Comme des Garçons is a fashion brand that tick-tocks wildly between dour avant-garde and whimsy, sometimes in the very same item. Clothes-wise, for instance, you might choose between an ass-tumor dress (just try to make those hip bustles look flattering) and "bare feet” shoes the color of a Caucasian cadaver, complete with cartoon-drawn, red-painted toenails.
|Built-in pedicures protect against fungal infections.|
Move over to Comme des Garçons’ fragrances, and there’s a tantalizingly schizophrenic array that ranges from the “dust on a hot light bulb” of Odeur 71 to the frozen violets of Stephen Jones. And let’s not overlook the world’s-religions-in-a-bottle Incense Series.
With Comme, it’s “expect the unexpected”. And since CdG is so gosh-darn unexpected, what I REALLY didn’t expect was Daphne, a proper “vintage lady” perfume. Psych!
Daphne is the collaboration between hip British heiress/couture quirkster Daphne Guinness and perfumer Antoine Lie. Stuffed with boldly assertive notes including incense, tuberose, saffron and oud, it’s an “around the world in 80 ingredients” scent. Ms Guinness’ intention with Daphne was to smell-check some of her favorite places in the world: France, Spain, and the Middle East. The result is a dress-up scent that’s dramatic and a little high-strung.
As soon as I first smelled Daphne’s clouds of incense rolling off my skin, I instantly wanted to buy it -- which is rare for me. The tuberose gives this eau de parfum an old-fashioned va-va-voom, which is emphasized by jasmine and rose. But then there’s all that incense, kinked up with saffron and salty-leather oud. That’s what I call a Hollywood Harem!
However, my impulse-buy neurons stopped firing when the harem morphed into a smackdown between a penny sweet shop and the Ladies Auxiliary Club circa 1962. Daphne’s orange and vanilla nudged everything towards candy, and the florals wilted into a musty, treble-y mush. Daphne had gone from pleasingly "old-fashioned" to downright frumpy.
Trying to recapture that first rush and eager for insights, I cruised Octavian Coifan’s erudite blog, 1000 Fragrances. There, he called Daphne “a hyper sweet powdery fragrance with an extraordinary bug-spray power”. Not a fan, then.
Happier tidings were sounded over at Now Smell This, where Angela found “its warmth, complexity, and femme fatale vibe...irresistible.”
See? That was the Daphne I knew and hankered after! So why was I smelling like Gladys taking the minutes of the Ladies Auxiliary meeting?
But when I smelled Daphne's lingering incense on my clothes the next day, I wanted to experience it all over again. I’m thoroughly addled. For now, I’m just dating my sample and holding off on a full bottle commitment. Although having reapplied Daphne in the course of writing this review, I’m swooning anew. Straighten your wig, Gladys -- we’re off to the harem...again!
CdG shoes via
Elvis still from "Harum Scarum"