The reviews are in, and there’s one word that keeps on coming up.
Dan Carter’s signature scent, like most other celebrity fragrances, is hard to take as seriously as it wants to be taken. It’s also hard to judge objectively – unless, of course, you don’t know it’s Dan Carter’s signature scent you’re smelling.
In fact, the only way to provide a truly honest and accurate review of DC10 Sport, available exclusively at Chemist Warehouse, would be to wear it in the office without telling anybody and report how people reacted.
This is my mission today. The aim is simple: to provide a blank canvas for the scent to be judged on its own merits. A blank canvas lingering suspiciously in the office kitchen and other communal areas, reeking of DC10 Sport.
8.45am I visit Chemist Warehouse on my way to work. A small but prominent DC10 Sport display is on the left as I enter the store, next to a larger display with fragrances from Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Bublé. Deeper into the fragrance section, the former All Black shares the men’s sports shelf with the likes of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and the late Shane Warne.
“Wow, new product,” remarks the young man at the counter. This feels pointed somehow. Chemist Warehouse opens at 8am and today is the first day DC10 Sport has been on sale. I suspect I may be the first person in the world to buy Dan Carter’s signature scent in store.
9.00am DC10 Sport comes in a serious-looking matte black box with shiny embossed print, projecting a luxury beyond its $49.99 price tag. It was not designed to be unboxed in an office toilet cubicle, but here we are. I apply a full spray to my throat, then another to my wrist, then several more in the air to ensure full body coverage. The smell is immediate and stifling. It transports me back to the changing rooms at my high school gym, to a world of satin boxer shorts and extreme self-consciousness. There is no other way to say this: it smells a lot like Lynx body spray.
9.05am What did I expect it to smell like? Dan Carter may have cultivated an interest in the finer things in life in recent years, wearing leather jackets and drinking wine, but you can tell that at heart he is still an uncomplicated, Lynx-wearing teenage boy. I imagine him at the Chemist Warehouse fragrance testing facility, sampling scent after scent after scent and feeling nothing at all, before finally sniffing this one and feeling a profound sense of inner peace.
I enter the office and walk straight to my desk. No one comments on my suffocating scent.
10.30am I go to make a coffee and notice my closest desk neighbour is now working from a table in the office kitchen area.
12.00pm A busy morning means I haven’t had the opportunity to circulate in the office as much as I planned. The scent has now settled to a level that could almost be described as “not that bad”, so I sneak back to the toilets for a quick reapplication. Compulsively sniffing my wrists, I can detect traces of vanilla, which I confirm is one of the official base notes. The complete list of ingredients, for the scent hounds, is as follows:
Top Notes: Crushed Pepper, Citrus Zest, Blue Sage
Mid Notes: Wild Oakmoss, French Lavender, Clearwood®
Base Notes: Tonka Bean, Cedarwood Atlas, Charred Vanilla
1.00pm I google “DC10 review” to see if anyone has beaten me to the scoop. There are reviews for a guitar pedal, a hi-fi speaker, an Ibiza nightclub with an alleged “pickpocket problem” and a well-known make of aircraft all with the same name, but none for Dan Carter’s new eau de toilette. It is yet to get a page on fragrantica.com, “Your Online Destination For All Things Fragrance”.
2.00pm According to the Chemist Warehouse website, DC10 Sport is an “empowering and strong fragrance resplendent of [sic] Dan’s breathtaking sporting career”. The same spiel also claims that “Dan’s debut scent was inspired by motion and constant movement and progression” and that “the striking bottle and packaging were designed to hardness [sic] this sense of movement through blurred outer edges while drawing focus to the admirable path forged by Dan Carter that we all could look to as inspiration as we continue in our own lives”.
Reading between the lines, what I think this means is that Dan Carter is having an identity crisis. For years his identity was as clearly defined as his six-pack: All Black, Crusader, Jockey model. But since retiring from professional rugby in 2020, he’s found himself set adrift, something many professional athletes experience after they retire. Unlike his former teammates, however, he’s too famous to simply assimilate into the workforce as a real estate agent. Instead, he now leads the busy yet directionless life of a celebrity.
Celebrities don’t have jobs, they take on projects. Dan Carter has already published two autobiographies and a confusing high-concept coffee table book. He has a charity, the DC10 Fund in partnership with Unicef. He’s dabbled in NFTs. He’s a Chemist Warehouse ambassador, a freelance kicking consultant, goes to fashion shows sometimes. He has a million followers on Instagram. And now he has his own fragrance, which I am wearing, and which still no one has commented on.
3.00pm Is it socially acceptable to comment on a colleague’s scent? On this kind of topic I tend to defer to the wisdom of Portuguese football mastermind Jose Mourinho: “I prefer not to speak.” I have been counting on my officemates to have the opposite philosophy, but maybe I need a to take different approach. First, I return to the toilet and reapply a generous third coat of DC10 Sport.
4.00pm Desperate times call for desperate measures. I make an anonymous survey and posted a link to it in Slack, asking everybody who is or has been in the office to fill it out.
4.30pm Sixteen people respond. 69% say they didn’t notice a new scent in the office. “Wish I did,” one of them writes. Of the five who did notice it, one reports thinking “it smells like teen boy deodorant”. Another says it reminds them “of being on the bus in year 10 … is it Lynx?”
I go and talk to another colleague who works in an adjacent office and doesn’t have access to the Google Form. Thoughts? “It kind of smells like–” he hesitates for a moment, and I can tell he’s trying to think of any other way to describe it – “Lynx.” That’s what I thought too, I say. He thinks about it some more. “It’s the scent of the generic New Zealand dude.”
5.30pm This isn’t the story I wanted to write. I hoped people would say nice things about Dan Carter’s signature scent (and in fairness, one respondent to the anonymous fragrance survey did write “it smells good (I think)”), allowing me to shock them to their core when I revealed what it was.
But is smelling like Lynx such a bad thing? I ponder this question as I leave my bottle of DC10 Sport on my desk, bringing my work day and this ill-conceived experiment to an end. Lynx is the defining men’s deodorant of my generation’s youth, and we associate it with a part of our lives most of us would rather leave behind. We like to think we have moved on, that the deodorants we now buy at the supermarket are somehow more grown-up and sophisticated.
But what if our adolescent instincts were right all along, and it actually just smells good? Maybe it’s time for a critical reassessment of Lynx. That’s what I’ll be doing over the coming weeks and months, anyway, as I work my way through this 100ml bottle of DC10 Sport.