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Friday, November 09, 2007

Perfume Review: Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca and Patchouli

Question: after every single brand has jumped on the trend-wagon and created a luxury line within a line, would that saturate the fragrance market with high-priced scents to an extent that exclusivity will loose its elegant sheen and "luxe" won't seem all that luxurious anymore? ...And do you, like me, feel that the moment of such saturation has actually already arrived?

And now for Comme des Garcons not just luxe but LUXE duo of $265-for-45ml-of-not-even-parfum creations.

Champaca starts wonderfully well, as what I think of as champaca per se, robustly floral, with a prominent green, herbaceous undertone. It then goes through an uninteresting stage when it smells like your basic, fresh jasmine. Fairly soon, however, the scent develops a strong tuberose note, which, thanks to the presence of angelica and pepper, is green and dewy rather then sweet and creamy. After hours and hours of unchanging easy, breezy, beautiful tuberosiness, it simply wears off my skin seemingly without featuring any typical base notes: no woods, no noticeable musk, just fresh, slightly green flowers. Champaca is not something I came to expect from Comme des Gacons. It is not strikingly orginal, it is "simply" beautiful. A good-quality, handsome floral blend. Worth $265 for 45 ml? Not for me.

Patchouli. Now we are talking. Now we are talking the birth of a lemming. Now we are talking a new cold weather favorite. It might be called, Patchouli, but the scent is much more than that, it is a complex, ever-changing blend of all things wonderful. First blast is that of peppery incense, dark and warm. A dry, resinous woody note that I take to be oak materializes from the brooding depths of incense. The austere, arid wood slowly becomes a little sweeter, a little softer - this is when I smell fenugreek, which, as we all know, has the same green, meaty, curry-like sweetness as immmortelle. Opoponax covers that woody greenness with a layer of golden powder and vanilla and sandalwood ...oh, vanilla and sandalwood are delicious together, creating a strangely gourmand, warmly-piquant base on which the intricate composition finally rests. And patchouli? Patchouli is everywhere and nowhere at once. It is playing games, hiding in the fleshy verdancy of fenugreek, suddenly appearing from under the black cloak of incense, adding something almost chocolate-like to the woody-sweet notes of the drydown. In other words, the presence of the star note is always noticeable, but never too obvious, never trivial. Is LUXE Patchouli worth $265 for 45ml? I would be lying if I said that I am not longing to buy it...but, no, it probably isn't worthy that much money for that size, in that concentration. Frankly, nothing is.

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca and Patchouli are available at Luckyscent, in Pyramid (interesting) and Cube (Piguet-inspired?) bottles.

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31 Comments:

Blogger elle said...

That moment of saturation has definitely arrived. And if lines *must* go the luxury route, is it not possible to do it w/ just *one* expletive deleted release, instead of multiples? Yes, that is a pet peeve of mine. As you know, Champaca didn't work for me, but the Patchouli definitely was delicious (*love* the fenugreek) and would have been doable for under $200, but $285 is just too much.

9:52 PM EST  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

Oh what a enticing review......I love Patchouli! I come from the era where we wore it all of the time to enhance the fragrance of the various forms of contraband substances we were smoking:) Personally,I've always felt that a patchouli/ opium (not the perfume!)combination is one of the most divine incenses in the world.
This sounds lovely and I like you am longing to own it. My husband is notorious for hating the scent of patchouli so if I buy I WILL share:)

9:57 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Fenugreek- that's what was smelling as immortelle. I loved LUXE Patchouli, and if I had been told it was say, $175, I would have fallen. I'll have to ask the ladies I was with ar ScentBar if the thought bubble read "are you out of your freaking MIND!?!" or if I managed to keep a straight face.

Champaca was just okay.

9:59 PM EST  
Anonymous Divalano said...

I've been slowly finding my way towards not automatically hating patchouli & this one sounds incredible. But no, I cannot, will not pay that for scent. There are simply too many other things that would come first. I will however track down a shop where I can sniff it; your description has me way too curious to pass on tasting it just once.

11:44 PM EST  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Like you, I thought the patchouli was great. But not great enough to want at that crazy mark-up. Thanks, but no thanks CDG.

It's funny how I've stopped wearing most of their stuff, except for the red series...

3:59 AM EST  
Anonymous Andy said...

Leopoldo: The red series is still very avant-garde, isn't it! I find red palisander to be just great.
Columbina: I wonder what true luxury is. This is my opinion for all products not only fragrances: I don't think it is enough to label a product xyz with an upper triple digit price to make it a luxury item. There is more. But maybe I am a dreamer there....

