The Japanese couturier Comme Des Garçons has always played with the form, both in fashion and in fragrance. Their scents and fashions have consistently been avant-garde, interpreting shapes and styles in a way that many, more mainstream brands are afraid to do so. With their fragrances, Comme Des Garçons have populated the woody incense genre with a vast number of dark and brooding fragrances that range from hot to cold and mass-market to niche. They’ve been there, done that and sold the t-shirt in a strange size.
The latest addition to the Comme Des Garçons stable is Floriental, a scent inspired by the collision of the floral and oriental genres. Think of fragrances such as Amouage’s Epic, Tom Ford’s Black Orchid and L’Instant de Guerlain, and you’re on the right track to identifying big players within the genre. But what of Comme Des Garçons take on the humble floriental? What makes it so special, distinct and avant-garde? Well, the answer is that, unlike most floral orientals, this one isn’t what it claims to be…
Top: Pink Pepper, Plum Liqueur and Incense
Heart: Cistus Flower
Base: Sandalwood, Labdanum and Vetiver
How Does it Smell?
Comme Des Garçons may be trolling us slightly with the name ‘Floriental’, as this scent isn’t distinctly floral, nor is it particularly oriental, which means that it’s definitely not a typical floriental fragrance by any means, in fact this is a scent that is very much within the brand’s safe zone of spicy woody perfumes. But this is nothing new, and we should remember Amazingreen from 2012, which is about as amazing as it is green (it’s neither, FYI, but I still like it for its sweet, gunpowder-y oddness) which serves as proof that, when it comes to Comme Des Garçons, nothing is quite as it seems.
Floriental opens warm and spicy, with cinnamon and carnation spice, buzzing actively with the boldness of pepper and cloves. Immediately, a distinct smokiness comes through, giving the impression of slowly burning embers dusted with a delightful topping of autumnal spices. This is supported by a subtle brew of hot plum tea that provides a sharp tartness that stop things from being overtly dry. Inhaling Floriental within the first few minutes is an interesting experience, and its a fragrance that speaks in colours, specifically rich tones of burgundy, purple and brown.
The spices, woods and purple fruit reign supreme for the majority of Floriental’s development, and it would be safe to say that what one gets at the start isn’t worlds away from what lingers on the skin at the end. It would also be fair to say that, if you were looking for any flowers within this floral oriental, you may want to hire your very own Private Detective because up until this point, I haven’t been able to detect a mere whiff of them. Perhaps they are hidden behind the velvet curtain of incense, vanilla-soaked amber and sandalwood that envelop the base notes with a thick and plush coating of spicy minerals? Who knows!
Floriental is very much a Comme Des Garçons fragrance by numbers. It has all of the requisite parts one expects from the brand, namely; exotic spices, smoky incense and spiky woods, but that’s not to say that it’s boring or pointless. In fact, it’s difficult not to take comfort in those particular nuances, especially with autumn on the horizon, and I’m sure during the cooler months Floriental will be a floral-less oriental to turn to for solace, spice and a touch of austere Comme Des Garçons style.