This little post is all about INCENSE.
Yes, yes, it’s been talked about over and over and these fragrances have been talked about over and over. Avignon was my most recent purchase though, I’m not sure if it was the right purchase… but here’s my take on these two “churchy” incense fragrances.
Let’s start with Avignon by the ever wonderful Comme Des Garcons…
Avignon opens with a beautifully spicy frankincense with sparkling citrus and a little chamomile on top. The intensity settles pretty quickly and it becomes a lovely, realistic “church incense”. There are apparantly other notes including patchouli, some woods and stuff which are listed but I’m gonna do this more as a visual thing.
There is some slight vanilla in the base which adds a sweetness to Avignon. Sometimes I think this fragrance feels damp, and at other times bone dry. I think it creates an image of dampness, and cold stone (of course), and that’s how I’m getting torn between the two.
The thing that makes me question my true love for Avignon is the sense of “space” it has. It almost feels that beyond this frankincense, there is a large open space, like the air between the stone walls of this olfactory church. It never feels empty, but more half full. I do enjoy this though! I like the fact it confuses me on every wearing, but it’s kind of tedious, I want it to feel full so I can relax and thoroughly enjoy it but there is something missing, not in the notes list, or the composition itself, nothing more should be added or taken away, but the feeling it gives is only half full. Because of this, I struggle to get close to Avignon, I’m very happy that I own it but I occasionally find it uncomfortable.
I think Avignon is a perfect example of a true incense fragrance, it is complicated, polarizing, and connects with you instantly on smelling it. I think everyone who smells it creates their own visual images on what it represents to them and it gives everyone a story to tell related to it. It’s a must have for a collection and I hope we have a better relationship later down the line
Heeley’s Cardinal is a whole other story. Whenever wearing my sample, I just craved it had more throw and just was more intense, that’s why I decided to go for Avignon… but Cardinal just triggers a different emotion in me.
Cardinal opens again with bright citrus’ and a warm, “churchy” frankincense that just glows off the skin. Similarly to the “feeling” I got the first time I sniffed Humiecki & Graef’s magnificent Bosque, I get an image of sunshine when I smell Cardinal.
It is slightly soapy, clean, and completely meditative. If I douse myself in Cardinal, I can close my eyes and my mind will be completely clear. It’s peaceful, calming, and comforting. It is easy to love (I think), and similarly to Avignon, remains as good as linear throughout its life.
Heeley does last a long time, but it remains close to the skin, and only gets softer and softer. I decided to go for Avignon in the end as I wanted something more powerful, and more cold and chilly. However, I learnt from full wearings that Avignon actually doesn’t last any longer, or project any stronger, than Cardinal does on me. I hope to one day own both, or maybe just Cardinal, but for now my Avignon is getting a good amount of wear and I don’t think the bottle will last me that long.
So as it probably sounds, you’d think I prefer Cardinal over Avignon. That is probably true, but they both provoke very different responses with me, and whilst my Avignon one may not appear that positive, or close to heart -unlike Cardinal which was an instant connection- I’ve never had to work so hard for a fragrance to work with me as much as I want it to: and that must mean there is something great there. I absolutely love its scent, its space, and its feel, but it is -to me- far more complicated than it actual needs to be.
Both fragrances are “the” examples of ”churchy incense” and I recommend them both highly. They appear to me, polar opposites and yet extremely similar.
What do you think? Am I reading into these far too much? Are they just straightforward citrus/frankincense fragrances? Or are they complex fragrances rich in emotion that tell a different story on each wearer?
Avignon by Comme des Garcons 50ml EDT – £52 from doverstreetmarket
Cardinal by Heeley 100ml EDP – £120 from Les Sentuers