“Fragrance is paint for the nose. People who make fragrances, the air is their canvas.”
– Pharrell Williams
Is there any one person on the planet bigger than Pharrell Williams right now? I think not. He’s either produced, sang or guested on some of the biggest songs of the last few years, not to mention the fact that he’s a fashion icon with a penchant for Vivienne Westwood Buffalo hats from the ’80s and socks with no shoes. In short, Pharrell is a bit of a dude and it was only a matter of time before he branched out from music and fashion, into the world of fragrance.
Thankfully for us (us being the perfume lovers of the world), Pharrell has teamed up with the fragrance arm of unconventional fashion house Comme des Garçons to create his very first perfume. Comme des Garçons are well known for high quality fragrances that approach the art of olfaction with a distinct, and unique viewpoint, celebrating woods, incense and spices in a varied series of artistic olfactory entries. So, it would be correct to say that Mr. Williams made a sensible choice and is in very safe hands.
Pharrell’s debut fragrance is named G I R L, after his 2014 album of the same name, from which it also takes inspiration. G I R L was created by perfumers Antoine Lie (Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques, Rossy de Palma and Tom of Finland) and Christian Astugeville, and is described as being “a woody scent of high quality and complex construction”. Much like Lady Gaga’s Eau de Gaga, which I reviewed earlier this week, G I R L is a most atypical celebrity fragrance that tries to defy the clichéd conventions of a tired and overexposed genre.
“There should be no boundaries – I learned that from Comme des Garçons.”
– Pharrell Williams
Top: Neroli, Lavender and White Pepper
Heart: Iris, Styrax and Violet
Base: Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedarwood and Sandalwood
How Does it Smell?
It’s clear to see right from the very first sniff that G I R L is not a conventional celebrity fragrance. Sniffing it, one will find no syrupy fruit, no sticky flowers and certainly no pale musky dry down. Instead, G I R L’s top notes unleash a soft blast of ivy-like green notes, sharp cedar wood and pepper. Things are a little astringent at first, but discord isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the impression one gets is of sharp lavender statues roughly carved out of angular cedar wood. It’s definitely interesting and serves as a really unusual presentation of lavender, one that is devoid of any sweetness, and that I certainly haven’t seen before.
Pharrell is known to be a lifelong devotee of Dior’s Fahrenheit and knowing this, the strong violet note in G I R L’s heart seems to make sense. Much like the Dior, the violet leaf here is earthy and almost tar-like, conjuring the image of immaculate kerbsides or roads striped with tyre marks. That may give the impression that this fragrance is quite bold, but that’s not the case, and there’s definitely a muted feel to most of the proceedings that makes any image it casts, appear to be seen through a grey haze.
The base is a very Comme des Garçons-esque foundation of woods and incense. The cedar is dominant throughout and it certainly holds strong far into the dry down, leaving only a little room for violet, lavender and incense adornments. Surprisingly, there’s not much warmth to the base (there is a touch of dark black smoke, however), which is out of character for a fragrance that boasts a veritable soirée of woody notes. Unusual as this may be, it does mean that G I R L ends on an almost stand-offish note, leaving what came before it as feeling more than just a little bit faceless.
G I R L is a good fragrance and much like Eau de Gaga, it’s not your typical celebrity scent, but where the Gaga feels quite brave for a mainstream celebuscent launch in 2014, G I R L sits alongside a slew of similar woody-ish fragrances, many from Comme des Garçons in fact, that crowd the niche market. G I R L therefore, feels less innovative. That said, it smells good and whilst it isn’t as funky and fun as the packaging may suggest, or indeed the man and music it is inspired by, I’d certainly recommend it for someone who is looking for a subversive lavender fragrance. In short, G I R L is good but it’s not a patch on Pharrell’s musical output.
G I R L is available in 10ml (£19) and 100ml (£80) Eau de Parfum. Only the 100ml comes in the funky KAWS-illustrated bottle seen above, sadly. In the UK it can be found at Liberty and Dover Street Market.
Thanks to Sarah McCartney for the sample. Image 1 via forbes.com. Image 2 via buro247.ae. Notes and quotes via liberty.co.uk. Quotes via Fragrantica and Channel 4.