Comme des Garçons Incense Series introduced in 2002 explore incense scents from different parts of the world from Zagorsk, Russia to Kyoto, Japan. Avignon calls to mind exploring religious architecture, which has always been a favorite pursuit: wandering through the abbey of St. Denis just outside Paris on a hot summer day; studying Magna Carta at Salisbury Catherdral; exploring the altar of Santo Stefano in Bologna on a damp December evening and really wishing to be home drinking tea under a warm blanket. The resinous and rich scent of incense accompanies each one of these recollections and is to be found in Avignon.
The fragrance opens up with a surge of myrrh and frankincense–dark, balsamic, somber, with an underlying resinous sweetness. I can almost hear the Gregorian chant as the balsamic smoke swirls out of the resinous accord. After the fragrance dries down it becomes much softer with the bitter sweet notes of chamomile dispersing the darkness of incense. It still remains a rich fragrance with smoky, warm notes swirling over the resinous base. The dry down is reminiscent not of a cathedral during the High Mass, but of a ruined Cistercian monastery–the rich incense scent still clinging to the stones but softened by the breeze carrying the herbal scents from the surrounding countryside.
Photo: David Heald, Nave Looking West, Longpont (Cistercian abbey).