One Thousand Scents

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Heavy-Handed: Comme des Garçons White


My first exposure to any of the Comme des Garçons scents was their very first fragrance, a few years after it had been launched in 1994. That was enough time for some buzz to have built up, but my anticipation turned to horror upon trying it on: it was dreadful--coarse, medicinal, overwhelming. I couldn't imagine how it had any adherents at all, despite its undeniably fascinating packaging.

I first tried Comme des Garçons White, their second scent, a few years ago, and my instant impression of it was that I had made a mistake, or they had, and that it was the same scent: it starts out identically, with a blast of spices. (It turns out that White is a re-imagining of the original scent, with fruit and floral notes added and the spices dialed down, at least a little.) From underneath that shock of spices, however, comes a sweet pomegranate note, and for a good half hour the whole thing smells amazingly like hot, spicy stewed fruit--overspiced, in fact; in this regard it hews a little too closely to the original. (I don't know where the name comes from: as I said yesterday, some scents smell like colours, but this one is resolutely un-white.)

Underneath this hot compote is the unexpected smell of flowers, mostly roses and some lily of the valley, still garlanded with spice notes, with the whole finally drying down into a warm oriental base--cedar and storax, plus yet more of those intrusive spices. It would be nice if CdG White were my long-sought-after masculine rose scent, but, the line's being what it is, the whole composition is too oddball to really work for me.

I could wear CdG White, and I do, occasionally, but it has that deliberate strangeness which I almost invariably associate with CdG scents. (Odeur 53 and Odeur 71 are less strange than silly, given that the former is supposed to smell of such things as "freshness of oxygen, flash of metal, fire energy, washing drying in the wind, mineral intensity of carbon, sand dunes, nail polish, cellulosic smell, pure air of the high mountains, ultimate fusion, burnt rubber, flaming rock" and the latter of "electricity, metal, office, mineral, dust on a hot light bulb, photocopier toner, hot metal, toaster, fountain pen ink, pencil shavings, the salty taste of a battery, incense, wood, moss, willow, elm, birch, bamboo, hyacinth and lettuce juice", which is Dadaism of a very high order indeed.)

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