Thursday, June 27, 2013
Luxe Patchouli EDT: Comme des Garcons
I have a soft spot for the curry-steeped-in-maple-syrup qualities of fenugreek, which makes Luxe Patchouli a real bonanza for me. Patchouli haters will assure you it is aptly named, but I consider it more of a fenugreek scent than a patchouli proper. Add some pepper, woods, and a little vanilla, and you have something somewhere between edible and earthy. This is a polarizing scent, and consider this: Some of them still should be. I find it extraordinarily nice, but others might recoil. While I'm not arguing for more recoil in modern perfumery, I don't think strong, passionate feelings for or against should be as much a thing of the past as they seem to be threatening to become.
Unfamiliar with fenugreek? Here's author Steffen Arctander's take on it, quoted from Glass Petal Smoke:
"The characteristic odor of fenugreek extract is a celery-like spiciness, a coumarinic-balsamic sweetness, and an intense, almost sickeningly strong, lovage-like or opopanax-note of extreme tenacity. The diffusive power of the odor of this material is usually underestimated by far."
That gives you an idea why the guy next to me was crying.
This description would scare off many, even though wearing Luxe Patchouli doesn't require spilling it all over yourself and can be used just as wonderfully in small doses as large. The price didn't help the scent's reputation, either, and it has gone practically unremarked. The eau de parfum version is (still) pricey at over 200 dollars for 45 ounces, so I've worn mine sparingly, which is to say rarely. In perfume years, the fragrance came out close to a century ago, way back in 2007.
Now, six years later, Comme des Garcons, who have been on an upswing creatively of late, have released both Luxe Patchouli and its companion fragrance, Luxe Champaca, in eau de toilette versions. At over 100 bucks for 100 ml, the fragrances are still arguably cost prohibitive, but compared to the originals they seem practically free.
I was worried that the EDT version of Luxe Patchouli would be - I don't know - 'effervescent'? Tastes since 2007 have nudged then shoved patchouli away from its dread grunge origins, making it ever cleaner, smoother, creamier, and otherwise unrecognizable and unremarkable. I think I've actually yawned once or twice smelling some of these contemporary interpretations. Comme des Garcon hasn't always followed trends, and isn't afraid of a fragrance that frightens the horses, but in the recent past they've veered toward tepid if not exactly tame. It's all been a little airy for me. Was there a "modernization" effort involved in the edt? A re-orchestration?
I'm more relieved than someone probably should be over something like this to say that the edt version of Luxe Patchouli is a.) practically identical in smell to the edp, b.) in other words not at all light, and c.) money well spent. It lasts as long, as far as I can tell, if not quite as long, and would have gotten me as much grumpiness on a flight from Greece as I've grown accustomed to. If I notice one difference - if I'm splitting hairs - it's that the fenugreek and patchouli give way in the far dry down to a marked hint of vetiver I don't remember from the EDP. But that's if I squint, and the trade-off is that the opening is lightened just enough that everything I've always loved about the scent rings out more clearly. Let's hope this and Black are signs of things to come from Comme des Garcons, rather than momentary aberrations.
All that said, a note about packaging. Really, Comme des Garcons? Two boxes of the same size, joined at the hip, one empty, one full?