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.