I like Costume National clothes, but their perfumes haven’t thrilled me. When I read last year’s announcements regarding Costume National’s new men’s fragrance, Homme, I wasn’t excited and didn’t bother to order a sample of the perfume. As often happens in the fragrance world, others took it upon themselves to send me little vials of Homme, and I’m glad they did.
Homme, created by perfumer Dominique Ropion, is a close relative of Comme des Garçons Series 3, Incense fragrances (woody/resinous with sweet/spicy facets) and it’s practically a “twin” of Eau d'Italie Baume du Doge. Homme includes notes of grapefruit, bergamot, cardamom, cinnamon, thyme, clove, patchouli, sandalwood and labdanum.
Costume National Homme is a well-blended fragrance; the opening is a bit liquor-y with dense citrus melding quickly with spices: cardamom at first, then clove, cinnamon and dried thyme. I am not a fan of many clove/cinnamon scents; any perfume that smells overwhelmingly of clove/carnations or Red Hots will annoy and, for some reason yet to be figured out, depress me. Thankfully, the cinnamon/clove in Homme is dry, verging on ‘woody’; it’s as if the spices had been stored too long in a wooden box and had solidified or were absorbed into the wood itself. Aged or, if you prefer, “faded” spice notes can be interesting, and comforting.
There is an appealing “closed space” aroma (a scent blend of old wood; antique, crumbling papers; and dried leather) in Homme’s mid-development. I’ve always loved the smells of dusty attics, the insides of old trunks and wood cabinets; and glass-fronted bookcases that have been shut for too long. (I’m a ‘ghost” at heart, I guess.)
Homme’s spice notes never fade away but as the fragrance dries down, the scents of patchouli, cedar/sandalwood and leather-lite become apparent. The extreme dry-down of Homme smells of soft, plush, and lightly spiced amber.
At the moment, I’m wavering between buying a full bottle of Homme or Baume du Doge; I’ll wear the scents side by side and decide which one will join the household come autumn. Costume National Homme Eau de Parfum has good sillage and excellent lasting power; Homme is $80 for 50 ml. For buying information, see the listing for Costume National under Perfume Houses.
Note: top left image is Self Portrait by Stanislaw Wyspianski [cropped] via Wikimedia.