Comme des Garcons Blue Invasion: Blue Encens, Blue Cedrat & Blue Santal ~ fragrance reviews

Comme des Garçons Blue Invasion

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....

Blue Encens

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!

Blue Cedrat

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.

Blue Santal

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.

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  1. chandler_b says:

    those bottles! I’m excited now I have to try these, though I am pretty sure Blue Encens will probably be my favorite.

    • Kevin says:

      Chandler: the bottles seem to be getting mixed reviews…I like ‘em!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        They look like they don’t stand up on their own. Not sure I’d like that!

        • Kevin says:

          MR: they don’t stand up…think of them as a smooth stone? HA!

          • chandler_b says:

            perfume/paperweight :)

        • Merlin says:

          A number of CdG frags have this ‘pebble’ shape. I don’t have any aesthetic objections, but it does make storage a hassle.

          • Kevin says:

            Merlin…I bet most people don’t own the number of colognes we do! Ha!

          • Merlin says:

            Um, yes…lol!

  2. Ericgmd says:

    Thank you. Great review!
    I tried all three of the CDG Blue Invasion Series during their launch at the Comme Des Garcons Dover Street Market in London amidst the sweltering heat wave that hit the UK back in July.
    Blue Santal was a bit difficult for me to like despite my love for sandalwood, I found it a bit too dirty and could not get over the dill pickle note you described so well.
    Blue Encens was actually very very nice and reminded me immediately of the CDG Serie 2 Incense and more specifically Jaisalmer.
    Blue Cedrat had by far the most pleasant opening and remained fresh and clean on my arm with just the right amount of incense and deliciously clean cedar.
    I guess you can add me to the list along with you and Robin. My personal favorite of the Blue Invasion is Blue Cedrat and I almost bought it.
    But I ended up buying Wonderwood (again!) that day. I guess incense was not what I was looking for in all that heat and humidity. And seeing the new Blue Invasion line launch when I walked in was a total surprise.
    Now I’m regretful for not buying the Blue Cedrat. The price there is better than in the US (around $105) and those blue metallic bottles are so cute to look at.

    • Kevin says:

      Eric: wow! On your second bottle of Wonderwood! HA! I’m keeping Blue Cedrat “in mind” for next summer.

  3. donnie says:

    Am wearing Blue Cedrat today and here’s why. I was in Paris last week and spent a few minutes in an Institut Nickel store, apparently part of a chain, but with a great lineup of Histoire de Parfums, Acqua di Parma, Byredo, Miller Harris, and alot of CdG numbers. And Kinski, for heaven’s sake. I never thought I’d see so much man perfume in one shop in this lifetime. My time was in a squeeze, not a good way to buy fragrance. But the excellent dryness of the wood note in the Blue Cedrat, combined with the slightly panicky feeling that I wanted something to show for my visit to Paris, caused me to buy a bottle. Impulsive, but I have no regrets. Blue Cedrat is weirdness-free, that is for sure. But so clean, and sharp, and unsweet. So not luxury. No cream, no syrup. That’s what I like about it. 90 Euro.
    Thanks for the review.

    • Kevin says:

      Donnie: you’re welcome. I know that feeling well…being abroad and HAVING TO BUY!!! It seems Blue Cedrat is a hit…people really liked it when I wore it, too

  4. Dzingnut says:

    Great reviews Kevin! The “Blue Invasion” is evocative; I picture a troop of Roman soldiers. They are dragging their swords and staring at the ground as they walk. Everyone sighs deeply, often. Their commander is Eeyore, who is follows at the rear instead of leading from the front, because, why bother? It won’t make any difference. The plumes of his consul’s helmet are droopy, and the whole contraption keeps sliding over his eyes. That said, I’d love to sniff Blue Cedrat!

    • Merlin says:

      But now I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep a straight face when I smell it!

  5. Kevin says:

    Dzing…you took ‘blue’ to a different place! Hope you get to sniff Cedrat soon

  6. solanace says:

    These bottles strike me as extremely ugly.

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