The snow below the bluish skies,
Like a majestic carpet lies,
And in the light of day it shimmers.
The woods are dusky. Through the frost
The greenish fir-trees are exposed;
And under ice, a river glitters.
Winter Morning, Alexandr Pushkin
Под голубыми небесами
Блестя на солнце, снег лежит;
Прозрачный лес один чернеет,
И ель сквозь иней зеленеет,
И речка подо льдом блестит.
Зимнее утро, Александр Пушкин
Comme des Garcons’ pilgrimage to various “incense centers” of the world (Avignon, Ouarzazate, Jaisalmer, and Kyoto) would not have been complete without an Orthodox landmark. The choice fell on Zagorsk, a small town about an hour from Moscow. In fact, this town was known as Zagorsk only during the Soviet times; it has been previously called Posad, Sergiev, and, since 1992, Sergiev Posad. Sergiev Posad is most famous for its spectacular fortress monastery, the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, an important center in the Orthodox world.
Zagorsk the fragrance starts with an incense note that is almost immediately joined and somewhat overwhelmed by a woody note that smells to me like birch bark. There is also a slight “nuttiness” to the scent at this point, reminiscent of cedar nuts. Before long, the incense note become stronger and is joined by a pine accord, from then on Zagorsk is the combination of these three notes, birch, incense and pine, to my nose, much like a church standing in the middle of a forest. It is a winter forest, with pine needles lying on the snow and birches standing bare; having said that, I don’t actually perceive Zagorsk as a cold scent, rather, it is crystal-clear, like a frosty but sunny day famously described by Pushkin in a poem cited above.
Zagorsk is a quiet, contemplative, melancholy fragrance that, rather predictably, brings to my mind Andrey Rublev’s famous icon, Svyataya Troitsia (Holy Trinity), which was painted by him for the Trinity Cathedral in Posad (it is now kept in The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow). In depicting the Trinity as an indivisible essence without beginning and without end, this much revered image strikes the balance between the soul and the body, the endless and the mortal. With its combination of solid woody notes and ethereal incense ones, Comme des Garcons’ creation seems to have been built upon the same principle of harmony between the corporeal and the spiritual.
Zagorsk is available at Luckyscent, $54.00 for 1,7oz.
*The photo of the Assumption Cathedral is from
*The icon is Holy Trinity by Andrey Rublev, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow