Cologne Review: Marc Jacobs Bang

With a name like Bang, you might expect the new men’s fragrance from Marc Jacobs to smack you across the face—or, judging from the ads featuring the designer himself, kick you in the crotch.

But it doesn’t: it starts out with a masculine but elegant waft of black pepper and dries down to a mild vetiver with pepper undertones. It’s the best new fragrance I’ve smelled all year.

“Pepper has always been my favorite spice,” Jacobs says on the scent’s website. “I like the way it hits. I like the impact of pepper. I like the sort of reaction that one has to that sort of ‘hit’.” That’s a nice quote, but it’s misleading. Bang is actually quite tasteful. To say there’s an impact is to imply an assault, when it’s more like an exotic embrace.

“Pepper as a signature has never been explored before in fragrance,” says the perfumer, Yann Vasnier, on the same website. “Bang is the ultimate peppery woody fragrance with a spicy twist.” If he’s right, and he’s the first to build a fragrance around black pepper, then he’s a genius, because it works amazingly well.

I found it at Bloomingdale’s, where it launched exclusively in late July (other stores to follow in a month or so). When I smelled a sample card, I was impressed by how different it was—in a market full of sporty blue scents and boring woody clones, this is refreshing. When the overt pepper top notes fade, a warm and soothing mixture of vetiver, white moss, patchouli and benzoin resin remain, spiced by a lingering pepper.

Unlike many colognes on my dresser, I can spray Bang directly on, twice. I don’t have to spray the air and walk through it. It’s actually pretty mild, so if you like your scents stronger, you may need to reapply throughout the day.

As an interesting side note, Jacobs, a smoker, told an interviewer in the September Details that he likes the way colognes—and Bang in particular—smell on smokers.

As Bang proves, mass market fragrances don’t have to be boring, and great fragrances don’t have to be expensive.

Marc Jacobs Bang $55 for 1.7 oz. at Bloomingdale’s and Marc Jacobs boutiques.

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6 Responses to Cologne Review: Marc Jacobs Bang

  1. I must try this now that you’ve given it the, “best new fragrance I’ve smelled all year.”

  2. Lucas Chenier says:

    I completely disagree, this is the worst, most repulsive frag I’ve smelled all year. I wore it, almost threw up, same with everyone around me. I usualy don’t bash on colognes, because I never find any smell bad, just some better than others, but this stuff is DISGUTING!

  3. Wow! I’ve heard from people who didn’t love it, but you’re the first I’ve heard who had such a visceral reaction. What didn’t you like about? What colognes do you like?

    For me, it’s a rare cologne that, by its scent, actually turns my stomach. What usually makes me gag is an overdose of a fragrance–almost any fragrance. Some are worse in large quantities than others.

    That said, there are a few recent fragrances that I just don’t like. Diptyque’s Eau Duelle is one (too sweet, like vanilla cake frosting) and Bleu de Chanel (too much like other “blue” scents on the market). In general, I don’t like the whole blue category, like Cool Water and almost anything else in blue packaging.

  4. AH says:

    I just got a sampler bottle of the stuff and I have to say it’s pretty good.

    In a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the Frag Daddy of them all, I give it an 8.

  5. joseph says:

    i LOVE this scent. i HATE the fact that it only lasts for 10 minutes….. O_o

    they need to have a “cologne” version as well as the “eau de toilet” version currently available. honestly, it’s such a bummer that this stuff is such a joke. it lasts for less than an hour.

  6. Pingback: First Smell: Ben Sherman | cocktails & cologne

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