Comme des Garcons Play ~ fragrance review

Comme des Garcons Play fragrance

I'm not good at making "best of" lists. As soon as I put one thing on a list, I remember something else I should have included, and narrowing down is not an easy task (I've been working on a post called "100 Fragrances Every Perfumista Should Try" for over six months now). But Comme des Garçons would surely make a list of my favorite perfume houses, and when they release something new, I want to smell it.

Play, their latest release, looked promising. The concept for the Play line of clothing, introduced in 2003, is supposed to be "design by not designing", a good fit with the subversive ethos of the brand, and the logo on the Play fragrance bottle, designed by Filip Pagowski, is appropriately simple but fun.

The Play fragrance itself was developed by perfumer Aurelien Guichard, another good sign. The notes — bitter orange, black pepper, lime, saffron, thyme, sage, sea notes, oak moss, patchouli and musk — didn't sound particularly unusual (or playful), but that doesn't mean much.

Play opens on heavily peppered and spiced citrus. The sea notes join in shortly thereafter and soften everything up, after that, it smells like your basic men's aromatic-aquatic aftershave. The far dry down gets nicely warm and earthy-mossy, but still, it is only mildy more interesting than the Gillette Series aftershave gel my husband uses. It is perfectly pleasant, mind you, and entirely wearable, but perfectly pleasant and entirely wearable isn't what I'm looking for from Comme des Garçons. Perhaps the concept is so entirely esoteric that it goes right over my head, but I wouldn't have batted an eye if this juice had been launched as the latest in the Cool Water saga by Davidoff, and I should think it would sell just fine on the men's counter at Macy's.

Play is strike three for me (pardon the terrible pun), as I didn't much care for the Sweet or Guerilla series either. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the next one.

Comme des Garçons Play is available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette; for buying information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.

Tomorrow: one or another (or both) of the Comme des Garçons Odeur fragrances.

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Parfums Raffy


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I cannot wait for the “100 Fragrances Every Perfumista Should Try”!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I cannot wait to finish it M, although of course what I mean by “working on it for over 6 months” is that every so often I work on it for 20 minutes, then I get frustrated and put it aside for weeks at a time ;-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love lists, can't wait to see this one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I'll finish it eventually!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Completely agree that this one is shockingly generic given the source. When I first smelled it, I thought, “Oh, hotel bed sheets!”. A male colleague noticed it and liked it, but I think he admired it more for himself than for me!

  6. Anonymous says:

    This one doesn't remotely smell like something I would want to play with or wear while playing… what is up with that name??!! So frustrating! Reminds me of Bond's Coney Island's tagline” how do you bottle fun?” Well if that shit smells like fun, remind me to never have any. These names and descriptions have alot to live up to and most don't.

    And that list of 100 is like a dangling carrot… We all will wait with bells on :-) Just hurry!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The 100 fragrances every perfumista should try, R? Really? Didn't Town and Country attempt to do that earlier in the year? They left out Caron (only one fragrance, and it was a man's) and a few others that I can't remember as clearly as the Caron slight.

    You won't do that, will you???? :):)

    I must admit that I am not smitten by the Comme des Garcons line, so probably none of their fragrances would appear on my list.

    I know, I know…I'm way-ay-ay too picky and “girly” in my choices, hee, hee!


  8. Anonymous says:

    Glad I'm not the only one that didn't find it playful. The thing about CdG is that they have a lot to live up to even without a description — I just expect everything they do to be at the very least interesting.

    That list is like an evil cloud following me around. Maybe I'll sit down & finish it this coming weekend….

  9. Anonymous says:

    LOL at “hotel bed sheets”!

  10. Anonymous says:

    They did some sort of list, and I read about it but was too lazy to go get a copy and now I can't remember what the concept was. I won't leave out Caron, but you know any such list is just the basis for argument :-)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I didn't like this one either. And when I asked Tyler at Barney's, “What's in it,” he replied, “Everything—everything that they had left over!”

  12. Anonymous says:

    LOL! Those lists sure are the basis for “thoughtful discussion,” R!

    I think theT&C list was in their February issue. I gave my copy to a friend to peruse, but as I recall they had a classics category, and sort of took it from there with the various categories, including a separate men's fragrance section.

    I may not have agreed with all of it, but it sure was fun to read!


  13. Anonymous says:

    Found it online, it was “85 best scents”, and it started out with “IF THE 260 or so women's fragrances introduced in 2006 alone are any indication…”, which is already way off base, LOL, since there were WAY more than 260 scents released last year. Anway, I'm most sincerely not doing a “Best” list, as that is too hard, but just things I think people should smell.

  14. Anonymous says:

    LOL — that is classic!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hey, everything is reasonably rosy here, hope it is there too!

    I love those kinds of lists though! I was actually inspired to do this after listening to a podcast of “The Paste 100 Greatest Living Songwriters” last summer while driving home from Maine. But I can't do Best Of lists, it's just too hard. It did make me think about what would constitute an education in perfume, so to speak, from the consumer angle.

  16. Anonymous says:

    That's right, it was 85, not 100, best scents.

    I can't wait to read your list!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hey – why are you reading this message? Get on with your listage, and now please!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Just bought my bottle of Play online – it's coming in any day now. Will post my review when I sniff it.

    Hoping I 'get' it differently, than you did.

    Agree with everyone else's comments – would love to read a 'List' from you!

  19. Anonymous says:

    What message, LOL…

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hope you will love it then! The bottle is way cool, and I will say that Tom at Perfume Smellin' Things liked it more than I did.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Robin, what do you think about niche fragrances in comparison to big, widely recognized brands? I have heard contradictory stuff about them and I don't know what to think , I have tried way too few to be able to tell. Someone told me that they are very well done, refined and natural feel to them, yet I have also heard from someone else that they don't seem as high quality as the big brands, meaning they felt more synthetic to her. What do you think?

  22. Anonymous says:

    I don't think there is really an across-the-board answer to that. The big mainstream houses have more resources than the niche brands, and can command more attention from the big flavor & fragrance companies. Sometimes that shows, but the niche houses are frequently more willing to take risks in terms of unusual compositions, and so by and large, the niche houses interest me more than the mainstream. If I had to pick which tended to smell more synthetic, I'd say the mainstream brands, but that is just a tendency, not an absolute rule. There are lots of great mainstream scents, lots of crappy niche scents, and vice versa.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Play smells definitely nice, but it is definitely not the kind of frag I would have expected from CDG : too much casual and not enough weird for me… ! To my mind, the very first perfumes were much more interesting…

  24. Anonymous says:

    I am almost heartbroken to say that I have to agree w/ you … the line seems to be going downhill, at least in terms of taking risks w/ unusual scents.

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