4:23 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
I wonder what comes after this...line within the lines that are priced lower than usual, to be "democratic" :-) Or even higher prices. Somehow, I feel, that the latter.

6:40 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
Naughty! I have no doubt the combination is out of this world .

6:41 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
Imagine if we had thought bubble for real? OMG, no one would be able to stay at a relationship or not be fired :-)

6:42 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Divalano,
I am almost sure Aedes sells this too! Not only can you sniff and re-sniff there, but they'd make you samples.

6:42 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
I have ever only liked their Incense series...and now Patchouli :-)

6:43 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Andy,
I agree. There is more. I wish I knew what that more was. :-(

6:43 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Now listen here, Marina. I do NOT need any new lemmings, especially super-expensive ones! Sigh. The Patchouli sounds incredible. I was so hoping it would be. . .NOT!

7:33 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

I was sniffing the Champaca yesterday. It is *beautiful* but I just can't get myself around the price. It ought to be beautiful *and* strange at that price, particularly from CdG -- something captivating -- and that bill is filled by OJ Champaca for me.

Haven't tried the Patch, it sounds like I need to.

9:34 AM EST  
Blogger donanicola said...

I briefly sniffed these as I was passing through Libs the other day and thought they were lovely but then discovered their price (145 sterling) and my overwhelming feeling was surprise. They're good but not that good. They make the Chanels and Hermessences look a veritable bargain!

9:38 AM EST  
Anonymous Marina said...

Judith,
Nyah-ha! :-)
Well, I don't know if you'll be swept off your feet by it, but you will like it!

9:50 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

March,
Exactly!
Do try Patch though.

9:52 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Nicola,
In comparison, Chanel is just...cheap :-)

9:52 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Ok, curious, since you know I wouldn't know: of "soliflore" patchouli scents or whatever I ought to be calling them, where does the CdG rank? I mean, what are the absolute best, and is this even up there in their ranks?

10:56 AM EST  
Anonymous colombina (marina) said...

R,
To me it would be one of the best, exactly because it is not quite a soliflore. Le Labo's would up there too, for the same reason. Also Jalaine's.

11:03 AM EST  
Blogger Octavian Coifan said...

Champaca is an interesting flower, a kind of magnolia, quite popular in the 20's and 30's perfumes. I liked the way CDG brought out that flower, not so usual. The spicy notes (cinnamon, cinamic alcohol) are very nice inside and I like the fresh white lily note - it's like a modern twist on Anais. Did you smell the old Magnolia from Yves Rocher. Champaca reminds me in a way that fragrance. But on a whole I think it's quite original compared to all other flowers we have now on the market.

2:36 PM EST  
Blogger Octavian Coifan said...

As for the patchouly I presume it's the new trend or new way to explore this note. Like in Patchouly from Le Labo...the dark, ambery side, almost resinous. It's amazing to see that now patchouli is in all fragrances (best sellers or just trendy) from Angel (+sweet notes) to Aromatics Elixir & New chypre (+ rose) to Dior Midnight Poison or Gucci the latest. It's like a passe partout. It's also amazing that on perfumer's organ there are not a lot of patchouli notes (except the natural) compared to other woods/flowers.

2:43 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I've avoided sampling either-
I'm sure I'd love them.
But so little for so much ...
I just CAN'T.

[I DO love reading about them, though...]

3:33 PM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Oh, damn! I got a little in the mail today. I really like it. I will NOT buy it (repeat 3x). As Tom said, if it were under $200. . .

5:48 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Octavian,
I wish I could smell Champaca the way you do; it is quite unremarkable to my humble nose.

9:13 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Chaya,
You'll love Patchouli!

9:13 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,
I knew it! :-)
I will not buy it either. I will not. I will not. I will not.

9:14 PM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

Wow, that pricing does seem very steep - how good SHOULD they be for that, since they are not even Parfum? The Champaca would be my downfall I am sure, but I would not dream of paying that much for 45 ml of it!

1:41 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Donna,
Right? It's EDP. It just can't possibly be that expensive.

8:47 AM EST  
Blogger sjas1962 said...

This is quite magnificent. From what I hear its a 20% concentration. Is the pricepoint too high? Sure is. But I also hear that the wholesale price to the distributors is $195!! Still...to high a pricetag all around...but the more I wear it...the deeper it gets. It really is a masterpiece.

7:47 AM EST  
Anonymous PERFUME HOME DELIVERY in India said...

I have ever only liked their Incense series & AZZARO SILVER BLACK , BENETTON perfume etc and now PatchouliI loved LUXE Patchouli. I also like CALVIN KLEIN, ASPEN, 5TH AVENUE, ARDEN BEAUTY,etc.

6:00 AM EDT  

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