Way back in 2009, my friend A. and I went to see "The September Issue," a documentary film about Vogue magazine and its influential (and infamous) editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. If you'd grabbed me on the way out of the theater and asked me to review the film in one line, I'd have said, "Go for Anna, but stay for Grace." Grace Coddington, creative director of Vogue, was the movie's surprise star — she impressed us with her imagination and her commitment to her work and she reminded us why we're bewitched and inspired by fashion despite ourselves.
Coddington (now Vogue's Creative Director at Large) has just collaborated with Comme des Garçons on a fragrance called Grace by Grace Coddington. This scent was inspired by Coddington's "love of English roses" and its composition includes top notes of bergamot, mint, basil, cardamom and pink pepper; heart notes of Moroccan rose, freesia and peach blossom; and base notes of vetiver, cashmere wood, white musk and amber. It was developed with Comme des Garçons Parfum's Creative Director Christian Astuguevieille, and the cat-shaped bottle was designed by Fabien Baron. (If Brancusi had ever sculpted a cat, it might have ended up looking something like this.)
Roses, cats, fashion magazines...this would have to be a pretty bad perfume for me to dislike it. Fortunately, it's good, in a cheerful and deceptively simple way. Coddington may flaunt her dramatic red mane and dark lipstick, but she apparently loves her roses dewy-fresh. Grace starts off with a herbal-mint top note and then quickly morphs into a squeaky-clean "shampoo floral," whose roses just smell pink and whose other floral and green notes are equally buoyant. The base notes, other than the white musk, are very subtle. Grace feels fairly linear, although it also manages to seem winsome rather than cheap, despite my shampoo comparison.
Grace would appeal to anyone who loves Diptyque Eau Rose or some of the lighter, fruitier offerings from Les Parfums de Rosine. It's a perfect rose fragrance for spring and summer, and I've been spritzing it on with abandon. Despite its transparency, it has surprisingly good tenacity on the skin. I've been applying it in the morning before leaving for work, and just when I think it has faded away, I'll catch a breath of rose wafting from my wrists at odd moments throughout the afternoon.
Grace by Grace Coddington joins Etat Libre d'Orange Like This on my very short list of "favorite celebrity fragrances," because it suits my taste, I respect the celebrity in question, and I can actually imagine her being involved in the process. If you're at all curious, do visit her website for some charming line drawings (more cats!) and the story behind the perfume.
Comme des Garçons Grace by Grace Coddington is available as 50 ($110) and 100 ($145) ml Eau de Toilette. For buying information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses (or buy directly from Grace Coddington's website, at the link in the last paragraph).