Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Comme des Garçons EDP (1994)

"A perfume that works like a medicine and behaves like a drug."

The flagship  unisex Comme des Garçons fragrance was launched in 1994, the same year as unisex blockbuster CK One. I have never lived in New York and was born in 1987, but I like to imagine that I could've smelled a lot of CdG in avant-garde circles in the 90s in the way that fashion blogs mention Le Labo Santal 33 as the ubiquitous New York scent right now.

Comme des Garçons fragrances are famous for prominent cedar and incense, and these elements are present in the original under its overarching potpourri theme. The opening of CdG is a satisfyingly suffocating blast of cinnamon, clove, rose, and pepper that feels medicinal, like Tiger Balm. I would think that it was inspired by Diptyque's 1968 L'Eau, the original avant-garde unisex rich hippie potpourri fragrance. As time passes, the potpourri elements recede to the background and are overtaken by a sticky, intensely animalic honey. I usually don't see CdG mentioned as an animalic fragrance, but on me it is pornographic in anything but the coldest of weather. The honey is sticky, unclean, vaginal, anal--the smell of your upper lip after administering a rim job. It stays for hours.

The combination of dowdy references and pornography in CdG make it a perennial favorite for me. Perhaps it is my mental image of deconstructed, purposefully messy CdG clothing, but I feel like this is a very versatile everyday fragrance that's great when worn with sloppy normcore fashion. The brilliant print ad, with a woman on a NY street in a plain Guess sweatshirt brandishing the "uncommon object" bottle like a defense against the elements, a pomander against the plague, reinforces this image. Sometimes it can feel sticky and gross,like Angel, but other times it has a crispness that is just the thing. It functions well in heat and cold; in heat the honey comes out more quickly, and the potpourri sticks around longer in the cold. It is exceptional and still my favorite CdG perfume.


  1. In 1987 I was in NY attending The School of Visual Arts. I would go to Washington Square Park where this photo is taken just about every day. My friend lived in the building on the left. Now I've got the Sinister Urge to buy the Assouline book about Comme des Garçons. Is that where you found this? It was extremely startling when it was published because it was part of a series on fashion but contained only advertising that barely featured fashion at all. Disappointing until I got the joke and now it seems like the most precious thing in the world.

  2. Matt-- I have not seen that book and it sounds amazing. I'll have to get it. CdG is missing in my collection of coffee table fashion tomes.

  3. It's good to know there's somebody else who thinks CdG EDP is dirty. It's an enthralling kind of perversion I've yet to find in another scent.

    More importantly, I like your posts. It's not often that you find somebody who loves perfume, isn't a senile democrat, and writes a blog about it too.