Thursday, November 13, 2008

H&M by Comme des Garcons – an EXCLUSIVE PRE-RELEASE review

~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.


  1. Anonymous09:50

    I wonder: What do you think about Palisander from their Red series?
    I personally love it. And find it very, very well done. But I have an old (10 years?) bottle: Today's version seems to be slightly less spicy.

  2. I believe the global release date is today.

  3. Andy,

    myself I have no experience with Palisander so I can't asnwer your question. I hope Mike sees it and replies when he can.

  4. L,

    yes, that's what Mike says on top of his review (specifying date) and why the post is dated so early. He wrote it yesterday, going by his pre-ordered bottle.

  5. Anonymous14:02

    How exciting. I was just speaking of Gucci Rush and how I missed it, maybe this is my 2nd chance. I'm a bit scared to go to H&M today though, I heard people were camped out over night!

  6. Hi Dane!

    They were camped out for the CDG scent????!!!!????

    I hope you get to try it and hopefully like it. :-)

  7. Anonymous15:34

    Andy -

    Someone on Basenotes smelled it and mentioned Palisander (what a coincidence). I own Palisander and I think it smells much more rosewood/birch than H&M.

    When I was in Finland this summer, we went to an island that had fire burning saunas and the wood that was burning, was birch. It smells JUST like Palisander (or Essence of John Galliano by Diptyque room spray). But Palisander is much sweeter and the longevity is so short. Whereas the H&M is heavily glossed with synthetics and lasts a little longer.

    I have an 'old' small bottle of Palisander and I think it smells just like the 'new' larger bottles on shelves.

  8. Anonymous15:36

    Dane -

    If you like Rush for Men, I think it will be easy to love H&M. It shares that same aldehydic, woody incense accord. Although I think H&M is lighter than RfM.

  9. Nothing like a good H&M buy, although I wonder it this will make it to our H&M store, I will have to check it out.

  10. Ah, I see that I did do some misreading. Somehow your "Notes" transformed into "Availability" for me...

  11. Jena,

    almost everyone is doing something for H&M these days (from Karl Lagerfeld downwards) so I am not surprised. Hope you find out about it soon and tell us your impressions. :-)

  12. L,

    no problem. It's just that we don't want to post things that are only our perception when no official notes have been issued yet.

  13. Anonymous11:39

    I bought it yesterday after being pleasantly surpriced by finding it among the CdG-clothes! Wearing it today for the first time, and really like the cedar % incense mix, framed by edgy musc and cumin.
    Although it hasn't the refinement of Féminité du Bois (that I love).
    (digression: sauna-associations are totally absent in me when wearing this, and I am from the the "finno-scandian sauna-belt"!)

  14. S,

    how very interesting!! Cedar, incense, cumin, musk: this is starting to sound like a Lutens somehow! And lucky that it misses the sauna association. (although the birch smoking in those is a nice touch, no?)

  15. Anonymous06:58

    Oooh. Jag älsker Hennes & Mauritz! However, we don't have one close to where I live, so I'll have to look forward to going when I'm in the Northeast for the holidays. I love that box. I can't say I'm too familiar with any metallic incense, but I'm curious to try this. Thanks for the preview!

  16. Joe,

    you're welcome. I am sure Mike will be pleased he provided a glimpse for those who don't have the chance to smell it in their vicinity.

  17. Is there somewhere to get this besides one of those special H&Ms (none near me) that are carrying the CdG stuff?

  18. J,

    I am sorry to say that I don't think's suposed to be an exclusive, even if it is a decently priced one.
    But don't despair, I am sure people will be swapping/selling samples of it in no time!

  19. is anyone know if there's a limited edition?
    See here in Thailand there's no H&M nad i'll be back to Europe in July, I do hope i have any posibilitie to find it!

  20. is anyone know if there's a limited edition?
    See here in Thailand there's no H&M nad i'll be back to Europe in July, I do hope i have any posibilitie to find it!

  21. is anyone know if there's a limited edition?
    See here in Thailand there's no H&M nad i'll be back to Europe in July, I do hope i have any posibilitie to find it!

  22. I am not sure on that, but I think a phone-call or an email to the company might provide an answer to that. I think only certain stores got it to begin with.


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