Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comme des Garçons - parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense

It´s impossible not to admire Comme des Garçons for their great integrity and artistic approach to making fragrances. This was especially true before the Sweet-series and the recent Guerillas, which are fine as well, but a bit too mainstream. No other house, fairly large that is, could or would put out a series like this. No Demeter fragrance library here - these are all standalone scents with great character. The different nuances balancing the incense range from sweet to woody, smokey and smoulderingly spicy. My reflections concern mainly three out of the five available ones, excluding Kyoto and Zagorsk.

Avignon is definitely the most straightforward "churchey" one of the lot. The comparison to Etro´s Messe de Minuit must be made. They are certainly similar, but I would argue that Avignon is far superior and above all much more wearable. Messe de Minuit stays with the gothic theme during it´s entire progression, never leaving that catholic mass groove, whereas Avignon is significantly softened by the vanilla and chamomille that appear quickly alongside the frankincense and myrrh. The subtle vanilla also prevents it from becoming to cold and musty. Avignon could be described as a mix of MdM and Gucci Rush, with the originality of the first and the pleasant, powdery wearability of the latter.

For me, Jaisalmer is easily the most challenging fragrance in this series. I suspect there´s a good amount of raw vetiver in there. A note that with it´s earthy and soily qualities certainly is not a favourite of mine. I do however like this fragrance anyway. It is intensely smokey and spicy. I get images of campfires and charred pieces of wood when wearing it - and I like it! Jaisalmer is intensely dry, a bit dirty and very masculine, would not want to smell this on my girlfriend. Like many CdG´s it is an aquired taste, so don´t buy blind. It´s siblings in the Incense-series are mucher safer bets if you´re into incense and want a cool avantgarde approach to it. Jaisalmer´s staying power outlasts all of the others easily though.

If Jaisalmer is the most challenging and Avignon the most eccentric in the Incense-series, Ouarzazate is their playful cousin. Carefree, light and very easy to wear. There´s a strong bergamot note in the opening that stays with the fragrance during it´s evolution. This adds an orange like dimension to it and also makes it smell a bit like a hot cup of tea. Additionally the incense is much more muted here than in the others. I partly agree on the comparison to Gucci Pour Homme. They definitely share a dry cedar base, but there is very little pine or smoke in this one. More of a fizzy, slightly herbal and optimistic addition to this excellent range. Not great sillage but stays on the skin for a long time.
Year of Launch: 2002 for all 5 fragrances
Gender Classification: All are unisex
Longevity & Sillage: All decent, Jaisalmer excellent
Overall rating: 9/10 for the series as a whole

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