A New Perfume,1 the latest from Comme des Garçons, is a welcome thing: I miss Comme des Garçons. They haven't done anything under their own brand since 2010's Wonderwood,2 and they haven't done anything that I loved since their 2009 collaborative effort with Monocle, Monocle Scent Two: Laurel.3 A New Perfume is something of a return to form — it's old-school, weird Comme des Garçons, although perhaps not quite in the way I expected. It features the usual ad copy mumbo jumbo in the Comme des Garçons style ("A rejected bottle survives to hold an imaginary flower constructed linearly"), and a description that pretty much sums up what it smells like:
The fragrance opens with the man made organic composites of aldehydes and safraleine, opening up slowly to hawthorns and derivations of lilac, before exploding in a riot of flower oxides, then finally succumbing to notes of industrial glue and brown scotch tape with hints of musk and styrax.
That's just right. The opening is in-your-face synthetic (and diffusive), and the flowers, which join in quickly (lilac is the most recognizable), smell like they're filtered through various man-made materials, ranging from fingernail polish remover to crushed concrete. The glue and scotch tape (or whatever) are strong, and most of the experience of wearing A New Perfume, after the strange ride of the first 15 or 20 minutes, is about waiting for the whole thing to calm down.
So it is strange, but it's also very clean: an offbeat laundry detergent fragrance, perhaps. It smells like what might be carried on the air on a very hot summer day if you lived near, but not too near, some sort of factory that made industrial cleaning products. I did not find it unpleasant, but really there isn't much you can do, strange or otherwise, to make me love a laundry detergent fragrance.4 So I don't care for it, but if you're a fan of the line it is well worth a try.
Comme des Garçons A New Perfume is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $140. For buying information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.
1. The official name (to the extent that Comme des Garçons bothers with things like official names, and I am not at all sure that they do, and as you can see there is nothing on the bottle but the brand name) appears to actually be Comme des Garçons Eau de Parfum. As that is absurdly confusing given that they already make something called Comme des Garçons Eau de Parfum (their first fragrance), I'm going to go on calling it A New Perfume. I do wish they'd called it Comme des Garçons 4 — and then they could have put it in the wonderful pebble bottle instead of this molten lump of a thing.
2. I do realize that's only a break of about a year (A New Perfume launched in 2011), but with the cascade of new niche fragrances, it seems much longer...it's not 12 months later, it's 1500 perfumes later.
3. And the last perfume under the Comme des Garçons brand name that I absolutely adored was Comme des Garçons 2 Man, way back in 2004. But I'll add to the list of the collaborative scents that I love: the brilliant fragrance for Stephen Jones in 2008, and the first Monocle fragrance, Hinoki, also 2008, also brilliant.
4. And of course, if you want something clean and weird that doesn't smell like detergent, there is always Comme des Garçons Odeur 53.