What does “floriental” mean to you? I think of a warm, ambered fragrance with a classic floral heart and a touch of fruit. I count on baroque flourishes and maybe even a bottle with a tassel dangling from its neck. It won’t surprise you that Comme des Garçons Floriental is none of that. Instead, Floriental purports to center itself on a flower with no scent — the cistus flower — and it is straightforward and linear with a decidedly urban edge. No tassels here.
Floriental’s notes include labdanum, sandalwood, vetiver, incense, pink pepper and plum liqueur. You’ll notice the absence of floral notes in this list, and I don’t smell anything blatantly floral in Floriental, either. Instead, I get a sharp, incense-tinged top floating above a sweet, round sandalwood base with a touch of spice. And that’s about it. No flowers, no fruit (despite the mention of plum liqueur), and no traditional floriental (little “f”) fussiness.
Floriental’s sandalwood heart is milky and comforting if not full-bodied, but the fragrance’s sharp top could be incense mixed with paint thinner. Floriental doesn’t evolve much. What you smell after three minutes is close to what you smell after four hours, when the fragrance at last begins to fade. Road-testing Floriental, I got a uniform thumbs down to its piercing edge. “Cheap smelling and aggressive,” one friend said. “Grating,” another friend said. “I don’t think I’d like that on my skin.”
Despite being named after a style of fragrance that personifies prettiness, Floriental doesn’t seem to aim to charm. If it wasn’t from Comme des Garçons and cleverly named Floriental despite its lack of obvious floriental-ness, I’m not sure I’d find much in it to interest me. However, I’m not especially good at pulling off this sort of artistic statement. In the end, I just want to smell good.
Comme des Garçons Floriental was developed by perfumer Émilie Coppermann. It is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($131); for buying information see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.