For a brand known for its chic eccentricity, Comme des Garçons can also surprise by keeping surprises to a minimum. I refer specifically to CdG's perfumes that comprise a virtual forest, a world of woods which includes the Incense and Blue Series, along with Black, Serpentine, Laurel, Hinoki, 2 Man and Wonderwood. (Hmm, seems I was complaining of "wood fatigue" back in my 2010 review of Wonderwood.)
I'm a chowhound who enjoys any flavor of ice cream as long as it's burnt caramel, so I can appreciate this singularity of focus. Does the head bod at Comme HQ have a hard-on for softwoods? Whatever the reason, there's a new little tree nudging its way into the CdG family photo, and its name is Floriental.
|Comme family photo.|
Don't get hung up on the “Flor” part of “Floriental” -- no flowers here, buster. Or the “oriental” bit, either -- since there's no vanilla involved. That's just a tricksy slice of misdirection to “disrupt the perception”, as I was told at the Floriental launch at Selfridges in London at the end of July. And I suppose the disruption works, in that expectation is pulverized by recalibration at the very first sniff of this eau de parfum.
|Disrupted display featuring roses.|
The initial impression is that of a snarl of smoldering woods on a background of leather. I brace myself for an attack of eye-watering oudiness along the lines of Dior's bludgeoning Oud Ispahan and Leather Oud, but it stops short of full bludgeon. It settles instead into a long, linear amble through a fog of peppered-up sandalwood and vetiver.
Floriental strikes me as a tougher, leaner version of Miller Harris' marvelous La Fumée series. Les Fumées are more nuanced and tender, dawdling longer in a sappy thicket of cistus resin and rose. By contrast, Floriental eschews blooms, and hews to sharp and smoky bark.
Trees still from H.R. Pufnstuf