Comme des Garcons White : Fragrance Review

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Malevichsnowstorm

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

White ashes falling off a burning incense stick is the main association that links the color white with the name of the Comme des Garçons fragrance. White roughness of a pomegranate’s inner skin, white powder falling gently from a chalk scraped against the blackboard, and ice covered pine branches are the images conjured by the composition. Yet, the main reason the fragrance evokes whiteness is not for any of these specific associations, but for its tranquil and quiet character. Donning its luminous veil instills the same serenity one feels when staring at the snow falling softly until the entire vista is shrouded in white.

White was created in 1996 by Mark Buxton, the nose behind the original Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons 2, Comme des Garçons 2 Man, Comme des Garçons 3, and Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again (with Jean-Claude Ellena), among others. The top notes spill into a sheer powdery mélange, made weightless and sheer by spices. The effervescent warmth of pepper and the camphorous sweetness of cardamom swirl like the white smoke of burning incense against the tart powderiness of pomegranate. …

The composition is mainly structured around woody and balsamic notes, which would have been heavy and dense were it not for a floral accord. Like the lily in L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer, a dewy floral touch dissolves the overly resinous quality and makes the wood notes more transparent, without conjuring any specific flower.

The composition does not seem to develop sequentially in the classical manner, yet occasionally a spicy note bursts out like a tiny firework against the smooth woods. One moment, it is a hot sparkle of cinnamon and the next it is a floral breath of clove. Spicy, woody and floral facets are blended harmoniously, with the dance of spices maintaining the intensity of the composition and the sweet amber softening the resinous accord of its base.

Notes include pomegranate, tagete absolute, pepper, coriander, cardamom, lily of the valley, white may rose, cinnamon leaf, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, styrax, amber, cedarwood, vetiver. Available from Comme des Garçons boutiques, Barneys New York, Jeffrey New York, Luckyscent, and Sephora.

Painting: Malevich, Kasimir, Morning in the Country after Snowstorm, 1912. Oil on canvas. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

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23 Comments

  • Laura: Hi V! For some reason, I’ve never paid much, if any, attention to CdG scents but this one has lots of notes I like, so I’ll try to find some to smell. I discovered a line of scents last night I want you to try, too ;D. Thanks for a lovely review. November 15, 2005 at 5:35am Reply

  • lachezanne: Dear V, This sounds like a perfect winter scent for those days when other favorites may feel too heavy. Having recently fallen for CDG2, I’ve been adding others of this line to my “test” list – this will be next, I believe. :) November 15, 2005 at 8:23am Reply

  • Marina: Morning V, I didn’t realize there was pomegranate in White. Now of course I have to try it. Sounds very interesting, don’t know why I never wanted to try it. I think I need to re-visit CdG as a fragrance line in general. November 15, 2005 at 9:34am Reply

  • linda: I was always under the impression that all CdG ‘fumes smelled like office dust and ink. :-) Well, well, this one sounds very interesting! Now I have to try it asap. You mentioned pomegranate! November 15, 2005 at 10:08am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, I don´t know CdG White, but I own CdG 2 & don´t wear it often, to tell the truth I wear it very seldom, when I bought it, I liked it of course, but these days I don´t fell like wearing it at all – I can´t explain why.
    Generally speaking I find the CdG fragrances a bit too strong/overwhelming for me. This fact turns me off a bit & makes them for me rather difficult to wear, though for sure they aren´t bad scents at all. November 15, 2005 at 10:46am Reply

  • Robin: I need to get to the CdG boutique too — have never tried White. Echoing everyone else: didn’t know it had pomegranate, which seems to be “the note of the moment”, although this is a comparatively old fragrance. November 15, 2005 at 12:34pm Reply

  • Tania: I have never sprayed this for a sniff, never. I think I just assumed it would be another of these non-existent, airy scents. I now see I was wrong. Will have to sniff at next available opportunity. Thanks for the review! November 15, 2005 at 1:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, very excited to hear what they are! You are welcome–this is a very nice composition. Anyone who liked woody notes should not miss it. November 15, 2005 at 2:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, I would love to hear your impressions. It is a composition that manages to remain both intense and serene. I did not even know what to expect when I tried it for the first time, but I was pleasantly surprised. I do like other CdG fragrances as well. November 15, 2005 at 2:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I think that the line has a very futuristic, avant-garde feel, which sort of predisposed to expect something strange from the fragrances. It took me a while to try many of them, however I am glad that I did. The pomegranate note is very nice here. November 15, 2005 at 2:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, pomegranate is the “it” note of the moment, it seems. :) White definitely does not smell of metal and glass. It is very serene fragrance, weaving in the woody and spicy notes beautifully. November 15, 2005 at 2:39pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I have CdG 2 and I would say that White is much easier to wear (for me, at least). It is spicy, yet not overwhelmingly so. I have some other CdG fragrances, and I am discovering more and more of the ones I like. November 15, 2005 at 2:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, the CdG boutique in NYC is great. The entryway alone is worth the visit. They have all of the fragrances, although finding them within the maze of the boutique might take some effort. :) November 15, 2005 at 2:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, this is exactly the reason why it took me so long to discover White. However, I am glad that I did, because it turned out to be quite excellent. There are some unexpected things about the composition, but it is great to discover them along the way. November 15, 2005 at 2:44pm Reply

  • Diane: Very interesting. Like you and Tania, I thought it would be airy and well, trite and forgettable. Kind of wish they had named it something else, like White Cinders or something ’cause then I know I would have reached for it. Thank you for reaching for it, dear V. :) November 15, 2005 at 5:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Oh, this is definitely anything but forgettable! I have a feeling that you might find White very interesting. I think that White Cinders would have been a much better name, however it does not quite fit with Rei Kawakubo’s concept, at least in my mind. Cannot wait to hear what you think! November 16, 2005 at 12:09am Reply

  • Kathy114: Sorry that I am late to the party, but do you find that the CdG White is similar to Costes? I enjoy the latter, so I was interested when I read that the two smell alike. November 17, 2005 at 1:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kathy, yes, I notice the similarity. White strikes me as woodier than Costes, with the latter being slightly soapy as well, but overall they register similar impressions. November 17, 2005 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Kathy114: Thanks V! You have a wonderful site, and I enjoy reading it everyday in spite of the wish lists that are inspired from your descriptions. All the best to you! November 17, 2005 at 3:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you very much, Kathy! I am glad to hear this. It is always a pleasure to exchange thoughts on the topic of perfume! November 17, 2005 at 3:19pm Reply

  • IanL: This might be a strange question, but do you think White is to feminine for a man? The other day I was out and about looking around when I came across CDG white, and I really liked it. As it was sitting next to CDG Man i did not question its gender. December 12, 2005 at 2:03am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ian, I do not think that it is too feminine. It is definitely in the category of shared fragrances, and since there are no obvious floral notes, it might work well on anyone. December 19, 2005 at 6:37pm Reply

  • Katmandu: This is a very good review of White for those looking to try it … … August 22, 2011 at 9:20pm Reply

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