a fruity-floral, an aromatic fougère, and a gourmand oriental. Because of its complexity, you would think Be Delicious Men would smell positively fascinating. In truth, it smells pretty blah.

Some concepts don't even look good on paper. I have to think that Be Delicious Men was an experiment that went awry in practice, but ended up coasting on a brand name (long enough to ensure continued production, apparently). Its note pyramid has me scratching my head. There's a big apple note, yes. Then coffee, oceanic notes, grapefruit, juniper, patchouli, jasmine, and "wood notes" according to Fragrantica, ever-so vaguely. Coffee? Sea notes? There's normalcy in seeing most of the woody notes together, but coffee and marine notes seems like an adventurous bid for what perfumers must call "the new unified odor impression," that virgin, Z14-esque accord demarcating an undiscovered territory, never before visited by professional and amateur noses alike. Since Be Delicious Men's release, Thierry Mugler has taken this gourmand-aquatic idea and pulled it in a dozen different directions, but perhaps in 2004 it was still relatively new. I can't say for certain. It's only new if it's a novelty that works, and here it doesn't. The apple is reddish and smells like someone bit into it and left it in the sun for a few days, turning its acidic sweetness into vinegar. The coffee is stale and damp (must be all those water notes), like a cold, forgotten-in-the-car cup of McCafé. The aquatic notes are gingery, damp, bitter, unpleasant. There's some cardamom crispness in the woody drydown, but I lost interest by then.

Apple and fresh, minty herbs (lavender, juniper) are a great combo: cool and clean, the stuff of shampoo dreams. Here, grapefruit offsets the pleasantness of the apple aromatic accord, resulting in a sour dissonance not too far removed from windshield-washer fluid. Perhaps the use of lime, with its woody dryness, would have infused into the form a deeper, more resonant woods effect (and might have purified the fragrance into a stronger aromatic fougère), but combined with the aquatic notes, the choice to use grapefruit feels wrong. Also, I'm all for coffee in perfume, but not if it smells cheap. Maybe I just don't "get" this fragrance though, so a second opinion (namely yours) is recommended. Try Be Delicious Men after the feminine Be Delicious, and see what you think - the complexity of the masculine, which is certainly a departure from the feminine, may or may not be a plus. For me, it's a big minus. If you're going to do an apple floral, give me apples and floral notes, and hold the salty coffee for another day.


  1. The combination of notes smells like celery to my nose...

    1. Celery? Yeah I suppose the harshness of the acidic notes could give me that impression as well. Whatever it is, it's awful stuff.


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