They're mighty busy over at Comme des Garçons this year: we've already had 888 & Monocle + Comme des Garçons Scent One: Hinoki, and we've still got a number of collaborative scents to come (with Daphne Guinness, H&M, Jun Takahashi & Stephen Jones). The latest launch is Series 8: Energy C, three new fragrances promising a "vitamin rush based on citrus fruit" to "wake up, feel positive, be positive".
Comme des Garçons has done citrus before, most notably with Series 4: Cologne. To my mind, Series 4 is underrated, and not least of all by me — originally, they were only in 500 (!) ml, and even in the newer 125 ml size, it's still more than I want to take on for a cologne, even a short-lived one. Energy C's little 30 ml bottles are a considerably more attractive prospect for those of us who already have way too much perfume. They also sounded "kickier" and more modern than the Cologne series, and as it turns out, they mostly are:
Energy C Lemon (notes: bergamot, citron, lemon, cardamom, angelica, incense, musk and vetiver) starts with wonderfully sharp and vibrant lemon with just a touch of sweetness (it smells like a Lemon Drop for a few minutes). As it dries down, it gets softer, and while it stays lemon-y, it isn't quite so vibrant. There is a bit of earthiness underneath, but nothing in particular stands out, and while I'm a firm believer in the notion that you can't go looking for longevity in a summer citrus, this one fails to hold my interest much past the one hour mark. There's an awful lot of competition in the summer lemon category, and so while Energy C Lemon is fun while it lasts and I'd wear it if I had it, it isn't an absolute "must have" in my book.
Energy C Lime (notes: lime, bergamot, green lemon, water jasmine, tea rose, lily, musk, cedar and white amber) mostly left me cold. Lime seems to be harder to do in perfume than lemon, and the opening of Energy C Lime, while adequately lime-ish, seems a little flat, with nothing even approaching the vibrancy of the Energy C Lemon. It loses what steam it has very rapidly, and the dry down is a not particularly interesting mixture of sheer floral-ish stuff and bland woody musk. Even if I owned it, I don't think I'd wear it.
Energy C Grapefruit (notes: blackcurrant buds, pink grapefruit, petit grain, jasmine, neroli, yellow mandarin, tree moss and iris) is the winner of this trio by a landslide, at least for me. Someone will have to tell me what the reference blackcurrant-grapefruit is — as soon as I smelled Energy C Grapefruit, I went searching for my sample of Yves Saint Laurent's In Love Again, but I'm not sure that's the right thing. I never found the sample anyway, but going on memory, Energy C Grapefruit is a drier (maybe much drier) version of In Love Again's opening of sparkling grapefruit and sweet berry candy. Energy C Grapefruit's start is beautifully effervescent, and it keeps right on fizzing on the skin for a good long time. There is a goodly amount of petit grain buzzing along with the grapefruit in the early stages, and as it dries down, the grapefruit gives way to a more orange-ish citrus blend. The base is pale woody musk with just a touch of something earthy-mossy (I can't decide if I can make out the iris or not).
Energy C Grapefruit isn't a powerhouse in terms of longevity, but it's reasonably lasting for a citrus scent, and it easily kept my interest for a couple hours. There's nothing terribly unusual or avant-garde about it (or about Lemon or Lime), and anyone looking for some Comme des Garçons weirdness would do better with Monocle Hinoki, but if you're looking for a summer citrus, I'd recommend trying the Grapefruit at least, and if you're looking for something in a more "classical" cologne mode, don't forget about the Diptyque Cologne trio.
Comme des Garçons Series 8: Energy C Lemon, Lime and Grapefruit are available in 30 ml Eau de Toilette; for buying information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses. Update: Energy C Lime and Grapefruit were developed by perfumer Antoine Lie; Lemon was developed by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer.