Comme des Garcons Series 6: Synthetic
As you are all aware, CdeG is the maker of interestingly weird clothing and intriguingly odd fragrances. They have started to open "Guerrilla" stores in various places, the latest here in Los Angeles, steps from my office in downtown Los Angeles. The stores are only open for a year, selling some items at a discount. Being one of the cool, in the know people (well, I heard about it on KCRW, does that count? No? K.) I was of course there about thirty seconds after the place opened. Not being a cool, wealthy person, about the only thing I could justify even thinking about purchasing were perfumes. There are of course Guerrilla Store inspired scents, but Columbina summed them up brilliantly so I will attempt to cover another range..
I had been given a sample of the Synthetic Soda in one of the first packages I ever ordered from a decanter on eBay: I honestly don't remember if it was Nancy or Patty or who it was. I remember liking the fragrance immediately and then completely forgetting about it when something shiny was dangled in my general direction. I was pleased to retry and to sample the rest of the series.
Dry Clean should have sent me running for the hills, with it's notes (via LuckyScent) of ozone, aldehydes, and nail polish but it doesn't. It's not really ozonic, it's not really dryer sheets and it's not really what you would think of when you think of "fresh". It's somewhat the scent of a really nice wool suit that has just come from a good cleaner: freshened wool, wooden coat hangers, a slightly plasticky smell of the cleaner bag and a slight whiff of cedar closets. I suppose you could get the same effect just wearing a garment bag, but it would be churlish to point that out, and rather missing the point. These are different, dammit, and if you want to be a stick-in-the-mud and expect linear progression and conventional beauty then you are just the sort of staid old Grundy that expects to wear shirts with two sleeves, one on either side of the chest.
I kid because I love...
Skai starts off sweet, with a note of frankly-fake grapefruit before settling into a leather note that's more Cordoba than Cordovan. If you've ever gotten into a hot car with vinyl seats you'll know that particularly compelling smell. There is a later coal tar note, keeping the J G Ballard portion of the program going. If ever there was a fragrance to release your inner Grace Jones, then this is it. I'm hearing "Warm Leatherette" in my head as I type..
Garage is one that thankfully doesn't try to be too literal in expressing it's name; there's leather, a light whiff of kerosene (but not nearly as much as in the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle) and a certain oiliness to it that makes me think of a very clean mechanic after a day of work. Oddly, this is an extremely light fragrance, one of the cleanest fragrances using those notes I've ever run across. There seems to be nothing musky about it at all, which would be the expected base, or at least the one that I'd expect. But really, there are so many other scents out there that do the expected, it's nice to smell one that refuses to..
Tar doesn't refuse to. Now you all know that both Columbina and I loves us some tarry scents. Fatty Kolnisch Juchten? Check. Smoky Patchouli 24? Sign me up! Where Tar goes with it is to the track: Le Labo is all about the NoLiTa meets Grasse uber-coolness. KJ is a Tatar prince ripping blackened fatted meat fresh from the campfire. Tar is a NASCAR hottie: tarmac, tires, seat belts and sweat. Dario Franchitti after a hard race. Yum.
Soda was the one that I first tried and liked very much. I'm a sucker for lime in fragrance and this one is so fizzy with aldehydes that you would half expect to wake up with a hangover from it. Of course, the limes are far more like the ones that are inhabiting Roses Lime Juice than anything that recently came from a tree, but that's sort of the point. The frank insincerity of the lime notes are perfect- this is the synthetic series after all. There's also musk in there, but it's also quite amusingly synthetic. Think robot musk. Like the rest of them there isn't a lot of progression, sillage or conventional prettiness in any of these. If you can get behind that, then you will enjoy the heck out of them. If not I think they will leave you very cold.
LuckyScent carries these at $65 for 75 mls in the slightly off-putting packaging, which looks a bit like face cleanser or bug spray. I do have a concern about plastic packaging changing the scents, but since these are so aggressively synthetic, perhaps the concern is unfounded.