Comme des Garcons Guerilla 1 & Guerilla 2 fragrance review

Comme des Garcons Guerilla 1 & Guerilla 2 fragrances

Comme des Garçons has launched their latest fragrance series. Series 8* takes as its theme the Guerilla store concept, in which the company opens stores in "dead" areas of major cities, spends little or nothing on decorating, and "occupies" the premises for a limited time:

Don’t expect any to turn up in style capitals such as New York, Tokyo, Paris and Milan, for the idea is to set up shop in areas which appear to be off the fashion map. Once the city is chosen, the search is on for a place which has something to say about the city’s history. At Bios, for instance, the Parthenon acts as a backdrop (the monument is also featured on the Greek campaign’s poster, which is written in Greek).

Without any fanfare and publicity, each opening is announced only a few days before (“It drops like a bomb,” according to Papadopoulos), while no outlet advertises. (via kathimerini)

Guerrilla 1, the first of the two fragrances in the series, was inspired by a Comme des Garçons Guerilla store in Berlin which took over the premises of a former butcher shop. You wouldn't expect the result to be pretty, and it isn't; then again, pretty is not what Comme des Garçons brand is all about.

Perfumer Marie-Aude Couture developed the fragrance, which features pear, saffron, clove, champaca flower, jasmine, black pepper, cedar, vetiver and musk. The top notes are a blend of spices and mild pear, and there is in fact something meaty (perhaps a touch of leather?) and a bit odd about it, but the oddness largely fades with the dry down, which is a vague champaca-ish floral with fruity undertones, a bit of pepper, and a soft woody base with just a touch of earthiness. Some of the meatiness lingers, but no more than a hint; all the same, it gives Guerilla 1 just a bit of a masculine edge.

I confess I am a bit disappointed in Guerilla 1. If you're going to do weird instead of pretty, the weirdness has to be pronounced enough to be interesting; here, the idea is not carried quite far enough to suit me. If it is neither pretty nor interesting, why wear it? I will set this one aside and give it another try in the fall (whatever else it is, it is certainly not a fragrance for hot and humid weather), and who knows, perhaps it will grow on me.

Red is the inspiration given for Guerrilla 2, which was created by perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer. Notes include bergamot, pink pepper, ginger, red chili pepper, curcuma (turmeric), raspberry, tuberose, vetiver, cedar and musk. This fragrance would fit nicely into Comme des Garçons' series 2: Red or perhaps series 5: Sherbet; it is a bright fruity floral with soft spices and a playful character. It changes only minimally as it dries down, and maintains the brightness straight through. It isn't overly sweet, and the pepper and turmeric give it a bit of an edge — it doesn't smell like a generic department store fruity floral by any means — but it is easily more conventional than Guerilla 1.

I like Guerilla 2. It is a very wearable fragrance, and I would certainly wear it if I had a bottle, which I'm not sure I can say for Guerilla 1. But I don't adore it, and I can't say it is particularly more interesting than Guerilla 1. For bright fruits, I'd rather have Rhubarb from the Sherbet series.

Series 8 is not quite the let down that Series 7: Sweet was, but in my very humble opinion, as a series it is not nearly as attractive as the earlier efforts, and Series 3: Incense (Avignon, Jaisalmer, Kyoto, Ouarzazate and Zagorsk) easily holds onto its distinction as the masterpiece from this house. When I come back from my next vacation, I'll be taking a look at the Red series and some of the "regular" Comme des Garçons fragrances.

Both fragrances are $98 for 85 ml, and are boxed with a set of six paper-mache "canteens". For purchasing information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.

*Update: the Guerilla fragrances apparently did not rate a series number, so they're not Series 8 at all.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That was just fascinating — I had no idea this series was coming (although now I don't feel compelled to rush out and try it!) The incense series is … magnficent. Of course I'm biased because I like that note. Did you ever try their series 1 (leaves)? I have always been curious.

  2. Anonymous says:

    M, do try it, I hate to think that anything by CdG doesn't at least warrant a try! But I would be surprised if anyone thought it up to Incense standards.

    Of series 1, I have tried Calamus (which I own and love), Tea (which is a way cool scent that I don't entirely want to wear). and Lily (nice lily of the valley, very bright, perhaps not the most interesting). To be honest I can't remember what else was in series 1, and if I'm not mistaken, it is the only series that has been entirely discontinued.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I must admit, all those papier mache replicas irritate me more than a little. I want to imagine that the money I'm spending is mainly for the juice and the bottle, not the ancillary packaging. What on earth is are we supposed to do with all those little pretend bottles?

  4. Anonymous says:

    LOL…my thoughts exactly, although hopefully they did not add much to the cost.

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