Since I tried Tea long ago, I have wanted it since, but have never felt the real need to buy it. The other day I recommended it to someone who emailed me from the blog, and I thought “Yeh I gotta get this now” – well, it arrived today and I remembered just how good it is!
Tea opens with a very bitter bergamot, before it very quickly becomes a hugely medicinal bomb of a fragrance. Now when I say “bomb” – it’s a bit overdramatic; it’s not particularly loud, but it’s a hellofa pungent smell. Instantly familiar, Tea brings to mind antiseptic cream and bundles of sterile bandages. It’s texture is also relatively creamy at first, but with an astringent kick throughout.
A smokiness from the stewed black tea creeps up underneath, entwining with the antiseptic medicine that smells smooth but clinical. It’s reasonably quiet pitch is appreciated, which isn’t something I’d normally say – but Tea would be without a doubt hugely overwhelming if presented at full volume.
I think I get a very subtle clove note, or it could be a mirage from the “Savlon”. As the smoky tea and antiseptic cream settle, a scattering of roses begins to creep up – very subtle, but adding an undeniable floral presence which slowly begins to make tea a lot more wearable if the opening is a little too much. The simple addition of rose needs nothing more or less, and there is nothing more or nothing less. Tea’s heart feels simplistic and minimal, relying on its strong personality to make it instantly identifiable and interesting – and it is.
Tea keeps changing, it’s ancient smelling, herbal blend getting more delicately floral, and its initial creaminess getting stronger as a nearly de-sweetened vanilla creeps in from the base. The smoky notes infuse the vanilla, and Tea becomes one of the few vanilla fragrances I am happy to wear – and thoroughly enjoy. Pitch black and slightly sticky, but not at all sugary and sweet, the vanilla smells bone dry and heavily distorted by the opening. The successful transition from the pungent smell of bandages from the opening to the delicate floral and smoky vanilla heart/base, is undoubtably impressive – a turnaround as great as Tubereuse Criminelle’s opening of menthol and camphor to creamy white floral.
In the very base is dry woods, made smoother by the vanilla. A safe but secure base that whilst not quite as unusual – doesn’t really need to be. It becomes quiet quickly, retreating close to your skin – ready for some spritzes later on in the day to capture the bizarrely compelling opening.
Tea is a standout in the Comme Des Garcons lineup in my opinion, and I recommend any perfumista to give it a sniff – my favourite tea scent by far, and a fantastic vanilla drydown unlike any other.
Tea 50ml EDT Comme Des Garcons – £48 doverstreetmarket.com
Whilst I’m on the topic of partner’s fragrances, I also bought him this one! We tried it in Dover Street Market and both pretty much just went “Mmmmmm!”.
Rhubarb from the Sherbet Series 3, opens with some prickly citrus and what smells like a bit of pink pepper maybe? There’s a little spice whatever it is. Wonderfully, this super tart citrus and gentle spice, over the next minute or two, merge into a fantastic tangy rhubarb accord. It is a green, slightly syrupy, mouthwateringly juicy chunk of rhubarb.
Rhubarb stays like this for some time, or course all good things start to disappear in time, and that over the top, bright tang of the opening beings to mellow out. The non-pepper peppery spice also loses is sharpness (which is good), but the green sap keeps the fragrance solid and leafy fresh.
At the base is a layer of recognizable vanilla, it’s modest, not powdery, not particularly interesting, but pleasant none the less. This gradually works its way to the foreground over time, remaining light and green paired with the sap and remnants of the rhubarb. A gentle floral aura surrounds Rhubarb as well, it’s subtle, and probably provides the spice? I may be wrong. But the fragrance remains to be initially juicy and sour, yet stay inedible and wearable.
Rhubarb’s lasting power, in all honesty, is pretty poor. But it comes in a small plastic bottle, easy to carry round, and wonderful to splash on over and over without it ever becoming overwhelming. It is a wonderful summer spray for people who don’t always want something aquatic and full of floor cleaner lemons.
A fun, fizzy and fruity fragrance, and for the price, recommended!
