One Thousand Scents

Friday, January 02, 2009

Unreal: Comme des Garçons Dry Clean

Comme des Garçons doesn't do anything quite like anybody else, certainly not fragrances. They have a large number of them, mostly grouped into eclectic collections: Sherbet, Leaves, Red, Incense, Sweet, and so on. Their sixth collection was called Synthetic, composed of scents that deliberately didn't smell like anything in the natural world: Skai is (putatively) the smell of man-made leather, and Garage, Tar, and Soda are self-explanatory. The containers are as synthetic as their contents: a translucent plastic bottle looking for all the world like household cleaner or disinfectant spray, containing a black plastic bag which gradually shrivels up as the scent is used.

When I was young, there was a small strip mall just around the corner from my house: it held a convenience store, a bank, a supermarket, possibly a couple of other business that I've forgotten, and a dry-cleaner's, where I would go from time to time to pick up my parents' cleaning. I loved the smell of the shop; warm, steamy, solventy, the very essence of clean.

As you will see from my recent Twitter postings, I've been wearing Comme des Garçons' Dry Clean a lot lately. I originally ordered the sample because I assumed it would smell at least something like that shop around the corner. You'd think from reading the official list of notes (ozone, aldehydes, nail polish, bay leaf, rose oxide, metallic incense, dissolvent vapours, gaiacwood) that it would smell like a dry-cleaner's--I mean, "dissolvent vapours"? Bingo! Alas, no. With the usual CdG perversity, Dry Clean smells instead like....

You're a scientist. A successful one: you own your own lab! It has racks of bottles large and small containing hundreds and hundreds of chemicals: most of them have no smell, but some of them do. The lab is nicely outfitted: lots of stainless steel and glass and surfaces made of Corian or some other hard, smooth, inert plastic. In fact, nothing at all from the natural world, nothing that could hold chemical smells: it's all manufactured and easily cleaned.

This is lucky, because you are a clean freak. So one day you set about cleaning your lab (by yourself, because nobody else can be trusted to get it just right). You get some harsh, caustic powdered cleanser with a lemon scent, and you scrub and scrub and scrub, so hard that you practically vapourize a layer of metal and glass and Corian into the air. When you're done, the whole lab is perfectly bright and shiny. You climb into the hazmat shower and wash away the sweat of your exertion with punishingly strong soap that smells as faintly as possible of synthetic roses but mostly of soap, and you put on a freshly laundered lab coat that bears the odour of commercial laundry detergent.

And now you and the lab smell like Dry Clean.


  • Do you ever find that perfumes lose their "gimmicky" edge? and then they become harder and harder to find a day or a time that seems "appropriate" to wear them? I find that to be true of some of the CdG line of fragrances.

    As a gift, I received a tube of Soda a few years ago and initially loved the chemical-ish blend of fizzy lime and ginger, household cleaner and sheer musk. But after about a month of wearing it on and just sorta lost its appeal. Does that ever happen to you?

    Regardless, your review has inspired me to dig through my boxes and find my tube of Soda and wear it today....maybe it will end up being perfect for the first day of the new semester and I will have finally found the perfect occasion to smell like an industrial strength fresh, green, and frizzy household cleaner!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:07 PM  

  • Dry Clean smells as dirty as it does smell clean, chemical disposal, a fragranced drug, supernatural alien woman's aura in gloomy pounding club.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:36 PM  

  • Hi! I dated someone who wore this scent and absolutely love it. I have not been able to find it to purchase it on line. Where did you get it! And thank you for your post. Very interesting! Emma

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:19 PM  

  • Marko--I know exactly what you mean! I'll be infatuated with the brazen novelty of something, and then a while later it will seem obvious or cheap--as you say, gimmicky. I loved Paco Rabanne Ultraviolet Men at first, and wrote an appropriately glowing review, but it didn't take me too long to fall out of love with the general syntheticness of it. And speaking of synthetic....

    Anonymous 11:19--I didn't get a whole bottle of Dry Clean, luckily, because it just isn't me: I ordered a sample from Luckyscent, but unfortunately for you they no longer carry Dry Clean. (They carry most of the CdG line; there are five scents in the Synthetic series, and they have all of them except Dry Clean. I don't know when they stopped carrying it--their web page for Synthetic still mentions "five anti-perfumes" though it shows only four--but you are out of luck.)

    I can't find anyone else selling it, either. Even The Perfumed Court doesn't have it (though they have the other four), and The Perfume Shoppe here in Canada carries some Comme des Garçons but not the Synthetic series. It seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth. Sorry. Your best bet is probably to haunt eBay and see if someone is getting rid of a bottle.

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