Monday, September 10, 2012
Comme des Garçons: Original
A good ten years before I started collecting perfume in earnest, I visited New York, and made a stop at Barney's. I'd always loved perfume but I didn't wear it much, if ever. I had an old bottle of Coriandre and a few other things, and I kept these in the bathroom cabinet, back when there was room to do such a thing. I'm not sure what I was doing at Barney's, or why I felt it necessary to go - but Comme des Garçons had just come out, and it was heavily represented on the first floor, and there wasn't much time wasted between smelling it and purchasing it.
A few years later, I gave my practically full bottle away. A friend really loved it, and it was hard to make an argument with myself for keeping it, given I never wore it. Several years later, once I had quite a few fragrances, so much that there was no more room in the bathroom cabinet, I was in said friend's bathroom and saw my old bottle of Comme des Garçons sitting there on the counter. I smelled it again and tried to remember why I'd thought it rational in any way to part with it. Within a few weeks I'd purchased another bottle online.
Marc Buxton created this fragrance in 1994, and while there might have been a few things like it at the time, I'd never smelled them. Intensely woody and spicy, Comme des Garçons explores now standard territory for niche (and even mainstream) perfumery - CDG itself has investigated nearly every facet represented here in its own range of perfumes since - and yet, nearly fifteen years later, the fragrance smells entirely new each time I smell it.
Interviewed upon its release, Buxton spoke of the freedom he was given - and the responsibility that came with it. Given carte blanche creatively, he was limited only by his conviction that the fragrance should be something one could, and would want to, wear. It is wearable, but also stratifying. The alleged medicinal aspects of Comme des Garçons waver on a line that divides opinion. That said, this is no Secretions Magnifiques. I say alleged because I've never gotten any such medicinal thing smelling it. I get woods (sandalwood, cedar), spices (cardamom, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, coriander), incense (frankincense), honey, and something which conjures rose. The overall impression for me is something as boozy and illicit as a prohibition speakeasy - a little wood, a little leather, the sense of something you wear with the intent of getting yourself into some trouble.
Comme des Garçons is long lasting but not hugely diffusive on me. It falls into a category I have no name for in my collection but which includes Black Cashmere, L'Air du Desert Marocain, Yatagan, Norma Kamali Incense, Monk, Moschino de Moschino, and Jubilation XXV, among others. What is that category, exactly? You'd have to tell me. When I feel like what CDG has to offer, nothing else, not Lutens, Montale, the Incense Series, or even any other fragrance in this loose category will do. Of all the interesting things Marc Buxton has done, this remains my favorite.