Rhubarb Sherbert Series 3 Comme Des Garcons 30ml EDT – £28 doverstreetmarket.com
Skai is part of the discontinued 6th series by Comme des Garcons – The Synthetic Series. The only 3 that I’ve managed to sniff are Skai, Tar and Garage. To be honest, they all disappointed me, I expected very great things. Garage to me had the most interesting opening, but the drydown was a mediocre, minty cologne. Tar was very mild on me (only used one spray though), and Skai I had heard rave things about, and although it didn’t captivate me straight away, I bought it in store.
So, really this is my most recent purchase (along with the 2011 Eau De Parfum by Comme des Garcons which I reviewed earlier this year. I fell in love with it completely since then and NEEDED a bottle), and I hope to love it as much as many do, but it may take some time.
Skai is designed to smell like fresh PVC and plastic. I’ve read it being compared to plastic blow up swimming pools, magazines – all sorts really. The thing is with a lot of these synthetic compounds used in mass in lots of the Comme des Garcons fragrances is that they are so unidentifiable everyone can come up with their own crazy interpretations of what they smell like, and I like that.
For me, Skai opens with a very synthetic citrus, not all too different from the type of industrial citrus used in Askew by Humiecki & Graef, but they smell completely different of course. Instantly, the PVC notes do come through, but they’re not like I initially imaged. Instead they smell slightly sweaty and actually a little bit more natural than I thought. The inital feel for me is quite herbal, and this persists for the rest of the fragrance.
Skai isn’t a projection monster, even from the first spray, you do catch whiffs of it for a few hours but it gets more and more subtle as time goes on. Obviously it’s really hard to describe this fragrance as it is pretty much made up entirely of synthetic notes and compounds, which I have very limited experience in. So I’ll have to do this a bit visually – use your imagination here.
Skai does smell like PVC plastic, but it’s not sharp or harsh (like I kind of wanted it to be), instead it’s relatively muted, and if you have smelt Odeur 71 you will see the resemblance. It does have that kind of electronical equiptment fuzzy feel to it, if that makes sense, however underneath these notes, it’s a sweaty/herbal men’s cologne. I have used the word sweaty twice, as to me, this fragrance doesn’t smell clean at all like it is supposed to, instead it’s quite grubby and oily – similar to the oily notes in Garage. I can’t define the herbal thing I get at all, but it’s just… herbal, in a kind of Chinese medicine shop way. There’s also a little bit of tar in here, just making the whole thing feel slightly smoked and warm.
Underneath all this is a slightly leathery, musty/plastic-y smell which is pretty masculine. It’s ok. It’s not as strange and as adventurous as I wanted it to be, and I hope I will learn to appreciate it more the more I wear it. I’ll revist the others in the line and may end up with some more of them (becuase if you can find them, they’re so darn cheap!).
For now, my favourite synthetic and favourite CdG, remains to be the new 2011 EDP. However, whilst in Dover Street Market, I tried Tea from the Leaves Series 1… I think this will be my next CdG purchase, it’s fantastic (and smells like bandages).
Anyway, enough rambling. All in all… interesting enough to make me write a review.
During the time I ordered the samples of Humiecki and Graef, I also tried some major synthetics, and this was one of them.
The one useful thing that has come out of Stephen Jones is understanding aldehydes So that’s good. Not much else though unfortunately so here we go…
Stephen Jones opens with pure sparkling aldehydes. Now, this is pretty standalone in the opening, which is how I learnt to recognise thoroughly what an aldehyde is and how to pick it out. They are soapy/sparkling/synthetic and hyper clean, all in one bizarre chemical concoction and there is nothing else that can do what they do. Used in mass such as this, they create an otherworldly/futuristic smell.
Mixed with these aldehydes, is violet. Although, I don’t actually pick up much violet, it’s more like violet scented laundry detergent instead of either a green violet leaf or the powdery/candy like petals.
After just a couple of minutes, a strong scrubbed up clove bud squeaks in between the soapiness and the violets. I go on about cloves all the time and how much of a grimace I find them, to be honest, they’re bearable here, even though they’re strong.
