As Robin here at Now Smell This and I decided who would review the new Comme des Garçons Blue Invasion trio of perfumes, she said: “I thought they were all nice, but maybe CdG needs to get out of this woody/incense sandbox? They have done some really great stuff…but even their weirder stuff is no longer surprising. Maybe there are no surprises left?”
Robin and I have three points of agreement:
- I like the new Blue Invasion perfumes;
- I agree Comme des Garçons has driven the woody incense genre to a dead end (or at least into a cul-de-sac, where it goes round and round and round);
- I also wonder if there are many surprises in store for me as a dedicated perfume sniffer.
Now, to Blue Invasion....
perfumer Evelyne Boulanger ~ incense, wormwood, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, mineral amber
Boulanger, like the other perfumers involved in Blue Invasion, is no stranger to working with Comme des Garçons; she created both Jaisalmer and Zagorsk in the Series 3: Incense collection (I like them both). Blue Encens goes on strong, smelling of sweet incense (incense mixed with cinnamon). As the scent develops on my skin, I get hints of citrus-y cardamom and bitter, green wormwood. “Mineral” or “crystallized” amber has a part to play, and I believe it’s that note that reminds me of a sport fragrance — with a “whiff” of the ocean. No, Blue Encens is not ozonic in the least! The amber “waves” in Blue Encens simply lighten/dilute the fragrance’s earlier heft, like mixing incense ash with sea water. During Blue Encens’ final moments of “life,” the incense turns smooth and silky.
If you know someone who favors sporty, “outdoorsy” aromas, give him this, or at least have him sniff it; it’s a deluxe take on a sporty fragrance. Incense lovers should try this too; Blue Encens is a great warm-weather incense scent. Will I buy it? No. I have all the incense perfumes I can handle for a decade!
perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer ~ citron, juniper berries, angelica root, metallic rose and cedarwood
Blue Cedrat begins with a strong shot of rosy citron (cedrat); though Comme des Garçons describes the rose note as "metallic," I don't find it strident at all. Angelica root and juniper berries produce an accord that's almost "iris-like" to my nose; in fact, at times, Blue Cedrat reminds me of a favorite perfume from my past — Curated by Colette: Three AsFour. As Blue Cedrat develops, a lovely (and dry/clean) cedar note appears. Though "simple" (fruit, flowers and wood) Blue Cedrat is my favorite perfume in the Blue Invasion collection (it's Robin's fave as well). I think of it as a dressy, summer citrus fragrance.
perfumer Antoine Maisondieu ~ Australian sandalwood, pine, blue pepper and juniper berries
I had high hopes for Blue Santal since Antoine Maisondieu created two of my favorite Comme des Garçons fragrances: Monocle Scent One: Hinoki and Monocle Scent Two: Laurel. Blue Santal mixes sharp, "sticky" pine resin with milky sandalwood; in my imagination, that combo conjured a "curdled" mix. But Blue Santal smells good. I like the vibrato that's produced as pine and sandalwood go at it...each vying for dominance. For awhile, these notes are evenly matched, but in mid-development (which comes fast) the sandalwood gets singed and comes to the fore. As for "blue pepper"...think bell pepper; juniper adds some zing, too. A friend who smelled Blue Santal on me shortly after I applied it, said: "Artist's studio!" Blue Santal does bring to mind the aromas of turpentine mixing with oil paints. Also, when I first put it on, Blue Santal produces an "eating-a-dill-pickle-while-wearing-sandalwood-perfume" phase. For me, Blue Santal is the quirkiest perfume of the Blue Invasion collection...until it wears down to a perfume that smells more Bleu de Chanel than Hinoki or Laurel.
Overall, Blue Invasion is a pleasant surprise (scents in blue bottles that didn't annoy, bore or dismay me). But now I wish Rei Kawakubo (if she's even involved in the fragrance arm of her empire) and the folks at Comme des Garçons would explore other things besides incense-y woods. Why not do a Japan collection of fragrances (no incense need apply); at this stage of the Comme des Garçons game, that's what no one would expect.
The Comme des Garçons Blue Invasion fragrances are available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $125; when applied lavishly, the lasting power and sillage of all the perfumes is pretty good (they wear more like Eaux de Toilette). For buying information, see the listing for Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.