I have a close friend who has a thermidor of fine cigars. She doesn’t smoke. She has them so she can take one out to feel the texture on her fingers, the smell through her nose. She has a quite a collection of tobacco perfumes which I have helped her grow over the years. I don’t share her love of tobacco, but I have a similar attitude towards marijuana. Now that there are legal dispensaries I really enjoy going in and smelling the different offerings. The deeply herbal green sappy scent of the different breeds of cannabis all has their own scent profile. They also have a sticky tactile touch when you buy a spiky bud and roll it in your fingers. That leaves a different scent on my fingers. There are many perfumes which have sought to capture this. The latest is Comme des Garcons Ganja.
Over the last three decades Comme des Garcons and creative director Christian Astuguevieille have sought to give fragrance enthusiasts a different perspective. Their appreciation for finding the beauty in the unusual is what has made this brand the premier creative perfume brand of this time period. Ganja is another example of that. Perfumer Caroline Dumur was tasked with the job of realizing it.
What has always made this brand so interesting is they rarely try to create just a photorealistic recreation of their focus. They also don’t go into a fully abstract rendering where the wearer is filling in the blanks in their perception of it. Their signature is to find a middle ground between reality and imagination for their perfumes to reside in. Ganja might be the best they’ve ever done at this.
It opens with a funky sappy green accord consisting of cumin, mate tea, black pepper, and mastic resin. This is the reality of that scent I get when opening a container of cannabis buds at the dispensary. Mme Dumur finds a fabulous balance of the sweatiness of cumin, the sharp green edges of the mate, the tickle of the black pepper and the sap of the mastic resin. This could have been a perfume with just this. Except that is not where this brand exists.
The base is that abstraction of marijuana to act as contrast. Here she uses frankincense, patchouli, and guaiac wood. The richness of the resin and patchouli form an imaginative bud where the guaiac wood and some of the elements of the earlier accord provide the sticky sap.
Ganja has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I haven’t enjoyed a cannabis inspired perfume like this in many years. The journey from real life to abstraction is fascinating. It is everything I have come to expect from the perfumes of Comme des Garcons.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Comme des Garcons.