~by guest writer Mike Perez
This week (Thursday, the 13th) Comme des Garcons release an exclusive collection of clothes, accessories and fragrance in H&M stores around the world. Comme des Garcons fragrances are one of my favorite subjects. Those on Basenotes know I own a large portion of the fragrance line and I admire the aesthetic, marketing and edgy style. I do have my share of fragrances that I cannot wear (Odeur 53 gives me a splitting headache) or simply don’t like (Sequoia [Series 2: Red] smells so much better on other people) but I always look forward to a new CdG fragrance release. So it goes without saying that I succumbed to the hype about H&M and purchased a bottle (prior to the release to the general public) un-sniffed, which I almost never do.
A healthy dose of fizzy cedar is the first note you'll detect when applying H&M.LOTS of cedar! Not as brutal as the ‘axed wood plank’ (or pencil shavings) of Gucci Pour Homme, but softened and diffusive (as if electrically charged by those crazy odd numbered aldehydes Turin speaks about - that smell like a snuffed out candle, mixed with cedar). It’s quite an unmistakable accord and without sounding too vague, it smells very Comme des Garcons-ish. Whatever that means! No living tree actually smells like this - in the ground or chopped up. It’s a synthetic replication of wood. Virtual wood, if you will.
It’s after a short while, that I noticed the incense – sharp, spicy, and oddly metallic. Have you ever sniffed real stainless steel cutlery, perhaps locked away in a cedar chest – right before you polish it with stainless steel cleaner? That smell. The non-smoky metallic incense gives the cedar notes a slight ‘gothic’ lift, but maybe this is just my olfactory association run free (a large portion of the H&M Comme des Garcons clothes are black?)
Comme des Garcons does incense accords extremely well (Scent One: Hinoki by CdG x Monocle is one of my favorite scents of 2008 and Avignon and Kyoto (Series 3: Incense) are just classics). The incense in H&M is the best part of the fragrance. I tend to avoid metallic incense scents (Nu by YSL actually hurts my nose when I smell it) – but this incense is not sharp and has a slight tanginess that blossoms into a sweet/spicy combination atop a weird synthetic accord (thinning agent?) that CdG have utilized before in Soda and Skai (Series 6: Synthetic) . As the fragrance fades away (4-5 hours later) I smelled a tiny bit of dirt covered vetiver.
I can’t help comparing H&M to a scent that features cedar / incense and synthetics (a little more effectively): the discontinued Rush for Men by Gucci. The similarity is unmistakable.
No new ground was broken with H&M. The scent is simple and I’m very surprised it’s not more edgy. The H&M department store customers (and CdG fans) will most likely attribute just enough ‘irony’ and ‘weirdness’ to H&M to give it an instant cool factor – but me personally I find it’s off-the-cuff strangeness rather accessible. The plain, clear glass bottle (the same exact bottle used in the Energy Series [Lime, Grapefruit and Lemon] by CdG) is much less stylish than the adorable, white die-cut ‘swiss cheese’ box it comes in. For the $35 price tag, it’s also remarkably affordable.
Notes: not yet available, to be updated.
$34.90 (US) for a 1 oz bottle.
Check out a video of Tokyo H&M / CdG launch.
Pics provided by Mike Perez.