One Thousand Scents

Friday, January 01, 2010

See-Through: Comme des Garçons Artek Standard

Another year begins, and when I look back on 2009, all I can think is, There were about a thousand new scents released last year, and I managed to smell about twelve of them.

Seriously. Here's the Perfume Posse list of their 20 best scents of 2009 (more than 20, actually--they fudged a little) in alphabetical order:

Amouage Tribute Attar
Apothia Pearl
By Kilian Pure Oud
Carol’s Daughter’s Pearls
Cartier – L’heure Mysteriuese, L’Heure Brilliante, and La Treizieme Heure
Creed Windsor
Kenzo UFO
L’Artisan al Oudh
L’Artisan Havana Vanille
La Perla Life Threads
Lolita Lempicka Si Lolita Lempicka
Natori EDP
Parfums DelRae Mythique
Penhaligon’s Amaranthine
Prada L’Eau Ambree
Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream
Soihvohle Oudh Lacquer
Soihvohle Love Speaks Primeval
Tom Ford Grey Vetiver
Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidee Vanille, Bois d’Iris and Muguet Blanc

I haven't tried a single one of them. Not one. I went to New York twice in one year and visited a bunch of fragrance stores, I order as many samples and decants as I can afford to from The Perfumed Court and The Perfume Shoppe and Luckyscent, and I just can't keep up. And most of the stuff that's released is mass-market stuff, cloney fruity florals for the ladies and aquatic fougeres for the men, fragrances I don't have any interest in (but I'll sniff them anyway when they show up at the local hyperdrugmart or department store), and I can't even keep up with that, let alone the good stuff.

It's enough to make a boy give up. But that's not happening.


Comme des Garçons, not satisfied with churning out large quantities of mostly fascinating themed scents, has begun working with other companies, design firms and clothing designers and milliners and the like, to churn out even more scents. One of those is Artek, a Finnish design company and the namesake for the latest collaboration, Artek Standard (or, according to the typography on the bottle, STANDARD).

If you would think that a scent named after a design firm might smell kind of industrial, well, you would be right on the nose. It suggests a factory in which wooden window frames are made: there's a lot of freshly circular-sawed cedar, the shiny-bright smell of glass cleaner, a hint of putty, a brilliant twang of polished metal. There are supposedly flowers, spices, and tea in there, too, but really it smells of the construction of things.

Despite all the sawdusty cedar, it has a supremely clean and slightly harsh smell that calls to mind another Comme des Garçons scent, Dry Clean, but where that was chemical and deliberately synthetic (and, to my nose, vaguely horrifying), Artek Standard seems composed of natural, or natural-ish, smells. The sandblasted sterility of Dry Clean has been replaced by the sort of cleanliness that might occur in the real world, in your everyday life (if you worked in a window-making factory, that is). I am surprised to find that I like it a lot. The smart, pared-down bottle, too.


  • Does Dry Clean resemble Thierry Mugler's Cologne? When I spray it on, TMC always makes me smell like my suit has just come out of the plastic bag. Which is nice as a gimmick when I really should have dropped off that suit at the dry cleaner's last week, but isn't something I need to be smelling on myself all the time.

    By Blogger D.J., at 7:51 PM  

  • No, it doesn't. Dry Clean is in a category by itself: it's viciously, chemically clean, metallic-glassy-plasticky.

    I haven't seriously examined Cologne, just worn it a couple times, but I recall that it had, underneath the usual trappings of cologne (neroli, citrus, an overall clean-bright-fresh quality) a vaguely meaty animalic quality; some sort of musk, I guess. Didn't interest me too much. I'm not a cologne person. Even the Comme des Garçons colognes didn't grab me, and they really tried to add a twist to the usual formula.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 8:18 PM  

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