To me, this is pretty much all Stephen Jones is about. It achieves what it wanted to, and it is a great modern/futuristic fragrance, with notes such as “meteorite” listed as though it’s something we will be able to relate to – I just hope that is a cheeky wink from Comme des Garcons rather than a serious artistic statement. Other notes listed are carnation (which I get just due to the peppery aspect of it), cumin, “magma” and wood etc, I think these just appear as facets of the main three things that I’ve mentioned. Maybe in the late late drydown some of these appear, I’m just not up for waiting that long.
I like Comme des Garcons, and I think this is a great collaboration, but I would never want to wear it. I will keep my sample and use it for reference, but I guess I sound old-fashioned – I like fragrances that mould with my skin and make me feel something, this doesn’t really do that. For me, Stephen Jones is a clear example of minimalistic avant-garde fragrances, to be honest, I prefer my art with a little more colour.
Update: I bought this! After wearing the remainder of my sample when the sun was out and the weather was scorching (the first few days of the upcoming summer), I fell in love with this. It works so well in the warm weather and made me feel fantastic. It was uplifting, fun, and summery in a whole new way. Whilst I will admit I don’t wear my new purchase that much, once the sun comes out again I think it will be an absolute staple. I love it I thought I’d keep up my previous review as I always feel it’s important to show your original views and it’s interesting to see how they change!
Comme Des Garcons – Stephen Jones EDT 55ml RRP: £75 available from shop.doverstreetmarket.com
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
“Eau De Parfum” by Comme des Garcons was my most recently acquired and tested sample. Now, please excuse me if I have the title wrong, I know there’s been some confusion as to whether this is actually called “A New Perfume” or simply “Eau de Parfum”… it’s been left a bit of a mystery.
Anyway, if you’ve read my first post, you’ll realise that I am a bit obsessed with specific notes and such. I am constantly in need of “something” which I put into my own named groups. This one pops into the group “synthetic”, to me meaning – I want something very synthetic and unnatural smelling…
I heard about this one through Basenotes, and have not had that much experience with the Comme des Garcons line. From what I have tried, I’ve found myself quite dissapointed at times, and others, I’ve grown very fond – which I guess is the case with most lines.
With notes of “aldehydes, safraleine, hawthorn, lilac, industrial glue, brown packing tape, styrax and musk”… I was intrigued.
The thing that suprised me most about this, is how accurate the notes list is, apart from the packing tape, I get everything listed!
“A New Perfume/Eau de Parfum” opens with a blast of shiny, white aldehydes, they are non floral, sparkling and gloriously synthetic, they are fragranced with safraleine which is a synthetic saffron/leather/spice accord, it isn’t spicy by any means, simply as I said – “fragranced”. After 30 seconds or so some chalky flowers peek through. Think, bright laundry fresh flowers, I have no idea what hawthorn or lilac smell like, but it brings to mind a milky, pastel coloured laundry detergent scent.
It’s fresh, but with a musky, chalky texture, and by fresh I do not mean “refreshing”.
This all buzzes off each other for a good ten minutes before it calms down slighty, it becomes less manic and the glue note starts to creep in. By the way, the synthetics don’t come across to me as metallic, I hate metallic scents and this one stays away from that thankfully. Anyway, the glue note reminds me of primary school, when you crack open the tubs of PVA glue with the fat, flat applicator and all the dried glue would be crusted around the stick. This is the smell that joins the lightly fragranced musk.
So you’ve got your laundry florals, saffron and glue, pretty much sent to outer space and back with the initial flurry of aldehydes. It’s very interesting, and quite pretty for something so unnatural and unfamiliar. Unfortunately though, the dry down is dissapointing, and only the gluey notes and laundry-musk remain. It becomes very subtle with little sillage, but for many, this will probably the best bit!
It’s great to see Comme des Garcons release something “so CdG!” that is original, semi-wearable and imaginative. I don’t think it’s cliche, yes the obscure notes have been done before, but this fragrance hasn’t, and it’s a great addition to their line.
edit: After finishing my sample, I had to buy a full bottle!! The opening is just too good and I crave it so often
Comme des Garcons Eau de Parfum 100ml – £87 RRP