Comme des Garcons + Pharrell Williams Girl ~ fragrance review

Comme des Garcons + Pharrell Williams Girl

Regular readers can probably already guess that I was barely aware of Pharrell Williams’ existence before he announced his debut fragrance with Comme des Garçons, Girl — he’s not the first celebrity that entered my radar via perfume, and he won’t be the last. In the interest of research, I did listen to a couple of songs while writing this review (Happy got stuck in my head for several hours, thank you) but other than that, I still know little enough. He’s won some Grammys, and everyone but me knows who he is.

With any luck, Happy will not be an ongoing earworm, but Girl will almost certainly take my vote for celebrity fragrance of the year. Of course, it hasn’t all that much competition in that category, and perspective does matter. If you adore Pharrell Williams but have never tried anything from the Comme des Garçons brand or the perfumer (Antoine Lie), Girl might be a surprise, and if the reviews on Sephora are to be believed, it may or may not be a good surprise. If you’re a big fan of celebrity perfumes and want something a little more sophisticated than the usual fare on offer — and you don’t mind paying more — Girl could be just what you’ve been waiting for. If you’re a perfumista and a longtime Comme des Garçons fan, Girl might strike you, as it did me, as hardly the best they can do, but an awful lot better than it might have been…

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Comme des Garcons + Monocle Scent Three: Sugi ~ fragrance review

Comme des Garçons + Monocle Scent Three: Sugi

I’ve complained already about the recent output from Comme des Garçons — they’ve become a kind of go-to house for variations, sometimes minor variations, on wood and/or incense.1 Mind you, they know how to do wood and/or incense, and in all truth, when they do break out of that rut, I don’t always like the result.2 So I have mixed feelings about their most recent launch, Scent Three: Sugi. It’s their third fragrance in collaboration with Monocle magazine (see Scent One: Hinoki and Scent Two: Laurel), and like the others, was developed by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. And I do love it. It’s beautifully done, and I’d very much like to have a bottle — please, Santa, send the other two Monocle fragrances while you’re at it! — but unless you have the sort of never-ending interest in woody fragrances (and Comme des Garçons) that I do, you might not find it an absolute must-try.

I’ll start by repeating the press stuff, because it’s spot on…

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Marc Jacobs Bang ~ fragrance review

Marc Jacobs gets lots of media coverage, but interviewers seem most interested in Jacobs’ weight. Though I’m impressed by Jacobs’ candor, isn’t he bored with talking about his appearance: his workout routine; his colon-saving diet*; his hair transplants; his tattoos and grooming rituals? Jacobs needs a PR maven who’ll demand a moratorium on all weight-loss talk…after all, Jacobs lost his “excess” pounds years ago.

The launch of Jacobs new men’s fragrance, Bang, has (at last!) given him something new to talk about — even as he uses Bang’s debut to show his half-naked body in perfume ads and magazine spreads (see this month’s Calvin Klein interview with Jacobs in Harper’s Bazaar for a “plumber shot” of Jacobs’ rear end…or don’t).

Let’s begin with the name of Jacobs’ new fragrance — Bang. There are certainly the “Wham!” “Bam!” “Pow!” connotations (the “banged up” Bang bottle), but there’s also the X-rated “bang” (sexual intercourse). Guess which direction the Bang PR materials go? Sex! There’s a rather juvenile Facebook game hosted on the Bang website called “Bang You’re It!” Quoting the press release: “‘Bang You’re It!’ is free for interpretation and allows users to bang friends’ profile pictures and get banged in return in order to rack up points. By banging someone, you are essentially banging their profile picture with the same impacted look as the Bang fragrance bottle…Get banged by people from other countries. Get banged after midnight.” Do ADULTS “bang each other” on this Facebook page? Off I went to find out…

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Comme des Garcons Wonderwood ~ fragrance review

Comme des Garçons Wonderwood fragrance advert

The short film that the Brothers Quay made to promote the new Comme des Garçons fragrance, Wonderwood, opens with the words “Someone who loved wood more than words can say…”, and Comme des Garçons describes the fragrance as a “positive overdose of woods, woody notes and synthetic wood construction (wood gone mad)”. They’re not kidding. Have they not yet made the fragrance that screamed WOOD loud enough to suit you? Then do try Wonderwood.

Wonderwood was developed by perfumer Antoine Lie, and it includes all the wood notes a wood freak could ask for, plus some spices to liven things up: Madagascan pepper, bergamot, incense, nutmeg, cristalon (a floral fruity note with rosy, plum and apple nuances), cashmeran, gaiacwood, cedar, caraway, javanol (sandalwood), sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli and oudh. What is smells like, mostly, is — you guessed it — wood…

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Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore ~ fragrance review

How unlucky for perfume lovers to live in an era when Mysore sandalwood has disappeared from fragrances. Let’s hope the over-harvested and endangered sandalwood trees of India are truly being protected and propagated for future generations. According to Serge Lutens P.R., the company bought its stash of Mysore sandalwood before stringent trade regulations went into effect, and it’s this “legal” Mysore sandalwood that supposedly enriches the Lutens perfume of the same name.

Santal de Mysore was developed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake and released in 2001. I never smelled “original” Santal de Mysore so I don’t know how it compares to the new, surely reformulated, fragrance. Today’s Santal de Mysore contains, apart from Mysore sandalwood, “spices,” cumin, styrax balsam and “caramelized” Siamese benzoin.

Santal de Mysore starts off smelling edible, with a nougat-y and coconut-cream sweetness emanating from a faint “wood” note…

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