a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR
BLACK – 2013 – ♂♀
Classification: Woody Aromatic
Top: Madagascan black pepper, Somalian frankincense
Heart: Leather, Licorice root, Birch tar, California bay laurel
Base: Cedarwood, Vetiver
Perfumer: Guillaume Flavigny
Price: $110 for 100ml bottle
In 1969, self-starter, fashion designer, Rei Kawakubo began creating clothing under the label Comme des Garçons. In 1973, the Comme des Garçons Company, Ltd was founded. Kawakubo began her business first with women’s fashion, and then a men’s line several years later. Soon afterward, she moved to Paris and opened her own boutique, which had great success and propelled her career. Kawakubo’s designs were focused on modern, monochromatic palettes with austere, avant-garde attitudes that alluded to Comme des Garçons’ name itself, which is French for “like boys.” The company produced clothing of course, but they branched out into accessories and most recently, perfume. This seems to be the natural course in the fashion industry.
Comme des Garçons’ line of fragrances certainly mirrors the company’s memorable profile. They offer fragrances that lean towards rather genderless potions, mostly composed of modern notes and accords that perceive as unconventional. Their introductory fragrance was launched in 1994 called Comme des Garçons Eau de Parfum. This is considered by many to be the company’s finest offering to date. I find that Kawakubo’s Asian roots have undeniably affected the perfume’s scent. No matter how modern the concept or intent, incense, spice and woods generally portray an Oriental-inspired core. After experiencing many of Comme des Garçons’ offerings, I find Black to be somewhat of a sleeper. But why?
From its urbane, matte black textured bottle, to the stark white graphic printing, Black does an adequate job of pushing Comme des Garçons’ avant-garde envelope. While both the bottle and packaging are mildly interesting, neither element is a satisfactory precursor to the actual scent. Black certainly pulls no punches, igniting into a dynamic assault of apocalyptic magnitude. Black is a wasteland, an endless sea of kindling-dry vegetation, divided by a convulsive explosion of super heated pitch. The heavy scent of spicy black pepper feuds openly with sweet, sticky licorice. A heavy oppressive intoxicating smoke is obviously remnants of a recent fire. The scent of a leather jacket, nearly melting in the hot desert sun, wafts up, mixing with the miasma of petrochemical residue from the road below. This bizarre and mesmerizing amalgamation is garnished with a sprig of aromatic bay laurel and vetiver, the hope of new life in the aftermath of destruction.
I had the opportunity to sample Black unintentionally during a shopping trip but didn’t commit to the purchase until recently. This bizarre creation by perfumer Guillaume Flavigny is perfectly in character for the Comme des Garçons brand. What I admire about Black is its cold, austere temper and equally schizophrenic loving warmth and meditative facets. Those elements and the fragrance’s interesting construction was the reason I incorporated it into my collection. Black is strange, Black is beguiling, Black is sweet and spicy and Black is awkward but one thing Black is not, and that’s boring.