Black Cashmere by Rodrigo Flores-Roux for Donna Karan 2002


Post by FeralJasmine


Here in the southwestern USA it’s hot as hell and my winter scents are taking a break at the back of the cabinet, but it’s the perfect season to inflict my highly personal opinions about cool-weather scents upon the unsuspecting Aussies. So here is my first opinion: mass-market fragrances used to be a lot better than they are now. Part of it is that this is a tough decade for someone who despises most fruit notes, but also it used to be that, when companies went to the trouble and expense of launching a new perfume, they actually wanted you to be able to tell it from other perfumes. Now, I would swear that they’re all jostling for the rail in the Just-Like-Everybody-Else Sweepstakes. The wise and lovely Portia once reminded me in a comment that it’s all cyclical, and that in a few decades today’s mass-market consumers will be 2044’s aging perfumistas, grumpily complaining that you just can’t find good fruity florals anymore. Probably true. But Black Cashmere, with its hefty dose of wenge, has always smelled unlike anything else on the market.

Black Cashmere by Rodrigo Flores-Roux for Donna Karan 2002

Black Cashmere Donna Karan FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Saffron, nutmeg
Heart: Red pepper, white pepper, carnation, rose
Base: Woody notes, patchouli, African woods, vanilla, amber

Here’s my second strongly help opinion: reformulation is not a bad thing if it keeps a distinctive perfume on the post-IFRA market in a recognizable form. Case in point: my winter favorite, Donna Karan Black Cashmere. The first really distinctive perfume that I fell for, the one that tripped me so badly that I fell right down the rabbit hole, was the original DK Black Cashmere. I bought a dab sample and was lost in the wonder of something unlike anything else that I had ever smelled. Rich, plush, highly distinctive, and beautiful. What an evening that was.

Then I went on EBay to look for a vintage bottle, and it occurred to me that I had acquired a very expensive obsession indeed. Finally I did find a bottle of the vintage that I could afford, more or less, but I also swallowed hard and bought a decant of the reissue.

Black Cashmere Donna Karan WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Was it a shocking disappointment? Not really. Certainly the vintage has more depth and more oomph. But unlike the current Opium, which is a sick travesty, the current Black Cashmere makes a real effort to transmit the scent and spirit of the original. It’s a little lighter and extends itself a little further into warm weather. Overall, I dare you to find something more distinctive at that price point, which is a little over a dollar a milliliter if bought off the DK website. I have since bought a full bottle of the reissue, and often I wear the current one on one arm and the vintage on the other, to make my precious vintage last.

So why don’t more firms make an actual effort with their reissues? Beats me. But I also have both vintage and reissued Chaos from DK, and the reissue is a bit lacking compared to the vintage but is a genuine attempt to reproduce the very distinctive vintage recognizably in an IFRA-friendly form. DK Inc. seems to make real efforts to meet their fans halfway.

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Now Smell This
Donna Karan has $120/100ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/ml

I hate to rub salt into my readers’ wounds, but what’s your most distressing reissue story?
FeralJasmine xx

11 thoughts on “Black Cashmere by Rodrigo Flores-Roux for Donna Karan 2002

  1. Black Cashmere is really wonderful, isn’t it? I am an avowed floral-lover, but BC is such a comforting/exciting scent. I fell for it last fall, after sampling from a decant service, and promptly went out and found some of the original stuff (I lucked into a partially-used bottle for not too much $$). I have only sampled the reissue from a friend’s bottle, and I’d agree, it’s a respectful version and not too attenuated.

    I myself have been infuriated by rereleases that smell NOTHING like the lovely originals. Case 1? my lush, heady KL Chloe, that enormous white floral bouquet buttressed by woods and moss and everything else except the kitchen sink… rereleased as Chloe Chloe, a prim, kitchen-sink-cleanser floral. And the original Victoria’s Secret Victoria, first released as VS’s only fragrance, too expensive for me to buy back then, a floral chypre with depth and grace… now back as a sticky confection of red berries, rose and caramel GAHH.


  2. My heart goes out to you, Mals. If they are going to make it smell completely different from the original, then by all means give it a new name.
    Also, I have to add that I don’t buy the argument that IFRA killed these perfumes. It contributed, but ultimately the makers’ desire for cheaper results killed these perfumes. Beautiful and distinctive scents are coming from LM Parfums, O’Driu, and many other firms with perfumers who use excellent ingredients and a high level of skill, so why can’t the megabucks corporations do the same?
    Those of us who cherish some vintage finds need to share samples and sniffs. Only by comparison can new perfumistas see how anemic and stultifyinglynthevsame many if the new releases are.


  3. Hey there FeralJasmine,
    Love this post
    I have a bottle of this unopened. Yes, story of my life. You would laugh at my still in cellophane collection. One day maybe I will open it.
    JAZZ and Gentlemen both changed beyond recognition. One that has changed but I still adore is Shalimar, the newest batch in the new bottle is excellent to be fair.
    Portia xx


    • I’m glad that you have a collection in cellophane! I’m too greedy to keep anything in its wrapping for very long, so you are steps ahead of me.


  4. I’m with Mals86 and want to cry when I smell what they’ve done to Victoria. That’s not the Victoria I knew. That ain’t Opium either. Poison isn’t quite what it used to be. Honestly, there’s so many. I used to think it was just my nose or my memory was off. I’ve wanted to smell BlackCashmere and now that I know the current formula isn’t that bad I might give it a try.


    • To me, Hypnotic Poison smells pretty much the way it did originally; I suppose that they haven’t had time to mess with it as much.
      I am mulling over the LM line and trying to decide which one I want, when what I really want is one of each. I don’t often buy FBs these days, but I feel that the company should beg rewarded for not underestimating its customers. I want them to know that we can and will buy really lovingly made perfumes.


    • Hey Neil,
      Sorry to usurp your responses FeralJasmine.
      I just opened my Chaos and it is terrific. I don’t know what the old one smelled like but the current is very nice, much more masculine leaning than I expected. I bet the girls smell killer in it.
      Portia xx


    • Sorry not to respond, I had a travel mishap and was offline for a while. I like both versions of Chaos and would certainly buy the new one if I didn’t already gave a bottle of the old one. But I continue to harp on the fact that DK Inc. is demonstrating that respectful updates of beloved classics can be made. So, um, why isn’t more of that happening?


  5. I’m so with you, FJ. Mass-market fragrances used to be so much better… I haven’t smelt Black Cashmere for ages but now I might give a try. I’m also with the others on Victoria and Opium… Soooo sad. 😦


    • I never sniffed the old Victoria, but the new one is certainly young, fruity, and boring. I wish there were more adult perfumes on the mass market, because I tend to dislike sniffing little-girl perfumes on grown women. I do have strong feelings that a degree of complexity goes with being a grown-up. Biased, I realize!


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