One of the earliest examples of independent perfumer thinking came through a set of perfumes by Comme des Garcons. Over a course of years, they released successive “Series” focused on a theme. The most well-known and revered is the Series 3: Incense collection. In 2002 they released five very different interpretations of incense perfumes. I own all these perfumes from every series because they are brilliant thoughts on a theme as expressed through scent. The most recent was 2019’s Series 10: Clash which I thought was another triumph within the series. My affection for these sometimes makes me try and imagine my own series. Two recent releases Comme des Garcons Marseille and Comme des Garcons Mirror X KAWS had me thinking about the laundry room.
Marseille is inspired by the soap called Savon de Marseille. Creative director Christian Astuguevieille asked perfumer Quentin Bisch to put this together. One of the things I find often causes a soapy scent to fall apart for me is it gets lost in the lather. Anyone who has opened a fresh bar of hand-milled soap knows it is akin to that new car smell, it is at its best before it is used. M. Bisch turns Marseille into that moment.
This soap is neroli scented. M. Bisch uses a greener version of neroli. It has a slightly vegetal undercurrent which reminds me of the vegetable oil used to make the soap. This is surrounded with a lanolin accord which forms the soapy piece. Right from the start the scent of a good bar of soap predominates. As you bring it close to your nose there is a powdery feel along with a slightly sweet and floral support for the neroli. There is also a slight muskiness present in the heart. This is that new bar of soap accord completed. I kind of wish this had stayed here. It ends on a lot of an ambrox analog which overwhelms the subtle joys which came before.
Marseille has 10-12 hour longevity although the great soapy piece is gone rather quickly and the majority of the development is just the ambrox offshoot.
Mirror X KAWS sees the return of KAWS to collaborate with the brand. He designed the bottle for Pharell Williams’ collaboration Comme des Garcons Girl. Now he takes a turn as creative director for this perfume. Along with perfumer Nicolas Beaulieu they create a scent which embraces clean linen.
It also uses neroli as its focal point. The difference is this neroli is much softer with barely a tint of the green which is more present in Marseille. M. Beaulieu then goes up the scale adding in a soft orange blossom along with a set of clean musks. At this point there is a strong reminder of fabric softener, The remainder of the development is the soft sheet the laundry product was used on. A base accord of Cashmeran, Benzoin, and the synthetic Sinfonide. The last ingredient adds a powdery sheen which reminded me of shaking out a freshly washed sheet to make my bed.
Mirror X KAWS has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
As I said it is a stretch to call these Series: Laundry Room but because I was wearing them a day apart, I went there. They both do what any of the Series fragrances of the past do; provide a perfume insight into the smells which surround us.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Comme des Garcons.