Comme des Garçons by Comme des Garçons

It’s remarkably difficult as a reviewer to not only find new and worthy scents, but also approaching new angles within these reviews. It is easy to report to blog readers and offer a running commentary of how a perfume smells at each stage, but it is a newfound difficulty when the non-perfumed elements of a perfume are to be discussed: the philosophical and waxy artistic underpinnings of a carefully constructed fragrance that makes it worthy of study in its own right.

Smelling the original Comme des Garçons (1994) for the first time was a breath of fresh air, reminding me of why I enjoy doing what I do as a blogger of scent. Immediately, it is a scent of complex structure, offering instant gratification when smelled, but also a sneer: complex structures need to be investigated intently, and that takes time.

Moreover, fragrances structured like Comme des Garçons produces satisfaction for the main reason that it smells of what perfume ought to be. Melodies within melodies; rhapsodic. There is harmony at every stage of Comme des Garçons, distinctly defined and seamlessly differentiated from one another. This is not a spherical perfume, as it is not defined by equipoise, and offers far more mystery in its structure. It is neither top-down, but more complex: offering not only solid vertical structure, but a pleasantly thinning horizontal depth. The contents are clearly defined, while the outlines are pleasingly off-colour on closer inspection. Comme Des Garcons (Original) © 2016 Liam Sardea

© 2016 Liam Sardea


Whilst tempting to solely review scent on a reductive basis, reviewing scent for its structural whole reveals similar levels of brilliance. Wholly it is tightly constructed, built continually until it seems that the completed scent has less than its parts. Blended until pleasing effects are achieved.

On opening, Comme des Garçons is a toned waft of clove, nutmeg, coriander seed, cinnamon, pepper, and cardamon merged with the cool silvery tang of hot metal. This synthetic ferrous tang gives a postmodern, industrial feature to the scent now emblematic of the house style. It is then washed with the slippery animalic note of honey and smoked with incense and cistus labdanum. Beyond the spices, find rose with its distinctively diffusive lemon hard candy facet on a base of hardwoods and resins.

The spiced permeations fill the total structure of the perfume, imbuing themselves everywhere. Constant and offering differing levels of spice all at once, the structure of Comme des Garçons seems to offer a reversal of what is expected. These honied spices which are detected prominently at the top are semi-fluid: static and adhesive. Hence, Comme des Garçons is a perfume of solid encasing with a liquid centre. A transparent oriental with a desire to be a chypre, with a feature of  transparency which is able to be smelled with a penetration of the most internal aspects of the scent.

After the spices subside, this fragrance highlights a classically treated rose: baroque and powdery and retaining the fizzy charge of spices. The undulations of styrax, labdanum, incense, and similar balsamic effects adds counterpoint to the rose, however the cool bracing sheen of the emblematic, grey-smelling synthetics maintains the postmodern inflection.

Overall, there is an anticipatory mood to Comme des Garçons, suggestively ambiguous and offering a sort of olfactory underdetermination: where there are insufficient layers to give definitive definition. Smell Comme des Garçons alongside Radiohead’s Pyramid Song and find that there is a lack of resolution in both works. The time signature: difficultly defined, translates to the structural and coordinated oddity of this artwork, blurring the line between figurative and abstract.

This fragrance offers clear representations of spice typical of woody orientals, then thrown off balance. Whilst clearly woody at both top and on the drydown, there is sufficient variance within this woody labelling in that it goes beyond its usual structure, flirting with both aromatic spices and the assertive floralcy of a bright honied rose. When considered in any other way, the same categorical uncertainty occurs.

Comme des Garçons is kaleidoscopic yet effortlessly delineated. Technically brilliant and tightly composed.

Alternative: Eau d’Hermes by Hermes

Beautifully bizarre spices.

Subjective rating : 5/5

Objective rating: 5/5

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