Perfume Review: Rouge by Comme des Garçons

Comme des Garçons is a brand that gets a pretty regular rotation in my wardrobe. In fact, I’d go as far saying that it would would quite be odd for a week to go by without me picking out one of their scents to wear. For me, they strike that perfect balance between novel and innovative, and pleasant and wearable, which means that I reach for them quite a lot, mostly for those in the regular lineup such as the original Parfum, 2, 2 Man (I just topped up on my bottles of both the 2s, in fact), Amazingreen and Blackpepper. Long story short, I enjoy the brand and the scents are staples for me.

With that in mind, a new Comme des Garçons fragrance is somewhat of an event for me – I’m always intrigued to see what they do and whilst not all are ones I adore (see Floriental, Copper and Concrete), I do always enjoy how they subvert expectations. A Comme des Garçons fragrance always has something to say and their latest launch, Rouge (currently exclusive to Dover Street Market and launching nationwide next year), is no exception. Described, in typical CdG style as an “encounter between religious fervour and earthen reality” Rouge attacks the the colour red from surprising angles, using a central note of beetroot to present something so familiar in an entirely unfamiliar way. To say it’s interesting and unique is somewhat of an understatement…

Through deliberate overdose and rapturous expression, Rouge presents an unexpected unison. an olfactive congregation of desire archetypal associations of the colour Rouge seen and subverted through the distinctly disruptive gaze of Comme des Garçons.

Comme des Garçons

The Notes

Pink Peppercorn, Ginger, Beetroot, Geranium Leaves, Incense, Patchouli and Cistus Labdanum

How Does it Smell?

Disruptive is certainly the right word here and initially, there is a heck of a lot going on. Rouge opens with a juicy and fresh burst of berries, all tart and sharp, accented by the fruity spice of pink peppercorn. There’s also a huge slug of ginger in there, which amplifies the freshness but also gives Rouge a really punchy and vibrant air. It’s like a bright red neon sign flickering into life. But what does the neon say in giant red letters? Well, “ROUGE”, of course!

The geranium brings a sense of leafiness but also a wonderfully fresh, minty character that plays wonderfully with the ginger. But the real star is the beetroot (I never thought I’d type those words tbh) which adds a heap of mineral, vegetal strangeness that is clean, earthy and bright. It could feel entirely out of place and, let’s face it, utterly repugnant, but it doesn’t – the impression is of an entirely abstract rendition of a colour we are so familiar with that traverses so many different olfactory nuances in the realm of freshness. Then everything changes.

After a few hours, Rouge does a complete about turn and you start to wonder whether you’re wearing an entirely different perfume. Honestly, about four hours into my first trial of Rouge I found myself suddenly confused wondering what perfume I was wearing. What was bright, fresh, tart and vegetal becomes smoky, resinous, leathery and tar-like. It comes out of nowhere and the mineral facet of the beetroot is the key link between fresh top and leather bottom (lol), with the base presenting smoke and tar in a clear, transparent way. Rouge is a phenomenally exciting perfume to wear.

Rouge is the best thing I have smelled all year. And whilst 2020 has been a completely awful, terrible, garbage year because, well, *gestures at everything*, with much fewer perfume launches than there would have been if there wasn’t, you know, a global pandemic, I think Rouge would definitely stand out in even the more typical of years. It is novel and full of twists and turns, offering an unusual, vegetal freshness up top, swirling with tart fruits and spices, before switching into a smoky, mineral leather. But most of all, it does this in a way that is infinitely wearable. It’s too early to call it a masterpiece, so let’s just say that is is really bloody good. How about that?

Longevity & Projection

Longevity is excellent and you’ll find that Rouge lingers for quite some time. I find the fresh top notes, with all that ginger, minty geranium, fruits and spice, are really impactful and they have amazing presence. As Rouge moves into the leather and smoke base, it becomes quieter. But still, I find the longevity and projection to be satisfying overall. Rouge is not a shrinking violet.


Rouge is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £120.


Images are my own. Sample (full size) sent by brand for review. I was not paid for this review and the brand had no say in the content.