The weather here continues to be wretched. If this keeps up, tomorrow I'll be wearing Carthusia Mediterraneo and having an out-of-body experience on a Greek island, but for now, I'm reaching for warm spices & woods again. Today's scent: Comme des Garçons Eau de Parfum, the avant garde fashion line's first fragrance, launched in 1994 with the tag line "works like a medicine and behaves like a drug". The notes include cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, honey, floral notes, amber, labdanum, cedar and sandalwood.
Perfumer Mark Buxton, who developed the scent, noted that the creative freedom accorded him by the Comme des Garçons label was unusual, to say the least:
I mean, I try to keep in mind that somebody has got to wear it, somehow. Otherwise we could bring out a perfume that smells of a horse's stable. That's the only difficulty with having complete liberty. How far can I go? (quoted in The Independent, 9/20/2003)
As things turned out, Comme des Garçons Eau de Parfum does not venture so far into unwearable territory as later releases like Garage, Tar and Dry Clean, but still, it is an unusual fragrance, and one that every fan of niche perfumery should try. Like yesterday's Donna Karan Black Cashmere, it has a rough opening, although this one might go beyond rough and spill over into strange. It is spicy (cinnamon! clove!) and warm, yes, but also slightly bitter and heavily medicinal — it smells like an old-fashioned balm or liniment, the sort of thing you might rub on your chest to ward off illness, perhaps.
The medicinal undertones give way gradually, leaving, as in Black Cashmere, spiced sandalwood incense. I don't think anyone could accuse Black Cashmere of bowing to commercial conventions, but what Comme des Garçons does with spiced sandalwood incense is even less likely to find a mass audience. It is deep and rich, but also smoky (there are hints of smoldering pencil-shavings) and very nearly bone-dry (there is a drop of honey, no more). There is the tiniest whisper of florals (maybe rose?), and traces of something bitter and green linger on from the top notes.
It smells good, but there is something kind of uncompromising about it, and it probably isn't everyone's idea of what a personal fragrance should smell like. It is not quite so dark as Black Cashmere (in tone it is closer to Donna Karan Chaos), and "mysterious" and "sexy" might not be apt either. Do comment if you've tried it, I'd love to hear some other opinions.
For buying information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.
Tomorrow, oops! running late, make that Sunday or Monday: Comme des Garçons White