My take on Concrete by Comme des Garçons. On Escentual. Clicky here to read.
Comme des Garçons are real innovators when it comes to the olfactory arts. They’ve created some of the most unique and daring mainstream fragrances on the market and within their more niche lines have explored single notes of themes with the painstaking focus of a curator. They are a brand that does not lend itself to trends or marketing influence, they simply make beautiful and intriguing things. Much in the same that Rei Kawakubo plays with the form in her fashion, Comme des Garçons aims to subvert structure in their olfactory output too, always with fascinating results.
For their latest launch, Comme des Garçons are exploring “destruction, construction and creation” by taking inspiration from one of the most ubiquitous materials on earth: concrete. Named after the material, Concrete the fragrance aims to bring new contrasts to the idea of a material that is known for its solid composition, demolishing all preconceptions. So if you’re expecting something rocky, hard and brutalist in this fragrance, you may want to think again…
Before we get on to the scent itself it’s impossible not to pay homage to the awesomeness of the bottle, which is actually coated in concrete. That’s right, actual concrete! This gives a satisfying heft to the signature pebble design but also a really surprising softness that is tactile and pleasant. I love it and what’s more, it comes covered in bubblewrap to protect it, hinting at the fact that there may just be a hidden fragility to this usually hard and robust material. Genius.
Much like fashion, the trends of perfumery are cicular and what is in favour now, is likely to be garbage tomorrow. This is the nature of trends – we overdose on the good stuff for a period of time until we get sick of it and something else comes along, and perfume is no different. Just look at the 1980s, when syrupy atom bomb florals existed to; a) be so distinct that one knew what they were smelling a mile away; and b) to terrify the masses. Of course, those scents are as on trend today as leg warmers and zoot suits are, which is to say that they’re not. Heck, one can even look at the ’90s, with its sterile repentance of calone and white musk and see how those things too, are no longer ‘in’. It all comes in to fashion, goes out and then comes back in again in a never ending cycle.
Of course, some trends stick about and the lucky ones take their place in the hall of fame as an entirely brand new genre that constantly develops without falling out of favour. Oud is one such trend – a style that has stuck around for so long now, and in so many guises, that it’s arguably the newest olfactory family. A perfumery trend that has not stood the test of time however, is green. Green was massive in the ’70s and ’80s but fell quickly out of favour. Why? Well, these perfumes have a tendency to be harsh and bossy, rubbing people up the wrong way with sharp edges. Also, as lovely as plants and grasses are, who really wants to smell like them? Exactly. But, as we’ve established, all trends make a comeback and right now we’re seeing a verdant renaissance of green scents both in mainstream and niche perfumery: the new green.
Personally, green has always been the toughest of fragrance families to get on with. There’s just something so standoffish about green scents – something so impersonal and too redolent of nature that puts me off. I admire abstraction in my scents and too often, green fragrances are either too rooted in nature or are simply too harsh. But I’m an evolved perfume sniffer, I can appreciate beauty even in those places where I feel as if I’m likely not to find it. So I’ve put together a list of six green fragrances that actually tickle my fancy. These scents also represent the modern revival of green, which all kicked off with Maison Martin Margiela’s Untitled in 2010. So, Dear Reader, you won’t find your CHANEL Nº19 here nor your Vent Vert, but you will discover six modern green fragrances that will completely destroy that old idiom that says it’s not that easy being green. In fact, for these six scents, to be such a thing is really rather marvellous.
Here we are then, at the very end of 2016. It feels, especially after the losses of George Michael, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, to name but a few, within the last week, a very bittersweet year. I say bittersweet because it’s not just the loss of the huge number of great talents this year, the likes of Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood… (the list is endless), but also because the world seems to be a much harsher place than it did one year ago. Whatever your politics, I think we can all agree that 2017 is the year that we all need to work together to make our world a better place.
From a fragrant perspective, 2016 has actually been a pheomenal year. I’d be lying to you if I said that it was easy for me to pick out my very favourite scents of the year because I really did like a lot this year, and it feels like there certainly was a huge amount of good stuff, whether that be unique and interesting new things, or familiar styles that were executed very well. But you will be pleased to know that I was able to narrow down my choices and pick out the winners of The Candies 2016. I do need a stiff drink after all that work though…
If this is your first time attending The Candies, I shall explain how things work. Firstly, you may attend in your pyjamas and you do not need to worry about drinking too much and making a fool of yourself, in fact, such actions are encouraged. We have a number of awards to give out, each of which is split out by Mainstream and Niche, and then by gender. There are also awards for Best Top Down Design and even a Sour Candy Award, which names and shames the worst perfume of the year. This year we also have the addition of the Best Scented Product Award which celebrates the best smelly product for your body or home. It’s a full programme, so let’s get started!
Extra, extra, read all about it! Legendary Japanese-French fashion brand Comme des Garçons launch awesome new fragrance. Rumour has it that iconic beauty e-tailer Escentual are stocking said fragrance. A representative from Escentual (me) says “OMG IT SMELLS SO GOOD I’M GONNA DIE”. Terror and panic is expected today as people rush to get their noses on this new treat. We at The Candy Perfume Times will be on the scene and will keep you updated.
That’s what I would write if I were an old-timey reporter, anyway. In my review of Blackpepper I say that it is my favourite thing I’ve reviewed for Escentual this year and that’s a stone cold fact. Blackpepper is innovative and fascinating, just like most things from CDG, and it also smells bloody lovely so you owe it to yourself to check it out. Click here to read my review.
If you enjoyed Episode One of Fume Chat then you’ll be pleased to know that second episode of the perfumed podcast hosted by Nick Gilbert and Me is ready to download. Episode Two is our first ‘Battle of the Bottles’ and we go head-to-head to duel our favourite fragrances from the Japanese-French fashion house, Comme des Garçons. Who will be victorious? Well, you’ll have to tune-in to find out! Click here to find Episode two on iTunes and here for a SoundCloud link.
I’ve been busy on my Escentual column reviewing a number of big new launches. In this post (above and below the hump) you’ll find a round up of reviews including; Comme Des Garçons’ Floriental, the Acqua di Parma Ingredients Collection (Colonia Ambra, Colonia Oud & Colonia Leather), Dior’s Sauvage, Valentino’s Donna, Van Clef & Arpels’ Ambre Imperial and Narciso Rodriguez’s for Her L’Absolu. Enjoy.