From the tres blase Bleu de Chanel, which cynically manages to recycle every successful men's fragrance of the last five years into a single (suce$$ful) bottle, to the endless "fresh and clean" clones cluttering up fragrance counters everywhere, men's masstige scents are on the whole safe, bland, and totally without a distinct personality. In other words, a boring wasteland.
A man could despair of ever smelling something new.
And then the advertising campaign showing a nude, oiled-up Marc Jacobs strategically "covered" by an outsize silver bottle of Bang captured our attention...further piqued by the fact that the perfumer in charge of the team was Givaudan's Yann Vansier - who had previously collaborated with Calice Becker on Marc Jacobs Lola, the best women's mass market release of 2009 in our opinion - in collaboration with Ann Gottlieb (Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Renee Fleming & countless others).
This looked hopeful: a true niche perfumer working on a mass market fragrance, Bang by Marc Jacobs, which thankfully meant no "fresh and clean" anything.
Bang opens with a mix of three types of peppercorns - black, pink and white - with a slight nose-tickling quality, both familiar (you smell it every time you add pepper to your food) and because it's not something you experience often in a fragrance, exotic. It carries an intensity which leads straight into a woody middle of birch, cedar, and oak. It is kept light and very masculine and, in conjunction with the spicy pepper, thoroughly enjoyable. The base is a light incense, vetiver, patchouli and oakmoss; it is mostly the incense in front supported by the other three notes. In the late stages of Bang there is a moment where the pepper, woods and incense create an energetic synergy that feels like the best niche fragrances I’ve encountered.
“I was inspired by the threesome of peppercorn notes that Marc had loved from the beginning," adds Vasnier. "Pepper as a signature has never been explored before in fragrance. Bang is the ultimate peppery woody fragrance with a spicy twist." While any new mass fragrance that dares to be different makes me want to stand up and applaud (& possibly toss in a "Hallelujah!" or two), Bang is also as creative as some of the best new niche fragrances I've sampled this year. It is certainly better than any men’s mass market fragrance I tried in 2009, and as of right now, I don’t see any contender coming which will keep it from being my favorite men’s mass market fragrance of 2010
Bang represents a most welcome new direction in men’s mass market fragrance, and to Marc Jacobs, Yann Vasnier, and Ann Gottlieb I say: Bravo! Take a bow!
I hope Bang is the Big Bang it deserves to be.
And while you check out the fragrance, why not get "banged" yourself by playing the Marc Jacobs Bang FB game, "Bang You're It." You get to "bang" your FB friends' profile pix - to create the same impacted look as the Bang fragrance bottle - and, naturally, enjoy get banged in return. (Once your own profile pic gets banged, be sure to post it to your Wall.) The more bangs, the more points you rack up, especially if you get banged by people from other countries or its after midnight.
One Bang player will be chosen at random daily to win fabu loot, including a bottle of Bang, clothing, or even a trip to NYC to attend the much-coveted Marc Jacobs show during Fashion Week.
For updates, follow their Twitter: @MarcJacobsInt
-Mark Behnke, Men’s Style Editor
(NOTE: This post may have been sponsored by Marc Jacobs Bang, but the words and opinions are 100% ours.)
Be sure to check out our other posts about Bang: